Thursday, February 16, 2006

The House Seizes the Initiative on Transportation

The House of Delegates looks like it has its political act together. In marked contrast to the 2004 session, in which tax-hike foes repeatedly backtracked and compromised, the House has passed its transportation package lock, stock and smoking barrel. Many measures passed unanimously, which means that even House Democrats are on board, and even the most controversial measures won approval by comfortable margins.

There will be no repeat of 2004, in which a Democratic Governor successfully triangulated between two Republican-controlled chambers of the General Assembly.

Here's an update from the House Republican Caucus:

HB 527: Passed House 82-18. Imposes civil penalties on chronic abusive drivers and dedicates from collected revenues, $35M to the Local Revenue Sharing Fund, $25M to the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund, and the remainder to the Local Congestion Mitigation Fund.

HB 666: Passed House 95-0. Eliminates current limitations on the use of design-build contracts by VDOT, allowing greater utilization of an innovative procurement process that provides greater efficiencies, lower costs and better results.

HB 667: Passed House 99-0. Requires the contracting out of all maintenance of the Interstate Highway System, allowing more efficient practices in maintaining Virginia’s Interstate roads at a lower cost to taxpayers.

HB 671: Passed House 95-0. Grants authority to counties, cities and towns to award design-build contracts for local transportation construction projects.

HB 673. Passed House 61-39. Provides for election of district representatives of the Commonwealth Transportation Board by the General Assembly, providing necessary oversight and responsiveness.

HB 676: Passed House 95-0. Requires the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner to report on the actions of the Department of Transportation regarding efforts to privatize, outsource and downsize.

HB 677. Passed House 100-0. Requires an annual report from the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner on efforts to outsource asset management and intelligent transportation systems.

HB 681: Passed House 100-0. Increases to $50 million the state match of revenue sharing grants to cities, counties and towns for the maintenance, improvement and construction of local road projects.

HB 821: Passed House 100-0. Expands the roads eligible for the Rural Rustic Roads program.

HB 1000: Passed House 99-0. Provides penalties for violators of toll payments, including linking the issuance or renewal of vehicle registration to paying off all tolls, fees and penalties.

HB 1257: Passed House 79-20. Creates the Northern Virginia Transportation Investment Fund and the Hampton Roads Transportation Fund revolving bond programs and provides new, on-going revenue streams for these regions with the worst congestion in the Commonwealth.

HB 1365: Passed House 60-38. Creates a Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability to exercise appropriate legislative oversight of state agencies with transportation responsibilities.

HB 1426. Passed House 100-0. Provides the framework for the Commonwealth to pursue innovative concession agreements with the private sector in order to expedite transportation infrastructure improvements.

HB 1506: Passed House 100-0. Expands the number of localities that may accept cash proffers to those that have experienced a population increase of more than 5%.

HB 1513: Passed House 100-0. Requires localities submit their comprehensive plans and traffic impact statements to VDOT for input and review on zoning decisions.

HB 1521: Passed House 100-0. Promotes better managed growth by requiring localities to include road and transportation improvements when preparing their comprehensive plans.

HB 1528: Passed House 100-0. Requires localities to include cost estimates of road and transportation improvements in their comprehensive plans to factor into their proffer collections.

These bills are now on their way to the state Senate for further consideration.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

527 - I'm in favor of stiffer penalties for chronic abusive drivers, but i doubt this will raise the money claimed.

673 - representation to the transportation board is a good idea.

677 - Just what we need is another report.

1527 - At least they recognize these areas have problems. Where is the money coming from?

1426 - After we issue concession agreements, I predict we will one day be sorry. There may be ways to pull this off but capitalizing state assets is likely to be a loser in the long run. This is like getting a budget windfall by changing the date of the fiscal year.

1513 - I don't know what this means. Is VDOT going to overrule zoning decisions? Comprehensive plans are subject to change, will this make the process harder? This doesn't sound like giving localities more control, and it doesn't sound like it will help change the zoning regulations that cause so many current problems. Sounds like more government, not less, more time wasted, not less. sounds like a mistake to me, but no way of knowing yet how it will be implemented.

1521 - Comprehensive plans don't et written very often - in Fauquier I think it is 20 years. could take a very long time for these two bills to have much effect.

1528 - If road and transportation improvements get rooled into proffers, the cost of new homes will make them a province of only the very wealthy, as if they are not already. Some road and transportation improvements may not be a result of new construction, or even be a result of new construction eleswhere. Where is the nexus between what gets built and how it is charged?

This will be used by some communities as the no new construction law. I think this is likely to cause nore headaches than it fixes.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the media spin plan you've been given by your Piedmont Environmental Council masters prohibits you from even mentioning similar bills originating in the Senate. The Senate wants to raise taxes. Any reform proposal they come up with must be suspect. Reform AND revenue is out of the question.


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