Capitol Briefs, Week 8

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March 4, 2024

As Session nears end, a look at key dealer and business bills

Article summary:

  • Priority VADA legislation advances: Dealership Buy-Sell legislation headed to Governor, praised for promoting clearer sales guidelines.
  • Consumer Protection Shift: A proposed consumer protection bill pivots to emphasize transparency in ticket fees, sparing auto dealers from broader impacts, with further action deferred.
  • Emissions and Safety: Efforts to relax Virginia's ZEV standards are blocked, while a proposal to extend safety inspection intervals for new cars is halted.
  • Closing Session Focus: As the legislative session wraps up, VADA tracks key bills impacting dealerships, emphasizing OEM transaction accountability and EV adoption policies amidst final bill and budget considerations.

We are heading into the final week of Virginia’s General Assembly, which is scheduled to adjourn this Saturday (March 9). There are over 36 bills in conference and the budget is undecided, so much work remains. VADA’s priority legislation, to bring more predictability to dealership buy/sell transactions, is in its final stages of approval before it heads to the Governor’s desk.

Here's a look at what we’re monitoring as the 2024 session winds down. Click on each bill number for more information.

Ticket fees under scrutiny in consumer protection bill that no longer impacts dealers: HB 1320 (McClure) and SB 388 (Pekarsky)

Background on the bill: From groceries to TVs to automobiles, proposed amendments to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act would have made it mandatory for any seller of consumer goods to include all fees in the price of all advertising. The updates would prohibit advertising, displaying, or offering any pricing information for goods or services without prominently displaying the total price, which includes all mandatory fees or charges other than taxes imposed.

  • Early in the session, VADA successfully secured an amendment to the Senate Bill so that it would not impact auto dealers. This exemption was crucial for maintaining fair advertising practices.
  • As the bill made its way over to the House Commerce & Labor Committee, it received a substitute and will now only address transparency in ticket fees. The House version of the bill, meanwhile, was carried over to the 2025 session which means it will not be acted on this year.

Obviously, this bill would have affected retail automotive dealers who are permitted to charge processing fees, and additional charges and taxes. Unlike most retailers, Virginia dealers are subject to a robust set of laws and regulations related to advertising, including appropriate disclosure of fees and charges. Those rules take into account standard industry practices.

Buy/sell legislation to create Predictability and Objectivity: HB 191 (Austin) and SB 534 (Bagby)

Our priority legislation will help entrepreneurial dealers buy and sell their businesses in a more straightforward manner. Virginia’s existing statute was intended to create more predictable and objective dealership transaction approvals. Manufacturers often delay or oppose dealership sales due to a lack of clarity in the existing statute.

  • The House version (HB191) has passed the full Senate
  • The Senate version (SB534) passed the full House.

Both bills now head to the Governor for his signature. VADA will send a letter to the Governor asking for his signature on our Buy/Sell legislation.

Emissions standards stand: SB 3 (Stuart), SB 53 (McDougle), SB 160 (McGuire)

Several bills were introduced attempting to repeal the California Air Resources Board's zero-emission vehicle standards, which passed in 2021 with VADA’s backing. The Republican-sponsored bills were rejected by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee, where Democrats remain firm in supporting the standards.

Committee Chairman Sen. Dave Marsden (D-35th/Burke) emphasized the need to evaluate Virginia’s Clean Cars and Clean Economy acts to consider the feasibility of meeting aspirational goals for zero-emission vehicle sales. A workgroup led by Sen. Marsden will assess the trajectory of new zero-emission vehicle sales and the industry's capacity to meet goals.

VADA supports various zero-emission vehicles — battery electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and all the varied powertrains. Most auto manufacturers have made it clear they are committed to phasing out gas-powered engines over the next 15 years.

However, mass adoption of EVs requires government policies that are technologically achievable, maintain affordability, and complement the efforts of the private sector in advancing the vehicle fleet turnover needed to achieve the targeted environmental benefits within a timeframe that helps, not hurts, new vehicle buyers.

We appreciate Sen. Marsden, along with Commerce and Labor Chairman Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-11th/Charlottesville), intends to convene a working group to ensure Virginia’s policies achieve those goals.


  • Safety inspections dead-end: House Bill 1047 (Batten), which aims to revise safety inspection protocols by extending the period before new motor vehicles require an inspection from one year to two, hit a legislative roadblock. Despite passing the Transportation Committee in the House, its failure to be heard in the Appropriations Committee before Crossover essentially halts its progress, marking its demise this session.
  • Protection for Auto Dealerships: House Bill 951 (Lopez), and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 247 (McPike), look to establish certain protections and a transition period of 90 days for certain building service employees by requiring the person or business contracting with the building maintenance company to ensure the employees are retained by a new contract building maintenance company. VADA scored a significant win, securing an exclusion for auto dealers from the requirements of the bill when it was limited to only certain locations.