The 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly ended this past weekend. During the past three months, VTCA lobbied on behalf of our members on a wide range of issues impacting our businesses. I am pleased to report that we had a very successful session.
Budget: VTCA took the lead in opposing two budget amendments. One would have taken $135 million from the priority transportation fund and transferred it to the port to use for expansion instead of bonds. And one would have required toll collectors to report fines and other data to the GA. I am pleased to report that both of these amendments were defeated.
Tolling: Numerous bills and budget amendments were introduced to deal with tolling, both statewide and on a project specific level. VTCA supported 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 failed in the Senate, in the end, the comprehensive tolling bill language was included as a budget amendment that passed. All the piecemeal project toll bills were defeated.
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 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 passed.
Consultant Procurement: VTCA supported amendments to the procurement laws that limit agencies’, including local governments, ability to “score” engineering companies, during the RFP process, on their willingness to accept uninsurable risks. These bills passed.
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 we were successful in getting a HR bill through the Senate, it failed 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 bill has been carried over to 2017, ready for a vote should VDOT need the bond funding.
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.
Best Value Procurement: Two bills were 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 were defeated.
Attached is a status list of the priority bills VTCA lobbied on behalf of its members.