Facing Economic Turmoil, Virginia Businesses Ask Lawmakers to Approve Delay in Costly Mandates

Date: April 17, 2020

RICHMOND April 16, 2020 – As the General Assembly prepares to reconvene in session next Wednesday, a group of 29 Virginia business organizations called the Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy, sent a letter to lawmakers asking they approve the Governor’s recent amendments to eight bills. Those pieces of legislation include an increase in the minimum wage and an expansion of union requirements that would raise costs for businesses in the Commonwealth at a time when they can least afford it.

“This is a very difficult time for most of Virginia’s small businesses as they have been forced to close or extremely limit operations, so piling on more costs now could be a death knell,” said Nicole Riley, state director of NFIB in Virginia. “It wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest to lose about half of the state’s jobs that these employers provide or endanger economic recovery for Virginia. It is important at this unprecedented time to hold off and step cautiously forward.”

“Manufacturing is playing a critical role in the health crisis by providing essential goods in the fight against COVID-19, but company revenues are still drastically reduced when compared to the time just before the outbreak,” said Brett Vassey, president, and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association. “To ensure production continues through the many months it may take for the state to recover, burdening these businesses with higher costs now is most inappropriate–especially when jobs and company futures could be at risk.”

“Retail businesses are among the hardest hit by this pandemic, so even when the economy is slowly reopened it may be much longer before consumers feel comfortable walking into retail shops,” said Jodi Roth director of government relations for the Virginia Retail Federation. “If they survive it financially and bring back workers, it will be a long, slow climb—made tougher if these companies are saddled with higher costs, especially now.”

The letter to the state’s lawmakers from the business coalition said Virginia’s economy is in uncharted territory and the elected officials must understand the need to ensure businesses have the flexibility to adapt to the effects of the pandemic without more mandates.

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