2018 Session Wrap-Up

The Virginia General Assembly began the 2018 session on January 10th and concluded on March 10th. This was the “long” 60-day session, rather than the 45-day “short” session. During long sessions, the General Assembly adopts the 2-year Appropriations Act (the state budget). Along with this session being longer than most years, it was a change from ordinary Virginia politics.

With a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and a shift in power in the House of Delegates, many changes occurred this year. The November elections shifted power in the House of Delegates from a Republican supermajority of 66-33 to a slim majority of 51-49. That slim majority was decided by two recounts and, finally, drawing names from a choice of either of two film canisters out of a bowl on January 4th. This draw declared incumbent Delegate David Yancey (R) the victor of the race for the 99th district. As you recall, last year several of our dealers in Tidewater hosted a fundraiser for this candidate – time well spent as shortly thereafter he was named Chairman of the House Transportation committee that hears most of the bills impacting our profession.

Del. Yancey’s election provided Republicans a slim, controlling majority in the House of Delegates. In addition to welcoming 19 freshman delegates into the House, the General Assembly moved out of the General Assembly Building and into “temporary” offices in the Pocahontas building on Main Street. The General Assembly offices and committee rooms will be located there for four years.

This has been a busy session for VIADA. At the start of session, of the 2,864 bills introduced and reviewed for relevancy, our team and Spotts Fain Consulting were actively tracking 6 bills in the House and 2 in the Senate, and monitoring 7 bills in the House and 1 Senate bill. Furthermore, Governor McAuliffe introduced his proposed biennial budget that was subject to hundreds of proposed amendments needing review.

Our priorities going into this session were to protect and be the voice of independent automobile dealers in the Commonwealth. We have accomplished that through our support of legislation that protects the industry. Here is an overview of that legislation:

  • HB1178, which allows the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board or any licensed motor vehicle dealer whose business has been damaged to seek injunctive relief against any person who engages in business in the state as a motor vehicle dealer without a license;
  • SB 532/HB1413, which states no property owner shall sell five or more motor vehicles per property in a 12-month period if they are an unlicensed seller;
  • SB873/HB627, which will exempt vehicles sold on the basis of special order from being inspected prior to sale. So far, both bills have successfully moved through their houses.

If these bills are signed into law this spring, we are confident that they will have a positive impact on our industry.

One of the smallest but perhaps most important actions of the Assembly so far took place in the form of a simple text – one from the Chair of the House Transportation Committee to one of our lobbyists. It was simple: “how does the VIADA feel about SB873?” This shows that the VIADA continues to grow its visibility with the General Assembly and it doesn’t happen without a great deal of effort by staff and members. Again, many thanks to those who stepped in to host a local event for Del. Yancey. Now let’s replicate that effort statewide!