Capital bldg northsideTuesday, February 11th marked the 35th day of the 2014 Virginia General Assembly Session in Richmond, Virginia.  It also marked the “Crossover” deadline. Each house must complete work on its own legislation by that day.

At the time of publication, Virginia Retail Federation was monitoring 162 pieces of legislation which could potentially impact your retail business.

Many of these have been taken care of through the process to date. Many others will be handled in the second half of the Session and updates can be received through our email newsletters and Virginia Retail Federation Facebook page.

Increase of the Felony Threshold for Larceny

Bills were introduced in the House and Senate to increase the threshold for felony larceny from $200 to $500.

The House bill was defeated in sub-committee by a voice vote.

The Senate bill was carried over for the year so it will be an issue for the 2015 General Assembly Session.

Patent Reform

House Bill 375 and Senate Bill 150 address the assertions made in bad faith by patent companies who allege that businesses are using their patented programs, such as ATM machines and scanning/faxing documents, without paying fees.

Both bills have passed their houses and will be transferred to the opposite house for consideration.

Consumer Tax on Plastic and Paper Bags

Two bills were introduced to enact a five percent consumer tax on all plastic and paper bags.

The House bill was defeated in sub-committee by a voice vote.

The Senate bill was defeated in full committee.

The VRF team is actively representing retailers to oppose these bills.  In addition to the regulatory and administrative burden this tax would place upon the retailers, the VRF supports and encourages recycling opportunities.

Workers Compensation Regulation

HB 946 was introduced at the request of the business community to develop a fee schedule for medical care services under the Workers Compensation Act.

Many businesses report exorbitant fees, which increase the business premiums.

The committee carried this over for the year so it will be an issue for the 2015 General Assembly Session.

School Calendar Bills

Several school calendar bills were introduced in the house with regard to this issue.

Most requested for localities to have the option to begin school prior to the Labor Day Weekend.

Three bills have been referred to the floor of the House.

All three have the same common goal, giving localities control of school setting the school start date, however, they have different ways of reaching this goal.

A study was conducted by the University of Minnesota and has been a valuable tool in our efforts to fight this legislation. The study shows the negative economic impact, to the tourism and retail industries, of opening schools prior to Labor Day.

The VRF continues to maintain its opposition to these bills because of their impact on our members.

Minimum Wage Increase

Two bills were introduced in the House and one was introduced in the Senate.

Both SB590 and HB536 increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 in July 2014 and $9.25 in July 2015.

HB32 increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 in July 2014.

All three of these bills were defeated in the House.

Sales Tax Holiday

HB960 addresses the August Sales Tax Holiday.

The final form of the bill reduces the allowance for both clothing and shoes from $100 to $65 in order to add computers at $500 or less.

The VRF opposed HB960 because we felt it eroded the original intent of the Sales Tax Holiday for consumers and retailers. The bill was defeated in the Senate Finance Committee.

“Safe Days” Legislation

Legislation was introduced which would require private employers to allow an employee safe days, with pay, if the employee is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.

The VRF opposed this legislation because it mandated paid time off which could have a negative impact on our members.

This bill was defeated in House sub-committee.

If you have any questions regarding any pieces of legislation mentioned above or any other questions regarding advocacy efforts, please contact our VRF team members:

Kate Baker
(757) 406-9424

Mary-Huffard Kegley
(804) 662-5505