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Commonwealth's Counties

Bad BPOL bill tabled


Friday, February 6, 2015

Bad BPOL bill tabled
VACo worked to defeat HB 1352 (Ramadan), a bill negatively affecting local business and occupational licensing (BPOL) taxes. HB 1352 would have eliminated a locality’s ability to levy BPOL taxes on subcontractors. The local fiscal impact could have been a $50 million hit to local revenues. VACo shared these concerns with House Finance Committee members. The committee tabled the bill on February 4.

VACo Contact: Dean Lynch, CAE and Beau Blevins

Bill creating virtual schools advances
HB 1361 (Richard Bell) establishes a Virginia Virtual School program that would be overseen by the Board of the Virginia Virtual School. A Virtual School program is defined as a series of online course with instructional content where the teaching is conducted from a remote location.

VACo opposes this legislation because it would cause localities to receive less in school basic aid payments for each pupil participating in the virtual schools program. Because local school divisions could be responsible for costs associated with participation by students who have not been enrolled in their schools, there could be additional fiscal impacts for localities.

On February 9, the measure was recommended by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on 6-1 vote. The measure will now be considered by the House Appropriations Committee.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


First Day Introduction bill
SB 1140 (Garrett) passed out of the Senate Rules Committee on February 6 with an amendment. The bill requires local fiscal impact bills to be introduced no later than the first day of the session. The bill is based on recommendations offered last year by the Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review and the Task Force for Fiscal Impact Review. By providing local governments more time to assess the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, it is hoped that the General Assembly will make better decision on measures affecting local spending and local revenues.

The committee amended SB 1140 to state that only bills with a negative fiscal impact to local governments may be introduced no later than the first day of the session. VACo supports this legislation.

VACo Contact: Dean Lynch, CAE and Beau Blevins


Constitutional amendment expanding real property tax changed; passes committee
HJR 597 (Hugo) was amended and passed out of the House Privileges and Elections Committee on February 6. The bill, in its original form, called for a constitutional amendment to allow the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the primary residence of the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel or emergency services personnel killed in the line of duty. VACo voiced concerns that the state would be expanding a local tax exemption and also placing more pressure on other local taxpayers.

The committee adopted an amendment to the bill making it a permissive for locality to offer the real property tax exemption to surviving spouses of public safety officers. The amendment to the bill was offered by Delegate Rob Krupicka and supported by Delegate Chris Jones in committee. The amendment puts the bill in much better form in terms of its impacts on local government.

VACo Contact: Dean Lynch, CAE and Beau Blevins


Bills legalizing industrial hemp pass
VACo supports HB 1277 (Yost) and SB 955 (Dance) that allow for the licensed cultivation of industrial hemp. Both bills have passed in their respective chambers by overwhelming votes of 98-0 and 32-5, respectively. Under this legislation, industrial hemp is defined as “Cannabis sativa” with concentrations of THC that are no greater than what is allowed under federal law. The bills also require the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to adopt regulations that establish an industrial hemp research program.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Bill to resolve land conservation disputes passes House
HB 1488 (Pogge), as amended, creates a process for resolving disputes relating to activities on conservation easements. Under HB 1488, a dispute involving a conservation easement that is not being litigated may be addressed through the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act under Section 2.2-4115 et seq. of the Code of Virginia. On February 3, the measure passed the House, 87-9. The House’s amended version of HB 1488 removes a provision that was in the introduced version of the bill that would have allowed “small-scale family farming practices” on conservation easements.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


House agriculture subcommittee rejects food freedom bills
On February 2, a House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee tabled HB 1290 (Robert Bell). This measure exempts from state inspection the preparation of food products in private homes or farms for direct sale to consumers. The same subcommittee also tabled HB 1461 (Morris), which would have allowed for sales of raw milk to consumers by owners of three or fewer milking cows. To qualify for this exemption from state regulations, the milk container would require a label stating the product is has not received state inspection.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Bills require General Assembly approval of “Clean Energy Plan”
SB 1365 (Watkins) requires the General Assembly to approve the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Implementation Plan for reducing carbon emissions from power plants before the Plan may be submitted for approval to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under proposed EPA rules on carbon emissions, each state is required to submit such a plan. On February 5, the Senate Agriculture Committee reported SB 1365 on a 14-0 vote. A similar measure, HB 2291 (O’Quinn) was reported by the House Commerce and Labor Committee by a 15-6 vote.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


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