VTCA Bills Advancing
Yesterday, the Virginia General Assembly passed its half-way point (“Crossover”). Several major bills that VTCA supports have passed their respective chambers and now head for deliberation by the other chamber. In addition, VTCA has been successful in killing several bills of concern to our members.
- Regional Gas Tax Floor: Since 2013 VTCA has worked to pass a floor on the gas tax in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Passage of the floor would mean more than $60 million a year in additional transportation funding for the two regions. We were successful in getting the floor legislation passed in the House. HB 768 passed the House 84-15 and now proceeds to the Senate. Delegates voting against the bill: Adams, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Brewer, Cline, Freitas, Gilbert, Habeeb, Head, Hugo, LaRock, Miyares, Morefield, Ransone, Webert.
- I-81: SB 583, supported by VTCA, passed the Senate 24-16. The bill, introduced by Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), would create and fund the Western Virginia Transportation Commission. The gas tax would be raised 2.1% in jurisdictions along the I-81 corridor, adding millions of dollars to make transportation improvements along the corridor. The bill will face major challenges from “anti-tax” republicans in the House.
Here is the vote on SB 583 in the Senate:
YEAS–Barker, Carrico, Chafin, Dance, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Howell, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Mason, McClellan, McPike, Norment, Petersen, Saslaw, Spruill, Surovell, Wagner, Wexton–24.
NAYS–Black, Chase, Cosgrove, DeSteph, Dunnavant, McDougle, Newman, Obenshain, Peake, Reeves, Ruff, Stanley, Stuart, Sturtevant, Suetterlein, Vogel–16.
In addition, the Senate passed SB 971 which calls on the Commonwealth Transportation Board to study financing options for improvements to I-81, including tolls.
Work Zone Safety: VTCA’s work zone safety bill, which limits drivers’ use of cell phones in work zones, passed the House 99-0. Now onto the Senate. Last year the Senate killed the bill.
Constitutional Lock Box: The constitutional “lock box” amendment limits the General Assembly’s ability to take transportation money and use it for other purposes. If it passes the General Assembly, the proposed amendment would go on the ballot in November. The amendment passed the House 78-21, BUT faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Senate staffers have pointed out that the amendment could limit the General Assembly’s ability to use transportation money to fund programs like the Space Port, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board and Chesapeake Bay clean-up…exactly the purpose of the amendment. Nonetheless, this is causing many senators to rethink their support for the amendment.
Practical Design: VTCA successfully argued to kill a bill that would have required VDOT to implement a “practical design” program. VTCA successfully argued that VDOT already utilizes such initiatives in its design program.
SWaM: VTCA was successful in killing legislation that would have changed the definition of SWaM businesses and made it harder for many of our members to qualify for SWaM designation.
- Best Value Contracting: A bill that would have allowed VDOT and localities to take into consideration subjective criteria in awarding of contracts for design-bid-build transportation construction contracts was defeated.
- Professional Services: defeated a bill that would have permitted simultaneously negotiations with the top two ranked offerors in a procurement for a professional services contract.
- Local Labor Preference: defeated a bill that would have given procurement preferences to contractors using “local labor”.
- Compensation: The House passed a bill (50-49) that prohibits local governing bodies from establishing provisions related to the procurement of professional services or construction requiring a wage floor or any other employee benefit or compensation above what is otherwise required by state or federal law.
Project Labor Agreements: In 2011 VTCA was successful in getting legislation passed that prohibited the Commonwealth from mandating PLAs on design-bid-build and design-build projects. This year we were successful in defeating legislation in the House of Delegates that would have repealed those protections.