HB 2308 (Brewer) amends a Code section that deals with the amount of acreage that may be owned by certain benevolent or charitable associations. As reported by the House General Laws Committee, the bill increases the amount of property that may be owned by an association or post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, or similar association chartered by an act of Congress from the current cap of 75 acres to 200 acres. Property owned by such organizations is tax-exempt under a statute that was enacted before passage of a Constitutional amendment in 2002 that largely vested the granting of property tax exemptions for nonprofits with localities, so the legislation as reported by committee would have significantly expanded the amount of property that would be required to be exempt from taxation.
The patron, Delegate Emily Brewer, and the Chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, Delegate Vivian Watts, worked with VACo to amend the bill on the House floor to provide that any property in excess of the original 75 acres would be tax-exempt only at local option under the current process for these organizations. Although the bill seeks to address a specific situation, the original version could have had wide-ranging impacts on local finances.