Possible Transient Occupancy Tax Fight For The Senate?

RICHMOND- Will a fight break out over transient occupancy tax this year in the Virginia Senate?

This question will be answered tomorrow on the Senate floor.
Today, the Senate delayed votes on two House bills relating to transient occupancy taxes for various Virginia municipalities.  The first bill, 1451, permits Madison County to impose a combined transient occupancy and food and beverage tax, at a rate not to exceed four percent, on the total amount charged by a bed and breakfast.  

The second bill, 1452, allows any county, by duly adopted ordinance, to levy a transient occupancy tax on hotels, motels, boarding houses, travel campgrounds and other facilities offering guest rooms.  The tax would not exceed 2 percent of the rate for those rooms. The bill also allows more than 20 counties, including James City, Mecklenburg, Montgomery and Amherst, to levy a tax not to exceed five percent.  

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) has added an amendment to this bill calling for no transient taxes to be imposed on room rentals in Colonial Heights, Danville, Harrisonbourg, Radford, Salem, Virginia Beach and Winchester.  The amendment also includes the Botetourt, Caroline, Clarke, Essex, Fauquier, Franklin, Frederick, Hanover, King and Queen, King William, Middlesex, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren counties.  

If passed, this measure would go into effect on October 1.

Saslaw requested that the bills go by on the Senate calendar today and urged the Senate members representing the areas listed in his amendment to talk with their local governments before voting on Thursday. 

Coincidently, several Republicans representing these localities voted against transient occupancy taxes for other districts.

Sen. Mark Obenshain (R- Harrisonburg) questioned the motives behind delaying the tax votes. 

Saslaw said the delay came at the request of a Senate member and cautiously warned Obenshain that the bills will definitely be heard on the Senate floor tomorrow.

"There's no malice behind my actions today. This delay will actually be beneficial give those senators who voted against transient occupancy taxes for other districts. Now they have chance to talk to their local governments and decide which side of the fence they want to be on," said Saslaw.

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