Entering the second half of the session, the General Assembly is focused on the upcoming budget.
The House and Senate have passed bills that allow limited residential lodging service websites such as Airbnb and FlipKey to do business in Virginia, though localities and the hotel industry have concerns.
The bill’s house patron, Republican Delegate Chris Peace of Hanover says the sites will create jobs, grow Virginia’s travel industry, allow homeowners to earn income, and create millions of dollars in new revenue for cash strapped local governments.
The Senate narrowly passed a bill 20-19 that would create a limited regulatory structure for websites like Airbnb that rent homes or rooms like hotels, though the hospitality industry says it doesn’t enforce tax collection.
The legislation would prevent localities from banning the use of Airbnb and would allow homeowners to pay taxes for their rentals but would not require them to do so. Republican Senator Jill Vogel of Faquier is the bill’s patron.
On the day of the crossover deadline, the House of Delegates has passed a contentious religious freedom bill.
Patrons of HB 773 like Delegate Todd Gilbert say the bill is meant to prevent discrimination against those who define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Delegate Mark Sickles, who is openly gay, says the bill empowers discrimination against those with different beliefs.
The bill passed 56 to 41. Governor McAuliffe has previously vowed to veto legislation that targets same-sex marriage.
Several bills focused on schools are making their way through both Houses ahead of the passover deadline on Wednesday (2/17).