NEXT VRLTA Call - TOMORROW, Tuesday, April 14, 2:00 p.m.
Join us today for an update call tomorrow, 4/14, at 2:00 pm

Dial in information: 202.602.1295, conference ID 789-103-256#
LEAD NEWS: Governor Northam Acts on Key Legislation

Governor Ralph Northam has officially taken action numerous bills that were passed by the 2020 General Assembly. In addition, we have learned that the Governor is making significant amendments to the biennial budget for Virginia. The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association would like to take a moment update you on the modifications suggested by the Governor to legislation of interest to the hospitality and tourism industry.

  • Minimum Wage Increases: HB395 and SB7 would increase Virginia Minimum Wage. The conference committee report stipulates following:
  • The only change the Governor made to the bill was delaying the first minimum wage increase to $9.50 from January 1, 2021 to May 1, 2021. From January 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023 the minimum wage will be $11 per hour, and from January 1, 2023 to January 1, 2025 the minimum wage will be $12 per hour.
  • Exempts any person who is less than 18 years of age and who is enrolled in a full time basis in any secondary school, institution of higher education, or trade school so long as they are not employed more than 20 hours per week.
  • Establishes training wage be created that allows for an employee be paid 75% of the state minimum wage for the first 90 days.
  • There is a provision to increase it to $15, but that has a re-enactment clause attached to it that requires the legislature to approve that section again. If the increase to $15 per hour is not approved then it will be set to CPI-U.
  • Beginning January 1, 2022 the state will conduct a study on the impact of implementing a regional minimum wage, counting all fringe benefits towards the minimum wage, and the impact on employees and employers.
  • The study will also review the impact of the increases that have taken place on employers. The report must be provided to the General Assembly and Governor no later than December 1, 2023.
  • The bill doesn’t make any changes to the tipped wage.

  • Local Taxing Authority: HB785 and SB588 allow counties to levy meals, lodging, and admissions taxes without General Assembly approval or referendum requirements. The measures set caps on the meals tax rate at six percent, and caps on admissions taxes at ten percent; however, the lodging tax rate does not appear to have a cap, but it does continue to dedicate anything above two percent and up to five percent towards tourism promotion. In addition, it includes a provision that indicates a county may not impose a meals tax until six years after a referendum failed. The Governor made amendments that would delay certain aspects of the legislation taking effect on May 1, 2021; however, those most relevant to the hospitality and tourism community will not take effect until July 1, 2021.

  • Regional Lodging Taxes for Transportation: HB1414, and SB890 include provisions that increase the regional lodging tax in Northern Virginia from two percent to three percent to fund Metro. Meanwhile, HB1726, and SB1038 both include provisions that would impose a one percent to fund public transit in Hampton Roads. The Governor has amended both the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads lodging tax provisions with a delayed effective date of May 1, 2021.

  • Games of Skill: HB881 and SB971 both would have banned games of skill in Virginia. The Governor has significantly amended both bills to delay the ban until July 1, 2021 and impose a 35% tax on the machines. Of the levy, 84% of tax would be used to help create a COVID-19 relief fund. The ABC would also take over regulation of the machines during the period between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. It also will cap the number of machines at the level that exists as of July 1, 2020.
As you can see, VRLTA was successful in getting delays enacted into these measures, and the creation of a COVID-19 relief fund. That being said, the General Assembly still needs to give its approval to the Governor’s amendments.
Should you have questions or concerns, please contact VRLTA Director of Government Affairs, Robert Melvin at robert@vrlta.org
Have you received PPP or EIDL funding?

VRLTA is working to understand if members and others in the hospitality and tourism industries are receiving help . If you applied for either the PPP or EIDL funding, and have received an answer or funds, please send an email to Robert Melvin , VRLTA's Government Affairs Director, sharing the details. Thank you!
Continue to visit https://www.virginiaisforrestaurantlovers.com for more information about the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the tourism and hospitality industries. We are working to add additional resources, links, and news articles as they become available.