News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
Points of Contact: Ira Agricola, Senior Vice President &
Candace Reid, Manager, Governmental Affairs
Representing: Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce &
Greater Williamsburg Chamber &Tourism Alliance
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
No portion of this communication may be retransmitted or reproduced without the expressed permission of the
Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce
State of the Commonwealth Address
Outgoing Governor Tim Kaine delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address on January 13. Kaine pointed to more than $13 billion in new business investment, the passage of a ban on smoking in restaurants, the preservation of 400,000 acres of open space and expansion of pre-kindergarten programs as the administration’s greatest accomplishments.
The biggest challenge facing Virginia, according to Kaine, is the state’s declining transportation infrastructure and failure to make investments in transportation for decades.
The Commonwealth is in the top ten in the United States in median income and it enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Five Fortune 500 companies have been recruited to Virginia during the last four years.
Legislative Tourism Caucus
Twenty-two members of the legislature and a standing room only business audience of thirty-seven participated in the first Legislative Tourism Caucus meeting of 2010 on January 14th. Forty-nine legislators have signed on to be members of the caucus which points up the strong interest in the tourism industry in Virginia.
The purpose of the caucus is to garner statewide support for tourism, hospitality, and travel policy. Delegate Dave Nutter (R-7th) chairs the caucus.
Some immediate focus of the Legislative Tourism Caucus and the Tourism Committee is to: 1) re-open state rest areas, 2) oppose bills that allow pre-labor day school opening, and 3) support the motion picture tax credit legislation.
Reports were also provided on the “Commonwealth Tourism Initiative” that is designed to muster private sector support for tourism marketing and the Commonwealth’s efforts to conduct tourism research in order to better target advertising.
SJ 63 Study: expansion and funding of high-speed passenger rail service
(Senator Yvonne Miller D-5th) creates a 10-member joint subcommittee to study expansion of inter-city and high-speed passenger rail service in Virginia and ways to pay for it.
Business Coalition on Worker’s Compensation
Your Chamber is a member of the Business Coalition on Worker’s Compensation. This coalition consists of individual companies and business and trade associations. The current recommendations from the coalition are as follows: oppose the expansion of the worker’s compensation panel of physicians, oppose efforts to relax or alter the standards for compensability as supported in the current statutory framework, oppose efforts to alter the Worker’s Compensation Acts exclusivity and oppose efforts to expand Virginia’s death presumption.
Virginia has an effective Workers Compensation program. Efforts will continue through this legislative session to maintain the current program.
Efforts continue to retain the “dealer discount” fee that is granted to retailers for collecting the state sales tax. $144 million collected state-wide provides partial reimbursement for the “hard costs” of collecting the state sales tax including credit card fees.
Former Representative Thelma Drake was named Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Transportation.
Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition Seeks Legislation to Support Industry
Senator Frank Wagner (R-7th), Delegate William Janis (R-56th), and Senator Donald McEachin (D-9th) have proposed two bills to create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority. The bills would create an eleven member panel that would seek Federal Department of Energy funding.
There are eight bills that have been introduced to date in the unemployment insurance area.
HB 177 disqualifies seasonal tax preparation employees from receiving unemployment compensation.
HB 178 disqualifies seasonal or temporary workers from unemployment compensation benefits.
HB 252 waives overpayment due to administrative error.
*HB 535 (SUPPORTED BY CHAMBER) postpones scheduled increase.
HB 550, VEC negotiates terms of repayment benefits which recipient is not entitled.
*HB 647 (OPPOSED BY CHAMBER) makes part-time employed and those in training programs eligible for unemployment benefits.
HJ 23, Unemployment Compensation Act, JLARC to study effectiveness of deputy level hearings on claims.
SB 239 (Senator Watkins R-10th) expands unemployment benefits for “compelling” reasons and job training. (The Chamber OPPOSES this bill and the expansion of unemployment benefits beyond the extension of benefits approved in consideration of severe economic conditions).
BPOL Restriction Introduced
HB 57, Cox (R-66th) – restricts localities authority to raise rates for business, professional and occupational licenses effective January 1, 2010. The bill also prohibits those localities that are not currently collecting BPOL tax from doing so. HB 110, Cole (R-88th) – allows localities to decide whether to impose the BPOL tax on a business’s gross receipts or its Virginia taxable income.
HB 246 Merricks (R-16th), SB 484 Hurt (R-19th) and Marshall (R-144) Bill requires 10percent of local government investment pool assets to be invested in time, savings or demand deposits at financial institutions qualified to accept public deposits under the Virginia Security for Public Deposits Act.
Machinery and Tool Taxes – (HB 613-Purkey (R-82nd)- classifies new investments in machinery and tools for manufacturing, processing and re-processing, mining and television broadcasting made after July 1, 2010 as intangible personal property and not subject to local property tax.
Bill Would Extend Payment Schedule for Cash Proffers- HB 374 (Cosgrove R-78th) – delays the collection of cash proffers by local government.
SB 225 (Barker D-39th) requires all public contractors and their subcontractors to register in a federal Electronic Work Verification Program.
Jim Cheng Named Secretary of Commerce and Trade – New Secretary Cheng is the founder and former CEO of C.H.M., a government technology contractor.
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.