Press Club

Arlington Hotel Tax Surcharge Passes House Subcommittee

It looks like Arlington has a chance of getting its top legislative priority through Richmond, after all.

A House of Delegates Finance subcommittee approved Arlington’s hotel tax surcharge bill today. It’s expected to be taken up by the full committee on Monday.

The bill that was under consideration today was approved by the Democrat-controlled state Senate in January, under the leadership of Arlington’s Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple. A House version of the bill, introduced by Del. Bob Brink, failed to make it out of committee after being blocked by a key Republican.

A Democratic legislative source tells that the current bill has about a 60-40 chance of ultimately passing the House and becoming law. Del. Tim Hugo (R), who blocked Brink’s bill in retaliation for Arlington’s lawsuit against the proposed I-395 HOT lanes project, has said he would vote against the current legislation but not try to block it, according to the source. Arlington took steps to withdraw its lawsuit yesterday.

The bill would renew Arlington’s ability to impose a 0.25 percent surcharge on hotel rooms. The county uses the tax to fund its tourism promotion programs. The bill has the support of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

If the bill passes in its current form, Arlington would have to lobby Richmond again next year to renew the surcharge authorization. In the subcommittee today, members changed the bill’s “sunset provision,” which sets an expiration date on the bill, from three years to one year.

Passage in the House still won’t be easy, however. Since the bill applies to only one locality, it requires a two-thirds House vote to pass.

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