The Virginia General Assembly convenes Wednesday, January 13, 2016, in Richmond. Virginia Retail Federation (VRF) will be represented, as many pieces of legislation will be reviewed which may potentially impact the retail industry.

Important AST Increase
An important part of this year's legislative session, which ends March 12, 2016, is Governor McAuliffe's biennial budget proposal. As reported in our previous Advocate, the Governor'€™s budget includes a proposed increase of the Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) to $10 million, rather than the current $2.5 million. The Governor's proposed budget also includes an additional increase to $25 million for the following year. Great news for Virginia retailers! VRF will continue to work throughout Session to make sure that the increase remains in the budget.

Don't Miss Out
There will be many important opportunities to benefit retailers in the coming Session. Stay tuned to our weekly email updates, The Advocate, for information on legislation status and how you may contact legislators to help the retail industry.


Governor McAuliffe submitted his proposed biennial budget to the House Appropriations Committee, House Finance and the Senate Finance Committee. Virginia Retail Federation (VRF) has diligently worked with the Governor's office to raise the Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) which was lowered in 2015 from $26 million to $2.5 million. VRF is happy to report the Governor's proposed budget includes an increase in the threshold to $10 million, rather than the current $2.5 million. In addition, the Governor announced an additional increase to $25 million for the following year. VRF will continue to work throughout Session to make sure the increase remains in the budget.

The General Assembly convenes January 13, 2016 and VRF will be present to provide the retailers'€™ perspective. Please contact us with issues affecting your business.

Kate Baker
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Jodi Roth
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January 18th, 2016  |  5:30-7:30 pm  |  Hilton Richmond Downtown

This event provides an opportunity to have face time with members of both chambers, the Governor, Attorney General, and the Speaker of the House.

Online Registration Closed

Walk-ins welcome.

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Visit with Congressman David Brat

VRF representatives attended the 2015 National Retail Federation (NRF) Retail Advocates Summit in July. This was a great opportunity for the Virginia retail voice to be heard in Washington. We had several members attend and meet with members of congress on many important issues. VRF representatives met with Congressman Brat, Congressman Rigell, Congressman Scott’s Staff, and Congressman Wittman’s staff. The issues they discussed included E-Fairness, Data Security, Overtime, Health Care, and Patent Litigation Reform.

With regard to E-Fairness, our representatives continued to highlight how important it is to level the playing field between brick and mortar sales as compared to Internet sales. There have been three proposals in congress that deal with E-Fairness. The one that seems to be the best alternative for our members is the Remote Transactions Parity Act (H.R. 2775). The RPTA permits states to authorize collection of sales tax by remote sellers if the state is either a member of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement or if it adopts certain minimum simplifications. RPTA requires States fund and provide remote sellers free software that calculates and remits the sales tax. This software would also file the sales tax returns as well as respond to audit requests from state and local governments.

The proposed Overtime rules will have a huge impact on retail and restaurants if implemented. One change is the increase in the salary threshold for overtime. The current salary threshold is $23,660 ($455/week), however the proposed rule estimates that the new salary threshold will by $50,440 ($970/week) in 2016 and this level will be increased automatically each year. This could have a huge economic impact on our members. The proposed rule also impacts and limits the current overtime exemption for managers and assistant managers. This will create a decrease in workplace flexibility which is critical for the retail industry.

With regard to Health Care, VRF representatives spoke about the importance of easing the cost and compliance burdens associated with the Affordable Care Act.

Your lobbying team will continue to stay on top of these issues and keep you informed on any changes.

VRF with Congressman Rigell
The 2015 Virginia General Assembly Session adjourned on Friday February 27. This year the session adjourned one day early for the first time in 15 years. This allows legislators to begin working on their 2015 campaigns as all 140 seats in the House of Delegates and the Senate are up for election this coming November.

The final days of the Session involved intense review and decisions about the Commonwealth's biennial budget. By Friday evening, Legislators came to an agreement on the budget, as well as the remaining 56 bills in conference committees.

During the 2015 Session, 2,775 pieces of legislation were introduced and 1,495 failed. To date, 38 bills have been passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McAuliffe. The General Assembly will reconvene (Veto Session) on Wednesday April 15, to review the Governor's actions on legislation and his recommended amendments.

This is a brief re-cap of the retail legislative action:

1) Minimum wage: VRF opposes mandates to increase the minimum wage.
SB 681 Marsden - Minimum wage; increases from its current federally mandated level to $8.00 per hour. Defeated
SB 706 Puller - Minimum wage; increases from its current federally mandated level to $8.00 per hour. Defeated
HB 1512 Simon - Minimum wage; increases to $15.15 per hour. Defeated
HB 1654 Plum - Minimum wage; increases from its current federally mandated level to $8.00 per hour. Defeated
HB 2198 Krupicka - State minimum wage; statewide referendum at November 2015 general election on question of increase. Defeated                         

2) Felony Threshold for Larceny: VRF supports the current threshold of $200 for a larceny conviction.
HB 1369 Lindsey - Grand larceny; increases current $200 threshold for larceny conviction to $500. Defeated
SB 783 Favola - Juveniles; expungement of records for offenses that would be felony larceny if committed by adult. Defeated
HB 1975 Preston - Grand larceny; threshold. Defeated
HB 1996 Morrissey - Grand larceny; threshold. Defeated
SB 1234 Reeves - Grand larceny; threshold. Defeated

3) Tobacco: VRF opposes efforts to institute an additional burden upon retailers to obtain a license or permit to sell tobacco products.

SB 784 Lucas - Cigarettes; all localities allowed to impose a tax. Defeated

SB 1004 Ebbin - Electronic cigarettes and other vapor products; state tax created, localities authorized to impose. Defeated

HB 1994 Morrissey - Cigarettes; all counties permitted to impose a tax. Defeated

SB 1230 Reeves - ABC Board; regulation of distribution and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Defeated

4) ABC

HB 1776 Albo - Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority; created, report, eliminates ABC Board. Passed

HB 1691 Loupassi - Alcoholic beverage control; expands definition of day spa.Defeated

HB 1440 Albo - Alcoholic beverage control; ABC Board markups. Passed and signed by Governor McAuliffe

5) "Ban the Box"

HB 1680 Carr - Employment applications; inquiries regarding criminal arrests, charges, or convictions. Defeated

 6) Property Rights

HB 1876 Krupicka - Crohn's disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome; identification cards and information. Defeated

7) Food Labeling: VRF opposes mandated food labeling requirements.

HB 1591 DeSteph - Genetically engineered foods; definition, labeling of food, penalty. Defeated

8) Sale of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn

SB 1215 Ebbin - Ivory and rhinoceros horn; person who imports, sells, etc. Senator Ebbin withdrew the legislation

9) Plastic Bags: VRF opposes efforts to impose a tax in order for retailers to provide plastic bags. VRF supports opportunities for recycling.

SB 1103 McWaters - Disposable plastic shopping bags; distribution prohibited, local option. Defeated

10) School Calendar: VRF supports current law which allows local school boards to seek a waiver from the Board of Education to determine school calendars.

HB 1550 Greason - School calendar; local school boards responsible for setting.Defeated

HB 1838 Robinson - School calendar; local school boards responsible for setting.Defeated

11) Paid Leave

SB 990 Lucas - Domestic violence leave; employers to provide for employees.Defeated

SB 1407 Lewis - Paid sick leave for employees; civil penalties. Defeated

12) Budget

Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) - The threshold for the Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) will be lowered from $26 million to $2.5 million. VRF opposed this change in the AST Threshold.

Weights and Measures and Restaurant Inspection Fees -The increase to both the weights and measures and restaurant inspection fees were removed from the budget.  

To view the complete list of bills tracked by the VRF, click here .

Click here to find your legislators' contact information.

Click here to view the Virginia General Assembly website.

Click here to view the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy's annual economic forecast.