We want to provide you with an update of new laws enacted during the 2019 General Assembly Session that went into effect on July 1st. While there were many laws enacted this year, this is a list of new laws that we believe will be impactful to our members.

SALES TAX FAIRNESS (HB 1722 SB 1083)

Directs Department of Taxation to require remote sellers and marketplace facilitators to collect sales and use tax if the seller has more than $100,000 in annual gross revenue from sales in VA or at least 200 sales transactions in VA.

SALES AND USE TAX; ADDITIONAL LOCAL TAX IN HALIFAX COUNTY (HB 1634)

Authorizes Halifax County to impose an additional local sales and use tax not to exceed 1% if approved by voter referendum. Enacting ordinance must specify the time period, not to exceed 20 years, for which the tax would be imposed. Revenue from tax shall be used solely for capital projects for new construction or major renovations of schools in Halifax County.

SCHOOL CALENDAR; OPENING DAY OF THE SCHOOL (HB 1652 SB 1005)

Requires each local school board to set the school calendar so that the first day of school is no earlier than 14 days prior to Labor Day, unless Board of Education waives requirement for good cause. Also provides that each school division that opens before Labor Day will be required to close each school in the school division from the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day.

UNIFORM STATEWIDE BUILDING CODE; ISSUANCE OF BUILDING PERMITS (HB 1966)

Requires local building departments, when denying an application for the issuance of a building permit, to provide the applicant written explanation that details the reason the application was denied. Allows the applicant to submit a revised application addressing the reasons for which the application was previously denied. Encourages, but does not require, the local building department to limit its review of the revised application to only those portions of the application that were previously deemed inadequate and have now been revised by the applicant.

ABC – HAPPY HOUR ADVERTISING (HB 2073 SB 1726)

Expands the ability of retail on-premises licensees to advertise happy hours by allowing them to advertise the prices of featured alcoholic beverages and to use creative marketing techniques, provided that such techniques do not tend to induce over consumption or consumption by minors.

RETAIL SALES AND USE TAX; REDUCED RATE ON ESSENTIAL PERSONAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS (HB 2540)

Applies the reduced state sales and use tax rate of 1.5% for essential personal hygiene products defined as: (i) nondurable incontinence products such as diapers, disposable undergarments, pads, and bed sheets; and (ii) menstrual cups and pads, pantyliners, sanitary napkins, tampons, and other products used to absorb or contain menstrual flow. Delayed effective date of 1/1/2020.

WAGE PAYMENT STATEMENTS; EACH EMPLOYER TO PROVIDE ON EACH REGULAR PAY DATE (HB 2664 SB 1696)

Requires each employer to provide on each regular pay date a written statement, by a paystub or online accounting, that shows the name and address of the employer, number of hours worked during pay period, and rate of pay. Delayed effective date of 1/1/2020.

INCREASE AGE TO PURCHASE OR POSSESS TOBACCO PRODUCTS (HB 2748 SB 1727)

Increase minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase or possess tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products. With exception for active duty military personnel.

RETAIL SALES AND USE TAX; ABSORPTION OF TAX BY A DEALER (SB 1615)

Authorizes a dealer to absorb all or a portion of the sales and uses tax due on an item, so long as the dealer separately states the full amount of the tax due at the point of sale or transaction and remits the full amount due to the Department of Taxation with the return covering the period in which the sale or transaction took place.

SPOLIATION (SB 1619)

Closely mirrors the Federal Rules on the issue of Spoliation. We have highlighted the ways it differs from the Federal Rules.

  1. A party or potential litigant has a duty to preserve evidence that may be relevant to reasonably foreseeable litigation. In determining whether and at what point such a duty to preserve arose, the court shall include in its consideration the totality of the circumstances, including the extent to which the party or potential litigant was on notice that specific and identifiable litigation was likely and that the evidence would be relevant.
  2. If evidence that should have been preserved in the anticipation or conduct of litigation is lost because a party failed to take reasonable steps to preserve it, or is otherwise disposed of, altered, concealed, destroyed, or not preserved, and it cannot be restored or replaced through additional discovery, the court (i) upon finding prejudice to another party from such loss, disposal, alteration, concealment, or destruction of the evidence, may order measures no greater than necessary to cure the prejudice, or (ii) only upon finding that the party acted recklessly or with the intent to deprive another party of the evidence’s use in the litigation, may (a) presume that the evidence was unfavorable to the party, (b) instruct the jury that it may or shall presume that the evidence was unfavorable to the party, or (c) dismiss the action or enter a default judgment.
  3. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating an independent cause of action for negligent or intentional spoliation of evidence.

EMPLOYMENT RECORDS; WRITTEN REQUEST FROM EMPLOYEE, SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM (SB 1724)

Provides that an employer shall furnish a copy of certain employment record or papers within 30 days of receipt of a written request of a current or former employee or employee’s attorney. Employer may charge a reasonable fee to comply with such a request. A subpoena duces tecum may be issued upon the failure of the employer to comply with such written request. If the court finds that the employer willfully refused to comply, the court may award damages for all expenses incurred by the employee.

For advocacy related questions, please contact Kate Baker kbaker@virginiaretailfederation.com or Jodi Roth jroth@virginiaretailfederation.com