General Assembly Passes Half-Way Point

February 17, 2016

The Virginia General Assembly has passed the half-way point in the 2016 session. VTCA continues to lobby aggressively on those bills that are of interest to our members.

Budget: VDOT is seeking a budget amendment to increase its MEL by about 340 positions. The Department will not use these positions to supplant activities that are currently performed by the private sector.

Tolling: Numerous bills and budget amendments have been introduced to deal with tolling, both statewide and on a project specific level.  VTCA supports a comprehensive state-wide tolling bill (as opposed to piecemeal project specific efforts) that would set forth requirements for tolling and the collection of tolls. While a comprehensive tolling bill that VTCA supports has passed the House, “politics” between the House and Senate may mean no tolling bill in 2016.

SWaM: Legislation in the House that would have changed the current definition of “small” to be consistent with the federal SBA definition for qualification as a SWaM business has failed in the House. A similar bill has been carried over to 2017 in the Senate.

Design-Build Alternative Technical Concepts: VTCA initiated legislation that would allow VDOT to solicit alternative technical concepts within design-build procurements. The bills have passed in the House and Senate.

Consultant Procurement: VTCA is supporting amendments to the procurement laws that would limit agencies’, including local governments, ability to “score” engineering companies, during the RFP process, on their willingness to accept uninsurable risks. These bills have been passed by both the House and Senate.

Funding Initiatives: VTCA supports efforts to increase the gas tax in Hampton Roads (to reduce the need for tolls), and floors on the gas tax in NOVA and HR to eliminate the erosion of gas tax revenues in those areas. While the Senate bill has passed, it will face an uphill battle in the House.

Bonding Initiative for I-66: VDOT is currently procuring the expansion of I-66 outside the Beltway through a P3 concession. The contingent bonding bills would allow VDOT to pursue the project on a design-build basis with “self-funding” should the concession process fail. The House bill has been carried over to 2017 while the Senate version has passed.

Mineral Mining Facilities Bonding: VTCA supported the DMME in its efforts to increase the bonding levels on mineral mining facilities to insure there is sufficient funding to pay for the reclamation on abandoned facilities. After facing opposition in the House committee, the patron withdrew the bill.

Practical Design: Two convoluted “practical design” bills were introduced that would require, among other things: life-cycle costing; maximum flexibility in the application of design standards; maximizing efforts to reduce project costs; the “reuse” of existing infrastructure; and the use of design exceptions and waivers.  VTCA opposed these bills because: a) they were very poorly drafted; b) the use of poorly defined terms would limit VDOT’s ability to deliver projects; and, c) they exposed projects to uncertainty, challenge, and litigation. The bills have been defeated.

Prequalification: A bill that would limit the use of the insurance “experience modification rating” is proceeding through the House. The bill would prevent agencies from utilizing a specific EMR score to disqualify a prospective bidder. The bill would not impact VDOT’s ability to use EMR in its prequalification process.

Best Value Procurement: Two bills have been introduced that would allow the procurement of construction services utilizing a variety of factors in addition to low price from a qualified bidder. VTCA opposed these bills and they have been defeated.

Project Prioritization: Two years ago, VTCA supported HB 2 which requires future transportation construction projects to be rated and scored depending on a variety of factors like congestion reduction, safety improvement, economic development, and relative cost-benefit. Several bills have been introduced that would “bypass” the HB 2 process and require VDOT to advance certain projects. VTCA is opposed to these bills.

Attached is detailed list and status report of the priority bills that VTCA is lobbying on behalf of its members.

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