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Some laws will have to wait

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

Today is the traditional day for new laws passed by the General Assembly earlier in the year to take effect.

At least two major pieces of legislation watched closely by businesses will not kick in that day, however.

A new requirement for Amazon to start collecting sales taxes on Virginians’ purchases on the site doesn’t take effect for another year. Many bricks-and-mortar businesses in Virginia supported the move, because they said Amazon and other big online retailers had an advantage by not having to collect sales tax, thus making it cheaper for customers to buy items online.

The eminent domain legislation, which business groups support because they say it will help protect property rights, must go to the ballot this November before taking effect.

One high-profile business bill that does take effect on Sunday is the PLA bill, which deals with project-labor agreements.

Those are agreements that govern contracting in government projects—like the Dulles rail project, the poster child for arguments on this bill. The bill says that the government cannot require contractors to use union labor, nor discriminate against any bidder that doesn’t use union labor.

Other, less wide-ranging business-related legislation also takes effect on Sunday.

For example, a bill that allows local governments to offer tax breaks and incentives to defense contractors was signed into law.

That bill lets localities create a “support services zone”—like local enterprise zones—and then offer breaks on the BPOL tax, permit fees and other user fees, as well as “regulatory flexibility” that could apply to zoning, permitting, and exemption from ordinances.

Localities could also pay offer economic development grants to defense contractors if those businesses make capital investments, create new jobs, or meet other economic development objectives.

Lawmakers passed several other bills offering or expanding incentives and grants for businesses.

A small business investment grant fund, sponsored by Sen. Ryan McDougle, R–Hanover, was passed and should be on the books as of July 1, as was a bill that clarifies that businesses can be eligible for both the major business facility job tax credit and enterprise zone job creation grants. Both of those programs are for businesses that expand or create a certain number of new jobs. The caveat is that businesses can’t get both the credit and the grant for the same job created.

Retailers who have to remit sales and use tax to the state will have to start doing so electronically, if they don’t already. State budget language requires all retailers to shift to electronic filing for their July 2012 returns.

Chelyen Davis: 504/368-5028

cdavis@freelancestar.com

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