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Sales tax bill faces final test in Senate / February 14, 2019

Legislation paving the way for a countywide sales tax to pay for a new Halifax County High School must clear a final vote in the General Assembly before it can go to Gov. Ralph Northam for his consideration.

The pivotal vote is currently set for Friday, when the state Senate is expected to take up House Bill 1634, sponsored by Del. James Edmunds. The measure already has cleared the House of Delegates.

Edmunds’ bill passed another key test on Tuesday when the Senate Finance Committee reported it to the full Senate floor by a 9-4 vote. The legislation received the support of the top Republican and Democrat in the Senate — Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg) and Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) — but was opposed by a bloc of four GOP conservatives.Also supporting the bill was local Sen. Frank Ruff, a member of the influential finance panel.

Because it is special legislation pertaining solely to Halifax County, the bill must gain two-thirds support in each legislative chamber to pass. The Senate has 40 members.

HB 1634 would authorize Halifax County to hold a referendum on a 1-cent sales tax to generate revenue for school facility upgrades. The tax would be in addition to the state’s 5.3 cent sales tax; it would not apply to groceries, medications, automobiles and other categories that are not covered by the retail sales tax.

Ahead of the Friday session of the Senate, local leaders are keeping up their efforts to persuade lawmakers to support the measure.

On Tuesday, five local speakers pleaded Halifax’s case before members of the Senate finance panel. The speakers were Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg, Board of Supervisors chairman Dennis Witt, Chamber of Commerce president Mitzi McCormick, Grey Watson, co-chair of the local steering committee overseeing the Community Strategic Plan, and Jillian Waller, a HCHS student and member of the school’s leadership program.

Lineburg said Halifax County has made “a supreme effort” to get House Bill 1634 through the General Assembly, and if nothing else it has been successful in convincing lawmakers that something must be done about the issue of crumbling school facilities, especially in low-income communities.

Even for “the folks against it” — Edmunds’ bill —“it’s not that they don’t want to help,” Lineburg said. “It’s just a door they don’t want to open.

“We’re like, ‘Give us a door to open.’”

As a Dillon Rule state, Virginia bars localities from imposing their own sales taxes unless expressly authorized to do so by the General Assembly. The initial version of Edmunds’ bill applied statewide; he later amended it to satisfy concerns among delegates about its potential statewide impact.

Lineburg said he would make no guesses on how Friday’s vote in the full Senate will turn out, but “there’s not a community anywhere that’s worked harder on a piece of legislation than this one.

“We’re on the goal line and trying to punch it in.”

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Tell Lineburg to go to NOVA with the socialist crap he's trying to promote.


Amen you know, NO NEW TAXES!


taxes to pay for school funding is not socialism. unless you think that having roads, emergency services, libraries, water, and sewer is also socialism.

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