Legislative Collective August 2018 Report

Report to the Virginia Wine Board



August 20, 2018

Building Code Study

The Building Code Study being conducted by Virginia Cooperative Extension continues to move forward. The stakeholder group made up of agribusiness interests, including wineries, local government, building code officials, as well as the State Department of Housing and Community Development has met twice in June and July. The work group is scheduled to complete its work on September 11. A report is due to the House and Senate Committee on General Laws by November 1.

The study has become focused on two issues. First, establishing a new definition for an Agritourism Assembly Building. This is for a structure used from assembly purposes relate to agritourism. It does not impact the current definition which covers traditional farm production buildings. An Agritourism Assembly Building will be for gatherings of more than 49 people and less than 300. Facilities holding more than 300 people will be covered by current building code regulations.

The second focus was on the attributes of such a building.  These include the following:

·         An automatic fire alarm system throughout the structure with pull stations located at emergency exists.

·         Emergency lights at exits and provide emergency lighting.

·         Panic hardware on all hinged exit doors.

·         At least one accessible restroom with handwashing facilities.

·         Some type of potable water for patron use.

·         An accessible route for emergency vehicles to access the structure.

·         Portable fire extinguishers.

·         An occupancy load of more than 49 persons and less than 300.

The Department of Housing and Community Affairs is asked to continue discussed with the impact stakeholders about further implementation including costs.

The group will meet to consider an interim report on September 11. If there is a consensus at the September meeting, a report will be sent to the General Assembly on November 1. It is not clear if legislation will result in the 2019 session.

Additional Issues

The Department of Health and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been asked to look into the current system of health and safety related inspections. Currently the two agencies operate under a Memorandum of Understanding dividing responsibilities between the two agencies. The inquiry from the House Appropriations Committee asked about the streamlining of the process and a better alignment of charges to reflect actual costs.  VWA has participated in these discussions and will continue to monitor.

The Department of Housing and Community Affairs has developed guidelines implementing the dogs in tasting room legislation passed in the 2018 General Assembly session. VWA is helping to distribute information about the new guidelines to its membership.

The Senate Committee on Rehab and Social Services is studying the issue of alcohol sample sizes. While not the primary focus, wineries could be impacted. VWA is continuing to monitor as the issue developments.

The 2019 Session of the General Assembly convenes January 7. Over the course of the fall, we will be preparing both a proactive and a defensive agenda.