"Kill” week as House and Senate committees vote down legislation
2023 Session, Issue 6
February 20, 2023
Last week, the General Assembly focused on partisan policy. Many of bills backed by Republicans that passed the House moved to the Senate, and Democrat-backed legislation from the Senate moved to the House.
This leads to a trend of lawmakers of both parties opposing each other’s controversial legislation and “killing” them in committee hearings (in fact, outside of the more controversial bills, most legislation receives bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle).
With adjournment approaching this Saturday, February 25, leaders of both parties will focus on committees of conference and the budget.
Committees of conference is when a committee is appointed to resolve differences between the House and Senate on a specific bill or resolution. The budget negotiations are intense as priorities backed by House Republicans and Governor Youngkin will differ significantly from the Senate Democrats. (At the end of this article, see the full list of budget conferees).
Franchise bill the first to clear both chambers
The House version of VADA’s franchise bill, HB1469, was the first bill of the session — out of hundreds of pieces of legislation — to cross the finish line after receiving unanimous support from both the House and Senate. The companion SB871 passed the House unanimously on Tuesday. Both completed bills are headed to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk for signing.
Bill to remove tax on diagnostic work raises questions
Delegate Kim Taylor (R-Petersburg) has a bill (House Bill 1677) to clarify that diagnostic work for automotive repair should be characterized as labor, and therefore untaxed. Dealers agree. There is minimal fiscal impact on the state budget.
There are some clarifying questions for the Virginia Department of Taxation and Senate finance staff as to whether other industries could attempt to modify their own labor standards for diagnostic services, and potential revenue impacts of such decisions. After advocacy and talking to Senate Finance Committee members, the bill passed the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee 13-3 last Tuesday with bipartisan support. The full Senate passed the legislation 40-0 on Wednesday.
Clarifying “Home solicitation”
Status: The House version passed the Senate 40-0 and the Senate version passed the House Commerce and Energy Committee 21-0.
House Bill 2422 and Senate Bill 1509 clarify the definition of a “home solicitation sale” and amend the Virginia Home Solicitation Sales Act, which provides consumer protections from sellers that solicit sales at the door or over the phone. A key provision of the law provides buyers the right to cancel a home solicitation sale until midnight of the third business day after the day when the agreement or offer is signed, often referred to as the “cooling off period.” The bills are backed by an insurance company looking to exclude insurance agents from the act.
Given that dealers sometimes do test drives or conduct business at a person’s home, VADA attorneys wanted to ensure the new definition would not lump dealers into “solicitors.” VADA asked for and received a carveout in the bill to ensure licensed motor vehicle dealers who may, from time to time, deliver a vehicle or sign paperwork at customer’s home do not come under the act.
The House bill is sponsored by Amanda Batten (R-James City), with the Senate version by Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg).
Loud exhausts heading toward workgroup study
Status: Passed the House Transportation Subcommittee 8-0 and the full Transportation Committee 22-0 last week.
Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) has a bill to limit the decibel level to 85 (50 feet away) from a vehicle’s exhaust system. Northern Virginia, in particular, has had a rash of complaints from citizens about loud exhaust (due mostly to highway racing). There are a dozen or so automobiles sold by dealers with systems over 85 decibels, so while we hear the pain, we also don’t want dealers harmed by Senate Bill 1085.
The bill has been amended to a study to address this issue, which VADA supports. House Transportation committee Chairman Terry Austin (R-Buchanan) would also like a study at how exhaust systems affect noise ordinances, law enforcement, and prosecution.
Clean Cars repeal dies in Senate Committee
There have been a number of bills in the House and Senate to repeal the 2021 law to adopt California Air Resource Board standards and CARB’s zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) requirements in Virginia. HB1378 passed out of the House on partisan lines and headed to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources where the legislation died on a party-line 8-7 vote last Tuesday.
Note: House Speaker Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) appointed the following budget conferees: Delegate Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach), Delegate Terry Austin (R-Botetourt County), Delegate Rob Bloxom (R-Accomack), Delegate Emily Brewer (R-Suffolk), Delegate Luke Torian (D-Prince William) and Delegate Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax). The Senate conferees will be Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston), Senator George Barker (D-Alexandria), Senator Dick Saslaw (D-Springfield), Senator Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg), Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville), Senator Steve Newman (R-Forest), Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon).