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Sales Tax Increase For the Historic Triangle!
Efforts to Stop SB942 Begin
Submitted by Mary Leedom

JSFK imageSen. Thomas K. "Tommy” Norment (R-James City) introduced Sales tax bill SB942 and it was passed by the General Assembly. A one percent tax will be leveled on York County, James City County, and Williamsburg to create revenue for tourism marketing in the Historic Triangle. Half of the revenue will be distributed to the Tourism Development Fund to market the area as a tourism destination for overnight visitors. The other half would be distributed to Williamsburg, James City and York based on where the revenue was collected.

Delegate Brenda Pogge said she felt it was wrong for the General Assembly to enact a tax on behalf of a locality, and that promoting tourism was a not core function of government. Pogge said "It undermines the accountability that I believe elected officials have toward their citizens.” In spite of her efforts the bill passed in the house and now waits for the Governor’s signature.

A major area of concern is the lack of public discussion. There was plenty of discussion about a proposed sales tax bill in the months leading up to its appearance in the General Assembly. That discussion didn’t take place in public. "Instead, the sales tax bill materialized in private meetings and correspondence between government officials, according to emails obtained by The Virginia Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act.”

This sales tax bill will give the State taxing authority, not only the right to tax an individual locality but the right to distribute it and to tell them how to spend it. Any Locality can now go to the state and ask for an increase instead of working within the confines of their budget and "avoid” raising real estate taxes. Delegate Pogge said this bill will make the localities within the Historic Triangle have the highest sales tax rate in the state of Virginia.

The Governor has until April 9 to veto or amend the bill. The Governor is not permitted to bring this bill before the April 11 special session. No other legislation may be considered during the special session. The regular reconvened session is April 18, and that is the time at which the legislature would consider any veto or amendment to Senate Bill 942 that is proposed by the Governor.

A serious concern is that, even if the Governor vetoes or amends the bill, a two-thirds majority (in both chambers) is sufficient to override the veto or amendment recommendation, and the bill would become law.

BOTTOM LINE: the key is to not only pressure the Governor to veto the bill, but to ALSO ensure that more House members will support the Governor’s veto. Based on the original vote counts and support for the bill, a gubernatorial amendment or veto would simply be overridden by the legislature -- unless members change their minds.  A link to the bill (and vote counts) is available here: b942

Contact the Governor and your delegates: Call the Governor’s Office: 804-786-2211. Email him at

Gordon Helsel 804-698-1091 -- (Remember Helsel voted for this bill!)
Mike Mullin -- 804-698-1093
Brenda Pogge -- 804-698-1096.

Avalaible here : A listing of all the votes in this house:


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InBrief 13dec18

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