Governor Youngkin called a Special Session that was held yesterday, Wednesday, September 6th for the General Assembly to vote on the 2023 budget deal. This deal was reached after many months of negotiations between House Appropriations Conferees and Senate Finance and Appropriations Conferees. Both chambers gaveled into Session at 10am on the 6th, and there was little debate as both the House and Senate versions of the budget moved through the process. Ultimately, the bills passed the House 86-Y 4-N and the Senate 38-Y 0-N 1-A. Many of the “No” votes or abstentions centered around their opposition to the process. The Budget will now be communicated to Governor Youngkin and will be before him for signature.
The budget amendment that impacts the retail industry is the reinstatement of the Sales Tax Holiday, which lapsed this summer. The holiday will take place the weekend of October 20th this year and will revert back to the traditional weekend for 2024.
The exact language of the amendment in Section 4-14 is:
24. That, notwithstanding any other provision of law or regulation, the retail sales and use tax exemption holidays authorized in subdivision 18 of § 58.1-609.1, § 58.1-611.2 and § 58.1-611.3 of the Code of Virginia, applicable to Energy Star or Water sense qualified products, school supplies, clothing and footwear, and certain hurricane preparedness equipment shall remain in effect through July 1, 2025; except that the retail sales and use tax exemption holidays so authorized for calendar year 2023 shall apply only to those sales occurring during the three-day period that begins on Friday, October 20, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on the following Sunday.
As you will see from the language, the Holiday is in effect until July 1, 2025, therefore we will seek to reinstate language in the Code of Virginia to extend the Holiday into future years.
Under Virginia’s 2022 Appropriation Act, the state’s sales tax holiday expires on July 1, 2023, and has not been renewed.
The three-day sales tax-free weekend was expanded in 2015 to provide savings on hurricane preparedness products, back-to-school items, and Energy Star and WaterSense products, and included both in-store and online purchases. The sales tax rate for most of Virginia is 5.3%. The state allows local governments to collect an additional regional or local tax.
The program allowed residents to purchase qualifying items without paying sales tax. Amid budget negotiations between the House of Delegates and Senate, the sales tax holiday has not been renewed and there is no vehicle to add the holiday back into the budget. The Governor may call a Special Session most likely at the end of July meaning it will not be in time for the holiday weekend. Virginia Retail Federation will work to bring this back into the budget next year.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month, which creates an opportunity to highlight the challenges, triumphs, and tragedies that still exist within Virginia's foster care system.
The post-COVID-19 environment created a surge in substance use, mental health, and domestic violence-related incidents- which has had an unfortunate downstream impact on the Child Welfare system. There were over 35,000 cases of abuse and neglect in Virginia last year alone. While many of these kids are able to be placed in kinship arrangements or their families are given supportive services, there are many more who have no other option than to enter into the foster care system. There are currently 5,000 kids in care and approximately 1,600 that are seeking a place to call home- a place to belong. Sadly, Virginia still ranks #50 in the nation for kids aging out of the foster care system- meaning that these kids never found a family to belong to before the age of 18.
Virginia's Kids Belong (VKB) is an organization dedicated to helping every kid in care achieve a sense of belonging. We leverage the three community pillars to partner with faith, government and business leaders to solve the community's toughest problems for the most vulnerable among us. One of our focal areas is recruiting, retaining and supporting the foster families that sacrifice so much to open their hearts and homes to Virginia's foster youth.
This May we are honored to launch a statewide "Foster Friendly Business Initiative" to support Foster Families and the kiddos they care for in every community across the Commonwealth. Sadly, the number one reason why Foster Parents leave the system is due to a "lack of community support." Being a parent is hard enough- being a foster parent is even harder and often can be a lonely endeavor. Additionally, Foster Families watch their household budgets increase overnight- family outings, activities and entertainment intended to create bonding moments- can be inaccessible for the majority of families.
That is why we are asking Business leaders, whether they be a small business on Main Street that can offer a discount, or a Corporate partner that supports foster kids and families in other ways- to get involved and become a part of the system of care in their communities. There are many ways that businesses (big and small) can support kids and families in Virginia's foster care system- here are just a few:
What Do I Get in Return:
Depending on how businesses chose to engage, this is a relatively low-cost (in some cases free), very high-impact way to show corporate responsibility and social stewardship for your community.
Once you determine which way you'd like to support this special group of families and kids, VKB will upload you to a national mobile app that any licensed Foster Care parent can access. This app is able to populate the businesses, community resources and faith organizations that have been designated as "foster friendly," and serves as a very visible display of support- that their community has their back.
You will also be uploaded onto our homepage, celebrated on social media and sent a "Foster Friendly Business" toolkit for you to share on your local pages and with media.
We will also be hosting annual events with local elected, Governor's staff and other community partners as our initiative grows over the next year. Our first launch will be in partnership with Ballad Health System, the Bristol Chamber and other business/local leaders on May 5th with more coming online over the next several months. We are happy to help any corporate partner set up their own launch with our local media tool kit as well as help bring local elected and community partners to the table should you be interested in hosting a launch in a particular region or locality.
Below are important updates from Virginia ABC Licensing, including the new laws that will go into effect on July 1. There are also important updates for training opportunities that help protect your business.