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Why Airbnb Legislation Matters

Wednesday, March 2, 2016  
Posted by: Seth Petersen
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Why Airbnb Legislation Matters

The importance of Virginia’s Airbnb Legislation

Yesterday, March 1, Travis Fain of Newport News’ the Daily Press published another article following Virginia’s Localities and our Industry’s fight against the short-sighted Airbnb Legislation being pushed by Senator Jill Vogel and Delegate Chris Peace. (His first encompassing summary was published on February 26, here.)

In the article is a summary of yesterday’s proceedings, including:

The House dealt a blow Tuesday to bills blocking localities from regulating Airbnb.com, calling for a year's worth of study instead of mere passage.

The House Appropriations Committee added a re-enactment clause to the legislation's Senate version, putting it in line with what Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment called for after local governments, and the state lodging industry, raised loud complaints over this bill and its House companion.

 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch had this to say in their coverage:

The House Appropriations Committee has followed the lead of Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, in slowing down legislation to allow Airbnb to operate legally in Virginia.

The committee voted Tuesday to amend Senate Bill 416, proposed by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier, to require re-enactment by the legislature next year before the measure can become law and direct the Virginia Housing Commission to study the implications of the emerging industry for traditional lodgings and local governments.

 

But why has Virginia’s battle to enact commonsense measures to regulate Airbnb become—possibly—the biggest fight of the 2016 General Assembly Session?

First, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky publicly stated on The Daily Show (beginning at the 15:40 mark) that, “We want to be regulated. Because to be regulated, is to be recognized.”

However, the legislation being pushed by Vogel and Peace at the behest of Airbnb says little about regulating Airbnb, and a lot about limiting our localities’ ability regulate locally—superseding any current and seriously limiting any future local regulation.

And second, Virginia has an opportunity to lead. Since these bills were introduced in Virginia, Airbnb has introduced similar legislation in several other states, meaning the outcome in Virginia could be viewed as a precedent by other states and localities.

Yesterday’s proceedings at the General Assembly take us one-step closer to studying this complex issue. And one-step closer to passing commonsense measures to enforce basic licensing and registration, tax compliance and accountability—that’s not only right for Virginia, but for states and localities across the country.


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