Legislators respond to business ratings

Published 8:04 am Friday, June 19, 2009

FRANKLIN—Sen. Frederick M. Quayle (R-Suffolk), the lone Republican state legislator representing Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County, was the region’s most business-friendly in the 2009 General Assembly session, according to a report released by the Virginia Foundation for Research & Economic Education.

The organization evaluated legislators on their support of “predominant business issues” using General Assembly voting records and incumbent evaluations completed by leading business lobbyists.

The evaluation included a business rating, stewardship within the business community and effectiveness ratings as determined by governmental-affairs professionals. All ratings were on a 100-point scale, where 100 is strongly pro-business.

Quayle’s business rating of 82 placed him in the “base” category, which means that Quayle is a “consistent supporter of pro-business views,” according to the group.

“We’ve got to continue to make Virginia attractive for businesses,” Quayle said, noting that the commonwealth has been named one of the best states for business several years in a row.

All of the area’s other state representatives have business ratings that fall within the “swing” category, meaning that they are “frequent supporters of pro-business views.”

Delegate William K. Barlow (D-Smithfield) is pleased with his business rating of 66, acknowledging that the interests of businesses and ordinary citizens aren’t always the same.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is a balancing act,” he said. “You can vote pro-business or you can vote pro-ordinary, middle-class citizen.”

Quayle said that he doesn’t place business interests ahead of citizens but that citizens understand that business-friendly policies are good for them also.

“Most of my constituents are interested in the economic growth and economic vitality of my region,” he said.

Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) said she is satisfied with her business rating of 69.

“I vote more on the side of business than not,” Lucas said. “I am a businesswoman.”

Both Barlow and Lucas said that the General Assembly has done a good job keeping the state a viable location for businesses, but they do have reservations about some of the commonwealth’s recent economic decisions.

Barlow and Quayle agree that the failure to fund congestion-easing transportation projects across Virginia could have negative effects on both businesses and ordinary citizens.

“We cannot continue to do absolutely nothing about transportation,” Quayle said.

Lucas is disappointed that the state chose not to accept millions of dollars worth of economic stimulus funds to extend unemployment benefits. Opponents of the extension of unemployment benefits, including Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Attorney General Robert McDonnell, said that accepting the funds would have required businesses to pay higher unemployment taxes after the stimulus funds run out.

“If we had taken that money, there was nothing that said that we would’ve had to do that next year,” Lucas said.

Delegate Roslyn Tyler (D-Jarratt) could not be reached for comment about her business rating of 63.