Senator Warner introduces legislation boosting spaceports

Virginia Senator Mark Warner and Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan introduced bipartisan legislation to support spaceports across the nation.

The legislation will increase investment in space and address the spaceport bottleneck.

The Alleviate Spaceport Traffic by Rewarding Operators Act, or ASTRO, would award funding to spaceports with a track record of launches, protecting and promoting America’s strategic, military, and commercial interests in space exploration while supporting their local economies.

The ASTRO Act would help private spaceports get the resources they need to improve the infrastructure and increase launch capacity and cadence.

Through the Act, spaceports would receive $250,000 for each licensed launch and $100,000 for each permitted launch up to $2.5 million to promote investment in spaceports that have a record of successful launches.

One of the spaceports eligible for those funds includes Wallops Island in Virginia.

To view the Senator’s full release, click here.

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Senator Warner leads legislation against rising drug prices

The Senate Finance Committee voted 26-1 yesterday to approve the Modernizing and Ensuring PBM Accountability Act.

The bipartisan legislation is aimed at helping address rising prescription drug prices by regulating intermediaries who manage prescription drug benefits for health insurance companies.

Included in the act are multiple bills proposed by Senator Mark Warner including the PBM Reporting Transparency ACT which holds PBMs accountable for providing good value to seniors and Medicare by making more information available to the public about their contracts.

The IMPROVE Part D Regulations Act is also included which requires listening sessions to be held about improvements to Medicare Part D.

An amendment in the bill was also proposed by Warner which ensures smaller pharmacies receive fair reimbursement when serving medically complex patients.

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Youngkin and Warner team up to bring microchip manufacturing to Virginia

Governor Glenn Youngkin and Senator Mark Warner came together earlier this week at a conference in Fairfax in a bipartisan effort to encourage global leaders to bring microchip manufacturers to the Commonwealth.

Governor Youngkin highlighted a number of attractive benefits in bringing manufacturers to Virginia including lucrative incentives, the proximity to the federal government, the country’s defense contracting hub, one of the largest cargo ports, and one of the best public and private university systems.

The event held at Northrop Grumman’s global headquarters in partnership with Virginia Tech highlighted the Virginia Alliance of Semiconductor Technology program which is building a pipeline of graduate students to enter the semiconductor field.

The federal government recently dedicated $52 million in an incentive package that Senator Warner was heavily involved in developing to help bring semiconductor projects to the country as currently only 12% of chips are made domestically.

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Warner introduces advance care planning act

Senator Mark Warner introduced the bipartisan Improving Access to Advance Care Planning Act with Senator Susan Collins.

The goal is to expand access to critical advance care planning services in Medicare which will allow people with serious illnesses to plan for their care and have their choices honored.

The act will allow social workers to provide ACP services, remove beneficiary cost-sharing, increase provider education on ACP codes, and improve reporting of barriers to ACP services.

Senator Warner first introduced legislation to improve planning options for patients in 2015.

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Sen. Warner leads telehealth legislation

Senator Mark Warner led a bipartisan effort to introduce the Kidney Health Connect Act which would allow dialysis clinics to act as originating sites for telehealth services.

The bill was cosponsored by Sen. John Barrasso M.D. (R-WY) and Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Dan Kildee (D-MI), John Joyce M.D. (R-PA), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE).

The legislation also removes a 20% facility fee coinsurance obligation for patients utilizing telehealth services at the clinic.

This will help patients avoid additional costs and keep initial costs lower.

This effort is in addition to a 2018 initiative which expanded telehealth to home dialysis.

Warner originally co-sponsored a bill in 2016 which was reintroduced in 2021 advocating for telehealth to ease access to healthcare.

To view a copy of the bill, click here.

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Gov. Youngkin signs 8 bipartisan bills into law

An email from Governor Glenn Youngkin shows that he signed eight bills into law this week.

The new legislation addresses specifically Taxes, Economic Development, Virginia Retirement System and Higher Education Construction.

The Governor stated in the email that he was honored to sign the bills into law to address bipartisan priorities.

The Governor signed the following bills into law this week:
HB 269, patroned by Delegate Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, which supports economic development by extending the sunset to the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit from 2022 to July 1, 2025. Qualified companies locating or expanding in Virginia are eligible to receive a $1,000 income tax credit for each new full-time job created over a threshold number of jobs beginning in the first taxable year following the taxable year in which the major business facility commenced or expanded its operations. The Governor and Delegate Byron were joined by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick.
HB 518, patroned by Delegate Christopher Head, R-Botetourt, which streamlines the collection and remittance process for travel intermediaries.
HB 324, patroned by Delegate Angelia Williams Graves, D-Norfolk, which supports economic development by updating provisions of the Shipping and Logistics Headquarters Grant Program that was originally established in 2021.
HB 148, patroned by Delegate Chris Runion, R-Rockingham, will make government more efficient by allowing localities to self-certify pollution control equipment for the exemption of sales & use tax already permitted. Under current law, the state certifying authorities are the State Water Control Board or the Virginia Department of Health for water pollution and the Virginia Waste Management Board for waste disposal facilities.
HB 462, patroned by Delegate Terry Austin, R-Botetourt, which supports the aviation industry in Virginia by extending the aviation materials and tools sales and use tax exemption for both state and local taxes to July 1, 2025. This bill also narrows the definition of aircraft covered by this exemption to those with a minimum takeoff weight of at least 2,400 pounds.
HB 473, patroned by David Bulova, D-Fairfax, which reduces the administrative burden on VRS and employers through increasing operational efficiency by easing reconciliation efforts with the hybrid retirement plan by separating existing blended defined benefit and defined contribution rates. This also allows more flexibility for individuals to change their voluntary contributions monthly instead of quarterly, making government work better for them. This has a delayed implementation date of July 1, 2024.
HB 3, patroned by Delegate Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, which extends for another three years the current Retail Sales and Use Tax exemption for sales of $1,000 or more of gold, silver, and platinum bullion and legal tender coins.
HB 165, patroned by Delegate Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, which authorizes issuance of bonds for James Madison University and Virginia Tech. This is a routine 9(c) bond, these bonds are typically for dorms or dining and occur routinely and yearly. These bonds do not impact general funds, are in the budget and have no debt impact. The debt does not impact Virginia’s debt capacity since the debt service is paid from project revenues as students pay for rooms throughout the semester.

The governor added that he looks forward to continuing to review bills to strive to make Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.

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