GONE BUT NOT LONG FORGOTTEN…

The 2016 Virginia General Assembly completed their legislative business last Friday evening and adjourned “Sine Die.”

A deal on the $105 billion state budget was reached amicably; however, there were points of great tension during the final days regarding the eventual selection of a new Supreme Court Justice followed by subsequent gubernatorial vetoes on certain pieces of legislation important to members of the General Assembly in retribution for not confirming Governor Terry McAuliffe’s initial Supreme Court selection.

After crossover, there were many long and thorough discussions on host of topics ranging from the somewhat mundane: bond packages, freedom of information, tobacco, tolls, etc. to more heated and complex debate on topics including: charter schools, abortion, confederate memorials, censorship in secondary schools vs. free speech, fantasy sports, capital punishment and execution, religious freedom, ethics.

Below is a summary and the latest status on the legislation of keen interest to the Virginia Beverage Association. Also, attached is the aforementioned list of bills that could have potentially had some impact on our industry – please review. If you need any additional commentary or reporting, please let us know.

The Governor has until April 11th to amend, sign or veto all bills now on or coming to his desk prior to the reconvened session on Wednesday, April 20th. Of course, we will keep a watchful eye on all amendments to all regular bills and the budget bill, which could impact the VBA.

Issue of interest to the VBA:

School Nutrition and Childhood Wellness:

HB 357 (Loupassi), HB 574 (Robinson), HJ 65 (O’Bannon), HJ 83 (Bagby), SB 211 (Miller)

Delegate Manoli Loupassi’s (R-Richmond) HB 357 and Senator John Miller’s (D-Newport News) SB 211 will mandate that children in elementary schools be required to have a minimum of at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes of activity per week during the regular school year. Both bill have passed and have been signed by the Governor.

Delegate Roxanne Robinson’s (R-Chesterfield) HB 574 clarifies the situations under which a dietician or nutritionist may practice and provides that the professional scope of practice of dieticians and nutritionists includes the practice of nutritional genomics. The bill also updates the names of organizations from which dieticians and nutritionists are authorized to receive professional certifications in order to practice in Virginia. This legislation passed the General Assembly and has been signed by the Governor.

Delegate John O’Bannon’s (R-Henrico) HJ 65 sought to have the Joint Commission on Health Care study the expansion of the mission for the Virginia Foundation on Healthy Youth. Delegate Lamont Bagby’s HJ 83 (D-Richmond) sought to task the Office of School Nutrition within the Department of Education to study student nutrition in our schools. Given the strain on state resources and the already heavy workload by legislative study committees, the House Rules Committee opted to not proceed with both bills.


Taxes:

HB 165 (Farrell), HB 214 (LeMunyon), HB 539 (Watts), SB 326 (Saslaw), SB 756 (Sturtevant)

Delegate Peter Farrell’s (R-Henrico) HB 165 would have provided an exemption from local meals taxes for certain organizations engaged in fundraising purposes when the revenues are used by an entity already exempt from income taxes. This bill was “continued to 2017” in the House Finance Committee.

Delegate Jim LeMunyon’s (R-Prince William) HB 214 sought to create a Joint Subcommittee to perform a one-year study on tax preferences. This bill was tabled in the House Rules Committee for much of the same reasons as the school nutrition and childhood wellness studies—money and resources.

Delegate Vivian Watts’s (D-Arlington) HB 539 would have lowered the corporate income tax rate from 6% to 5.75%. This bill was “tabled” in the House Rules Studies Subcommittee.

Senator Dick Saslaw’s (D-Fairfax) SB 326 also sought to lower the corporate tax rate from 6% to 5.75% and was “passed by indefinitely” by the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Glen Sturtevant’s (R-Richmond) also sought to lower the corporate income tax rate from 6% to 5.5%. It was also “passed by indefinitely” in the Senate Finance Committee.


Plastic Bags:

SB 55 (Locke), SB 114 (Petersen), SB 532 (Surovell)

Senator Mamie Locke’s (D-Hampton) SB 55 would have allowed any locality to prohibit the distribution, sale or offer of disposable plastic shopping bags to consumers. This bill failed to report from the Senate Local Governments Committee by a vote of 6-7.

Senator Chap Petersen’s (D-Fairfax) SB 114 intended to impose a 5-cent per bag tax on plastic bags provided to customers by certain retailers in localities located wholly within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Proceeds would go towards the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan. This bill was “passed by indefinitely” in the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Scott Surovell’s (D-Fairfax) SB 532 would have authorized localities in Planning District 8 the ability to impose a 5-cent tax on plastic bags. This legislation was “passed by indefinitely” in the Senate Finance Committee.


Workforce Matters:

SB 129 (Edwards), SB 274 (Wexton)

Senator John Edwards’s (D-Roanoke) SB 129 would have increased the minimum wage from its currently mandated level of $7.25 an hour to $8.00 an hour. This bill was “passed by indefinitely” in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

Senator Jennifer Wexton’s (D-Loudoun) SB 274 sought to require private employers to give each full-time employee paid sick days beginning on the nineteenth calendar day of employment. The bill would have also required an employer to provide paid sick days, upon the request of the employee, for diagnosis, care or treatment of health conditions of the employee or an employee’s family member. Any employer not adhering to this law would be subject to civil fines and penalties.

This legislation was “passed by indefinitely” in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.


Vending Machines:

HB 1289 (Knight)

Delegate Barry Knight’s (R-Poquoson) HB 1289, as drafted, would provide that in any case in which the Department of for the Blind and Vision impaired enters into a contract with a vendor for the operation of vending machines at rest areas on the interstate highways in Virginia, the Department shall only enter into such contract with a business that has been certified as a small, woman-owned or minority owned business or as a service-disabled-veteran-owned business.