Post written by Grafton deButts, Vice President of Membership & Government Affairs
To learn more about the Loudoun Chamber’s 2019 Public Policy Positions, click here.
Each year, thousands of bills are reviewed and voted on in the Virginia General Assembly. Many of these bills will never reach your inbox, nor will they ever affect your day to day: should golf carts be allowed as legal motor vehicles on some roadways, what should be the allowable late fee a pawn broker is authorized to charge, and whether or not swearing in public is a crime.
So how do you, a local business owner and Loudoun Chamber member, sift through the less important bills to learn about the decisions your representatives are making that will impact your business today, tomorrow, and into the future?
The Loudoun Chamber is here to help. We will regularly be providing you with the information that directly affects your business and quality of life. Reading our blog posts, following allowing through the bi-weekly Leadership & Community Update email, and attending our monthly Public Policy Committee meetings are just a few of the ways you can stay updated on these fast-moving local issues.
Going into the 2019 Virginia General Assembly Session, here are three issues to monitor as they will have a direct impact on your business and your family:
- Tax Conformity: Virginia has a long tradition of “conforming” its tax laws to Federal laws, to make it easier for individuals and businesses to complete their tax returns. Thanks to the Federal tax cut signed into law in December of 2017, many Virginians and businesses saw their taxes go down. Now Governor Ralph Northam is pushing a plan to conform Virginia’s tax laws in a way that would create a $1.2 billion in new tax revenue for the state. The Republican majority in the House of Delegates wants to send all of that money back to taxpayers. As you would guess, a major debate is heating up for how this money will be spent. Governor Northam has made it a priority to reinvest in our state’s teachers and educational infrastructure. Other organizations, such as the Jefferson Institute, see this is an opportunity to “reduce the corporate income tax….and help make Virginia more competitive.” For a taste of the upcoming debate WTOP wrote a summary of the GOP’s proposed plan and what they’d like to see and how it differs from the Governor’s priorities.
- Dulles Greenway Tolls: Loudouners have a love/hate relationship with the privately-owned, six-lane toll road that provides direct access to Dulles Airport and the Dulles Toll Road from Leesburg. This road provides unmatched connectivity for our citizens, but many argue that it comes with an unmatched price. That price, and escalation each year, is the result of legislation, sponsored by then State Senator Mark Herring, adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in 2008. That legislation expires in 2020. State Delegates John Bell and David Reid negotiated a deal with the Greenway’s owners to lock in that deal through 2056, in exchange for the Greenway allowing distance-based pricing during non-rush hours only. Recently the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted that this agreement does not provide enough relief and plan to advocate directly to the State Corporation Commission, with state lawmakers, to create a more dramatic change in the Greenway’s tolling structure and pricing.
- Proffer reform: When developers want a local government to change the approved use of their property, usually to allow for denser development, they offer a “proffer” to the local jurisdiction to offset the cost of their project to local taxpayers. In Loudoun, up until 2016, these in-kind capital improvements included cash, roads, overpasses, and public schools. In that year, the General Assembly passed a bill that severely restricted the ability of local jurisdictions in Virginia to negotiate proffers with developer. Three years later, both the homebuilders and local lawmakers are seeking to reform the 2016 law to reopen lines of communication and provide more options for developers to offer counties, cities and towns in exchange for rezoning their property.
As these issues mature and bills are proposed, we will continue to advocate on your behalf and communicate back on how we think our legislator’s decisions will impact your business and our community.
Interested in getting more involved in the Loudoun Chamber’s Public Policy Committee? Click here
Join us at our upcoming PolicyMaker Series event, the Board of Supervisors Breakfast on February 8, 2019. Register Here