2013 General Assembly Outcomes

2013 General Assembly Outcomes

The 2013 Virginia General Assembly session came to a dramatic and productive end on Saturday, February 23 with the passage of the first overhaul of the Commonwealth’s transportation funding program in 27 years. The historic transportation funding reform bill passed with strong bi-partisan support from legislators from Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia after being challenged and led by Governor McDonnell.

Transportation infrastructure was not the only issue addressed by the General Assembly during the short session. The General Assembly agreed to proceed cautiously in expanding the state’s Medicaid program in order to attempt to serve 400,000 uninsured Virginians utilizing federal funding from the Affordable Health Care Act.  This action was supported by the Chamber and business organizations across the Commonwealth in order to attempt to reduce medical costs to all.

Additionally, the Chamber was proactive with other business organizations in supporting successful efforts in the area of Tort Reform; Hospitality and Tourism; Right to Work; Packaging of Retail items; Workers Compensation; Hurricane Preparedness; Funding for a Regional Sports Arena; and the purchase of property surrounding Ocean Naval Air Station.

2013 General Assembly Outcomes:

Transportation – HB 2313 (Howell) will ultimately pump an additional $880 million into Virginia’s transportation system.  This is the first long-term and sustainable source of funding for transportation passed since 1986.
Highlights of the Bill, supported:

  • Generate $880 million statewide in the fifth year.  Of this amount $200 million will come from the sales tax.
  • Replaces the current 17.5 cents per gallon tax on gas at the pump with a 3.5 percent motor fuel tax, a 6 percent diesel fuel tax, an increase in the automobile sales tax (titling tax) from 3 percent to 4.3 percent and an increase in the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent.
  • Increases the share of existing sales tax dedicated to transportation from .50 percent to .675 percent.
  • Increases the fee for alternate fueled vehicles to $100 (excludes natural gas vehicles).
  • Generates more than $110 million annually for rail and transit ($140 million by 2018).
  • Provides new revenue for Northern Virginia ($350 million annually) and Hampton Roads ($200 million annually).

Medicaid, supported reform/expansion

Reforms Required in Budget Language
Approach to expand Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians.

  • Directs Secretary of Health and Human Resources Hazel and the Department of Medical Assistance Services to develop a “comprehensive value-driven, market-based reform of Virginia Medicaid/FAMIS programs in three phases.
  • Authorizes DMAS to pursue the waivers and plans necessary to implement the optional coverage expansion, and
  • Establishes the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission with 10 legislators, five each from House Appropriations and Senate Finance, whose approval would be required for Medicaid expansion.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand their Medicaid coverage to include more people of low incomes who are not insured.  The federal government will cover most of the cost of the individuals added.

While more than 400,000 Virginians could be eligible for the expanded Medicaid program, it is estimated that 250,000 would participate.  For the Commonwealth to move ahead with expansion, three Delegates and three Senators will have to vote in favor of this action.

Tort Reform, supported measures

HB 1708 – will allow depositions to be used to form the basis of admissions and summary judgment motions limited to non-DUI punitive damage parts of a claim.  This is the first time since 1973 that depositions can be used for any part of summary judgment motions.

HB 1618 and SB 1337 – deal with court venue.  This legislation will require a “practical nexus” such that the location of fact, witnesses, plaintiffs or evidence in addition to the “regularly conducting substantial business” requirement will establish venue.  Currently a company can be sued anywhere they have substantial business activities.

HB 1709 and SB 903 clarify that the requirement for a nonsuiting party to pay expert witness fees applies during the trial and 7 days prior to the trial.

HB 2004 – restricts the duties of care for trespassers.

Hospitality and Tourism

Labor Day – 17 bills were monitored or acted on in the 2013 General Assembly Session.  The Chamber and other tourism stakeholders opposed measures that would eliminate or change the current system that requires local school divisions to receive a waiver before opening prior to the Labor Day holiday.  With 54% of travel coming from within Virginia, this issue represents $360 million in potential economic loss.  (Defeated bills included:  HB 1309, HB 1310, HB 1319, HB 1467, HB 1491, HB 1530, HB 1596, HB 1673, HB 1674, HB 1880, HB 1894, HB 2098, SB 1099, SB 1153, SB 1189, and SB 1245).

Labor, supported

HB 1385 – Declares that in any procedure providing for the designation, selection or authorization of a labor organization to represent employees, the right of an individual employee to vote by secret ballot is a fundamental right that shall be guaranteed from infringement.  (bill passed)

Retail,
opposed

HB 1381 -      imposed a five cents tax on the use of plastic bags used by purchasers to                                     carry tangible personal property purchased in grocery stores, convenience                       stores or drug stores.  (measure defeated)

Two Term Governor supported HJ 549, HJ 679, and SJ 276 that would have permitted Governors to serve two terms. (measures defeated)

Manufacturing, supported

Sales and Use Tax – SB 766 – adds gas-powered chainsaws with a selling price of $350 or less and chainsaw accessories to the list of equipment eligible for the sales and use tax exemption for hurricane preparedness equipment.

Workers Compensation, opposed

HB 1612 – The Workers Compensation Commission was directed to promulgate regulations establishing medical care fee schedules governing all medical care services rendered pursuant to the Virginia Workers Compensation Act.  The bill would have required the medical care fee schedule regulations to be based on Medicare with Medicare coding and reimbursement rules.  (measure failed)

Sports Arena Development (support)

HB 2320 – Gives the City of Virginia Beach rights to issue bonds to construct an arena, receive state sales tax revenue that is attributable to an arena to repay the bonds.

Military, supported

  • Secured $6.2 million to purchase property to reduce encroachment around Oceana Naval Air Station.
Print
Archive