News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
Legislator of the Week
Each week, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce selects a Legislator of the Week and invites he/she to highlight key pieces of legislation that is important to the Hampton Roads business Community. Below is Senator Ralph Northam’s statement on strategies to address sea level rise.
"This year, one of the most important pieces of legislation I sponsored is SJ76. This resolution requires the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to begin coming up with strategies for Virginia to address the threats associated with sea level rise in its coastal localities. This is a critically important first step, as Hampton Roads ranks 10th globally in the value of assets exposed to damage from sea level rise. Finding sound, cost effective ways of addressing the negative consequences of sea level rise will increase the level of certainty associated with starting or maintaining a business in our area, and will also protect private property and the public infrastructure we depend upon to move goods and people, as well as our military installments."
Senator Ralph Northam
Virginia's 6th District
Constitutional Amendment Headed for Approval and November Ballot
HJ3 (Bell) and SJ3 (Obenshain) provide that the General Assembly must define lost access and lost profits.
HB1035 (Joannou) and SB437 (Obenshain) define lost access and lost profits and exclude payment for lost access arising from a police power. This provision, may, however, be tested in the court system. The bills also require the claim for lost access to be offset by the gain in value created by government improvements. There is also a provision that limits lost profits to three years prior to the filing of an eminent domain action. Claims will have to be supported with income tax returns.
HB975 (Bell) and SB653 (Newman) affirm the ability of local governments to condemn land for utilities and streets that are part of an economic development project.
House and Senate Transportation Funding Measures Take Different Approaches
HB1248 (Lingamfelter) supports the Governor’s proposal to utilize ¼ of a cent of sales tax for transportation funding over the next eight years with an impact of $110,600,000 over the biennium. The Senate budget proposal includes gas tax indexing as a means to fund transportation. This indexing would produce an extra $150 to $200 million per year by 2016. Virginia’s gas tax has not increased in 25 years.
The Governor’s proposal directs the CTB to allocate a minimum of $500 million each year for transportation with 25% to bridge repair, 25% to high priority projects, 25% for paving interstates and primary roads, 15% for public-private partnerships, 5% for secondary roads and 5% for smart road technology.
Rail Funding Outlined in Senate Finance Committee Amendments to Senate Bills 29 and 30
Senate budget directs $57.3 million in FY11 undesignated general fund balances to the Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund and allows for continued daily passenger rail service from Lynchburg, Richmond, and Newport News and accelerates additional daily service from Hampton Roads.
Unemployment Trust Fund Tax Surcharge Eliminated
The Senate budget provides $6.7 million from the Virginia Employment Commission Penalty and Interest Fund to pay interest owed the federal government. The Chambers opposed the tax surcharge and support this budget amendment.
“Amazon” Tax Bill Advances
SB597 (Wagner) was approved by the House Finance Committee and appears to be headed for passage on the House floor. The bill requires online retailers with a physical presence in the state, to begin collecting sales tax on September 1, 2013. The state expects to collect $23 million in new revenue from Amazon sales. Joe Taylor, President of Taylor's Do It Centers, spoke in favor of the bill.
Click here for a comprehensive list of bills your Chamber is tracking.