Legislative Update

Bills Introduced for the 2018 Session  as of 03/15/2018     Disposed as of 02/27/2018     

2018 Legislative Summary

Final Report 2017 Session

Legislative Summaries from TAX

How a Bill Becomes Law 

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Dateline 3/5/18

Both the House and Senate have completed their respective budgets. As anticipated each body rejected the others budget over sizable differences. The matter is now in the hands of the Committee of Conference (see below).

As far as we are concerned, both budget do not differ dramatically. However, the House version of the budget supports a 2% raise for CO’s and state employees, effective July 2019.  The Senate does not, but ads language for a 2% pay raise if the FY18 revenues forecast are achieved. Neither budget incorporates our other initiatives (i.e. unfunded/underfunded and CDP amendments).

 Therefore, please contact your legislator immediately and request that they contact members of the conference committee in support the House version of the budget AND that our additional budget amendments (see 2018 Legislative Agenda above) for unfunded/underfunded positions and CDP be included.

 It is particularly important that each of the “conferees” identified below be contacted directly.

 House Budget Conferees

• S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk)

• Chris Peace (R-Hanover)

• Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach)

• Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg)

• Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax)

• Luke E. Torian (D-Prince William)

 Senate Budget Conferees

• Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-District 3)

• Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (R-District 24)

• Janet D. Howell (D-District 32)

• Richard L. Saslaw (D-District 35)

• Stephen D. Newman (R-District 23)

• Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R-District 15)

• Frank W. Wagner (R-District 7)

 Remember,  “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”

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Dateline 2/27/18

We were partially successful, in obtaining our budget request goals. The House supported the Governors recommendation for a salary increase and moved the date up to July 2019. The Senate removed the Governors proposed language, but provided for an increase in July 2019 only if revenues do not fall short of budget forecasts. Most impactful, we did not receive funding support for our #1 & #2 items. Our options at this point are limited. We can press the likely budget conferees to include these items in the budget compromise. However, this may be a tall order as both the House and Senate budgets with respect to us are similar.   

In other legislative news…

Budget amendment 273 1h, approved by the House, we are exempted from paying the requisite $275 when request an advisory opinion from the Department of Taxation.

https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/amendment/2018/1/HB30/Introduced/CA/273/1h/

SB531 Reestablish the accelerated refund program for taxpayers filing income tax returns in person or via the United States mail with a commissioner of the revenue for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2018.

Passed in the Senate 39 to 0

Passed in House Finance Subcommittee #2  5 to 0.

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Dateline 2/20/18

We were partially successful, in obtaining our budget request goals. The House supported the Governors recommendation for a salary increase and moved the date up to July 2019. The Senate removed the Governors proposed language, but provided for an increase in July 2019 only if revenues do not fall short of budget forecasts.


 

Most impactful, we did not receive funding support for our #1 & #2 items:

Item #1 – Restoration of Underfunded and Unfunded Positions

  • Provide (FY18) funding for 134 deputy positions that have been underfunded since 2002.

                                                                               FY18

Approximate cost                                              $743,675

  • Provide (FY18) partial funding (10%) for 171 deputy positions that have been entirely unfunded since 2012.

                                                                               FY18                            FY19

Approximate cost                                              $228,523                       $228,523

Source: State Compensation Board, Richmond, VA

Item #2 – Commissioners of the Revenue Career Development

  • Provide (FY18) career development program (CDP) funding for 26 deputies who have qualified for the program but remain unfunded.

                                                                              FY18                            FY19

Commissioners of Revenue                               $29,977                         $29,442

Our options at this point are to press the likely budget conferees to include these items in the budget compromise. This may be a tall order as both the House and Senate budgets with respect to us are similar.

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Dateline 2/14/18

Today the Senate Finance Committee voted to carry over HB 786 and HB 787 for a year for further study.  This means the bills will not be heard again this year, but maybe brought back next year.

Video of the Senate Finance Committee cane be seen here Go  to the 40min mark.  Del. Keam mentions HB788 and HB787 but he means HB786 and HB787.

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Dateline 2/7/18

After yesterday’s flurry of activity regarding HB 786 and HB 787, we are now better apprised of the facts with regard to impact of these two bills.

Charlie Crowson and Lori Stevens negotiated in good faith and represented the interests of both the V.A.A.O. and CoR’s. Representatives from VML, VaCo and the Northern Virginia Apartment Owners were also present. Charlie circulated a request for assistance widely beforehand, but apparently he and Lori were only individuals who were present. Following this meeting Charlie also circulated drafts of HB 786 & HB 787 widely to individuals outside of our organization. Some concerns were raised and the following offending language was stricken from both bills:

In any appeal of an assessment of real or personal property, if the assessment that is the subject of the appeal is an increase of more than 20 percent over the assessment for the same property for the prior tax year, except in cases of buildings constructed in the previous five years, the assessor shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the assessment is correct.

No other specific recommendations were made until several days ago and after the bills had passed out of the House without any opposition.

Neither Ross Mugler nor I were present during the negotiations and were largely not included in the email discussions which followed. However, it does appear that an unintended misrepresentation of fact did occur. Specifically, that the compromise solution agreed to in 2011/12 removed “manifest error” the standard. HB 786 & HB 787 now specifically remove the manifest error language from the code which lowers the existing standard. While I do not believe that there was any intent to knowingly misrepresent fact, an unintended misrepresentation apparently did occur. We were negligent in not immediately disputing what was apparently said, or then verifying and correcting what had been represented after-the-fact.

Compounding matters, during our recent Legislative Days we reviewed all bills which were impact our offices. HB 786 & HB 787 were among the bills reviewed. No objections were raised regarding these bills.

Unfortunately, it would appear that misrepresentation, assumptions, and lack of diligence have conspired to create this situation.

There is plenty of blame to go around.

Delegate Keam has suggested that all parties meet again. Hopefully, we will find a solution amenable to all concerned.

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Dateline 1/25/18

Our budget amendments are in. They can be found here:

(House #73 6h, 7h, 10h, 11h)

https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/get/amendmentpdf/3445/

(Senate 79 #1s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6, 7s, 8s)

https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/get/amendmentpdf/3450/

If one of the following General Assembly members is your legislator please contact them directly and ask them to support our budget amendments.

House Appropriations Committee

Jones, S.C. (Chairman), Landes (Vice Chair), Ingram, Poindexter, Peace,Knight, Garrett, Stolle, Rush, Robinson, Head, Pillion, Torian, Sickles, James,Carr, McQuinn, Aird, Tyler, Krizek, Bell, John J., Hayes

Compensation Retirement Subcommittee members

Poindexter(Chair), Ingram, Garrett, Rush, Carr, Krizek, James.

General Government Subcommittee members:

Torian(Hayes), Hayes, Head, Ingram, Knight, Poindexter, Stolle

Senate Finance

Norment (Co-Chair), Hanger (Co-Chair), Howell, Saslaw, Lucas, Newman, Ruff,Wagner, McDougle, Vogel, Carrico, Obenshain, Barker, Dunnavant, Stuart, Dance

Capital Outlay & General Government Subcommittee members:

Thomas K. Norment, Jr., Chair, Richard L. SaslawEmmett W. Hanger, Jr.L. Louise LucasFrank M. Ruff, Jr.Frank W. WagnerRyan T. McDougle,  Jill H. VogelMark D. ObenshainRosalyn R. Dance

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Dateline 1/17/18

Here is the 2018 CoR Legislative Agenda adopted at our recent annual meeting. Please contact your Delegate and Senator immediately, in person if possible, and provide them with a copy and request that they support these initiatives.  It is also a good idea to share our agenda with your constitutional officer colleagues.  As the legislative session develops this agenda will likely be revised as circumstances dictate.

Legislative Days will be January 21-23. Once again, a block rooms will be available at the Omni Hotel, Richmond.

After four decades of hard service the old General Assembly Building (GAB) is being torn down and replaced with a new General Assembly Building in the same location.  In the interim, legislators offices have been temporarily relocated to the nearby Pocahontas Building at 900 E. Main St.  This location, while more convenient to the Omni Hotel (one block away), will actually be more of a challenge for us due to the extremely limited amount of space available. For example, we will not have meeting space within the Pocahontas Building as we have had in the old GAB.  Lori Stevens has arranged meeting space in the Executive Offices of the Virginia Department of Taxation several blocks away at 600 E. Main Street. In addition, because of these conditions we have elected not to descend en masse on the Pocahontas Building and have suspended the distribution of legislative gifts.

Accordingly, each of you is encouraged to plan your visit with your legislators by scheduling an appointment during business hours, and/or arranging to have dinner with them sometime during our Legislative Days.

To help orient you I have included a map of downtown Richmond.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Ross Mugler, or any member of the executive/legislative committee.

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Dateline 2/6/17

For Details of the Association position on Budget see: dateline 1/25/17

The Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees completed their respective budgets yesterday.  The highlights are as follows:

CDP

The Senate version (SB900) maintains full funding for Career Development Programs that was proposed in the Governor’s introduced budget bill.  The House version (HB1500) removes all funding from the budget bill for CDP and redirected that funding to support a proposed 2% across-the-board salary increase for all constitutional officers and their employees in FY18.  Reconciliation of these differences will be a matter for consideration by the Conference committee.

Salaries

Both the SFC and HAC amendments provide for a 2% salary increase for all constitutional officers and regional jail superintendents and their Compensation Board funded employees, effective August 1, 2017, in lieu of the proposed 1.5% bonus included in the introduced budget.  Both the SFC and HAC proposed a 3% salary increase for state employees.  While all the specific details have not been published, it does not appear that these increases are contingent upon revenues.

Copies of the budget amendments will be available tomorrow (Feb. 7th) at noon, which is also crossover. Both houses will vote on their respective budgets on Thurs., (Feb. 9th). On Wed., (Feb. 15th) both house will then vote on, and likely reject, the others budget.  A Committee of Conference will be appointed to work out the differences. The deadline for their work is Tues., Feb. 21st. The Conference Report will be available on Thurs. (Feb. 23rd). A final vote on the Budget Conference Report will take place on Sat., Feb. 25th, the 2017 GA session will then adjourn, Sine Die.

Please contact your legislator immediately and ask them to support the Senate version of the budget.  Cleary, the Senate version maintains full funding for CDP and grants us a 2% salary increase.  If your legislator is one of the likely budget conferees, it is imperative that you make your feelings known to them now on these critical issues:

The likely House and Senate Conferees are:

House Budget Conferees (likely)

  • S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk)
  • R. Steven “Steve” Landes (R-Augusta)
  • M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights)
  • John M. O’Bannon, III (R-Henrico)
  • Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-Loudoun)
  • Luke E. Torian (D-Prince William)

Senate Budget Conferees (likely)

  • Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-District 3)
  • Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (R-District 24)
  • Janet D. Howell (D-District 32)
  • Richard L. Saslaw (D-District 35)
  • Stephen D. Newman (R-District 23)
  • Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R-District 15)
  • Frank W. Wagner (R-District 7)

President Lori, Ross Mugler, Madeline Abbitt, Charlie Crowson, and I, will be meeting with the above individuals later this week along with our other constitutional officer colleagues.  It is much easier for us to engage these individuals if they have heard from you first.

One final thing, last week largely because of your efforts, HB2104, a very bad bill for localities, was referred to the Appropriations Committee where it will likely remain (i.e. it is dead).  This was no small accomplishment.  We went up against a very powerful lobby in the Virginia Manufacturers Association, and won!  Please be sure to thank your legislator for standing with you and your locality on this important issue. Also, give yourselves a pat on the back.

 

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Dateline 1/26/17

Please contact your Delegate immediately and ask them to vote “NO” on HB 2104 (Byron) and HB 2447 (Marshall).

HB 2104 – Machinery and tools tax; valuation, appeal of certain local taxes:   

Violates the principle of “uniformity” in assessment methodology established in Article X Sect. 1 & 2, of Virginia Constitution – a) Permits the taxpayer to effectively choose the method of assessment on individual pieces of equipment; b) Same piece of equipment will be valued differently for different companies;  c)  a business can have equipment assessed by three different methods on property within the same assessment. (see lines 184 – 186).

  1. Expands the Commonwealth’s authority over local taxation by limiting the authority and discretion of local officials, in particular based on valuation. The Virginia Department of Taxation nor the Tax Commissioner has the experience or expertise in evaluating Business Personal Property (BPP) or Machinery & Tools. (by the Tax Depts. est., $100,000 in addtl. FTE). The valuation of BPP and M&T is much more complex than is real property.
  2. Is labor intensive.  Likewise, localities do not have the resources to institute this type of valuation methodology (est. $10,000,000 local addtl. FTE).
  3. Is redundant in many aspects – a) Local officials are already required to take into account technological obsolescence per section §58.1-3503; b) Taxpayers are already permitted to appeal to both the Tax Commissioner and Circuit Court. The bill will add an unnecessary layer of appeal.

House Finance Committee Members:

 Ware (Chairman), Cline (Vice Chair), Orrock, Byron, Cole, Hugo, Marshall, R.G., Pogge, Head, Farrell, Fariss, Fowler, Bloxom, Freitas, Holcomb, Watts, Keam, Filler-Corn, Kory, Sullivan, Murphy, Heretick

 

HB2447 – Motor vehicles, local licensure; eliminates ability of a locality to assess local license fees:

Two-hundred-thirty-seven (237) Virginia localities (34 cities, 85 counties, 118 towns) currently impose the Motor Vehicle License Tax (Source: Virginia Local Tax Rates 2015; Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service). The overall statewide impact is a loss of more than $200 million in revenues to localities (Source: Auditor of Public Accounts, Commonwealth Data Point).

The bill, as drafted, eliminates Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasurer access to “law enforcement databases” (i.e. DMV database). (see lines 139-144).

House Transportation Committee Members:

Villanueva (Chairman), Hugo (Vice Chair), Garrett, Habeeb, Anderson, Minchew, Yancey, Dudenhefer, LeMunyon, Davis, Austin, LaRock, Pillion, Adams, Collins, Ward, Toscano, McQuinn, Carr, Filler-Corn, Plum, Bagby

For those of you who have a member on one of the above committees, please REPORT BACK TO ME the response you receive from your Delegate.

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Dateline 1/25/17

Virginia Commissioners of the Revenue Association  2017 Legislative Agenda

Virginia’s elected Commissioners of the Revenue are making every effort to better serve the Commonwealth and its citizens by providing efficient and innovative revenue administration at both the state and local levels.

In brief, we are committed to providing services to the citizens in each of our localities while simultaneously enhancing state and local revenues at little to no cost.

We are seeking your consideration and support for the following budget priorities:

Item #1 – Commissioners of the Revenue Career Development

  • Provide (FY18) career development program (CDP) funding for 12 principal officers and 106 deputies who have qualified for the program but remain unfunded, some as long as seven years.

                                                                                             FY18

Approximate cost                                                        $223,906

Item #2 – 3% Salary Increase for Commissioners of Revenue eff. July 2018

  • Provide (FY18) a 3% salary increase for commissioners of the revenue and state supported deputies of commissioners of the revenue:

                                                                                           FY18

Commissioners of Revenue                                        $493,793

 

The following illustrates the cost of providing a 3% salary increase to the four other constitutional officer groups, included are Directors of Finance:

                                                              FY18

Circuit Court Clerks                    $1,275,634

Commonwealth’s Attorneys      $1,937,658

Sheriffs/Regional Jails            $12,449,338

Treasurers                                       $466,304

Finance Directors                           $151,740

Notes:

All Base Salary amounts used to calculate salary increase costs were based on State Compensation Board approved reimbursable salaries effective July 2016 with the exception of the elected Commissioner, elected Treasurer, and appointed Finance Director. In order to maintain the local-responsible portion of elected Treasurers, elected Commissioners, and appointed Finance Directors at 50% of their 1980 local salary, any state-funded salary increases are based on 100% of the cost to increase to their budgeted salaries plus benefits. Similarly, state approved employees of these offices are funded 50% by the state and 50% by the locality.

Sheriffs and Regional Jails – Staff Base Salary include annual salaries of new jail positions for jail construction projects in Central Virginia and Pamunkey Regional Jails, both of which are scheduled and funded to open in FY17. Positions required to staff the Chesapeake City Jail expansion project that is scheduled to be completed in FY18 are not included as funding has not been approved by the General Assembly at this time.

Salary base excludes $1,000 city/county combined office salary supplements for 10 Sheriffs and 13 Commonwealth’s Attorneys which are not part of their base salary for increases.

Circuit Court Clerks benefits are paid at 2/3rds of the approved benefits rates. The salaries of the Newport News, Richmond and Roanoke Clerks and their staff are excluded as these offices do not receive state support.

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Dateline 1/12/16   (Note: revised 1/14 to reflect Comp Board change in 2% salary increase for FY18)

Virginia Commissioners of the Revenue Association 2016 Legislative Agenda

Virginia’s elected Commissioners of the Revenue are making every effort to better serve the Commonwealth and its citizens by providing efficient and innovative revenue administration at both the state and local levels.

In brief, we are committed to providing services to the citizens in each of our localities while simultaneously enhancing state and local revenues at little to no cost.

We are seeking your consideration and support for the following budget priorities:

Item #1 – 2% Salary Increase for Constitutional Officers eff. August 1, 2017

Budget Bill HB 30/SB30 (Introduced) Item 475 P.1 & R.1.a

Administration FY 17 FY 18

Compensation Board $0 $10,123,818 GF

Explanation:

P.1. The Governor is hereby authorized to allocate a sum of up to $11,800,000 (Constitutional Officers) the second year from this appropriation to the extent necessary to offset any downward revisions of the general fund revenue estimate prepared for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 after the enactment by the General Assembly of the 2016 Appropriation Act or 2017 Appropriation Act. If within 5 days of the preliminary close of the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2017, the Comptroller’s analysis does not determine that a revenue re-forecast is required pursuant to § 2.2-1503.3, Code of Virginia, then such appropriation shall be used only for employee compensation purposes as stated in paragraphs Q. and R., below.

R.1. Contingent on the provisions of paragraph P.1. above, the appropriations in this Item include funds to increase the base salary of the following employees by two percent on August 1, 2017, provided that the governing authority of such employees certifies that the listed employees will receive the stated pay increase.

  1. Locally-elected constitutional officers;

Item #2 – Commissioners of the Revenue Career Development

Budget Bill HB 30/SB30 (Introduced) Item 72 D & E

Provide (FY17) career development program (CDP) funding for 14 principal officers and 102 deputies who have qualified for the program but remain unfunded, some as long as seven years. (Approximate cost $475,228 in FY17 & FY 18)

Administration FY 17 FY 18

Compensation Board $237,614 $237,614

Item #3 – Burden of Proof & Arbitration in Real Estate Assessments

Burden of Proof – Commissioners of the Revenue oppose any efforts to alter the burden of proof in real estate assessments. Our main objection to this bill was that it shifted the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the assessor.

  • Losing the HISTORICAL presumption of correctness of real estate assessments would be a disaster for local government, and also sets a precedent for all other assessments (e.g. Personal Property). In almost all states, including Virginia, assessments are deemed prima facie correct and the burden of proving otherwise falls on the taxpayer.
  • An appeals process has been in place since the 2012 GA Session and agreed to by VML, VaCO, Virginia Association of Assessing Officers (VAAO), Commissioners of the Revenue, and the Virginia Association of Realtors.
  • Localities utilize a Mass Assessment process that is professional, inherently conservative, uniform and fair. Most assessors, even in smaller localities, have state licenses, professional designations, as well as years of experience and continuing education.
  • Any change would favor wealthy commercial owners who have the resources to litigate AND wealthy localities who have the resources to fight assessments. Smaller businesses and localities would not have the resources to litigate or defend these actions.
  • Any change will only encourage litigation and will dramatically increase the number of appeals and lawsuits, including frivolous lawsuits. The main beneficiaries would be attorneys and MAI fee appraisers (called as expert witnesses).

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Dateline 12/17/15

The Governor has included in his budget full funding ($369,928) for career development programs for Commissioners and Treasurers, as we requested. In addition, his budget proposal includes a 2% raise ($15.6 million) for all constitutional officers to take effect Aug. 1, 2017 provided certain economic benchmarks are met. 

Our objective is now to keep these items in the budget.  Additional instructions and information on this will follow.

 

 

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