Virginia General Assembly Update to February 21, 2011

Tagged in: Advocacy
Virginia General Assembly Update  to  February 21, 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, February 21, 2011


Weights and Measures Gas Tax Tabled
An industry sponsored bill to raise the gas tax by one-tenth of 1% to fund a more reliable inspection system was tabled on a 17-4 vote in House Appropriations.  SB973 (Whipple) would have generated $3.8 million. 


Constitutional Amendment Resolution in Support of Bipartisan Panel on Redistricting Tabled
Senator Deeds (D-25th) sponsored the resolution that was tabled in the constitutional sub-committee of the House Committee on Privileges and Elections.


House Budget Supports Rolling Back the Accelerated Sales Tax for 98% of Affected Retailers
With an improving economy, the Commonwealth’s budget process includes a proposal to decrease the level of the accelerated sales tax.  This would provide welcome relief to retailers across the state.  The budget conferences must complete their work by February 26th.


Autism Mandate

ARS Services related to the treatment of this disorder (that are in addition to medical treatments) are headed to final passage.


SB1401 Defeated (McEachin)

This bill expands eligibility for UI in the Commonwealth in exchange for a one time infusion of federal dollars ($125M).  The Chamber has consistently OPPOSED this measure throughout the session. 
SB1401 was defeated in the House on February 15.


E Verify
SB1049 (Barker) has emerged as the business supported E Verify bill this session.  It requires companies with more than 50 employees AND a state contract of 50K+ to register and use the system by December 1, 2013.  The Federal I-9 form will still be required.


Transportation Bills Headed for Final Passage

Bills that advance bonding authority, create an infrastructure bank to provide low cost loans, dedicate 2/3 of the state’s annual revenue surplus to transportation and establish an Intercity Passenger Rail Fund, are headed for passage.  While General Fund revenues have mostly been removed from the bills, each represents a substantial boast to the Hampton Roads region.  The Governor’s transportation bills have enjoyed bipartisan support in both Chambers.


Education

SB810 (Obenshain) and HB1554 (Wilt) require all Virginia High School students to participate in an economics and financial literacy class to graduate.  This bill has enjoyed broad support from business organizations.


BPOL to be Further Studied
JLARC has been directed to study the impact of local revenue streams if the local Business Professional and Occupational License Tax is changed from gross receipts to net income.  Businesses are required to provide data and calculations that assume net income as the basis of the tax.  Reports will be due to the locality by October 1, 2011.  Data will be transmitted to JLARC by April 1, 2012.  JLARC is to complete the study by November 1, 2012.


(SB 1459) Virginia Higher Education OPPORTUNITY ACT Passes Unanimously

SB1459 is organized around three objectives; economic opportunity, reform-based investment, and affordable access.  This was an administration bill that captures much of the higher education public policy initiatives sponsored by Governor McDonnell.


Oceana State Funding Update

Since the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Virginia Beach began collaborating to avoid losing NAS Oceana and comply with the BRAC order to purchase $300 million worth of properties at a rate of at least $15 million per year, a successful program of encroachment mitigation has been developed.

 As of 2/14/11, the City of Virginia Beach has:
•  Identified willing sellers
•  Made offers on approximately $4 million in the APZ-1
•  Been in active negotiation on three large sites with two of three
    targeted for June 30, 2011  
   

The total of these outstanding offers is more than $13 million.  Funding of this BRAC Order will allow the continued collaboration of the mitigation of encroachment, and demonstrate to the Department of Navy that the Commonwealth is serious about maintaining the assets they have placed in Virginia.

 NAS Oceana Facts
• Direct Employment 10,010
• Indirect and Induced Employment 15,275
• Gross Regional Product (millions) 2,486.8

The Department of Defense in Hampton Roads comprises 45% of the economy in our region.

Status of Funds from the Commonwealth
Governor McDonnell included the state’s matching funds for Oceana land acquisition in his budget; however, neither the Senate or House versions have included the monies.

The budget conferees are meeting now with a deadline of February 27.


Virginia Tax Collections Up 12.6%
Virginia’s revenues are up 12.6% over last year.  Ten of 11 months have shown improvement.  This allowed the Governor to include another $152 million in revenue for budgeting purposes.


State Job Incentives to be Reviewed

SJ329 (Howell) directs JLARC to study state incentives offered to business for economic development.  The two year study will take a look at Virginia’s current practices and make recommendations.  Last year, the Commonwealth spent $23.8 million providing incentives to 22 businesses resulting in 3,429 new jobs ($7,000 per job).

 

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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