Session’s third week features successful Dealer Day plus continued efforts to maintain Virginia’s safety inspection program.
Session 2020, Issue 3
January 27, 2020
Last Wednesday, VADA held its annual Dealer Day at the Capitol event here in Richmond, and we are pleased to share it was a tremendous success. Thank you to those who traveled to our State Capitol to meet with us and with our elected representatives. With more than 80 individuals from dealerships across Virginia, this gathering of the Commonwealth’s franchised dealer community allowed us to remind our elected officials how involved you are in the legislative process and how important their policymaking decisions are to you.
We began with a luncheon and briefing at the Omni Richmond Hotel downtown, where we discussed the most prevalent topics of the session and readied the group for meetings in Capitol Square.
First, an update on safety inspections. We have been working around the clock, meeting with legislators in both chambers to express VADA’s support of the current inspection program and opposition to any repeal.
As you know, the Governor has included elimination of the program in his transportation initiatives package, which also includes an increase in the gas tax and a decrease in the registration fee.
When talking with Democrats and Republicans in both chambers, we have highlighted the very real consumer safety concerns that accompany removing the program and data that supports our message. We heard rumblings of changing the program to mean inspections once every two years, rather than every 12 months. To be sure, while we are not inherently opposed to compromise, we are steadfast in our belief that safety in this arena means an annual inspection. We must remain diligent in our quest to maintain the current program, and we are thankful for collaboration with numerous like-minded groups in this process.
Second, we spoke at the briefing about the value of the franchise system. There are plenty of new faces in the General Assembly. While several legislators have been around for many years and understand well your impact on the Commonwealth, there are plenty just learning about Virginia’s new car and truck dealers. Just think—almost half of the 100-seat House of Delegates has served four years or less. That is significant and requires us, as an Association, to introduce those new individuals to our industry. Dealer Day was a tremendous tool for building relationships with new individuals and discussing how you, and they, together serve Virginia communities. You are a benefit to consumer safety, a benefit to the state in terms of job creation and tax revenue. And that is something legislators appreciate very much.
Please click this link for pictures capturing the event. We plan on making video of Dealer Day available to you soon.
If you could not attend Dealer Day but wish to join us at the Capitol another day this session, please let us know. We would welcome any opportunity to introduce VADA members to their local leaders.
Lastly, please see below for the latest on several pertinent bills VADA is monitoring this legislative session.
As always, it is a pleasure to serve the new car and truck dealers of Virginia.
Weekly Legislative Update
See where we are on the issues and bills that affect Virginia dealerships the most.
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. We anticipate it will be heard by the House Transportation Motor Vehicles Subcommittee Monday, January 27. SB 125 was referred to Senate Transportation. We anticipate Senate Transportation will hear it this Thursday, January 30.
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. We anticipate it will be heard by the House Transportation Motor Vehicles Subcommittee Monday, January 27. SB 907 was referred to Senate Transportation. We anticipate Senate Transportation will hear it this Thursday, January 30.
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. We anticipate Senate Transportation will hear it this Thursday, January 30.
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. We anticipate it will be heard by the Subcommittee on Natural Resources this Wednesday, January 29.
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. The Subcommittee on Motor Vehicles unanimously reported the bill to full committee 8-0. The full House Transportation Committee approved the legislation 18-0. We anticipate the House will pass the bill 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. We anticipate it will be heard before full committee Monday, January 27. HB 892 has been referred to the House Finance Committee. SB 749 has been referred to Senate Commerce and Labor. 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. We anticipate it will be heard before full committee Monday, January 27. SB 735 has been referred to Senate Commerce and Labor.
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. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Labor and Commerce. It is scheduled to be heard by subcommittee Tuesday, January 28.
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.