2014 Legislative Summary
March 26, 2014



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

-HB 375 and SB 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.

-These bills are now before the Governor for his signature



Consumer Tax on Plastic and Paper Bags

-Two bills were introduced to enact a 5% 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 actively represented our members by opposing 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

-Another bill, which was not as extensive as HB 946, passed both bodies and is before the Governor for approval.



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 passed the House, but were defeated in the Senate

-All three had the same common goal, giving localities control of 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.

-HB 536 increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 in July 2014 and $9.25 in July 2015.

-HB 32 increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 in July 2014.

-All three bills were defeated in their respective bodies



Sales Tax Holiday

-HB 960 addressed the August Sales Tax Holiday.

-The bill reduced the allowance for both clothing and shoes from $100 to $65 in order to add computers at $500 or less and keep the impact revenue neutral

-The VRF opposed the bill and it was defeated once it made it over to the Senate.



“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.

-While we understand the purpose behind the legislation, 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.



BPOL

-VRF is continuing to work on this issue

-Delegate Lee Ware was to write a letter to the Speaker of the House and ask for this issue to be turned over to the House Finance Committee


School Supplies & Clothing:
August Sales Tax Holiday

August 1-3, 2014


Retailers are reminded that the "Back to School" August Sales Tax Holiday will take place August 1-3, 2014.

All merchants are required to participate in this sales tax holiday on exempt items.


The following items will be exempt from Virginia State Sales Tax (generally 5.3%):

  • School supplies priced at $20 or less
  • Clothing (and footwear) priced at $100 or less

 

Retailers are also able to absorb the sales tax on other items sold during this time, providing the consumer extra savings.
However, for these non-exempt items, retailers must remit this tax to the Commonwealth.


Click here to see the full list of eligible items exempt from sales tax.
You can also visit the Virginia Department of Taxation's website for more details.

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Thanks to Maryland Wayland, Retail Merchants Association member, for representing VRF at the bill signing.

Have you heard of “patent trolling?”  

It occurs when patent trollers threaten Virginia businesses by sending demand letters threatening costly litigation if payment is not remitted. 

The threat of litigation is cost prohibitive for the retail business, so they often settle for significant amounts. 

VRF worked with a coalition of Virginia business organizations to develop legislation that establishes criteria that indicate a patent may be made in “bad faith” (e.g. deceptive, no patent number referenced, no description of the specific violation or the product that is supposedly covered by the patent). 

The Attorney General now has the authority to investigate and prosecute bad faith patent assertion violations. 

SB 150 and HB 375 were signed into law by Governor McAuliffe. Marilyn Wayland, of Free Agents Marketing, represented VRF at the bill signing.


For more information:

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VRF Lobbyist


The "Carytown Cupcake Law" Goes Into Effect

Carytown Cupcakes' customers can now enjoy a variety of drinks with their dessert.

Carytown Cupcakes customers can now enjoy a beer with their dessert. Photos by Michael Thompson.

 

The Virginia Retail Federation had the opportunity to come along side Retail Merchants Association member, Carytown Cupcakes, as the owners traded their baker's hats for lobbyist caps.

Dawn and Albert Schick, Carytown Cupcake owners, were instrumental catalysts in helping bring about the passage of Senate Bill 502, a change to Virginia ABC law that expands the sorts of booze that a bakery can serve.

“We had to find a law that we could start with,” said Dawn Schick. “Our purpose is to serve some of our cupcakes with some of the craft beers and wines that are in some of our cooking already.”

Are you a retailer with a legislative issue or a hurdle to overcome?
Let the Virginia Retail Federation help fight for you.
Contact one of our lobbyists today!

Read the Richmond BizSense article.

 

Governor McAuliffe announced that June will be designated as Virginia’s Business Appreciation Month to ensure that the history and growth of Virginia businesses are recognized across the Commonwealth. 

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See the proclamation below:
By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution of Virginia in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:


BUSINESS APPRECIATION MONTH

WHEREAS, Virginia businesses provide a wide array of products and services to customers throughout the world, and employ nearly 4 million people throughout the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, Virginia is currently home to more than 30 Fortune 1,000 firms and more than 70 firms with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion; and 

WHEREAS, Virginia ranks among the top ten states best prepared—in knowledge, innovation and internet technology—to navigate the  demands of an increasingly globalized economy; and

WHEREAS, Virginia businesses employ a diverse, high-skilled workforce—including the largest concentration of high-tech workers in the country—and generate increased economic opportunity and well-being for all Virginians; and

WHEREAS, Business Appreciation Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the essential role our thriving business community plays in contributing to a stronger, more prosperous Commonwealth; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe do hereby recognize June 2014 as BUSINESS APPRECIATION MONTH in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens.