Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed legislation that would have imposed a $50 limit on gifts and donations being made to him by anyone seeking state economic development incentives through the Governor‚Äôs Development Opportunity Fund.
The bill (HB 1212), if it had become law, would have prohibited the ‚ÄúGovernor, his campaign committee, and any political action committee established on his behalf‚Äù from knowingly soliciting or accepting contributions, gifts or any item valued at more than $50 from entities and persons who are seeking loans or grants from the Governor‚Äôs Development Opportunity Fund.
Any violation would have resulted in a penalty of $500 or twice the amount of the gift or contribution, whichever was higher.
The Governor has the authority to award incentives at his discretion from the Governor‚Äôs Opportunity Fund (GOF) in order to secure business expansion or relocation projects for Virginia.
The legislation to amend the Code of Virginia related to this Fund was approved unanimously with bipartisan support by the Virginia Legislature. The House of Delegates passed HB 1212 on Feb 11, 2014 and the Senate approved the companion bill on March 3.
The bill, as passed by both the House and Senate, was then sent to the Governor for his signature. But Gov. McAuliffe sent it back to the House on April 7 with recommendations.
The changes required would have imposed the $50 limit not just on the Governor, but also on legislators. Another recommendation was that the bill be re-enacted by the 2015 Session of the General Assembly.
In his statement announcing the veto, Gov. McAuliffe said that the recommendations he had asked for ‚Äúwould avoid unintended consequences and protect confidentiality for ongoing economic development projects.‚Äù
In the fiscal impact statement for HB 1212, it is mentioned that the bill will have no fiscal impact on the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the lead state organization providing business expansion and site selection services in Virginia.
However, neither the bill nor the impact statement makes any mention of how the legislation would affect economic development projects that are already in the works.
The House rejected the recommendations on April 23, 2014, and the bill was sent back to the Governor as is. Gov. McAuliffe announced his veto of the bill on May 23, 2014.