Legislation

Legislative Update June 25, 2013
June 25, 2013

The formal Senate session concluded and we left our office in Richmond to work full time in our district offices.  The bulk of our work is focused on addressing local problems and answering constituent requests.  However, legislative work continues through the summer as committees consider issues that will be relevant in the next session.


I serve on the newly formed Joint House and Senate Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences.  Our committee met last week in Richmond and will continue to meet through the summer to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of tax policy and options for reform.  Currently, billions of tax dollars go uncollected as a result of tax breaks provided for certain categories of activity.  Among the many goals of this committee is to make sure that these policies are fair and targeted appropriately.   Specifically, the committee will examine what other states have done to modernize their tax code and consider what changes are appropriate in Virginia.  We will also evaluate a number of tax reform bills that did not pass in the last session but were referred to our committee.  We have started our process with in depth briefings on current tax policy and a consideration of the principles of tax policy that should be our guide.  We agreed that our goal is to support tax policy focused on simplicity, transparency, neutrality, stability, non retroactivity, low rates and a broad base.  This is a significant undertaking, but our work has enormous potential to overhaul and improve tax policy in Virginia.


I serve on the Senate Finance Committee and we also had meetings in Richmond last week.  The Secretary of Finance made a presentation covering the May revenue report and the general economic outlook, all meant to act as a guide as we anticipate drafting a new budget.  At the end of May, our actual revenue collections had exceeded the budgeted expenditures.  This is the result of conservative budgeting and efforts to curb spending in our last budget cycle.  Currently, national indicators show continued slow growth.  However, the economy in Virginia has shown improvement.  Real GDP in Virginia rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter, up from .4 percent in the previous quarter.  Employment rose by 1.1 percent in April.  The unemployment rate fell .2 percent to 5.0 percent in April, down .5 percent from April 2012.  Consumer confidence has increased and foreclosure activity for May is down 23 percent from May of 2012.  On a year-to- date basis, total revenues in Virginia increased 6 percent through May, ahead of the annual forecast of 3.6 percent growth.  In short, revenue collections are increasing over what we forecast and Virginia remains far ahead of many states economically and as a state budget matter.

In recent weeks, I have given speeches and legislative briefings to civic organizations around the district and have received valuable feedback.   I met with individuals and groups on legislative and other matters, and I have enjoyed talking to school groups and hosting economic development and tourism meetings.   

Finally, as the end of June approaches, it is important to note that most of the bills passed during the 2013 Legislative Session will take effect July 1. A list of the laws effective in July is too numerous to outline, but for more information you may click here for a summary of the laws that will most likely have an impact on your daily life. If you prefer to review the complete list of all bills past during the 2013 General Assembly session, click here.

 

As always, I take your thoughts and opinions seriously and hope that you will contact our office any time that you have questions or concerns. You may reach me at 540-662-4551 or send an email to triciastiles@senate27.com or district27@senate.virginia.gov.