Town Hall Events Prompt Delegates to Consider Business-Minded Legislation

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The Yorktown Freight Shed
The Yorktown Freight Shed

The Business Development Caucus is ready to begin drafting legislative changes to help businesses across the state meet its goals.

After meeting with representatives from 165 businesses across the state and receiving 72 recommendations for what they want to see from Richmond, the BDC has 17 prospects for new legislation, according to a news release from the group.

The caucus conducted several town halls this year across the state, including one in Yorktown in August. The goal was to find out which laws and changes business owners believe would help grow the economy and create jobs. The list of 17 prospective areas to draft legislation includes several items discussed at the Yorktown event.

At that meeting, York County Office of Economic Development Director Jim Noel said the Virginia Department of Transportation program that determines which businesses get their logos placed on the blue interstate signs to advertise services at an exit needs to be changed to make it easier for existing businesses to get placement. VDOT signage is now one of the areas the BDC will look to address via legislation.

Another area they will explore is the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates alcohol in the state. At the August town hall event, Marl Inn Bed & Breakfast owner Thomas Nelson Jr. said state liquor laws prohibit guests from drinking their lawfully purchased alcohol anywhere but their rooms while they are guests at his establishment.

One business owner brought up the business and professional occupational licenses tax at the Yorktown town hall, which BDC member Del. Chris Head (R-17) said then he had heard criticisms of at every town hall event so far. That tax, which is assessed in all three Historic Triangle municipalities, is a business license tax on gross receipts over a calendar year.

“It’s very detrimental, it’s egregious for businesses and it needs to go away,” Head said.

Other areas the BDC will look to address are the Virginia Employment Commission, state procurement procedures and clean energy, according to the release.

The BDC, created by a group of then-freshmen delegates — including then-Del. Mike Watson, who represented parts of the Historic Triangle in the House of Delegates — had 13 Republican and Democratic members of the General Assembly attend town hall events. The BDC is currently composed of 24 delegates, none of whom represent the Historic Triangle in Richmond.

Town halls in 2012 and 2013 prompted BDC legislators to introduce 29 bills in the General Assembly, according to the BDC’s website. Among the bills they introduced that were signed into law in 2014 are tweaks to the State Corporation Commission’s eFile system, a way for municipalities to lower personal property tax rates for businesses locating in the municipality for the first time and a way for taxpayers to appeal for a ruling from the state tax commissioner on BPOL tax classifications.

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