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Virginia Economic Roundup: Commonwealth Ranked as Top State for Eco-Friendly Buildings in 2012

 

Virginia was the best state in the country in terms of building new eco-friendly buildings, according to a survey released Wednesday by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The survey tallied buildings certified in 2012 as meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Virginia had 170 project certified as LEED-compliant, encompassing 29.7 million square feet of space for a ratio of 3.71 feet of certified space per capita.

The overall national leader was Washington, D.C., which had a ratio of nearly 37 square feet of certified space per capita.

In 2011, Virginia ranked third behind Maryland and Illinois. Following Virginia this year were Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois and Maryland.

McDonnell’s Transportation Funding Bill Advances in Assembly

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation funding bill cleared early hurdles in the General Assembly, advancing to the Senate Finance Committee. The House version of the bill also picked up steam as several transportation-related bills were either rolled into the McDonnell package or tabled.

McDonnell’s bill would eliminate Virginia’s 17.5-cent per gallon gas tax and replace it with a sales tax increase while imposing a $100 fee on hybrid vehicles. The tax on diesel fuel would remain in place.

Part of the funding for the bill relies on U.S. Congress passing a law mandating that states collect sales tax for online purchases.

McDonnell says that the changes, among others, will generate $3.1 billion in transportation funding over the next five years.

House Approves Extension of Excise Tax on Peanuts

The Virginia House of Delegates unanimously passed HB 1320, which extends the Commonwealth’s excise tax on peanuts grown and sold in Virginia through July 1, 2016. The tax of 30 cents per 100 pounds was scheduled to expire in July 2013.

The Senate passed an identical measure, SB 698.

If this legislation is not enacted, the tax is scheduled to revert to its previous rate of 15 cents per pound.

State officials estimate that the tax will generate more than $100,000 this year and $133,000 in 2016.

Those revenues fund the Virginia Peanut Board (VPB), which conducts campaigns for education, advertising, publicity, sales promotion and research for Virginia peanuts.

Women Make Up Ground on Virginia Wage Gap

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released Tuesday, the full-time wages of women in Virginia were 80.5 percent of what men earned in 2011, a 5.3 percent improvement from 2010.

Nationally, women earned 82.2 percent of what men earned. Louisiana had the lowest ratio at 68.7 percent, while women in California made 89.9 percent of what their male counterparts earned.

Virginia hit a 15-year low in 2000 at 72.4 percent and reached a high of 81.7 percent in 2002.

Virginia Housing Market Continues to Recover

Recently released Virginia Association of Realtors (VAR) data indicates a broad housing recovery in the Commonwealth, with fourth-quarter home sales statewide up 10.6 percent from the same period in 2011.

Virginia residents sold 21,146 homes in the fourth quarter of 2012 at a median price of $240,000, a 9.1 percent increase from 2011. Year-over-year, statewide sales rose 8 percent and median sales price rose 7 percent.

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