Virginia General Assembly Update to January 31, 2011

Tagged in: Advocacy
Virginia General Assembly Update  to  January 31, 2011

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, January 31, 2011

 

Autism Educational Services Business Tax (HB2467 Greason) – the Chamber is OPPOSED to this bill for a number of reasons:  Businesses are concerned with the implications, uncertainties and costs associated with federal health reform – this mandate would significantly add to the cost of private insurance.  This bill requires businesses to buy more expensive coverage.  The State employee plan is exempted from this mandate as it was estimated to cost an additional $6.1 million per year.  While the bill caps expenses at $35,000; we believe that this directly conflicts with federal law.

Tourism and Film Budget Amendments

  • Tourism Development Fund – builds important tourism infrastructure for localities.
  • VTC Leverage Marketing Grants ($1 million) - increases marketing funds for localities for greater return on investment.
  • Tourism Development Micro Loan Fund ($2 million) – supports small tourism business expansion.
  • OP Sail Virginia 2012 commemorating the War of 1812 ($1 million) – increases state visitation, private-public $80 million leverage.
  • Governor’s Motion Picture Opportunity Fund ($2 million) – increase film and tv production to create jobs in Virginia.

 

The 2011 Tourism Caucus is led by Senator Herring and Delegate Nutter.

  • 2300 bills have been introduced in this “short” session.  These bills will be handled in the next two weeks prior to “crossover.”
  • TAX – HB1604/Albo and SB1006/Watkins, changes the way the sales factor is determined.  The change is to “market-based sourcing” as opposed to “cost of performance.”  This proposal was referenced in a recent JLARC study without recommendation.  The fiscal impact statement that will come from TAX will go a long way in determining the ultimate outcome of the bills.

Workers CompensationHB1475 and SB823 create a presumption that employees who are brain injured at work and cannot recall or discuss their injury would be entitled to benefits.  The House bill has been amended at the request of the business community.

Transportation Bills Support Governor McDonnell’s $4 Billion Transportation Initiative – the Chamber urges SUPPORT for HB2527 (Howell) and SB1446 (Wampler).  These are the primary funding bills for the Governor’s Transportation package.  For each $100 million in spending, 3000 jobs are “supported” in the Commonwealth.  SB1394 (McWaters) takes .25% of the sales tax collected in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia and keeps it in the regions for transportation.

BPOL Reform

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) permits localities to exempt from license taxes any business locating in a city for the first time, for the first two years after such location.  The Chamber SUPPORTS both measures.

Pension Reform

HB2410 (Putney), SB1115 (Watkins), HB2465 (Jones), and SB1008 (Watkins) make changes to the funding of retirement benefits for state and local employees.  Legislative initiatives include employees paying 5% to a defined contribution plan.

Rail Supported in SB1446 (Wampler and Colgan) – the bill establishes the Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund to be used by the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, with the approval of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, on projects that expand and improve intercity passenger rail service.

Labor Day Bills Defeated in House Sub # Education

Five bills that permitted K-12 schools to open prior to the traditional Labor Day Holiday were defeated in House Sub #3 Education on January 27th.

One bill survived (HB1480 Cleveland) that permits schools to open in Roanoke City prior to Labor Day by up to two weeks.  The Chamber will continue to OPPOSE the measure.

Governors Research and Development Tax Credit Bill (SB1326) – reported from Senate Finance on January 25th.  The bill provides a tax credit for research and development expenses.

Government Reform

Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. has introduced 3 bills that significantly reform government in the Commonwealth.  SB1183 would limit the short session to amendments of the budget, constitutional amendments, emergency legislation and other bills that have unanimous consent.  Senate Bill 1355 prevents legislators from receiving additional compensation when the sessions are extended beyond the schedule.  SB 1353 would require the Chair of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees to provide a report specifying items included in the conference committee that were NOT in the House or Senate budgets.

Electric Utility Regulation Bills Defeated

HB2117 and HB2118 (Armstrong) – these bills would overhaul the 2007 law regulating electric utilities.  Both measures failed in House Commerce and Labor on January 26.

Bag Bills Sacked

HB2047 (Ebbin) would have imposed a 5 cents tax on paper and plastic bags with revenue returned to Virginia’s Water Quality Improvement Fund.  HB2341 (Morrissey) would have imposed a twenty cents tax on plastic bags.

Both bills failed to report.

Creditor’s Rights Diminished in HB1925 (Abbot) – this bill places restrictions on garnishment of wages and it places a burden on a creditor or lien or to know an individual’s source of funds.  The Chamber is OPPOSED to this measure.

Two Bills Support Tourism Development

SB1193 (Norment) and HB2285 (James) provide for entitlement to tax revenues from tourism projects.  These bills are SUPPORTED by the Chamber.

Secretary of the State Board of Elections Appointed

Governor Bob McDonnell appointed Donald Palmer of Florida as Secretary of the State Board of Elections on January 28th.

House Committee Approves Autism Bill – On a 15-6 vote, House Commerce and Labor approved a bill that mandates coverage of autism.  The bill is limited to children from 2 to 6 and caps the annual cost at $35,000.  Firms that employ 50 people and are not self insured will be required to carry the coverage.  The bills were OPPOSED by the business community.

Limits on Lending Bills Defeated

HB1441 (Oder) – would have limited annual interest rates on payday and car title loans.  This bill was defeated in House Commerce and Labor.  HB2228 (O’Bannon) – would have blocked lenders from using a provision in the credit law that frees them to charge unlimited rates.

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 iagricola@hrccva.com.You may contact Candace Reid at 664-2572 or at creid@hrccva.com to bring any business issue or concern to the attention of the Chamber

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