News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
Points of Contact: Ira Agricola, Senior Vice President &
Candace Reid, Director, Municipal & Governmental Affairs
Representing: Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce &
Greater Williamsburg Chamber &Tourism Alliance
Monday, February 14, 2011
ABC Bills Blocked
No action was taken on a House ABC privatization bill before “crossover” and efforts by Senator Ryan McDougle to have a Senate Sub-Committee hear the Governor’s ABC privatization bill failed.
Business Ability to Enforce Judgments and Liens Protected
HB1925 was passed by indefinitely in the House Courts of Justice Committee. The bill could have changed the ability of businesses to enforce judgments and liens in Virginia. The Chamber opposed the measure.
Transportation Bills contain Needed Boost for Hampton Roads Projects
Funding bills for transportation have successfully “crossed over” to each chamber for consideration. Some of the projects included are: Witchduck Road – 6 lanes, Lesner Bridge replacement, Route 64 – new interchange at city line road, Route 58/Midtown Tunnel PPTA, MLK PPTA, I564 Intermodel Connector, Route 264 Interchange improvements, Route 58 to 6 lanes-First Colonial east of Birdneck, Holland Road upgrade to 4 lanes, Elbow Road upgrade to 4 lanes, and Birdneck Lane from 2 to 4 lanes east of General Booth.
Senate Passes Port Friendly Tax Credit
SB1282 provides a $50 tax credit per container that moves by barge or rail vs. truck.
Money Committees Report Budget Amendments
To view the actual amendments, go to http://leg2.state.va.us/MoneyWeb.NSF/sb2011.
Senate Budget Overview
The Senate budget package proposes an additional $54.7 million of new resources in FY11 and $122.9 million in FY12 for a total of $177.6 million.
House Budget Overview
In the House, first year resources increased by $193.9 million. In FY 12 revenues are reduced by $81.8 million.
Differences in Senate and House Budget
The House version of the budget takes money from the general fund ($150 million) to fund a transportation infrastructure bank. The Senate does not include funds from the general fund for transportation.
There are also other significant differences in public education funding, retirement contributions, local economic development efforts, deposits to the Rainy Day Fund, and several local government funding areas.
The Budget Process Long and Complicated
Five different versions of the budget are being considered in Virginia before the sixth and final version is signed into effect by the Governor after April 6.
The process is as follows: budget introduced by Governor, budget approved by House and Senate, one agreed to by House and Senate, and one agreed upon by House and Senate with Governor’s recommendations.
Budget Concern for Oceana
The Governor included funds to continue purchasing land around Oceana to roll back encroachment however, the House and Senate budgets did not include these funds.
Tourism Bills Moving Forward
HB2285 (James) and SB1193 (Norment) provide financial assistance for certain private projects to boost local tourism. The bills take a portion of sales tax revenue generated at the project site to be used for debt service under certain conditions. The “Dome” site in Virginia Beach may be a project that fits the criteria established in the bill.
Hotel Tax Bill on Transient Room Rentals Moves Forward – Then Defeated in House Sub-Committee
SB972 (Whipple) provides that retail sales and hotel taxes on transient room rentals be based on the total charges or the total price paid for the room, regardless of the method used to book the room. This bill is nicknamed the “Travelocity Bill”. The bill was defeated in a House Sub-Committee late last week.
HB2467 (Greason/Hugo) requires that coverage of autistic children ages 2 to 6 was advanced by the House and a similar measure passed the Senate. The Autism Mandate is expected to pass this session with both chamber’s members up for election in November. Self insurance plans are exempt. The impact statement for HB2467 indicates a cost of $2.3 million to the State’s general fund and $1.2 million to Local Choice participants.
Unemployment Bill That Expands Eligibility Headed For Senate Passage
SB1401 (McEachin) would expand the eligibility of the current Unemployment Insurance Program in order to accept one time federal stimulus funding. The Chamber opposes the measure.
Machinery and Tools Tax Bill not Considered
HB1636 (Purkey) would have provided relief to manufactures across the Commonwealth from the Machinery and Tools tax was not considered in the House Appropriations Committee, effectively killing the measure.
BPOL Bills Pass Over to Senate
HB1437 (Cole) allows localities to decide whether to impose the BPOL tax on a business’s gross receipts or its Virginia taxable income.
HB1587 (Iaquinto) provides that a locality by ordinance may provide an exemption, refund, rebate, or other relief from BPOL for a period not to exceed 2 years for businesses locating for the first time in a locality.
A related Senate Bill dealing with BPOL is SB1408 (Ruff) that permits any locality to exempt, by ordinance, and license fees or taxes for businesses that lose money and are unprofitable during the taxable year after January 2012.
All of the BPOL reform bills are supported by the Chamber.
Rail Fund Approved
The Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund (IPROCF) has passed the General Assembly and will be heading to the Governor’s desk shortly. The creation of this fund is the first step toward sustaining and expanding the Commonwealth’s intercity and high speed passenger rail trains.
SB1401 Unemployment Expansion Bill
Special thanks to Senators Blevins, McWaters, Norment, Quayle and Wagner who voted with the Chamber and against SB1401. The measure did pass, but there were 15 solid votes for the business community on the measure. The coalition that your chamber belongs to, will continue to lobby to oppose the bill in the House.
Governor McDonnell’s Agenda Moving Forward
While there have been a couple of setbacks including ABC privatization and the .25% of the sales tax for transportation in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, the Governor’s agenda is advancing well.
The remaining transportation funding bills put forth by the administration will pass, as will administration sponsored legislation in higher education, job creation, a development incentive program, increased tourism promotion, and a clean energy manufacturing incentive. The Governor has also pointed to reform measures that will make government more responsive and accountable.
During the General Assembly session, please feel free to contact the Chamber’s governmental affairs team. Ira Agricola can be reached at 664-2570 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.You may contact Candace Reid at 664-2572 or at email@example.com to bring any business issue or concern to the attention of the Chamber.