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TOP 10: Association Scores Major Wins for Restaurant + Hospitality Industry

Wednesday, March 1, 2017  
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VRLTA's Top 10 Wins from the 2017 General Assembly Session

The 2017 General Assembly Session came and went in a hurried fashion. With session wrapped, all Passed Legislation is on its way to Governor Terry McAuliffe for his amendments and signatures. There is of course a chance that he sends a Bill back to its respective chamber for edits, or that he outright vetos a Bill. While we await his action the stacks of Bills heading his way, let's take a look at VRLTA's — and the Virginia Restaurant + Hospitality Industry's — Top 10 Wins of 2017.

1. Short-Term Online Rentals (Airbnb)

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Senate Bill 1578 (Norment): Short-term rental of property; registration of persons offering property for rental.

VRLTA successfully worked with members of the General Assembly to introduce and pass Legislation that grants Virginia Localities the right to create host registries, charge a nominal fee to join the registry, and appropriately tax this home-based business.

2. Labor Day

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House Bill 1983 (Greason): School calendar; opening day of the school year.

This bill would give local school boards the responsibility for setting their school calendars and determining the opening day of the school year. It also would have eliminated the current law that mandates that schools start post-Labor Day or have a “good cause” waiver to start prior.


Senate Bill 1111 (Edwards): School calendar; adds to “good cause” circumstances for waiver of school opening.

This bill would have added another “good cause” requirement for which school divisions may be granted a waiver from the regular post-Labor Day school opening schedule. The waiver may be granted for any school division that had entered into a dual enrollment agreement with a comprehensive community college. In effect, this would have made almost every school division in Virginia eligible to apply for a waiver.

3. Minimum Wage

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House Bills 1444, 1771, 2309 and Senate Bills 785 and 978: Minimum Wage, increases minimum wage from its currently federally mandated level.

The association faced several initiatives this session to raise the minimum wage at the state level. Each bill was mostly similar, with only slight differences to the level to which the minimum would be raised and how quickly it would occur. Some bills were more aggressive in their approach than others. Most bills would have increased the minimum wage to $15 with the next 5 years.

4. Meals Tax

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Senate Bill 1296 (Vogel): Moratorium on food and beverage tax referendum.

Senate bill 1296 was introduced to combat the aggressive number of meals tax referendums held by counties in subsequent years. The bill as introduced would create a moratorium on holding a food and beverage tax for three calendar years following the defeat of such a referendum. The bill was amended to be specifically tailored toward preventing board of supervisors from passing resolution to hold a food and beverage tax referendum. The hope is that this bill will be signed into law and the number of referendums our counties face regarding this taxing authority will be greatly reduced.

5. Motion Picture Tax Credit

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Senate Bill 982 (Stanley) and House Bill 1665 (Robinson): Extends the sunset date on the motion picture production tax credit.

These identical bills were introduced to extend the sunset date on the motion picture production tax credit from January 1, 2019 until January 1, 2022. This will allow for a much greater predictability for the projects already in place and other film projects looking to potentially make Virginia their place of production.

6. ABC Licenses for Commercial Lifestyle Centers

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House Bill 1987 (Greason) and Senate Bill 1391 (DeSteph): Alcoholic beverage control; new license for certain commercial lifestyle centers.

These identical bills create a new ABC license for the consumption, but not the sale, of alcoholic beverages at any “commercial lifestyle center” (outdoor town center). Alcoholic beverages must be purchased from licensed restaurants located within the commercial lifestyle center.

7. ABC Licenses for Performing Arts Facilities

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House Bill 1526 (Albo): Alcoholic beverage control; mixed beverage performing arts facility license (a/k/a “Live Entertainment Venues”).

This bill would have created a new mixed beverage annual live entertainment license to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on the dates of performances and one hour prior to any such performance and one hour after the conclusion of any performance. The bill stipulates that the venue must have monthly gross receipts from the sale of food cooked, or prepared, and consumed on the premises of at least $4,000. The bill defined a live entertainment venue as an establishment devoted exclusively to the bona fide live performance of the performing arts, which establishment is open to the public no more than four days in any calendar week and where (i) at least 75 percent of the ticket sales for any performance at such venue is required to be purchased at least 12 hours in advance of the performance and (ii) the ticket price for the performance is based on the fair market value of the performance.

8. ABC Licenses for Cigar Shops

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House Bill 2220 (Landes): Alcoholic beverage control; limited mixed beverage license for retail cigar shops.

This bill would have created a new limited mixed beverage license to allow retail cigar shops to give free alcoholic beverages to store patrons, limited to two drinks per patron, with a requirement that at least 60 percent of the cigar shops annual gross revenue be from the sale of premium tobacco products.

9. Health Inspection Fees

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House Bill 1500 (Jones) and Senate Bill 900 (Norment): Budget – Increase both the restaurant and non-restaurant food inspection.

In the Governor’s budget, he included two items that would have increased the non-restaurant food inspection fee from $40 to $575 and the restaurant food inspection fee from $40 to $285.

10. VTC Funding

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House Bill 1500 (Jones) and Senate Bill 900 (Norment): Budget – VTC Funding

An amendment was added that reversed the reductions proposed by the Governor and provided $15,000 from the general fund the first year and $22,500 from the general fund the second year for Spearhead Trails. Additionally funding was restored for the See Virginia First program. Lastly, an amendment was added to remove $250,000 from the general fund for the City of Portsmouth in fiscal year 2018 for tourism based project and instead provides $125,000 from the general fund for the City of Virginia Beach in 2018 for the same purpose.


2017 VRLTA Partners