News and  Notes from the Virginia General Assembly

News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
Tagged in: Advocacy
News and  Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
February 10th marked the midpoint or "crossover" of the 2015 General Assembly session. There were a number of significant bills impacting the business community in the Commonwealth and, as budget proposals emerged from each legislative Chamber, priorities were defined to a large degree.

 

 

Items in the Senate and House Budgets

  • Additional funds for academically underperforming schools
  • Added funds for economic development incentive programs, $20M for Governor’s Opportunity Fund
  • Funded the V3 program to support transition of veterans to civilian workforce
  • Establishes a program of professional development for teachers and principals

“Virginia Reinvestment Act” – SB 1477 (McDougle, Garrett, Stanley) – Provides a $5M exemption for companies that bring business back to Virginia.  This exemption would be good in tax year 2016 for companies that make a $5M capital investment.

Additional Budget Proposals

  • Sets aside $99.5M for rainy-day deposit in 2017, which brings the balance to $400M (Per requirement of State Constitution)
  • Provides $43M to accelerate funding of 90% of VRS certified rates for state retirement plans
  • Pays cash for all capital projects and includes no new debt
  • Provides 1.5% across the board raises for state police and state employees
  • $4M for state police overtime
  • 2% pay raise for state supported local employees
  • $19.8M for enrollment in colleges and universities
  • 2% faculty pay raise
  • $100M for construction projects at James Madison University, Virginia Tech, Longwood University, Radford University and Virginia Commonwealth University
  • $124M for healthcare safety net
  • Funding for 29,200 mentally ill patients
  • $6M for free clinics
  • $1M for Virginia tourism
  • $500,000 for Ethics Advisory Council 

Business Bills

HB 2098 (Davis) – Tangible personal property, miscellaneous incidental property.  This bill allows small items with an initial value of $250 to be grouped together for tax purposes.

HB 1879/SB 741 – Coal Tax Credit Extension – Limits the credit to $500,000 per return, reduces the tax credit from $3 per ton of coal purchased by an electricity generator to $2 per ton.  The effective date of the new terms begins January 1, 2015.  Passed House 69Y – 29N.

HB 1512/Minimum Wage to $15.15 per hour.  DEFEATED – Tabled in House Commerce and Labor by voice vote.

SB 681/Minimum Wage to $8.00 per hour with increases over three years.  DEFEATED – Passed by indefinitely in Senate Commerce and Labor 11Y – 3N.

HB 1940 (Greason) – Health Insurance – Mandated coverage for autism spectrum disorder required for age 2 through 6.  This bill mandates coverage in Virginia so the cost of private health insurance will be impacted.  House PASSED 63Y – 35N.

SB 1349 (Wagner) – Electric Utility regulation – Suspends review of earnings in return for base rate freeze.  Senate PASSED 32Y – 6N/House PASSED 72Y – 23N.

HJ 637 (Landes) – Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program.  Included in the study are:  cost analysis of highest cost services, opportunities for improved efficiencies.  House PASSED 70Y – 23N.

HB 1886, HB 1887 (Jones) – Oversight of transportation expenditures will be improved with a more independent Commonwealth Transportation Board.  Also State of Good Repair Funding will provide VDOT the ability to meet and sustain a state of good repair for pavement and bridges.

HB 1550, HB 1838, HB 1585 – Labor Day School Start – DEFEATED in Senate Education and Health Committee 9N – 5Y.  Defeating the Labor Day School Start bills protects the Virginia Tourism Industry that generates $21.5B in economic activity annually and employs over 213,000 Virginians.  State tax revenues from tourism are enough to pay for the salaries of 15,000 police officers, the education of 76,000 Virginia students, the salaries of 13,000 elementary school teachers OR maintaining 60,000 miles of Virginia roads annually.

  • The total economic consequence of shortening the tourism season in Virginia would be more than $369M, including $104M in wages and benefits.
  • A study conducted by Dr. James McMillian, Professor in the School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University, has concluded that there is no relationship between Pre-Labor Day openings and increased academic achievement.

 

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