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Commonwealth's Counties

Farm Brewery Bill significantly amended


Thursday, February 20, 2014

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Farm Brewery Bill Significantly Amended
SB 430 (Watkins) creates a new ABC classification of brewery license for those breweries located on a farm that grow barley, malt, hops or fruit to be used in the manufacture of beer.

VACo opposed the bill in its original form as it lacked a definition of farm or a connection to an actual agricultural use, had an expansive definition of the licensed premises and included language that severely eroded local land use authority including prohibiting localities from the authority to regulate parking, road access and road upgrade requirements.

VACo worked with a number of stakeholders in redrafting the language of the bill in a more positive posture for localities. As a result, a substitute to the original bill passed by the Senate was offered by the patron and accepted by a House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Monday and the full committee on Tuesday. The substitute limits these new brewery licenses to land zoned agricultural, restores the ability for localities to regulate minimum parking, road access and road upgrade requirements and limits the licensed premises to areas under cultivation that are contiguous to the brewery. The bill also now requires a process by which ABC must notify localities of proposals to expand the licensed premises beyond the brewery and contiguous area under cultivation.

VACo Contacts: Phyllis Errico, CAE or Erik Johnston


Multiple bills reauthorizing Local Mandate Review Task Force to be considered by local government committees
The authorization for the Governor’s Task Force for Local Mandate Review is set to expire in June. The current task force has five members appointed by the governor. Of the five original bills proposed to reauthorize the task force, several vehicles remain.

The Senate Local Government Committee passed HB 1011 (Byron) on Tuesday that reauthorizes the task force in its current form through July 1, 2018. The Senate committee also passed HB 594 (BaCote) after making the language identical to SB 163 (Locke), which reauthorizes the commission through July 1, 2018, and adds two members to the task force for a total of seven members with two members being non-governmental employees with a business background.

On Thursday morning, a House Counties, Cities and Towns Subcommittee conformed SB 163 to HB 1080 (Garrett). This version reauthorizes the task force through July 1, 2018, and adds five members. The governor shall now appoint seven members with two members being non-governmental appointees with a background in business. The Speaker shall appoint two delegates and the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee shall appoint one Senator. Therefore, the final version of the reauthorization is likely to be four years, but the details of the composition of the task force will be negotiated in conference.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston


Voluntary Boundary Line Adjustment Bill Amended
HB 652 (LaRock) passed the Senate Local Government Committee with unanimous support on Tuesday after a substitute amendment was accepted. The bill now provides that all owners of parcels subject to the boundary line change must be sent notice by first class mail (not certified mail) and that if the owners of at least one third of the affected parcels object to the boundary line change they have standing to raise an objection to the change.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston


Several retirement and benefit bills remain standing
The Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee will consider several retirement and benefit related bills that advanced through the other chamber.

SB 102 (Ruff) and HB 1105 (Ingram) provide a minimum group life insurance death benefit of $8,000 for retirees with at least 30 years of service. This minimum benefit level is indexed at a rate of 2.25 percent and thus will increase over time. Both bills cost localities a combined total of around $300,000 in additional payroll contributions per year, beginning in FY2015. The Senate bill includes a clause that the bill not become effective unless the budget includes an appropriation of $8.6 million to reduce the unfunded liability in the group life insurance program. It does not appear the Senate Budget included this funding. The House Budget includes funding to cover the annual increase of $170,000 to cover state employees, but does not include funding for the unfunded liability or the cost increase for localities.

SB 188 (McDougle) moves to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration and will allow the state and localities to offer a Roth IRA beginning July 1, 2015. Currently, this would include approximately 200 state agencies as well as approximately 60 local employers that have opted to use the Commonwealth’s 457 deferred compensation plan. Additional local employers may enter into an agreement to participate in the Commonwealth’s 457 deferred compensation plan.

HB 877 (Jones) will allow school boards to administer 403(b) deferred compensation plans for teachers in the new hybrid retirement plan. The original bill included the same option for local government 457 deferred compensation programs, but was amended to only include 403(b) plans for teachers. The Senate Finance Committee carried over the Senate companion, SB 422 (Watkins), for a year.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston

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