Virginia Businesses Petition for Democratic Process

Virginia Businesses Petition for Democratic Process

RICHMOND, VA – A diverse group of 29 business trade associations have petitioned Governor Northam to require greater transparency and democratic processes for local government decisions pertaining to COVID-19 phase progression.


The coalition letter states that:

Virginia’s businesses have committed to the most stringent public health and safety protocols to protect employees and customers from COVID-19 infections while continuing to provide access to needed products and services. However, as the Commonwealth has now set a precedent by which individual local political leaders may unilaterally alter a locality’s progression into Safer at Home: Phase I, it has created uncertainty and exacerbated the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the signatories to this letter listed below request that any delegation of authority to local government must include the highest ideals of the democratic process.

“Small businesses across Virginia are facing devastating losses during this pandemic and some of them are being held back by their local governments,” said Nicole Riley Virginia State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).  “It’s a great concern for our members in Northern Virginia and Richmond that remain closed as their competitors in surrounding areas reopen.  Many of them did not have enough to pay rent or utilities these last 12 weeks, and things like curbside carryout and online sales only help so much. If local governments are going to change re-opening plans, they need to do it with a transparent process where businesses can make their voices heard.”

The coalition’s solution is simple.  Democracy requires transparency.  Transparency is achievable if all localities must hold a public hearing with proper public notice, take public comments, and hold a recorded public vote of the locally elected body before any locality can deviate from its progression through the phases.

“It is unfortunate for our retail members in northern Virginia and the city of Richmond that they continue to be at a disadvantage to competitors in surrounding localities,” said Jodi Roth, Government Affairs, Virginia Retail Federation.  “Virginia’s businesses deserve better and have worked extremely hard through innovative ways to keep their doors open and employees employed. Businesses should have the opportunity to weigh in on the decisions impacting the communities in which they serve.”

The coalition requested that consideration be given to the timing of the movement between phases – ensuring that employers are given ample notice before revisions are put into effect.

“It has taken months for businesses to adapt their operations to a safe work environment for employees and visitors.  They must have adequate time to prepare for change and reversing course without a public hearing is simply tone deaf to the economic crisis before us,” said Brett A. Vassey, President & CEO, VMA.

The coalition also communicated its opposition to delegating any authority to local government that would allow the reversal of progression between phases 1-3.  The petitioned argued that power should be the exclusive purview of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Coalition Members:

Associated Builders & Contractors of Virginia

Associated General Contractors of Virginia

Hampton Roads Chamber

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce

Heavy Construction Contractors Association

National Federation of Independent Business

Northern Virginia Transportation Business Coalition

Precast Concrete Association of Virginia

Richmond Area Municipal Contractors Association

Shellfish Growers of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Virginia Agribusiness Council

Virginia Association of Roofing Professionals

Virginia Association for Home Care & Hospice

Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association

Virginia Craft Brewers Guild

Virginia Forestry Association

Virginia Forest Products Association

Virginia Loggers Association

Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association

Virginia Manufacturers Association

Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Virginia Poultry Federation

Virginia Retail Federation

Virginia Retail Merchants Association

Virginia Seafood Council

Virginia Trucking Association

Virginia Veterinary Medical Association

Virginia Wholesalers & Distributors Association


Read the Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy letter here.