2017 LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION

We had a wonderful time at our 2017 Legislative Reception at Hilton Richmond Downtown! We had a great turnout and would like to thank all of the elected officials, sponsors, and members of VRF for joining us for such a wonderful evening.

 

Event Sponsors: DominionHilton Richmond DowntownWalmartTargetAltriaThe Home DepotWalgreensFranco's Fine Clothier, Ruffin & Payne, Inc.Ball Office ProductsGood Foods GroceryInfoTelRichmond Window Corp., and SignScapes.


2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The 2017 General Assembly Session began last Wednesday, January 11th. Your VRF team has hit the ground running this year, making sure your voice is heard on all issues that impact the retail industry. You can find a list of all the bills we are tracking here. This is a short session, so things will move very quickly. We will keep you up-to-date via our weekly Retail Advocate emails.

IMPORTANT ISSUES

Sales Tax Nexus

McAuliffe’s Sales Tax Nexus legislative initiative is one more step towards creating a level playing field for retailers in Virginia. VRF has spent years working toward creating this level playing field for both online and brick and mortar retailers. Therefore, VRF will be out front supporting Senator Hanger’s SB 962 and Delegate Watts’ HB 2058. Both seek to level the playing field by establishing a nexus to Virginia if inventory is stored within the Commonwealth. Thus, if out-of-state retailers store inventory within the Commonwealth, they are required to collect sales and use tax on sales to customers within Virginia.

While e-fairness is our ultimate goal, VRF believes SB 962 and HB2058 are a great step forward for Virginia’s brick and mortar retailers. Both bills have been assigned to the Committee on Finance in their respective Houses. Make your voice heard on this issue by reaching out to members of these committees and state your support for SB 962 to Senate Finance Committee Members and HB 2058 to House Finance Committee Members.

Accelerated Sales Tax

Another issue that will have an impact on Virginia’s retailers is Accelerated Sales Tax. In the Governor’s proposed budget, he seeks to keep the threshold for AST at $2.5 million rather than the planned unwinding to $10 million in 2017. Because of the enormous negative impact on retailers, VRF opposes this aspect of the Governor’s Proposed budget.

We will reach out to you with official legislative action items on these issues at a later date. When you receive a legislative action item, it is your opportunity to make your voice heard on issues that impact your business.

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We had a great VRF Silent Auction & Retail Alliance Holiday Open House event, at our Norfolk office this year.

The silent auction, benefiting VRF's Political Action Committee (PAC), was successful in raising over $4,000 for our advocacy efforts.

Thanks to the following members for supporting the VRF and donating silent auction items:

A. Dodson'€™s
Adele Diamond
Albano Cleaners
BizConnect Hampton Roads
Buggy Bathe
Care-A-Lot Pet Supply
Center for Retail Excellence
Clothes Mentor
Colonial Folk Art
Conte'€™s Bike Shop
Country Flowers and Gifts
Dan Ryan's for Men
David Arrington
Decorum
Domestic Divas
Dominion Service Company
Escape Room Virginia Beach
Farm Fresh
Freda Rosso
Garden Gazebo
Hi-Ho Silver
Hilton Downtown Richmond
House of Maya
Illuminate Beauty Boutique
Interstate Cash Register
Lacey Lee Fitness
MacArthur Center
Mary Barnette'€™s Gifts
Medical Aesthetics of Virginia
Philip Michael Fashion for Men
Pinot'€™s Pallette
Prince Books
Raymond Mattes
SaladWorks
Shop Talk
Target
Tastebuds Popcorn
Taylor'€™s Do It Center
The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium
The Christmas Store
The Creative Wedge
The Full Cup
The Home Depot
The Quality Shops
The Royal Chocolate
Unusual Designs
Virginia Peninsula Photography
Way Back Yonder Antiques
Willis Furniture

Below are the Governor'€s proposals that will impact VRF members found in the Governor'€™s Budget Document that was presented on December 16, 2016.

Use Tax Compliance

The State is expected to increase revenue by $2 million by providing guidance on reporting purchases of tangible personal property online or via catalogs through enhanced instructions to tax payers, form changes, vendor guides for electronic filers, presentations to tax professionals and CPAs, and online communication.

Restaurant Inspection Fee

Proposes to increase the Restaurant Inspection Fee from $40 to $285.

Implement Tiered Fee Structure for Food Establishment Inspection Program

Proposes to replace current $40 annual inspection fee with a three-tiered fee structure based on the establishment's square footage; the fee structure will range from $40 to $575.

Additionally, during the Governor'€™s remarks to the Joint Money Committees, he mentioned two important issues to the retail industry:

Accelerated Sales Tax

The Governor proposed that Virginia suspend the unwinding of AST for June 2017. Instead, he proposes that we keep the threshold at $2.5 million in June 2017 and then increase the threshold to $4 million in June of 2018. The Governor stated that this proposal will produce an additional $47.9 million in General Fund revenues.

Sales Tax Nexus

According to the Governor's statement, the Commonwealth is missing out on $250 to $300 million a year while E-fairness legislation remains stalled in Congress. Because of this, the Governor is proposing legislation which will require any out-of-state merchant who uses a fulfillment center or warehouse, located within the commonwealth, to register as a dealer for the collection of sales tax on their sales in Virginia.

In addition to the issues above, we expect to see legislation for minimum wage increase, mandatory paid sick leave, Airbnb, ABC, felony threshold for larceny, cigarette exemption certificate, recycle VA, plastic bag ban/tax, and much more.

Session kicks off January 11, 2017, at 12 pm.

You can expect to receive weekly updates via our Retail Advocate email during the 2017 Session.

IMPORTANT BALLOT INITIATIVE
Election day is November 8, 2016 and we wanted to make sure that VRF members are aware of the constitutional amendment that will be on this year'€™s ballot. This proposed amendment would add €œright to work to our constitution rather than just having it in the Code of Virginia; making it much harder to change labor laws in the future. If it remains just in the code, it only takes legislative action to change Virginia from being a €œright to work€ state.


The language that will appear on the ballot:

Should Article I of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise?

Virginia Retail Federation supports Virginia remaining a right to work state and wants to make sure that our members are aware of this important ballot initiative, so remember, vote yes!


Find more information in this News Leader Article.