March 17, 2020
The 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly began on January the 8th and ran until March 12th. The end date was five days passed the scheduled end and was necessitated by a number of controversial pieces of legislation including the biennial budget. The 2019 elections brought massive changes to the political makeup of the General Assembly. Democrats took control of both chambers for the first time since 1997 and controlled the totality of state government for the first time since 1993. As such, there were numerous policy and legislative initiatives that Democrats wanted to pass through the legislature. Among the Democratic Caucus' priorities were a minimum wage increase, bipartisan redistricting, gun safety measures, passage of the ERA, clean energy initiatives, and anti-discrimination measures for the LGBTQ+ community. Some priorities were less successful. These include mandatory sick leave and the assault weapon ban. There were at times stark philosophical differences between the House and Senate Democrats and between Democrats of the same chamber. This is best illustrated by the very tense floor debate in the House on bipartisan redistricting.
VLTA followed and advocated on several pieces of legislation that had an impact on the industry. Below are several pieces that were priorities of the Association.
HB 788 Restrictive covenants; deeds of reformation
HB 788 was introduced by Delegate Lamont Bagby who serves as the Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. Delegate Bagby made the issue of racially restrictive covenants in existing deeds one of his top issues for the 2020 session. There was a great deal of work was done to help Delegate Bagby achieve his goal while minimizing disruption to the land records. A workgroup was formed that included VLTA, the Bankers Association, the Real Estate Section of the Bar, and the Realtors. After several weeks of negotiations the final statute will prohibit a deed containing a restrictive covenant from being recorded on or after July 1, 2020 and will provide the form for a Certificate of Release of Certain Prohibited Covenants to be recorded to remove any such restrictive covenant. The bill in its final form passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
HB 819 Real estate settlements; kickbacks and other payments, remedies, penalties.
HB 819 was put forward by Delegate Marcus Simon who is a member of VLTA. This bill has been a priority of Delegate Simon for several sessions. VLTA worked with Delegate Simon to remove provisions for a misdemeanor conviction and for Commonwealth's Attorneys or attorneys for a locality to bring action. The statute does several things including relocating from Chapter 9 (Real Estate Settlements) to Chapter 10 (Real Estate Settlement Agents) within Title 55.1 the existing provision that prohibits persons from paying or receiving a kickback, rebate, commission, thing of value, or other payment pursuant to an agreement to refer business incident to a settlement. This relocation authorizes the State Corporation Commission to impose penalties, issue injunctions, and require restitution in cases where a person who does not hold a license from the appropriate licensing authority has violated the provision. The measure also adds to Chapter 10 of Title 55.1 provisions that authorize a court to assess civil penalties of not more than $5,000 per violation of the chapter and authorize the recovery of costs and reasonable expenses and attorney fees. HB 819 passed the House and Senate unanimously.
HB 1334 Insurance data security; required programs and notifications.
Delegate Mark Keam carried this legislation on behalf of the Bureau of Insurance. The BoI had been working on this legislation for at least a year and VLTA was part of the workgroup helping to iron out potential issues that would adversely affect the industry. This is a large and complex piece of legislation which makes numerous changes to existing law and adds new mandates for data security. There will be a regulatory process to flesh out many details of the bill that VLTA will be heavily involved in. We will keep you updated on the work done via regulation. Broadly, HB 1334 does the following:
Establishes standards for insurance data security and for the investigation of a cybersecurity event and the notification to the Commissioner of Insurance and affected consumers of a cybersecurity event.
The bill requires insurers to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive written information security program based on an assessment of its risk and that contains administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for the protection of nonpublic information and its information system.
The bill requires investigation of potential cybersecurity events and prescribes standards for such investigations.
The bill requires that the notification of the occurrence of a cybersecurity event provided by an insurer or other entity to the Commissioner and affected consumers to include certain information prescribed by the bill.
The bill requires the Commissioner to adopt rules and regulations regarding data security and authorizes the Commissioner to investigate potential violations.
HB 1334 passed the House and Senate unanimously and has been signed into law by the Governor.
HB 1726 and SB 1038 Hampton Roads Regional Transit Program and Fund; created, transit funding.
These bills carried by Delegate Askew and Senator Lucas respectively sets up the Hampton Roads Regional Transit Program and Fund. The statute increases the grantor's tax by 0.6 cents and the transient occupancy tax by one percent to fund additional transportation projects in the Hampton Roads region. These bills began as an increase in various fuel taxes within the region. Concerns were raised that this would have a major impact on the Port of Virginia. As a result, the bills were amended in committee to strip the fuel taxes and instead increase the grantor's tax by .15 cents and the transient occupancy tax by one percent. VLTA worked with the patrons, as did the Hampton Roads realtors, to lower the .15 cent increase to .06 cents. Both bills were sent to a committee of conference to work out technical amendments and subsequently passed both chambers.
SB 359 Gifts of real estate; title search required for recordation.
Senator Cosgrove introduced SB 359 to resolve an issue in his district involving fraudulent deeds of gift. The bill would have required a title search to be submitted on all deeds of gift prior to recording. VLTA had several meetings with Senator Cosgrove to try and craft a better solution. The Bankers, Realtors, and Clerks, also voiced concerns with the burden on consumers this bill would have created. Unfortunately, consensus could not be found on a solution and Senator Cosgrove had his bill continued to the 2021 session. We will be working with the patron to try and find a solution in the off season.
March 13, 2020
The General Assembly adjourned on March 12th. This was five days past the originally scheduled date. The delay was mainly due to the large number of bills filed this year, the nature of those bills, and the budget. This was in many aspects a very historic session. Of note, were passage of the ERA, multiple gun safety bills, minimum wage increase, balance billing, independent redistricting, and a budget that needed to accommodate the additional funding required by several large pieces of legislation. Click here to view the final bill list.
February 28, 2020
|House of Delegates Conferees:
February 24, 2020
We are pulling into the last leg of the 2020 General Assembly session. Last Thursday each body debated and passed their amendments to the new biennial budget. As always, the House and Senate versions of the budget differ. This week each body will reject the other's changes and a committee of conference will be appointed. This committee is made up of members of the Senate and the House of Delegates and is tasked with negotiating a unified and balanced budget as required by the Constitution of Virginia. There are still several big legislative items, other than the budget, making their way through the legislative process. These include balance billing, redistricting reform, and increasing the minimum wage. Click here to view the list of relevant bills we have been tracking though session.
Friday, January 24th marked the end of the second full week of session. This session has been unique in many ways. For the first time since 1997, the Democrats have control of both chambers of the General Assembly. Whenever there is a change in party control and leadership of a body there is a period of adjustment. The Senate, having been recently controlled by democrats, started smoothly. The start in the House of Delegates was a little rocky but has evened out. Friday the 17th was the last day to file bills. All bills should now be on the system and publicly available. Additionally, amendments to the introduced biennial budget have also been released. Budget work will begin shortly and the House and Senate will work toward producing their own versions of the Governor's introduced budget.
January 27, 2020
We are following and working on a number of bills of import to the industry. Some of the most relevant ones are below. We will keep you updated as Session progresses. Please reach out with any questions and concerns you may have.
SB 359: Gifts of real estate; title search required for recordation. Provides that no deed of gift conveying real estate shall be recorded unless accompanied by a document certifying that a title search has been completed for the real estate subject to the deed and stating any matters affecting the title of property that were found by the title search.
HB 96: Power of attorney; witness or notary public. Requires that a power of attorney signed on or after July 1, 2020, be signed before at least one witness or a notary public.
HB 819: Real estate settlements; kickbacks and other payments; remedies; penalties. Relocates within Title 55.1 the existing provision that prohibits persons from paying or receiving a kickback, rebate, commission, thing of value, or other payment pursuant to an agreement to refer business incident to a settlement from Chapter 9 (Real Estate Settlements) to Chapter 10 (Real Estate Settlement Agents). This relocation authorizes the State Corporation Commission to impose penalties, issue injunctions, and require restitution in cases where a person who does not hold a license from the appropriate licensing authority has violated the provision. The measure also adds to Chapter 10 of Title 55.1 provisions that (i) authorize a court to assess civil penalties of not more than $2,500 per violation of the chapter and (ii) authorize the recovery of costs and reasonable expenses and attorney fees.
To track these bills and others from the Virginia General Assembly's 2020 Session, VLTA members should use the following link.