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Official Opinions


August 2011 Opinions

Please click on Opinion number to view entire opinion.

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  Official opinions do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general.  

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505).  A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.


Opinion # Requestor Summary


Honorable Thomas K. Norment, Member, Senate of Virginia

Proposed amendments to the Right to Farm Act that would include aquaculture as a protected use would apply to areas currently zoned as agricultural districts or classifications, as well any other areas in which the zoning provisions allow for agricultural activity.


Honorable Raymond Hunley, Commissioner of the Revenue, Mathews County

Based on language in Item 441, subsection C of both the 2010 Appropriations Act and the 2011 Appropriations Act, a county Board of Supervisors is required to appropriate to the office of a constitutional officer such as a Treasurer or Commissioner of the Revenue who is serving as a license agent for DMV, 80 percent of the funds remitted by DMV to the county for DMV transactions processed by the office of the constitutional officer, and the monies so appropriated may not be used to supplant existing local funding for such office, nor to reduce the local share of the  Compensation Board-approved budget for such office below the level established pursuant to general law.


Honorable G. Manoli Loupassi
Member, House of Delegates

The opinion addresses the legality of there scenarios involving sweepstakes under Virginia law.  The first fact pattern involves charitable donations made in terminals installed in convenience stores or stand alone businesses that would accept donations and allow persons donating money to participate in a sweepstakes.  The second scenario involves political donations made from computers, and which also would permit the person donating money to enter into sweepstakes.  In the final fact pattern, a business provides on-site computer services and allows customers to enter into a sweepstakes when they purchase telephone cards or time on a computer.  Because sufficient information is lacking to reach a firm conclusion, the scenarios may or may not run afoul on the prohibition on gambling. 


Robin R. Lind, Secretary
Goochland County Electoral Board

The discussion of the business of the electoral board by two members of the Board constitutes a meeting of the board under the Act that must be conducted in public and properly noticed as required by the Act.  The transaction of public business includes conversations over the telephone involving “rescheduling board meetings, submitting agenda items, commenting on unapproved draft minutes of prior meetings” and other similar matters.  Such matters, however, may be discussed via electronic mail.  Electronic mail lacks the simultaneous feature of telephone meetings and, therefore, does not constitute a “meeting” under the Act. 


Hononorable Gordon F. Erby, Clerk
Lunenburg Circuit Court

Although § 15.2-2511 requires a locality to provide for the annual audit of its constitutional officers, an audit performed by the Auditor of Public Accounts can satisfy that requirement.  Also, the authority of the APA to perform an audit of constitutional officers is not limited to those instances provided in 15.2-2511(B).


Honorable Emma N. Hagy,
Commissioner of the Revenue, Tazewell County

Section 15.2-3712 allows persons engaged in the production and operation of severing gas from the earth not in connection with coal mining to take certain deductions when the sale occurs at a point outside the county or city where the gas was extracted and the producer has incurred additional expenses for the gas to reach its destination.  Those deductions might include, but are not limited to, depreciation, compression, maintenance, transportation fees, and personal property taxes; however, persons who are engaged in the production and operation of severing gas from the earth in connection with coal mining may not take such deductions.  Also, Commissioners of the revenue are authorized to perform audits in connection with their duty to assess license taxes.