5 bills to watch in 2011

The 2011 Virginia General Assembly session kicks off next Tuesday, and lawmakers are busy filing bills they hope will become law.

Once again, BizSense will provide coverage of the session by way of the Capital News Service.

In the meantime, here are five bills that could affect your business if passed. You can read more about them and follow their progress through the legislative process at Richmond Sunlight, a free database that tracks the General Assembly.

House Bill 1509: Employment; prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Introduced by Jim Scott (D-Merrifield)

This bill would add sexual orientation to the list of classes protected from employment discrimination, which currently include, among other things, race, color and religion. Similar bills have popped up in previous General Assembly sessions without success. With the recent reversal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” this year’s attempt might have a bit more momentum than in years past. On the other hand, with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates, passage is still an uphill battle. A companion bill, Senate Bill 747, has been introduced by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond).

House Bill 1447: Income tax, state; research and development expenses tax credit.
Introduced by Ben Cline (R-Amherst)

One of the first bills to come along this session is aimed at beefing up incentives for business. The bill would allow for income tax credits for individuals and businesses for qualified research and development expenses for five years starting in 2012. The credit is equal to 15 percent of qualified expenses or 20 percent if the research is conducted in conjunction with a public university or college in the state. The total amount of credits available is capped at $10 million a year.

Senate Bill 795: Foreclosure procedures.
Introduced by Don McEachin (D-Richmond)

You’ve heard the horror stories about banks foreclosing on homeowners who are current on payments and in some cases own the house outright. This bill seeks to put a stop to that by making the banks dot a few more i’s before they can foreclose. The bill would require additional documentation proving that the beneficiary has the right to request foreclosure, alter requirements for notification and impose additional duties on the trustee.

House Bill 1504: Insurance companies; investments in derivative transactions, etc.
Introduced by Lee Ware (R-Powhatan)

Credit default swaps are so 2008, but that isn’t stopping Del. Lee Ware from introducing a bill that would increase oversight of how insurers deal with derivatives. Under the proposed bill, insurers would have to establish written guidelines on how they handle transactions involving derivative instruments that include options, warrants, caps, floors, collars, swaps, forwards and futures.  Those plans must be approved by the State Corporation Commission, and the bill also gives the SCC the power to adopt new rules and regulations regarding derivative transactions.

House Bill 1498: Plastic bags; use by retailers

Introduced by Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke)

Here comes another attempt to ban plastic bags from retail stores. Last year, bills attempting to ban or tax plastic bags were withdrawn under pressure from, you guessed it, the plastics industry. The latest bill seeking to ban bags allows for them to be provided at the point of sale only if they are specifically designed and made for multiple uses, have handles and are at least 2.25 mils (1 mil=1/1000th of an inch) thick.

Virginia has resisted regulation of plastic bags in the past, but the state’s neighbors have not. Washington has imposed a five-cent fee on bags to benefit a river clean-up fund, and bags have been banned in the Outer Banks. Meanwhile in the Old Dominion, the City of Roanoke recently approved a measure urging its state representatives to introduce a bill that would give localities the power to tax or ban plastic bags.

10
Leave a Reply
To foster a civil discussion, please use your full name and email address.

avatar
10 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
Stevegplm2000DonnaScott BurgerJohn Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Scott Burger
Guest
Scott Burger

China, Italy, and many other countries have banned single use plastic bags. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080404-plastic-bags.html Its time for Virginia to do the right thing also. Farmers and many other businesspeople also see the real need to ban plastic bags. 1. They Use up Natural Resources: The most common plastic bags you see today are made from polyethylene. This material is made from crude oil and natural gas — both non-renewable resources. “Every time we use a new plastic bag they go and get more petroleum from the Middle East and bring it over in tankers,” said Stephanie Barger, executive director of Earth… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

Plastic bags are not the problem. People who litter are. Although only 1% of bags are “recycled” many people are reusing them. I use mine for lining the bathroom trashcan, cleaning up pet waste (dog & cat), or simply to carry things around. The only time they go straight into the trash is if they have holes in them. Reusable bags are great, but the government shouldn’t be forcing people to use them. We are not China; we are a democratic republic and people here have rights. Plastic bags may seem like a silly thing to have a “right” to,… Read more »

Alexander
Guest
Alexander

I can assure you that Americans do not have a protected right to plastic bags. This is a serious environmental and public health issue. This has many similarities with what was being said when they took the lead out of gasoline. In an era where we need to take a stand to reduce our reliance on oil and petroleum this is a sensible first step. I for one am sick and tired of living in a world made of plastic, where everything is disposable. I want a big strong grocery bag made of canvas that I can use over and… Read more »

Linda Heath
Guest

Laura, I agree with you; “we are not China”. Well said, “we are a democratic republic”.
Good economists know…you get less of what you tax. So, why not add a tax to the use of plastic bags and let the free people of America choose where to spend their money.

Maybe we need to bring back the stop-littering PSAs of the 1970s.
Linda Heath

Megan Terry
Guest
Megan Terry

A tax on plastic bags sounds like a great solution to me. No one is being denied the option of a plastic bag – you just have to purchase it. Don’t want to pay a tax? Then bring your own bags. Won’t solve the entire problem, but it’s certainly a start.

John
Guest
John

Laura, “Encouraging people to be responsible” is wishful thinking at best, especially when plastic bag waste is only half the problem. As Scott correctly pointed out, they’re also expensive and are manufactured using petrolium. While I appreciate the steps you take to reuse plastic bags, you’re committing an atrocious logical fallacy with your insinuation that banning plastic bags will create a slippery slope towards the erosion of our rights. The government has exercized the power to intervene and ban things that threaten the public good numerous times without dragging the rest of our liberties in tow. Look at dangerous narcotics,… Read more »

Scott Burger
Guest
Scott Burger
Donna
Guest
Donna

TAX THE BAGS!!!!

Laura-You can purchase biodegradable pet waste bags.

I use the paper lunch bags–cheap and they degrade bag to the earth from where they came.

I was in Canada last summer. There are no plastic bags on the roadsides in all of Quebec!! Last weekend, I could count at least 10 bags on the ground for every mile I travelled on I64. These bags are light and fly around even when thrown away properly. They are also a danger to young children.

gplm2000
Guest
gplm2000

None of these bills is important to the quality of life in Virginia or the USA. The most important bill for the VA Legislators is the “Repeal Amendment” for the US Constitution. Along with 12 other states, VA is trying to pass an amendment that would enable 34 of 50 states to reject/repeal a federal govt. law/act/program. Net result is the states would regain power over the feds.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Paper bags even made from Recycled pulb is more dangerous to the enviroment to produce than even disposable plastic bags. Recycling Plastic bags is not a bad idea but they have to find a way to make finacial sense and quit trying to regulate the issue because it just creates other problems later on.