Virginia Viewpoint – February 9, 2024

February 9, 2024

The Race to Crossover

Like a two-minute drill that football fans may see heading toward halftime in the big game this weekend, the Virginia General Assembly is in a similar race against the clock – a deadline colloquially referred to as Crossover.

House and Senate committees have considered thousands of bills over the past several weeks to ensure work is completed before midnight next Tuesday, when each chamber must complete work on its own legislation. After that, the House can only consider legislation that passed the Senate, and the Senate can only consider legislation that passed the House. Each chamber has an additional week before they must complete work on their budget bill.

Casinos: Fairfax Out, Petersburg Still in Play

On Tuesday, legislation to potentially add a casino in Northern Virginia stalled for the year in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. The legislative stumble comes as mounting opposition arose from local leaders in Fairfax County who questioned the value proposition of a casino in the area. The committee also punted legislation allowing sports betting on Virginia colleges until next year.

On the flip side, a proposal to add a casino in Petersburg is gaining momentum in the legislature. The Senate passed legislation adding Petersburg to the list of eligible host cities by a vote of 29 to 10. If the legislation becomes law, residents will still have the final say to add a casino via voter referendum.

Sales Tax Increase: Local Option Advances, State Proposal in Question

Legislation encompassing major tenets of Governor Youngkin’s tax proposal, which includes lowering income taxes and raising the state sales tax, was defeated by separate Senate and House money committees by a 14-1 and 7-0 vote, respectively. The tax proposal still has a chance to survive through the budget process but faces an uphill battle with the same Democratic-controlled money committees that voted down the tax legislation.

Meanwhile, the same House panel advanced a bill to permit localities to impose a local sales tax increase if approved by voter referendum. The revenues from the increase would be used to construct or renovate schools. A similar bill already passed the Senate last week.

Marijuana Retail Market Materializing

Two years after marijuana was first legalized in Virginia, the prospect of a retail market is beginning to materialize with two different bills.

In the Senate, a 79 page bill was vetted by three separate Senate committees to work out the complexities of the regulatory framework before it is considered by the full Senate. Last night, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee reported the bill, meaning it will be put to a vote in the Senate next week. The bill would open all retail sales on January 1, 2025.

In the House, legislation moved forward with a slightly different timeline –  most notably with a start date of July 1, 2024 for some pharmaceutical processors and up to 60 microbusinesses, while full retail sales would open on January 1, 2025. The bill will likely be put to a vote on the House floor on Monday.

If both bills make it out of their respective chambers, it sets the stage for extensive negotiations between the Senate and House.

Potomac Yard Arena Legislation Advances to House Floor

A proposal to fund a new professional sports arena at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, which would be the new home of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards if it comes to fruition, cleared its first legislative hurdle this afternoon. The House Appropriations Committee voted favorably on enabling legislation that sets up the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Authority and Financing Fund by a vote of 17 to 3.

Members of the committee and stakeholders stressed that the legislation is a work in progress and will undergo several iterations. The legislation moves forward for a full House vote next week.

Virginia Attorney General Miyares Sues NCAA

Last Friday, Attorney General Jason Miyares filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA over its name, image, and likeness restrictions on student athletes. The lawsuit was filed alongside the Attorney General of Tennessee.

The Attorney General’s office contends the NCAA imposes restrictions on student athletes that prevent them from fully benefitting from their name, image, and likeness. According to the Attorney General’s office, the NCAA prohibits prospective student-athletes from discussing potential NIL opportunities with schools prior to making an enrollment commitment.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares sues NCAA over name, image, likeness restrictions for student-athletes


House panel advances bill to allow localities to hold referendum on sales tax increase for schools

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

Virginia Senate postpones Northern Virginia casino plan until 2025

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Youngkin tax bills dead for year; budget is last potential vehicle

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)

Bill to create legal cannabis marketplace advances to final House vote

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News


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