Regional body ready to move on regional cigarette tax

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is prepared to move ahead with regional administration of additional taxes on cigarettes should area localities decide to impose them. Counties can begin to levy such taxes as of July 1, 2021. David Blount is the legislative liaison for the TJPDC and he spoke at the December 3, 2020 meeting of the TJPDC Board of Commissioners.

“Counties are starting to look at discussing their budgets for fiscal year 22 which begins next July,” Blount said. “They are looking at the cigarette tax as an option for implementing in that next budget.”

The TJPDC hosted an information session this week on the tax and how it may be collected. There is a Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board that covers 19 localities, and that arrangement is an option for this region. 

Blount also briefed the Commission on the upcoming General Assembly session, which is scheduled to convene on January 13.

“There is some question at this point as to if the session is going to be its typical 46 days which is what the short sessions are as opposed to the long session of 60 days, or if its only going to be 30 days,” Blount said.

The Virginia Constitution restricts sessions in odd number years to 30 days unless a two-thirds vote in both the House of Delegates and the Senate agree to extend it. (Article IV)

“Here a couple of weeks ago the GOP Republican leadership indicated they would not be willing to go along with extending the session this year,” Blount said. “That remains to be seen where we land. We’ll get to Richmond on January 13.”

Blount said the General Assembly met for two months in special session this fall, and will meet again for a redistricting special session in the spring. The House of Delegates will meet remotely, and the Senate will meet on site. 

“We do expect fewer bills this year because of some limitations that the House and Senate have put on themselves,” Blount said. 

(This story was originally part of the December 4, 2020 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

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