Several Important Business Bills Approved by Va. Assembly

Last issue, WANADA reported on the four electric vehicle-related bills that passed the Virginia General Assembly in this year’s session. But there were also several other key pieces of legislation of note to dealers and other businesses that have made it through both chambers.

Importantly to dealers and other public-facing businesses, the General Assembly approved legislation that provides for a sales tax exemption on personal protective equipment that has been bought during the pandemic. This bill is both retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and will remain in effect until the governor’s declared state of emergency ends. Governor Northam signed HB 2185 into law last week, and it is already in effect as emergency legislation.

HB 1935/SB 1146 also makes expenses from forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans tax-exempt, bringing Virginia’s tax code more in line with the federal government. On Monday, the Virginia Department of Taxation released an update on the tax changes authorized by Gov. Northam, who signed SB 1146 and HB 1935 into law earlier that day. The two bills are identical, and like HB 2185, contain emergency clauses that allow them to take effect immediately.

Additionally, as outlined by this Senate report, the state budget contains hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation spending, including improvements to both highways and commuter rail service. As part of the budget, Interstate 64 will be widened from the Hampton Roads area to Richmond, and High Occupancy Toll lanes are set to be added.

The final budget also includes language requiring unitary businesses registered in the state to file a pro forma report with the state Department of Taxation no later than June 1. This report would be for the business’ 2019 tax year, and failure to file could result in fines as large as $10,000 for the business.

In addition to the new laws and the bills that await Gov. Northam’s approval, there were several other noteworthy proposals that failed. A move to repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law, which forbids enrollment in a union as a condition of employment, once again failed. A proposal that would expand the ability for class action lawsuits to be filed in state court also failed, after the House and Senate failed to agree on several sticking points between their proposals. A proposal to expand Virginia’s non-discrimination laws to more thoroughly cover workplace harassment also failed after several Senate Democrats joined the GOP caucus to defeat it.

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