Capitol Report - March 3, 2018

Week Eight at the General Assembly!

Week eight at the legislature was full of the final committee meetings for many House & Senate Committees, long floor sessions to finish work on bills to move them to compromise or "conference" committees, and initial action on the budget proposals.

Next week, we'll work to make sure any remaining bills not acted on by the House or Senate reach final passage, and continue to advocate for our budget priorities. We are also planning to spend additional time with newly elected legislators as the time in committees decreases over the next week. The 2018 General Assembly session is scheduled to adjourn next Saturday, March 10- stay tuned to see if that happens on time or not this year!

As always, both Council President Katie Frazier and Director of Government Affairs Jonathan Harding will spend most of our time at the Capitol, representing our members' interests. If you have questions about any of the legislative issues we highlight in our Capitol Reports, please contact us via email at

House & Senate Budget Proposals 

The House & Senate have now moved their budget proposals into a conference committee of Delegates and Senators. The major difference between the House & Senate budget proposals is the inclusion of medicaid expansion. After opposing expansion of medicaid for the past several years, the House maintained a version of medicaid expansion in their budget proposal, and the Senate removed medicaid expansion from their budget proposal. This leaves approximately $375-$400 million in budget differences between the introduced budget, the House version, and the Senate version. 

The budget items below are those that differ from the budget proposals included in the Governor's introduced budget on December 18, 2017. If you would like information on the additional reductions included in the budget, please email Katie Frazier.

Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF)
  • Reforestation of Timberlands Funds (RT)- House & Senate both added $112,000 in order to fully fund the RT program.
  • Containerized Nursery Expansion- House maintains one-time funding in the introduced budget to increase production of containerized long-leaf and loblolly pine seedlings; Senate removed this funding.
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS)
  • Industrial Hemp - House & Senate both maintain funding for two new positions at VDACS for oversight of industrial hemp regulatory program to support SB 247 (Dance) and HB 532 (Freitas).
  • Beehive Grant Program - Provides $125,000 each year of the biennium to support reestablishing the Beehive Grant Program to support HB 1152 (Wilt).
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
  • Ag BMP Cost Share Program & Technical Assistance- House & Senate both maintained the $26.2 million for Ag BMP Cost Share Program and $3.572 million for corresponding technical assistance from the introduced budget from WQIF and fee on recordation for the first year of the biennium.
  • The Senate budget proposal includes language directing DCR and stakeholders to capture the amount from the settlement and mitigation funding in the annual reports to the General Assembly.
  • Ag BMP Cost Share Reserve Funding - Senate budget proposal includes $2.5 million for the WQIF Reserve Fund to help provide additional assurances in the future if surplus funds are not available to help stabilize available funding to be appropriated.
  • Soil & Water Engineering Support- House budget included funding for 2 additional SWCD engineering positions to support implementation of best management practices.
Va. Cooperative Extension (VCE) & Virginia State University
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech & Virginia State University - House includes $1 million for VT-VCE and $1 million at VSU for operations and maintenance of buildings and facilities.

Agribusiness Miscellaneous 

  • SB 247 (Dance, Vogel) & HB 532 (Frietas) -Industrial hemp research programs.- SUPPORT
    • Update: SB 247 approved by House Committee this week; HB 532 approved by Senate and is now in a conference committee to ensure funding is provided for this program.
  • SB 374 (Chafin) -Cattle Industry Board; assessment from sale of cattle.- SUPPORT
    • Update: SB 374 approved by House 95-1 and is now on it's way to the Governor.
  • HB 987 (Gilbert & Tyler)SB 567 (Obenshain & Stuart)-Agricultural operations; nuisance. - SUPPORT-VAC Priority Issue
    • Update: HB 987 awaiting action by the Governor by Monday, March 5. SB 567 approved by House Ag Committee this week.
  • HB 1479 (Freitas)- Equine liability; execution of waiver.-SUPPORT
    • Update: Amended bill approved by Senate Ag Committee this week.
  • HB 760 (Landes)- Virginia Public Procurement Act; exemption for Virginia-grown food products.
    • Update: Approved by Senate Finance Committee this week.
  • HB 1152 (Wilt)- Beehive Grant Program. -SUPPORT
    • Update: Awaiting action by the Governor by March 5.
  • HB 844 (Fariss) Burn ban; definition of "orchard" and "vineyard." -SUPPORT
    • Update: Awaiting action by the Governor by March 5.
  • HB 1595 (Wilt) & SB 972 (Obenshain) - Vested rights; owners of property not required to retrofit existing landscape cover materials -  SUPPORT
    • Update: HB 1595 approved by Senate this week; SB 972 approved by House this week.
  • HB 1609 (Webert)- Horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering; definition of historical horse racing.
    • Update: Approved by Senate 31-9 this week.

Alcohol- Farm Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries

  • HB 286 (J. Bell)- Food and drink sanitary requirements; exception for companion animals in wineries, distilleries, breweries.
    • Update: Amended version approved by Senate and changes approved by House.
  • HB 820 (Knight) & SB 382 (Chafin)-Alcoholic beverage control; delivery of wine or beer to retail licensee, wholesaler requirement.
    • Update: Both bills awaiting action by the Governor by March 5.
  • HB 1005 (Gilbert) & SB 174 (Stanley)-Alcoholic beverage control; wine wholesaler; primary area of responsibility.
    • Update: HB 1005 & SB 174 both awaiting action by the Governor by March 5, 2018.

Animal Care

  • HB 1303 (Garrett)- Prescribing controlled substances; veterinarian-client-patient relationship-SUPPORT
    • Update: Approved by Senate unanimously this week.
  • SB 28 (Stanley)- Medical research on dogs and cats; prohibition on use of state funds, civil penalty. 
    • Update: Approved by House Appropriations Committee
  • SB 872 (Spruill)- Tethering animals; adequate shelter and space.
    • Update: House subcommittee continued to 2019.
  • HB 889 (Orrock)- Dogs, tethering of; locality authorized to adopt an ordinance to restrict.
    • Update: Amended by Senate Ag Committee to reflect SB 872; now heads to the Senate floor.
  • HB 1087 (Boysco) - Animal research; alternative test methods; civil penalty.
    • Update: Senate Commerce & Labor amended the bill to reflect the same intent as SB 28 and the legislation was approved. Now awaiting action in a conference committee.


  • HB 1610 (Knight)- Menhaden; total landings
    • Update: Amended version approved by House Ag Committee 11-10


  • HB 761(Landes) & SB 446 (Hanger)License plates, special; BELIEVING IN THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE SINCE 1927.
    • Update: HB 761 was signed by the Governor on February 19, 2018; SB 446 awaiting action by the Governor on March 5.


  • SB 72 (Cosgrove)- Electric distribution lines; minimum height upon or over agricultural land.
    • Update: Approved by House and on it's way to the Governor.
  • HB 1558 (Kilgore) & SB 966 (Wagner) - Electric utility regulation; grid modernization, energy efficiency programs
    • Update: SB 966 approved by House this week; HB 1558 approved by the Senate 27-13 this week.
  • HB 508 (Hodges) & SB 429 (Stanley) -Local regulation of solar facilities. - SUPPORT
    • Update: HB 508 approved by Senate; SB 429 approved by House.


  • HJ 95 (Guzman)- Pollinator Awareness Week; designating as last full week of June 2019, and each succeeding year. -SUPPORT
    • Update: Approved by Senate Rules Committee.

Food Safety

  • SB 470 (Reeves)- Raising and processing of rabbits for sale; exemption from certain inspections.
    • Update: Bill approved by Senate and House; on it's way to the Governor.


  • HB 239 & SB 375- Hunting with the assistance of dogs; Sunday hunting, exceptions.
    • Update: HB 239 awaiting action by the Governor by March 5; SB 375 amended and approved by House Committee this week.

Land Preservation 

  • HB 1460 (Fariss) - Land preservation tax credits; transfer to a designated beneficiary. 
    • Update: Approved by the Senate this week.

Land Use Taxation & Local Taxes

  • HB 871 (Orrock) -Real property tax; land use valuation. - SUPPORT
    • Update: Approved by Senate unanimously.
  • HB 1204 (Hugo)- Real property tax; open space; special and separate assessment in certain counties. 
    • Update: Approved by the Senate this week.
  • SB 314 (Ruff) & HB 1022 (Adams)- Personal property tax; definition of agricultural products. - SUPPORT
    • Update: SB 314 approved by the House this week; HB 1022 approved by the Governor this week.

Private Property & Eminent Domain 

  • SB 526 (Obenshain) & HB 638 (Collins)- Trespass; electronic device; penalty.
    • Update: SB 526 approved by House committee this week; HB 638 in a conference committee to work out differences between the House & Senate.
  • SB 823 (McDougle) - Wireless support structures; public rights-of-way use fees established.
    • Update: Approved by House and on it's way to the Governor.
  • HB 1258 (Kilgore) - Zoning for wireless communications infrastructure
    • Update: Approved by the Senate this week.
  • SB 278 (Petersen)- Eminent domain proceedings; prompt payment of funds.
    • Update: Amended version approved by House.
  • SB 809 (Petersen) - Eminent domain; calculation of lost profits.
    • Update: Approved by House.

Taxes, Fees and Tax Credits

  • HB 1382 (Byron)- Agricultural best management practices tax credit; refundability for corporations-SUPPORT
    • Update: Approved by Senate unanimously this week.
  • SB 249 (Dance) & HB 1441 (Orrock)- All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), mopeds, and off-road motorcycles; taxation.
    • Update: Both bills approved and will be on their way to the Governor.
  • SB 854 (Marsden)- Renewal of nursery stock licenses; late fee.
    • Update: Approved by House unanimously this week.
  • SB 332 (Peake)- Retail Sales and Use tax; agricultural exemptions.
    • Update: Approved by House this week.


  • HB 214 (Knight) & SB 73 (Cosgrove)-Overweight permits; vehicles for hauling Virginia-grown farm produce over bridges and culverts.- SUPPORT
    • Update: HB 214 amended, approved by Senate Finance Committee; SB 73 was approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 504 (Carrico) & HB 1276 (Garrett)- Highways, Commissioner of; authorized to enroll in or withdraw from any federal pilot programs. - SUPPORT
    • Update:  SB 504 approved by House; HB 1276 approved by Senate.
  • SB 583 (Hanger)- Western Virginia Transportation Fund; revenues.
    • Update: Continued until 2019 by House Subcommittee.
  • SB 971 (Obenshain)- Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan. 
    • Update: Approved by House Rules with amendments.
  • HB 125 (Austin)-Forest products, hauling; expands definition to include rough-sawn green lumber-SUPPORT
    • Update: Approved by the Governor.

Water Quality- Soil and Water, Nutrients, and Stormwater

  • HB 494 (Hodges)- Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas; preservation of mature trees.
    • Update: Approved House & Senate.
  • SB 585 (DeSteph)- Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee.
    • Update: House Transportation committee approved the bill.
  • HB 1206 (Cline) - State Water Control Board; Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System; online notice system.-SUPPORT AS AMENDED
    • Update: Approved by Senate Ag Committee this week.

Water Supply

  • HB 192 (Yancey)- Rainwater and gray water; regulations.
    • Update: Amended bill approved by House & Senate.
  • SB 211 (Stuart)- Comprehensive plans; groundwater and surface water.
    • Update: Amended bill approved by House & Senate. 
  • HB 211 (Wright) - Ground water withdrawal permit term; lengthening to 15 years.-SUPPORT
    • Update: Approved by Senate this week. 
  • HB 771 (C. Jones)-Potomac Aquifer recharge monitoring; creates advisory board and laboratory
    • Update: Approved by Senate Ag Committee this week.

2018 General Assembly Resources

Questions, Responses, Opinions? 
We look forward to hearing from you in regard to this e-newsletter, its content, and any of the issues we addressed or didn't address. Let us know your thoughts.  Thanks for reading .  

Va. Agribusiness Council
1025 Boulders Parkway, Suite 111
North Chesterfield, Virginia 23225
P- 804/643-3555; F- 804/643-3556

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