It appears safety inspections will remain. How frequently they’re required is to be determined.
Session 2020, Issue 4
February 3, 2020
For weeks now, your legislative team has been hard at work advocating that the Commonwealth keep annual inspections in place. To support our case, we have cited where other states experienced increases in fatalities and/or crashes after eliminating their respective programs. We have also cited findings that crashes involving vehicles with defects are twice as likely to result in a fatality as crashes involving vehicles without defects.
That said, the Governor’s administration remains committed to changing the status quo. Last Sunday afternoon, Speaker of the House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn called us to express she would add to her transportation bill (HB 1414) a modification to the inspection program to require inspections once every two years. She did so, and the House Transportation Committee approved it last Tuesday morning. We anticipate it will be approved by the House this week.
This compromise from the administration did not come as a shock to us. We heard rumors of it two weeks ago, but before that, we knew this sort of “meet in the middle” solution would be desirable for many. While we think consumer safety means inspections every year, we firmly believe keeping the program on a biennial basis is far better than losing the program altogether.
The Senate still has a say—they’ll consider two Senate Bills that address inspections plus whatever emerges from the House—and we know some Senators prefer the annual check. Either way, keeping vehicle safety inspections is a positive for Virginia drivers and the Commonwealth’s franchised dealer community. Thankfully, and because of VADA’s efforts—including that which many provided on Dealer Day and elsewhere—it seems inspections will remain. Only their frequency is uncertain.
Bills outside the Transportation Committee realm meant long hours for Team VADA.
Every year, we monitor and become heavily involved in bills outside franchise legislation. As a result, last Tuesday and Wednesday were particularly busy.
Tuesday morning, our day began by testifying in House Transportation, where members considered the Speaker’s HB 1414, mentioned above.
Tuesday afternoon, we appeared in House Transportation subcommittee to discuss HB 717 (Reid), which addresses electric vehicle rebates. The meeting was delayed over an hour, but when the bill was heard around 5:30 PM, we expressed support of the substituted language, which calls for a workgroup to consider how best to increase EV affordability—after all, VADA members sell electric cars. We thanked Del. Reid for collaborating with us on the change, which invites us to be a part of the workgroup should it come to fruition. Both subcommittee and full committee approved the bill last week.
After testifying on Del. Reid’s bill Tuesday evening, we appeared in House Labor & Commerce subcommittee to speak on two bills—HB 417 (Cole, J.) and HB 1112 (Hudson). The former would have prevented an employer from ever requiring an employee to purchase materials or tools necessary for the job. If signed into law, it would totally alter service departments at every franchised dealership in Virginia, as dealers would need to provide auto technicians with all the tools techs currently bring. Thankfully, that bill died in subcommittee. The latter, HB 1112, would have made void every non-compete agreement in the Commonwealth. Fortunately, that bill was carried to next year and is not a threat for the 2020 session. We left the General Assembly that day just after 9:00 PM.
A late night in Labor and Commerce had no impact on a 7:00 AM subcommittee in House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources the next morning. We met at VADA at 6:30 AM and headed downtown to speak on HB 577, legislation from Del. Mark Keam that would tie Virginia to California vehicle emissions standards. As you can imagine, we have some concerns with that—for starters, the bill would significantly impact what cars could be sold, titled, and registered in Virginia. We sat in subcommittee for two hours only to learn the bill would be carried to the following week for consideration. We’ll be back next week to express our thoughts on that legislation.
Please see below for more updates on bills we are tracking this 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.
Originally, there were 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. Since, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn’s HB 1414 has been modified to include a changing of the inspection requirement from once every year to once every two years. Jones’ bill was altered in the same way.
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.
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. It died in subcommittee 6-0. SB 125 was referred to Senate Transportation. We anticipate Senate Transportation will hear it this Thursday, February 6.
HB 1414 – Speaker Filler-Corn
- Bill would, among furthering other administration-backed transportation initiatives—alter the safety inspection program to require inspections once every 24 months. House Transportation Committee approved it 13-8 and referred it to House Finance given the bill’s other transportation implications. It is on the House Finance agenda for Monday, February 3.
HB 1439 – Del. Jones
- As amended, HB 1439 would alter Virginia’s safety inspection program to require inspections once every 24 months. Bill also includes other transportation safety measures. House Transportation Committee approved the bill 12-10 and referred it to House Appropriations. We anticipate it will be heard by Appropriations subcommittee Monday, February 3.
SB 907 – Sen. Lucas
- Bill would eliminate Virginia’s safety inspection program for all vehicles except for salvage vehicles, converted electric vehicles, and certain motorcycles. Bill also includes other transportation safety measures. It was referred to Senate Transportation. We anticipate Senate Transportation will hear the bill this Thursday, February 6.
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 the bill this Thursday, February 6.
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, February 5.
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. The House passed the bill 98-0. It will move to the Senate for consideration.
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 and HB 892 have been referred to House Finance. We anticipate they will be heard in subcommittee Monday, February 3. SB 749 has been referred to Senate Commerce and Labor. We anticipate it will also be heard Monday, February 3. SB 750 was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations. We anticipate it will be heard Tuesday, February 4 or Wednesday, February 5.
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 House Finance. We anticipate it will be heard in subcommittee Monday, February 3. SB 735 has been referred to Senate Commerce and Labor. We anticipate it will also be heard Monday, February 3.
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 died in House Labor and Commerce subcommittee.
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. This bill was continued to 2021 to allow for a study over the next year.