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Airbnb Stirs Debate Amongst Virginia Lawmakers

Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Scheduler / Creative Commons

The new gig economy is already disrupting businesses across Virginia, although the future of how they will be regulated is still an open question. That’s why state leaders from across the commonwealth will convene in Richmond later this week to hammer out the details about the future of short-term property rentals through Airbnb. 

Earlier this year, members of the General Assembly tried and failed to create a new regulatory scheme to handle Aribnb. Instead, lawmakers decided to convene a special panel, which will be meeting this week. Legal expert Rich Kelsey says panel members have their work cut out for them. 

“Virginia does not favor regulation of private property rights. Having said that, states want their cut, and the hotel industry is wondering why they are being regulated and others are not."

Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics says following the issue is a matter of following the money.

“For example, Tommy Norment has gotten a lot of money from the hotel industry."

Campaign finance records show the Republican Senate leader has received about $83,000 from the hotel industry over the last decade.

“Who’s getting money from the hotel industry can probably tell you who is doing the most on behalf of the hotel industry to make it more cumbersome for Airbnb to operate."

Panel members are working through two major points of disagreement — who has the power to regulate and who has the power to tax. Airbnb would prefer that authority limited to the state government. But local governments are lobbying for the ability to oversee land use and the ability to audit financial records. 

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