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Government Affairs

VAMA stresses the importance of its role in Government Affairs and acting on behalf of its members to advocate for industry matters. One way to ensure that VAMA stays informed on issues that may affect our industry is to continue our relationship with our Legislative Consultant, Jeff Smith.

Jeff Smith, III, The Smith Group, Inc.
4900 Augusta Avenue, Ste. 101
Richmond, VA 23230
Phone: 804-353-2322

VAMA Legislative Update

March 25th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: March 25, 2016
Office of the Governor
Contact: Brian Coy
Email: Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov


Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Legislation that Prohibits Localities from Raising Wages and Benefits


RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today vetoed House Bill 1371, which would prohibit Virginia localities from making their own decisions to improve wage and benefit conditions. The Governor’s statement on the veto is below:

March 25, 2016

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1371, which prohibits localities from enacting policies to improve employee wage and benefit conditions.

A number of localities have enacted wage policies designed to allow the employees of contractors performing services for those localities to generate enough income to allow them to live and raise a family in the area. Companies not inclined to participate at these wage levels need not contract with the localities. House Bill 1371 would undermine these laudable policies to no apparent advantage.

This legislation attempts to restrict wage growth and impedes future labor agreements. Virginia’s efforts should be focused on increasing wages, which will improve the lives of our families and aid our efforts to build a new Virginia economy, rather than placing artificial restrictions on their future growth.


Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Terence R. McAuliffe
Office of Governor Terence R. McAuliffe
Press Special Assistant
804.971.8513
asif.bhavnagri@governor.virginia.gov​ 


March 14th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 14, 2016

Office of the Governor
Contact: Christina Nuckols
Email: christina.nuckols@governor.virginia.gov

Virginia Employment Commission
Contact: Ann Lang
Phone: (804) 786-3177
Email: ann.lang@vec.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Announces Decrease in Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate
~ January 2016 unemployment rate was the lowest since July 2008 ~

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage point in January to 4.1 percent, the lowest rate since July 2008. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains below the national rate, which fell 0.1 percentage point in January to 4.9 percent.

In January, Virginia’s over-the-year employment growth of 2.3 percent surpassed the national growth rate of 1.9 percent. Job growth in the Commonwealth continued to exceed the national growth rate, as it has for the previous three months.

Virginia had the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states and had the fourth best rate among the states east of the Mississippi.

The average weekly wage for private employers was $919.77 in January, which is 3.4 percent above a year ago.

“We continue to make substantial advances as we work to build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The investments we mapped out in our two-year budget and capital bond package will provide new assets for strengthening our economic infrastructure, creating jobs and encouraging growth among our existing businesses. We will continue to make effective use of our resources, and I look forward to another active year of economic development and gains in international trade.”

“The Commonwealth’s economy continues to improve with private sector job growth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “This is wonderful news for Virginians, and we still have many opportunities to ensure we see growth across all regions.”

From January 2015 to January 2016, Virginia’s seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment was up 86,100 jobs. This is based on the most recent final figure for January 2016. Over-the-year employment growth has been positive for the past 22 months, and with the benchmark revisions, employment growth was stronger in 2015 than initially reported. Over-the-year January job gains were recorded by both the private sector, which grew by 85,500 jobs, and the public sector, which grew by 600 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, eight of the 11 major industry divisions experienced employment gains.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at www.vec.virginia.gov.

March 11th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

The 2016 General Assembly Session is scheduled to adjourn sine die tomorrow, March 12. It has been a busy final week, with budget negotiations being finalized and the election of a new Supreme Court justice. Overall 3300 bills and resolutions were introduced and as of today, 1761 were approved and 64 are pending which includes the budget.   So far the Governor has vetoed 7 bills.  Over the next few weeks, we will be working to provide you with a full recap of the 2016 session on matters specific to VAMA as we monitor the Governor’s actions on legislation between now and the one day reconvened session on April 20 where the legislature will reconvene to act on after adjournment vetoes and amendments by the Governor.
Historically as we reported in our first bulletin back in January, the GA approved its first $100 bl + budget and has spent heavily on education.   Their recent practice of “legislating” through the budget continues which is a “Washingtonian” style of changing the laws where germaneness of subject matter is not required-----just dollar trading for back home projects.  So the budget becomes yet another important piece of legislation to follow very closely to avoid new fees or business taxes or business reporting changes as examples.

Overall regarding general business matters   we did very well in avoiding burdensome changes to employment issues, taxes, regulations and implemented credential training/trade skills within community colleges but did not do well with economic development, tax reform, transportation and infrastructure improvements. 
 
VAMA link to legislation this year:
 
http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt/main.html?event=4f0f302a421&run=y
 

February 26th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists
 
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a two-year state budget Thursday that includes no fee or tax increases, eliminates state liabilities, reduces borrowing, makes significant investments into K-12 education, holds tuition increases down, invests in economic development while increasing accountability.  The budget bill, HB30, passed the House 98 to 2. 
 
The Senate on Thursday also passed their version of the budget 38-1 with 1 not voting.  The process now will require the budget conferees from both bodies  to meet as many times as necessary to relsove the differences by March 5 th and if they do,  then adjournment should hold at March 12, 2016.
 
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) on Thursday named House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico), Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun), and Delegate Luke Torian (D-Prince William) to the conference committees for House Bills 29 and 30.
 
The Senate conferees are Senator Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg), Senator Emmett Hanger(R-Augusta), Senator Steve Newman (R-Botetourt), Senator Frank Ruff(R-Mechlenburg),Senator Richard Saslaw(D-Falls Church) and Senator Janet Howell(D-Arlington).
 
All critical bills addressing workers compensation, minimum wage, living wage, plastic bag/container bans, litter fees and corporate taxes have been disposed of for this session. Additionally, there will not be any legislation containing further nutritional restrictions within school divisions. Hopefully we can revisit the corporate tax project going on here during a future VAMA event.
 
Here is a link to the legislation we have been engaged with and their latest status:
 
http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt/main.html?event=4f0f302a421&run=y
  

February 19th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

The 6th week of the 2015 General Assembly Building has come to a close. Yet again, we started the week of with snow and ice.

The deadline for each house to complete work on its own legislation (crossover), was Tuesday, February 16th .  On Monday and Tuesday legislators spent many hours in session wrapping up Senate legislation, they are officially halfway through the 2016 Legislative Session.  All litter and plastic bag bills have been disposed of as well as adverse bills addressing W/Comp and UI expansion and minimum wage changes.  Fuels tax and tolling remain as bills we are engaged with and will keep you posted.

Throughout the rest of the week, Senate Committees were hard at work debating bills from the House of Delegates and the House debating Senate bills in committee. . Even though these bills have been heard and passed in the House or Senate, each body  still has the obligation and duty to review these bills and vote, making it more difficult for us to be in different places at the same time.  This weekend is a big weekend for both chambers of the General Assembly because Sunday, February 21st is the deadline for the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee to complete their budget work. This means that both Committees will have to finish picking away at the Governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal years of 2016-2018.

The proposed budgets will be available online on the morning of Monday, February 22nd. I have provided a link below to the budget portal that will give you full access to the proposed budgets.

http://budget.lis.virginia.gov

 

February 5th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

As we close out the week,  legislators disposed of a large number of bills by approving, killing or carrying over to 2017.  The pace continues to be fast given all the committee and sub committee meetings to address the 2016 legislation and maintain their schedule.  Wednesday, February 17th  is crossover where each body can only consider legislation originating from  the other side.
 
For the first time in many years Sen Miller did pass in the Senate his required PE class educational activities requirment---k-5.  Other bills we have managed to defeat and or improve involved  minimum wage, workers comp, UI and local tax refunds without interest paid,fuels taxes and tolling..
We will keep you posted as the Session continues and feel free to circle back with any questions.
 
Note that although we are only monitoring HB 1289 is still in subcommittee awaiting action.
 
VAMA legislative bill report summaries and status:
 
http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt/main.html?event=4f0f302a421&run=y

 

January 22nd, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

Anticipating that today we would complete our first full week at the General Assembly, that didn’t happen, they shut down last evening due to incoming weather and will resume Monday January 25 th. Today was the cutoff for bill introduction on those bills that had been drafted by last week’s drafting deadline. Procedural, this may be extended now to Monday.

This week has involved committee meetings on those issues we are involved with as well as monitoring legislation that continues to surface. We anticipate that by next Wednesday we will know all legislation that will come before the Session, but for now still watching and navigating through the issues.

General business issues include transportation/fuel taxes and tolling, employment issues with minimum wage, workers comp, unemployment insurance, corporate taxes and local government notice process which has generated a number of bills that we will need to defeat and working with other business coalitions.


Industry specific includes HB849 on food taxes, HB 1289 limiting State vendor contracts, and HJ 83 once again creating a school nutrition study. During our VAMA annual meeting we have scheduled the Thomas Jefferson Institute to attend and speak to the group on their tax reform project that has been underway for a couple years now but seems to be gaining more attention, particularly when you consider North Carolina's recent changes. A great opportunity to gain further insight into State and local taxing structures.

Linked here is our legislative bill report and status:

http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt/main.html?event=4f0f302a421&run=y


January 8th, 2016
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

The 2016 Virginia General Assembly gets underway next Wednesday, January 13 th for their regular 60 Session.  Currently, adjournment is set for March 12, 2016 with their Reconvene one day Session set for April 20, 2016.   The recent November 2015 elections will bring 11 freshman members into the House of Delegates and 7 freshmen to the Senate.  Both bodies will remain a Republican majority though as before, but in the case of the Senate those 7 new members will be replacing senior Senators who chaired very important committees which will be filled by Republicans who were “next in line” with seniority.  

As of this bulletin, legislative services has reported more than 3800 bill drafts received.  If this holds then historical averages would indicate that the House would introduce around 1200 and the Senate 700 making for a very busy session once again.

This does not include budget amendments that will be addressed during the Session as the legislature must adopt their biennial budget which is anticipated to cross the $100 bl line for the first time in our State’s history.  This alone is expected to create a tremendous amount of debate especially when you consider it will be our Governor’s first and only budget presentation to legislature during the 4 year term.  Medicare expansion and gun control currently coming from the administration and the administration’s close relationships with National Democratic politics is expected to create a very bumpy session.   

We have included here a link to the Session schedule with important deadline and cutoff dates:

http://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/calendar/cal2016_2.pdf

Our legislative bill listing is included here and can be visited at anytime as it will constantly update the status of each bill reported.  All bills must be filed with the clerk by January 22nd, so following that deadline the number of bills will level off that we will be reporting on in the bulletins:

http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt/main.html?event=4f0f302a421&run=y


June 15th, 2015
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists
​​
Let’s take a brief demographic snapshot of the 2015 General Assembly. Thirty-eight percent of the House has served two

terms or less and 20% of the Senate has served only one term. Only half of the General Assembly was born in Virginia

and when it comes to the dominant occupation for legislators, 38% of the Senate and 23% of the House members are

lawyers. It’s also important to note that legislators are getting more affluent – 11% were millionaires in 2008 and now

13% are millionaires. However, female legislators have dropped from 19% in 2008 to 17% this year. The point of these

demographics is that the “citizen legislator” looks less like the general population and has less experience in the

legislature than any time in the last eight years. With at least ten legislators retiring this year, three incumbents being

unseated in their primaries (Delegate Joannou/D-79th, Delegate Berg/R-29th and Senator Martin/R-11th), VAMA and its

members are going to have to substantially increase legislator industry educational outreach  to remain as effective.


March 3, 2015
From The Smith Group, VAMA Lobbyists

The 2015 Session adjourned on Friday February 27, 2015 after completing action on more than 2500 pieces of legislation.  We were able to manage several key issues with favorable results.    In an election year short Session many bills are defeated thus avoiding controversial votes.  Appears we once again will be facing several open seat elections in November, so VAMA "educational outreach" continues.
 
As previously reported, no special food taxes, no plastic bag fees or prohibition,  and no unregulated farm food sales.  The General Assembly did approve opening up a bit school fundraisers where food products included.
 
The Governor now has until March 30 th to approve, amend or veto all legislation sent to him.  The General Assembly will reconvene on April 15, 2015 for their one day Session to act on all the Governor's amendments and veto's.  Approved legislation is effective July 1 of each year unless otherwise stated in the legislation.
 
Click here for the VAMA Final action legislative report.

VAMA Legislative Report

March 10th, 2014
The 2014 Session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned March 8th having acted on better than 2,888 pieces of legislation during its sixty day regular session, with one exception-----the 2014-2016 biennial budget.
 
As the legislature approached adjournment weekend budget conferees had reached a compromise on most of the spending plan issues with the exception of Medicaid expansion as has been reported.  Governor McAuliffe, Senate and House Democrats contend that expansion would help those uninsured Virginians and create jobs.  House Republicans doubt that Washington can afford to keep that promise to pick up most of the cost, which in Virginia would amount to about $2 billion a year—an impasse not to be resolved during this Session...

To Read Jeff Smith's Full Report Click Here


Regards,
Jeff, III  &  Jeff, IV
The Smith Group, Inc.

4907 Augusta Ave.
Richmond, Virginia 23230

Ph: 804-353-2322

Fx: 804-355-8986

Email: jeff@smithgroupva.com
Website: www.smithgroupva.com

Virginia General Assembly Wraps Up

January 31, 2014
This week the Virginia General Assembly completed days 19-25 of their 60 day session.  Crossover is only a few days away and all bills will need to be acted upon in the legislative body which they originated. Click here to link to your legislative report. As a reminder you can save this to your “Bookmarks/Favorites” and view the report at any time. 

Click here for Jeff Smith's Full Legislative Report

Governor McDonnell Announces Private Team Selected to Design, Build and Finance New Route 460 in Southeast Virginia

Work to begin next year; will reduce congestion, provide emergency evacuation route, and will spur job creation and economic development for Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth.
Project Estimated to Create 14,000 New Long-Term Jobs; Have Annual Economic Impact by 2020 of $7.3 Billion

October 17th, 2012 RICHMOND, VA

AUDIO: Governor McDonnell Discusses Significance of New Route 460

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the commonwealth has selected US 460 Mobility Partners to finance, design and build a new 55-mile stretch of Route 460 in southeastern Virginia. The selection was made after a two-year procurement process involving detailed review and evaluation of private-sector proposals. Construction will be financed through a combination of public dollars and tolls. The existing Route 460 remains free.

Click here to view the entire press release

VA Tax Requirements - Form 500

October 18th, 2012

Legislation enacted by the 2012 General Assembly (Acts of Assembly 2012 Special Session 1, Chapter 3) requires all corporations subject to the income tax filing requirements for Virginia Form 500 and associated payment requirements to file their returns and make their payments electronically, beginning January 1, 2013. The new provision affects only corporation income tax filers, and does not apply to pass-through entities that file their returns on Virginia Form 502.
The electronic filing and payment requirements apply to any Form 500 filed for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2012, extension payments and return payments for taxable year 2012, and estimated tax payments for taxable year 2013. If a corporation is unable to comply with the electronic filing and payment requirements by January 1, 2013, a temporary waiver may be requested.

To remove any potential compliance barriers and make the transition to electronic filing and payment as easy as possible:

  • A notice detailing the new filing and payment requirements is being mailed to all affected corporation income tax filers listed in our records (a copy is attached).
  • We have notified commercial software vendors of the specifications needed to ensure their software will meet the needs of Virginia filers.
  • Professional preparers are being advised to contact their software vendors as soon as possible to confirm that the software they intend to use for 2012 returns supports electronic filing for Virginia.

If you have any questions, please contact our Tax professionals Hotline at (804) 367-9286 or log on to a Live Chat Service.

Virginia General Assembly Launches New Web Site

– Revamped Website provides More Content, Easier Navigation & Better Access for Users –
– New Information Tool to build on 2,000 Daily Visits Average of Old Homepage –


October 16th, 2012 RICHMOND, VA

The Clerks of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia today announced the launch of a new website for the Virginia General Assembly – virginiageneralassembly.gov. Seeking to build upon the average of 2,000 daily visits to its old homepage, the collaborative effort took to heart Mr. Jefferson’s admonition that “an enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic.”

Click Here to read the entire Press Release

VA Legislature on Obesity Issues

As the obesity issue continues to be at the forefront, VAMA members may have a special interest in this legislation by the Virginia state legislature:

Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to sign into law legislation that would require the state Board of Education to develop guidelines to incorporate P.E. in Virginia's elementary and middle schools, a small step in a wider attempt to combat the childhood obesity epidemic. It's expected to pass both chambers next week and become law.

Click here to read the full article.
 

VA General Assembly Update

February 8th, 2012

The 2012 Virginia General Assembly convened in January a 60 day Session, with scheduled adjournment set for March 10, 2012. We do expect around 3000 bills and resolutions to be offered this Session and will keep you updated with our legislative reports. As you may know the Senate currently consists of 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats which means that our Republican Lt Governor will be a tie breaker vote on many issues. He will not be able to be a tie breaker on votes dealing with Judges, taxes and a number of other issues though, which will make for an interesting Session. The House, however, has a significant Republican majority so things should move smoothly there during the Session.

We have included a link for your reference our legislative report and the report will be updated daily through the Session. We suggest you keep this link as a favorite place for reference. We have captured all legislation that potentially has an impact on your company in Virginia. Obviously, some are very important and others are just of interest.

If at any time you have questions or need further information, please feel free to let us know.

Please click this link for up-to-date bill movement in the 2012 Virginia General Assembly
 

Know Your Representatives...

Who Represents You on the State Level?
The Virginia General Assembly:
http://virginiageneralassembly.gov
Who Represents You in Washington DC?
Virginia Congressional Information:
US Senate: www.senate.gov
Warner, Mark R. - (D - VA)

459A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2023
Web Form: warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact

Webb, Jim - (D - VA)

248 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4024
Web Form: webb.senate.gov/contact.cfm

US House Information : www.house.gov; Click here for Contact info for US House Members from VA

Virginia Receives Preliminary Approval to Toll Interstate 95
Federal Highway Administration Authorizes VDOT to Move Forward with Tolling Process

Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has granted the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) preliminary approval for his administration’s plan to toll I-95 under the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program. In a September 14 letter, FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez granted the conditional provisional approval and outlined steps required to move forward. Click here for entire article
 

The Tax Man Hideth

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently in the process of finalizing a comprehensive set of new regulations that will require restaurants, diners, coffee shops and other similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to "clearly and prominently" disclose on their menus, including their wall-mounted and drive-through menus, the calorie content of each item offered for sale. Click here for the full story

Balanced Budget Comes With Catch

Virginian-Pilot Editorial – August 26th
Gov. Bob McDonnell's stock has soared in recent weeks. He's taken the reins of the Republican Governors Association, sparred on national television with his counterpart across the Potomac River and acknowledged an interest in the No. 2 spot on his party's presidential ticket. He enjoys solid support in the commonwealth, with polls pegging his approval rating higher than 60 percent. Much of McDonnell's popularity arises from his management of Virginia's finances. At a time when the nation and other states have been struggling with massive deficits, Virginia has posted its second consecutive budget surplus - $544.8 million. It's an impressive number. And Virginia stands as a financial example to the rest of the states. But all is not quite as it seems. Click here for the full story.

Wittman Urges Deal on VA Congressional Districts

By ANDREW CAIN
Richmond Times-Dispatch – August 26th
Rep. Robert J. Wittman, R-1st called on state legislators to resolve their impasse over how to draw new congressional districts. "I just hope they get it done. I told folks, 'Give me a district I'm going to run in'," in 2012, Wittman said in an interview with reporters and editors at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "I think the longer it goes, the more difficult it is for us to introduce ourselves to who are going to be a new block of voters. I want to be doing that as soon as possible." All 11 of Virginia's U.S. House seats will be on the ballot next year, as well as a U.S. Senate race and the presidential contest. Click here for the rest of the story.