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2019-2-21

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Governor Signs Law Slashing Sales Tax on Personal Hygiene Products

By Emily Holter, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The sales tax on tampons, diapers and other personal hygiene products will be reduced by more than half beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he has signed SB 1715, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, and HB 2540, proposed by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg. The bills will lower the retail sales and use tax rate on essential personal hygiene products to 2.5 percent.

The new law will apply to feminine hygiene products and nondurable incontinence products including diapers and other materials.

“We know that menstrual supplies and diapers are necessary to leave home for work, school, and social activities,” said Boysko, who called her bill the Dignity Act. “I am so glad we have made progress on the issue of menstrual equity and at long last will have tax relief for these products that women and families have to purchase.”

Currently, consumers pay the regular sales tax rate on these items: 7 percent in Virginia’s Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, James City County and York County), 6 percent in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, and 5.3 percent elsewhere in the state.

Byron said the law will benefit Virginians of all ages.

“This legislation won widespread bipartisan support because it provides tax relief on necessities used by women and men young and old,” Byron said. “For the young family buying diapers to those purchasing other essentials for their health, the savings because of this bill will add up and be appreciated.”

Northam commended the General Assembly for passing the bills.

“I am pleased to sign this common-sense legislation that makes these necessities more accessible and affordable,” he said. “The essential nature of personal health care products is not up for debate.”

The law will make these products subject to the state’s reduced sales tax of 1.5 percent, which currently applies only to food. In addition, local governments add a 1 percent sales tax on such purchases.

Boysko had wanted to remove the so-called “tampon tax” entirely. Byron pushed for a compromise on grounds that a tax exemption for personal hygiene products would have a big effect on the state budget.

Roger Kent Woodruff

 

Roger Kent Woodruff

May 23, 1965 - February 17, 2019

 

Visitation Services

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 6:00-8:00 pm

Echols Funeral Home

806 Brunswick Ave., Emporia, Virginia

 

Friday, February 22, 2019, 2:00 pm

Echols Funeral Home Chapel

806 Brunswick Ave., Emporia, Virginia

Roger Kent Woodruff passed away on February 17, 2019 at the age of 53. He was born on May 23, 1965 in Halifax County, North Carolina. Roger was an equipment operator for Enviva Pellets. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Tabitha Woodruff. He is survived by his father Vasser Lee Woodruff, Jr.  (Linda) of Emporia, mother Phyllis A. Woodruff of Emporia, son Brandon Woodruff (Amber) of Emporia, daughter Tiffany Woodruff of Emporia, brother James Woodruff (Julie) of Emporia, Sisters Gail Seward (Billy) of Emporia and Brenda Murphy (Bryan) of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; along with numerous nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 P.M. Thursday, February 21, 2019 at Echols Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 2 P.M. Friday, February 22, 2019 at Echols Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. John Kinsey officiating. An Interment will follow at Greensville Memorial Cemetery.

Brandon Keith Simmons

May 23, 1989 - February 19, 2019

Visitation Services

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 12:oo Noon

Owen Funeral Home

303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia

 

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 2:00 pm

Owen Funeral Home

303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia

Brandon Keith Simmons, 29, died Tuesday, February 19, 2019. He is survived by his mother, Kendra Tomlinson (Barry Edwards); his father, Billy Simmons; brothers, Josh Simmons, Jason Simmons, and Christopher Tomlinson; sister, Emily Simmons; paternal grandmother, Grace Clark; a very special cousin and friend, Heather Malone; uncle, Randy Stainback (Melanie) and a number of other uncles and extended family. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, February 23 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends 12 – 2 prior to the service. Interment will be private at First Christian Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad or to a favorite charity. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

99-ROOM EMPORIA HOTEL TRADES FOR MORE THAN $4 MILLION

EMPORIA, VA, February 20, 2019 – Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI), a leading commercial real estate investment services firm with offices throughout the United States and Canada, today announced the sale of Best Western Emporia, a 99-room hospitality property located in Emporia, Virginia, according to Benjamin Yelm, regional manager of the firm’s Richmond office. The asset sold for $4,311,111.

Prashant Merchant, an investment specialist in Marcus & Millichap’s Richmond office, had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, a limited liability company. Merchant also procured the buyer, a limited liability company.

Best Western Emporia is located at 1100 W Atlantic St in Emporia, Virginia. The 40,432-square-foot hotel was constructed in 1992 on 2.55 acres along Interstate 95.

Virginia Lawmakers Increase Animal Abuse Penalty to Felony

The memorial for Tommie, a dog that was tied to a pole and set on fire in Richmond.

Adrian Teran Tapia and Mario Sequeira Quesada, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Every state in America, and at least nine countries. That is how far the story of Tommie, a dog tied to a pole and set on fire, traveled as people rallied for his survival and donated money for his treatment. Tommie suffered burns on 40 percent of his body after he was doused in an accelerant and set on fire in a Richmond park. Despite round-the-clock care, he died five days after rescue.

If the dog had survived the attack, under current law the person responsible could have faced only a Class 1 misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500.

That’s why the crowd following Tommie’s story turned its attention to SB 1604, introduced by Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach. The bill would increase the penalty for animal abuse from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony, which can draw up to five years in prison.

Five days after Tommie’s death, the House passed the bill unanimously Wednesday. It cleared the Senate unanimously on Feb. 5.

Under current law, a person can only be charged with a felony if the cat or dog dies. DeSteph’s bill would make the penalty of torturing a cat or dog a Class 6 felony regardless of whether the animal survives. DeSteph said he introduced the bill after a dog named Sugar was attacked by her owner with a machete. Because the dog did not die, the owner was only charged with a misdemeanor. DeSteph said that the act alone should warrant the felony charge, not the outcome of it.

"People who torture a dog, or any animal like this, their next step is to go after a human," DeSteph said. "They're truly a threat to public safety and to society and should be dealt with severely."

House co-sponsor Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, said Tommie’s story helped the bill gain more support. She said some members of the Animal Welfare Caucus even suggested the legislation be named “Tommie's Bill.”

Robert Leinberger is an animal control supervisor with Richmond Animal Care and Control, the city shelter that led Tommie’s rescue and recovery efforts. He said donations poured in from around the world for Tommie, which boosted the reward to $25,000 to help find and convict his attacker, who is still at large.

Tabitha Treloar, with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said SB 1604 empowers the SPCA’s mission to protect more animals.

“There is a big gap in the current law. It does not consider the advances of veterinary medicine,” Treloar said.

Treloar said that veterinarians can often save animals from critical injuries, which helps the attacker avoid felony charges. That could have happened in Tommie’s case.

“It was sickening what happened to him,” she said. “The bill is a big step that I think the commonwealth can take to demonstrate that this type of cruelty will not be tolerated.”

Leinberger, who has worked in animal control for 27 years, called Tommie’s case “by far one of the worst cases of cruelty” he had ever seen. “What is really scary is what will be next, or even worse -- who will be next.”

He encouraged people to report the first sign of cruelty.

“If you even think of mistreating an animal, don’t,” Leinberger said, adding that there are many ways to find a pet a new and safe home.

Shaun McCracken agreed. She rescued her 7-year-old dog Pippin, who was suffering from a severe joint illness.

“The SPCA changed my life,” the theater professor said at a recent “Dog Kissing Booth” fundraiser. “She is better because of the care, time and effort they put in her.”

McCracken said Tommie’s case really affected her and that something must be done to avoid future tragedies.

“I think this person should never be allowed near any animal, or any human being,” she said.

DeSteph said that party lines don’t and shouldn’t matter when it comes to animal welfare legislation. “We have great laws in place regarding animal protection, but I think this is one that had gaps to fill.”

RACC receives one or two cases of negligent animal cruelty a week, Leinberger said. He hopes the passage of SB 1604 will help reduce the number of attacks.

“It has been a roller coaster of emotions, almost every single emotion you can think of,” he said.

More than 6,000 people signed up to attend a memorial service for Tommie. As a result, RACC has been holding open houses for members of the public to pay their respects to the dog.

An open house will be held 2-7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and noon-5 p.m. on Saturday at the city shelter, 1600 Chamberlayne Ave.

Anyone with information about the crime can contact Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at 804- 780-1000.

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