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Sales tax bill gains new life in legislature

SoVaNow.com / February 04, 2019




Left for dead last week, legislation to give Halifax County the option of levying a local sales tax to build a new high school is back in play in the General Assembly this week.

“Still alive and kicking,” said Del. James Edmunds, who introduced the bill in the House of Delegates.

Edmunds’s HB 1634, which would allow Halifax County to hold a voter referendum on a local sales tax to pay for a new Halifax County High School received a second chance on Friday when the House Finance Committee revived the legislation on an 11-4 vote. Two days earlier, the same panel killed the bill on an 11-9 vote. Legislation must clear committee votes before heading to the House floor.

With the reversal by the finance panel on Friday, HB 1634 is set to receive a full vote by the House on Tuesday. Because it has been deemed special legislation pertaining only to Halifax County, it must clear both the House and Senate by two-third supermajorities. That means having to garner 67 votes in the 100-member House of Delegates.

“We’re really working hard to get those to come,” said Edmunds.

Edmunds said the difference between the committee outcomes on Wednesday and Friday was the first time around, he was not present to make the case for the legislation to the full membership. Instead, said Edmunds, he had concentrated on a subcommittee vote held just prior to the full committee ballot.

“I just did not have the opportunity to work it in full committee. My challenge that day was getting it through the subcommittee.” It passed that hurdle by a 4-2 margin.

Given a second chance to argue for the bill before the full committee on Friday, Edmunds saw the legislation proceed easily. Despite the bumpy path so far, Edmunds said he’s hopeful that the full House will deliver enough support to send the bill over to the Senate for consideration.

Of the opposition to HB 1634, Edmunds attributed it to lawmakers’ concerns “that if Halifax County gets it [the authority to impose a local sales tax] other counties will follow.

“My argument is, what’s wrong with that?”

Edmunds introduced the bill at the request of local leaders who are seeking ways to pay for a replacement for HCHS without placing the full cost on Halifax County property owners. Under state law, localities are barred from imposing their own sales taxes, unless authorized to do so by the General Assembly. Local option sales were part of the 2011 financing package for transit improvements in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

In Halifax County, local leaders have proposed levying a penny sales tax to add on top of the 5.3 cent state rate. Before any such tax can go into effect, it must be approved by voters in a countywide referendum.



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Edmunds has disappointed me on many occasions. IMO he is a RINO, James just admit that you are a socialist democrat then the GOP can put up a person that believes in limited government and less taxes. When he is up for election I refuse to vote for him on principal.

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Why not go a more voluntary route? Instead of taxing and spending, allow contributions that aren't forced on people, i.e TAXES. This makes everyone pay for it regardless if they have children in the public school system or not, OR if they don't even have children. Take your socialist crap elsewhere, Delegate..


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