Action Alert – Feb 19 2016Friday, February 19, 2016 - 10:30am
Action alert: Call your legislators to request study on Airbnb bills
|Action needed today:
Call your delegate and senator immediately to have the General Assembly study how preemption of state statutes and local ordinances under HB 812 and SB 416 affect property rights, public safety and health issues, and local taxing powers.
HB 812 and SB 416 establish a scheme for Airbnb and other Internet platforms to operate throughout Virginia. The bills’ provisions deliberately supersede and preempt state and local taxation and land use laws and ordinances, replacing them with new paradigms that are unenforceable by localities and unfair to others in the hotel/motel/bed and breakfast business.
After a contentious debate on Tuesday’s floor session in the Senate, the bill (SB 416) squeaked by on a vote of 20 to 19. The Senate bill is now awaiting action in the House General Laws Committee. A vote to report to the House floor could be as early as next Tuesday (February 23). A call to your delegate or to members of the House General Laws Committee to support a study is important.
The companion House bill (HB 812) was referred to the Senate General Laws Committee. The Committee is likely to take up the measure on Monday, March 1. Legislators need to push for a study to address the concerns of public authorities and privately owned lodging services. Please call your Senator or the Committee next week to also have them support a study.
Who to contact:
Your delegates and senators AND members of these committees:
House General Laws
Gilbert, Albo, Wright, Peace, Anderson, Greason, Knight, LeMunyon, Helsel, Robinson, Yost, Hodges, Richard Bell, Minchew, Leftwich, Ward, Bulova, Carr, Torian, McQuinn, Hester, Aird
- By providing special treatment Airbnb-like operations are exempted from the health and safety standards and inspections that hotel/motel/bed and breakfast operators must follow. This competitive advantage in the marketplace does not serve a public purpose.
- The bills permit Airbnb to enter into agreements and register with the state to collect and remit state and local taxes on behalf of the lodging operators. Registration is at Airbnb’s discretion. Without requiring registration, there is no incentive for the platforms to do any collecting. Because all the audit and other provisions of the bill operate on the “honor system,” local governments cannot determine if transient occupancy taxes are being collected or if the entire amounts due to localities are even remitted to the state much less to local treasuries.
- Without knowing the identity and location of Airbnb sites, local governments will face an almost impossible task in shutting down illegal hotels.
- Airbnb’s challenges to the public and private sectors are identical to the issues raised during the General Assembly’s consideration of the “Ride-sharing” apps (e.g., Uber and Lyft). To develop a workable solution, the General Assembly delayed action for one legislative session, and convened a group of stakeholders to develop a compromise bill, accommodating the different groups major interests.