The General Assembly gets rolling as Youngkin lays out legislative priorities
Session 2022, Issue 2
January 24, 2022
The 2022 60-day session has begun and newly-elected Governor Glenn Youngkin kicked off the week by addressing a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly last Monday afternoon.
Gov. Youngkin laid out his legislative priorities and requested tax cuts. He also highlighted the need for Virginia’s schools to ban critical race theory, called for higher standards of accreditation, said he would support a budget to boost teacher pay and target funds for opening 20 new charter schools. Youngkin focused in on no more mask or vaccine mandates but encouraged Virginians to get the vaccine as it would keep people working and growing the economy. The Governor vowed to veto any legislation that would end Virginia’s so-called “right-to-work” laws and promised to continue the expansion of broadband internet service to Virginia’s rural areas. Youngkin vowed to direct more state funds to local policy and that he “won’t tolerate lawlessness within a state agency,” pointing to his recent firing of the entire Virginia Parole Board.
Lawmakers began setting up committee structure and membership. The Senate is moving at a normal pace given that their leadership and committee membership is unchanged from last year. They have already begun hearing legislation.
With the change in leadership in the House, there is a slower pace as committee membership was announced and bills just began to be referred to committees toward the end of last week. This week will be busy with subcommittee and committee work.
The Senate wasted no time addressing issues on hot topics like voting laws. The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee sunk one of the Republicans’ and Governor Youngkin’s top election priorities – making photo IDs mandatory again for in-person voting. Several other Republican bills on voting were stalled in the Democrat-led Senate that would have shortened early voting to a few weeks rather than 45 days. Another bill focused on requiring voters to have one of a limited number of reasons to vote absentee. The demise of these bills ensures that regardless of the Republican-led House position on voting reform, there will be no changes to voting laws in Virginia.
Other items of interest that were discussed this week include minimum wage legislation. Virginia’s gradual increase of the state’s minimum wage will move forward despite the GOP looking to thwart it. Senator Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg) had a bill that have stopped an increase to $12 an hour next year, a plan to study increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, and a provision that would have tied the minimum wage to inflation starting in 2026. The Commerce and Labor Committee voted down the bill on a 12-3 vote along party lines. The Democrats passed a bill in 2020 to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
Fair Pay for Warranty/Recall Work
VADA’s priority legislation is HB 259 (Wyatt)/SB 216 (McPike) that supports fair warranty/recall reimbursement. The bill addresses the continued struggles new car and truck dealerships face when seeking warranty reimbursement at retail amounts. The legislation also addresses reimbursement for dealers for customer rental vehicles while warranty/recall repairs are made. The bill also requires that technicians be compensated for their time when assisting in software updates at the dealership. Finally, the bill will protect consumers from unknown charges. These subscription fees have become a frequent target by manufacturers and consumers should be made aware by manufacturers. HB 259 is expected to be heard before House Transportation Subcommittee #1 on Tuesday morning. SB 216 will be heard on Thursday afternoon in the Senate Transportation Committee. VADA membership has been active in communicating to their legislators, but it is vital that VADA membership continue to contact their elected officials! Click here to take action by contacting your legislator to support HB259/SB216.
Permanent Overtime Fix and EV Purchase Incentives
The Virginia Overtime Wage Act was significantly reformed during the 2021 session. The bill sought to create a state remedy for violations of federal overtime requirements. Unfortunately, the language of the bill went far beyond that intended result, making substantive changes to overtime requirements for many Virginia employers. Federal law lays out various exemptions to overtime requirements that specify exemptions for auto dealership employees. During the special session in the summer, the VADA fixed this problem with budget language, but that fix was temporary until July 2022. HB 1173 (Ware)/SB 631 (Barker) will fix this issue permanently for Virginia’s new car and truck dealers.
The House Appropriations Committee will also consider electric vehicle rebates. The VADA has requested $40 million in first year funding to launch the state’s electric vehicle (EV) rebate program. VADA has said if the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is implemented (expected in 2025) in Virginia and the Commonwealth is serious about EV adoption, then EV incentives must be part of the solution.
All the Legislation on our radar
The VADA legislative team focus our time and energy on our main priorities but also play a part of additional policy discussions, typically general business matters. The list below covers all the legislation we are tracking. As always, we will continue our role at the General Assembly of serving the franchised new car and truck dealers of Virginia.
Motor vehicle dealers compensation for recall & warranty — HB 259 (Wyatt)/SB 216 (McPike)
Provides that new car dealers receive comparable compensation for recall and warranty repairs as they do for retail service. The bill also requires full reimbursement for new car dealers for rental vehicles for customers undergoing recall & warranty service. Furthermore, the bill would require manufacturers to provide disclosure to consumers for updates to a vehicle accessory or function. The bill also requires that technicians receive compensation for vehicle updates under recall and warranty.
Independent dealer-operator recertification — HB 316 (Wyatt)
Codifies existing Motor Vehicle Dealer Board regulations related to independent dealer-operator recertification and changes the recertification from every 36 months to every 24 months. Instruction will also be modified from a 6-hour course to a live 4-hour instructor-led course and a requirement to pass an examination. We will work to ensure franchise dealers remain exempted from this requirement.
Consumer Protection Act — HB 737 (Krizek)
Provides that it would be a violation of the VA Consumer Protection Act for a supplier in connection with a consumer transaction to fail to disclose an advertisement for good or services in a contract that restricts the consumer’s rights in any civil action or right to file a civil action.
DMV Transactions — HB 986 (Runion)
Requires that any licensed motor vehicle dealer transaction for a certificate of title must cost the same as if such transaction were conducted in a DMV branch office. It would also prohibit a dealer from collecting from the vehicle purchaser the fees charged by an electronic filing system provider for obtaining a certificate of title or registration.
Replaces current provisions of the Virginia Overtime Wage Act — HB 1173 (Ware)/SB 631 (Barker)
Modifies the Virginia Overtime Wage Act to mimic federal statute for violation of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This bill would permanently fix the auto dealers exemption.
Motor vehicle sales and use tax — HB 1190 (Marshall)
When determining motor vehicle sales and use tax, this bill would exclude from the sales price the amount of any credit given by the seller for any motor vehicle taken as a trade-in.
Consumer Protection Act — SB 309 (Edwards)
No supplier in connection with a consumer transaction may use any provision in a contract that restricts a consumer’s right to file a civil action.