Virginia Campgrounds Win in State Legislature
Virginia campgrounds will benefit from a successful legislative session that concluded on March 14. Spearheaded by the lobbying of the Virginia Campground Association (VCA), two legislative achievements of considerable importance to the park industry made this year’s session a success for the park industry, according to a VCA news release.
The Virginia code now specifically permits campgrounds to submeter electricity, bringing uniformity to the practice across the state. Prior to the enactment of this new provision in state law, the 11 utilities serving Virginia could make their own rules regarding submetering. In a recent instance, one utility threatened to cut off service to a campground unless they removed all of their meters and ceased the practice of charging monthly guests for electric use. The new legislation clearly states that submetering of electricity is permissible in campgrounds across the state.
In a second important victory, VCA played a leading role in lobbying to defeat an effort to change Virginia law and enable school districts to start school prior to Labor Day. Current law in Virginia will remain, requiring schools to open after Labor Day. VCA members testified before legislative committees on the measure and actively lobbied in both the House of Delegates and the state senate.
In another important development on the legislative side, VCA is carefully monitoring discussion and possible future legislative action in the next session that might lower camping and other fees in the state parks. During the recent session, legislators were asked to support a bill to raise fees and prohibit the state parks from expanding campsites. Those opposed to this proposed legislation were preparing bills to call for lowering camping fees in the parks. The bill to raise fees was withdrawn and action deferred until 2013.
VCA is working in partnership with the Virginia State Parks to assure that the established level playing field is maintained and improved, that both the private and public parks work together to grow camping in Virginia. A public/private task force is being formed to address the issues raised in the proposed legislation and to prepare for the 2013 session.
The Virginia Campground Association government affairs activities are supported active members, the VCA board of directors and by The Hillbridge Group, a Richmond-based lobbying firm that provides guidance and lobbying for VCA.