A recap of session’s second week, legislative tracking to date, plus excitement for Dealer Day at the Capitol Wednesday, January 22.
Session 2020, Issue 2
January 20, 2020
Greetings from VADA,
We are two weeks through the General Assembly’s 2020 Regular Session, and there is excitement aplenty on Capitol Square.
It was a noteworthy week for the Commonwealth’s legislature, which ratified the federal Equal Rights Amendment and began tightening Virginia laws on gun control. Richmond also welcomed, as it does annually, many members of the public to Capitol grounds, where the citizenry can interact with its chosen representatives.
Today (Monday, January 20) is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—traditionally a popular time for that sort of public activity. A significantly larger than usual crowd is expected this year, as advocates of the 2nd Amendment and others plan on making their voices heard for Lobby Day. Of course, most will be outside of both the Pocahontas Building and the Capitol Building, where the legislature conducts business. Nevertheless, authorities are taking precautions in Richmond in anticipation of the gathering.
More specific to the auto industry and this association, your legislative team has been hard at work advocating for and against bills that could impact your stores. We look at the thousands of bills introduced and lobby those most relevant to you. A review of some of the legislation we are tracking can be found below. As was the case in previous years, we will provide weekly updates of such legislation and topics in these Capitol Briefs.
Lastly, please note Dealer Day at the Capitol is this Wednesday, January 22. This annual event is where VADA members travel to Richmond to visit with legislators and promote Virginia’s franchised dealerships. We will begin at 11 a.m. with a lunch and briefing at the Omni Richmond Hotel downtown before heading to the Capitol for visits. This year, the focus is on safety inspections and the value of the franchise system. There are many new members of the General Assembly, and your attendance is key. We encourage every store to participate by sending at least one dealer or representative.
If you wish to register or have any questions, please contact Natalie Toler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 545-3035.
As always, it is a pleasure to serve the new car and truck dealers of Virginia.
There are five bills—two in the House, three in the Senate—addressing Virginia’s annual safety inspection program. As part of his budget proposal, Governor Ralph Northam announced the desire to repeal the program. He has asked Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) and Senator Louise Lucas (D-Southside &Hampton Roads) to carry legislation including such repeal in addition to other transportation safety initiatives. Separately, Senator John Bell (D-Loudoun & Prince William) has introduced a bill that would exempt new vehicles from a safety inspection the first year after purchase if the vehicle has yet to exceed 15,000 miles. Thereafter, the annual inspections would resume. And two Republicans—Delegate Joe McNamara of Salem and Senator David Suetterlein of the Roanoke Valley and part of Southwest Virginia—have introduced bills designed only to eliminate the inspection requirement.
Lobbying against the bills, we have highlighted consumer safety reasons for keeping the program, providing data to back up our points. We have also discussed how even the newest vehicles cannot alert drivers to every deficiency in a vehicle an inspection would catch. We will continue working with like-minded groups on this issue and ask for your help in alerting legislators to its importance on Dealer Day this Wednesday.
HB 130 – Del. McNamara; SB 125 – Sen. Suetterlein
- Either bill would eliminate Virginia’s safety inspection program. HB 130 was referred to the House Transportation Committee. SB 125 was referred to Senate Transportation.
HB 1439 – Del. Jones; SB 907 – Sen. Lucas
- Either bill would eliminate Virginia’s safety inspection program for all vehicles except for salvage vehicles, converted electric vehicles, and certain motorcycles. Bills also include other transportation safety measures. HB 1439 was referred to the House Transportation Committee. SB 907 was referred to Senate Transportation.
SB 370 – Sen. Bell
- Bill would extend from 12 months to 24 months the validity period of the first motor vehicle safety inspection of a new motor vehicle so long as the vehicle has not been drive more than 15,000 miles. Referred to Senate Transportation.
HB 577 – Del. Keam
- Bill would put in place California emissions standards, potentially both low emissions (LEV) and zero emissions (ZEV) standards. Maryland adopted the ZEV standards and are very uncertain about the availability of new vehicles under the program. We have spoken with the patron and expressed our opposition to the legislation. Referred to House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources.
HB 595 – Del. Bourne
- Bill would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue, upon request of a licensed dealer, a license plate that is a combination of a special license plate and a dealer tag. VADA asked Del. Bourne to carry this legislation. It was referred to the House Transportation Committee. It will be before subcommittee January 20 and likely before full committee this week.
Peer-to-Peer Vehicle Sharing
Marketed by sharing platforms as Airbnb for cars, peer-to-peer vehicle sharing is an emerging technology that would allow one to rent—or share, depending on whom you ask—their vehicle to another through an online platform. The sharing platforms have asked patrons to carry their preferred legislation. A rental car company has asked patron to carry theirs. Major differences between the two are both whom may rent, or share, vehicles on the platform and what taxes accompany use.
With taxation, we want everyone—including the car sharing platforms and/or its users—to pay their fair share to the Commonwealth so as to prevent Virginia from needing to increase the sales and use tax as a way of accounting for any deficits.
HB 891 & 892 – Del. Sickles; SB 749 & 750 – Sen. Cosgrove
- This rental company-backed legislation would govern peer-to-peer vehicle sharing platforms and platform use in Virginia. HB 891 has been referred to House Communications, Technology, and Innovation. HB 892 has been referred to the House Finance Committee. SB 749 will be referred to Senate Transportation. SB 750 was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations.
HB 1539 – Del. Jones; SB 735 – Sen. Newman
- This peer-to-peer vehicle sharing company-backed legislation would govern peer-to-peer vehicle sharing platforms and platform use in Virginia. HB 1539 was referred to the House Committee on Communications, Technology, and Innovation. SB 735 will be referred to Senate Transportation.
As always, we are monitoring various employer-employee legislation. This year, such bills include those addressing employee purchases of necessary tools and equipment, non-compete agreements, an increase in the minimum wage, and paid sick leave.
HB 417 – Del. Cole, J.
- Prohibits any employer from requiring an employee to purchase from the employer or any other person materials necessary or required for the employee to perform or complete the work for which he was hired. This bill was not intended to impact dealerships and service technicians. The patron is open to amendment in that regard, and we have supplied sample language. Referred to the House Committee on Labor and Commerce. It will be heard by subcommittee then full committee but has not yet been placed on the subcommittee agenda.
Consumer Data Security
HB 473 – Del. Sickles
- As you know, consumer privacy regarding data has been a point of emphasis for consumer advocates nationwide. This bill does not go as far as the California Consumer Privacy Act, but it would impact many larger dealerships with consumer data in excess of 100,000 records. Referred to the House Committee on Communications, Technology, and Innovation. We anticipate this will not pass this session and will instead go to a study group over the next year for consideration.