Shenandoah County GOP

The Road Less Traveled….

for the last few days, anyways.

Sorry for not being able to keep on top of the transportation session. But here’s what we’ve got:

*Governor Kaine’s plan is dead for the time being. The people of Virginia have dodged a major bullet here-however, it wasn’t long before the Senate Democrats decided to switch to a larger caliber. Here’s their plan:

  • Increase the general sales tax a quarter of a percent
  • Increase the sales tax on automobiles half a percent
  • and the grand finale–Increase the gas tax six cents over the next six years

Another part of the plan would reverse the hard won legislation for earlier this year that removed VDOT’s authority to impose tolls on I-81 without the General Assembly’s authority. In Thursday’s Northern Virginia Daily, State Senator Mark Obenshain took a particularly hard line on this part of the plan.

But Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, said he was concerned that one portion of the bill would return authority to impose tolls on Interstate 81 to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Legislators approved a measure earlier this year putting the valley’s major thoroughfare off-limits for tolls for any reason unless the General Assembly specifically agreed.

But Saslaw’s bill “seems to state the intent of the GA to give the CTB that authority to impose those tolls on Interstate 81 for additional lanes that are constructed,” Obenshain said, speaking from the floor of the Senate.

The House Rules Committee voted Friday to send this bill to the House for a full vote. Delegate Gilbert gave us a sneak peek of which way he’s leaning on the measure:

“What the Democrats did in the Senate today was, in my mind, unconscionable,” said Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock. “It was in complete disregard for the plight of working Virginians.

“To ask people at a time like this to pay more for gas demonstrates that Senate Democrats really have a tin ear about the everyday needs of their constituents,” Gilbert said.

A bright spot of the Committee’s action was to move forward a measure from Delegate Chris Saxman that would dedicate royalties and revenues from off-shore drilling off the Commonwealth’s coasts to transportation. According to SWAC Girl, that amount may be as much as $200 million over the next five decades. Bob Goodlatte, of course, has been championing this on the national level over the last few weeks. Even Newt Gingrich has been touting this through his group American Solutions, and as mentioned the potential of the Virginia bill:

Go here to sign Newt Gingrich’s petition.

And go here to sign the county party’s petition to say “no thanks” to the Senate Democratic plan. Be sure to contact Mark and Todd until the General Assembly goes back into session on July 9th. Their contact information can be found here.

H/T to Suzanne Curran of American Solutions.