Please find below the first in a series of VUHCC legislative reports written by our VUHCC lobbyist Myles Louria designed to keep you informed of bills being considered, and actions of interest being taken by, the VUHCC at the 2012 session of the Virginia General Assembly. In addition, the attached legislative matrix is intended to provide you with a broad overview of legislation of interest to the VUHCC. Should you desire more information beyond the summary in the matrix you may click on the individual bill numbers for a link to the actual legislation.As always, your comments and input are encouraged and appreciated. 

Thank you for your continued support of the VUHCC.

Mark Singer

Executive Director

Virginia Utility & Heavy Contractors Council

1108 E. Main St., Suite 1200

Richmond, VA 23219

ph - 804.346.1020

fx - 804.346.8287

www.vuhcc.org

 

 

The 2012 General Assembly:

The 2012 Virginia General Assembly convened on January 11th, and will be in session for 60 days with a scheduled adjournment date of March 11.  The House and Senate will be considering thousands of pieces of legislation during the session.

The weekŐs most significant event was the organization of the Virginia Senate.  Last November's legislative races created a new political dynamic in the General Assembly.  While Republicans gained an enhanced majority in the House (67 Republicans plus one Independent that caucuses with the majority party), it was the Virginia Senate where the real drama unfolded  With the Senate split 20-20, questions persisted on what actions the Democrats would choose to take in order to secure a power sharing arrangement.  There was speculation that the Democrats might continue their challenge in court (their request for an injunction prior to the session was rejected).  After several hours of passionate debate, the Republicans claimed control of the chamber through the tie-breaking vote of Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. 

There is no question that despite the evenly divided chamber the Republicans have put themselves squarely in control.  They control the chairmanships of all of the standing committees, and they hold majorities on the committees that range from 8-7 on some of the committees (including Transportation) to 9-6 on the powerful Finance Committee and 12-4 on the Rules Committee.  Some Senate Democrats have indicated that the Republicans actions have done significant damage to the collegiality that has been a hallmark of the chamber over the years.  Some members have indicated that the well of goodwill has been poisoned for the foreseeable future.  The discontent in the Senate will have to be monitored closely throughout the session.  The Republicans have conceded that the Lieutenant Governor does not have the ability to break ties on all matters that come before the body.  The election of judges, as well as tax and budget related issues will take 21 votes of the members elected, meaning that the Republicans will have to hold all of their members and collect at least one Democrat if they are to succeed in passing legislation on these critical issues.  This could set the stage for a protracted standoff over the biennial budget as well as the election of judges.   

Governor McDonnellŐs Agenda and Transportation Funding:

As has been the case the past two legislative session, Governor McDonnell has an ambitious agenda which includes continuing his government reform initiative, increasing funding for k-12 and higher education, securing additional funding for targeted investments in economic development, and making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the Union.   

The GovernorŐs transportation package is focused on reallocation of existing resources.  For example, Governor McDonnell is requesting that the General Assembly increase the percentage of the stateŐs sales tax dedicated to transportation from .5 % to .75% over the next 8 years.  The GovernorŐs introduced budget starts that process by increasing the dedicated sales tax percentage by .05%, which will generate over $110 million in new transportation dollars.  In his state of the Commonwealth Address, Governor McDonnell said that his proposed .05% increase is equivalent to one-eighth of one percent of the total $85 billion biennial budget, and according to the Governor, ŇIf we canŐt find the resolve to use just one-eighth of one percent of our budget for additional transportation maintenance funding, then we just arenŐt serious about maintaining our infrastructure.Ó

The GovernorŐs package also includes increasing transportation's share of the year-end undesignated surplus to 75%, as well as dedicating the first one percent in revenue growth over 5% to transportation.  The Administration is also considering throwing its support behind a gas indexing bill, but they have not yet decided if such legislation should be included in their package.

At this point, the GovernorŐs reallocation of a portion of the state sales tax has captured little if any support among Democrats in the House or Senate.  Governor McDonnell will have to win at least some Democrat support if he hopes to gain passage of this measure in the evenly divided Senate.

Legislation of Interest:

Members have until January 20 to introduce bills.  Some legislation of interest to VUHCC members that has been introduced thus far includes the following:

Transportation Funding: 
As was the case last session, several bills have been offered related to increasing transportation revenues through either gas taxes and/or a gas tax indexing mechanism.  These bills include the following: 

HB 393 sponsored by Delegate Algie Howell (D-Norfolk), which increases the gas tax by 10 cents,

HB 422 sponsored by Delegate Vivian Watts is a comprehensive transportation funding bill that would increase the gas tax for maintenance statewide (while decreasing the sales tax on food), and would increase the sales and recordation tax in Northern Virginia, and increase the commercial property tax rate in Hampton Roads.

HB 802, sponsored by House Transportation Chairman Joe May (R-Loudoun County) introduces the idea of the ŇVirginia Pump TollÓ.  This ŇtollÓ would impose 50 cents on each use of a retail motor fuels pump and an additional 50 cents when purchasing 35 or more gallons of gas.  There is also a toll for the sale of gas from a transport truck or tank wagon, on the bulk purchase of clean fuel, and on the sale of clean fuel at an electric vehicle charging service facility. The additional revenues will be used for highway maintenance and operation in the highway construction district in which the motor fuel is sold. The bill includes a 10% increases in toll rates every five years.

HB 899, sponsored by House Courts of Justice Chairman Dave Albo (R-Fairfax County), indexes the motor fuels tax rate to the National Highway Construction Cost Index. The bill also reallocates a portion of current sales and use tax revenue by dedicating the revenue equal to a one-quarter percent sales and use tax in Northern Virginia for transportation projects in the region.  The measure also dedicates the revenue equal to a one-quarter percent sales and use tax in Hampton Roads for transportation projects in that region.

These and other transportation related funding bills are unlikely to get much traction in a Republican controlled House that has become more conservative as a result of last yearŐs elections.  There has been some support among Republicans for a bill that would index the fuels tax, but even this relatively modest step would require the support of the Governor and the Speaker of the House.  At this point, neither the Governor nor the Speaker appear ready at this point to embrace such a concept.

Mechanics Lien: 
The Chairman of the House Counties Cities and Towns Committee, Riley Ingram (R-Hopewell), has introduced HB 317 which would expand the application of the Mechanics Lien Agent (MLA) Statute to commercial real estate with a value of $5 million.  VUHCC strongly opposes this measure, and believes that expanding MLA to commercial projects will add an unnecessary layer of complexity to these projects and by extension, to our members.  We will continue to update you on the status of this bill.     

Restrictions on Cell Phones and Texting:
As was the case last session, a significant number of bills have been introduced to restrict the use of wireless communications devices while operating a motor vehicle (these includes limits on cell phones, text messaging, and the like).  These bills have been introduced in both chambers by Democrat and Republican members.  Barring a substantial shift in thinking by the House Republican leadership, these bills will likely end up in the House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee where they will be defeated.

Overweight Trucks:
Delegate May, who in addition to chairing the House Transportation Committee is also the Chair of the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability, is the sponsor of HB 806.  The measure is the product of last yearŐs efforts to develop a comprehensive, tiered schedule of fees for overweight vehicles.  The bill, which will become effective on January 1, 2013 if it is passed, provides a method of assigning cost-based fees predicated on the amount that a vehicle is overweight.  It is unclear at this point how strongly the House leadership will support these fee related increases.

Myles Louria 
Director of Government Affairs 
Hunton & Williams LLP 
Riverfront Plaza 
East Tower 
951 East Byrd Street 
Richmond, Virginia 23219 
804-788-7362 (w) 
804-937-6601 (c)

 

 

 

Bills

Committee

Last action

Date

HB 11 - Cole - Transportation; bonds for specific project on northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 95.

(H) Committee on Appropriations

(H) Referred to Committee on Appropriations

12/01/11

HB 23 - Cole - Transportation Trust Fund; increases amount of sales and use tax revenue dedicated to Fund.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Assigned Finance sub: Subcommittee #1

01/12/12

HB 33 - Comstock - Public procurement; state agency agreements with labor organizations.

(H) Committee on General Laws

(H) Assigned GL sub: #2 FOIA/Procurement

01/13/12

HB 72 - Bell, Richard P. - Highway work zones; required to be clearly marked with warning signs and flashing lights.

(H) Committee on Transportation

(H) Assigned Transportation sub: #2

01/13/12

HB 148 - Ransone - Unemployment benefits; each applicant, for eligibility, to provide VEC results of a drug test.

(H) Committee on Commerce and Labor

(H) Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor

01/05/12

HB 317 - Ingram - Mechanics' lien agent; building permit.

(H) Committee for Courts of Justice

(H) Assigned Courts sub: Civil

01/13/12

HB 334 - Villanueva - Public Procurement Act; bid match preference for State businesses.

(H) Committee on General Laws

(H) Assigned GL sub: #2 FOIA/Procurement

01/13/12

HB 393 - Howell, A.T. - Motor fuels tax; dedicates additional revenue to operation, etc. of transportation system.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/10/12

HB 394 - Howell, A.T. - Handheld personal communications devices; prohibits use while operating motor vehicle, etc.

(H) Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety

(H) Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety

01/10/12

HB 404 - Torian - Handheld personal communication devices; prohibits use while driving.

(H) Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety

(H) Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety

01/10/12

HB 422 - Watts - Transportation; additional funding by imposing and increasing certain taxes.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/10/12

HB 449 - Toscano - Virginia Public Procurement Act; preferences by localities, etc.

(H) Committee on General Laws

(H) Assigned GL sub: #2 FOIA/Procurement

01/13/12

HB 477 - Albo - Interstate Highway System; allocation of funds for maintenance.

(H) Committee on Appropriations

(H) Referred to Committee on Appropriations

01/10/12

HB 497 - Dance - Handheld personal communications devices; prohibits use while operating a motor vehicle, penalty.

(H) Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety

(H) Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety

01/10/12

HB 529 - McQuinn - Virginia Public Procurement Act; preference for local products and firms.

(H) Committee on General Laws

(H) Referred to Committee on General Laws

01/10/12

HB 530 - McQuinn - Virginia Public Procurement Act; permissive contract provisions for localities.

(H) Committee on General Laws

(H) Referred to Committee on General Laws

01/10/12

HB 540 - Poindexter - Construction projects using public funds; project labor agreements prohibited.

(H) Committee on General Laws

(H) Assigned GL sub: #2 FOIA/Procurement

01/13/12

HB 542 - Poindexter - Highway maintenance projects; allows localities to use revenue-sharing funds.

(H) Committee on Transportation

(H) Assigned Transportation sub: #3

01/13/12

HB 597 - Crockett-Stark - Eminent domain; definitions of lost profits and access.

(H) Committee for Courts of Justice

(H) Assigned Courts sub: Civil

01/13/12

HB 731 - Dudenhefer - Performance guarantees; street construction.

(H) Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns

(H) Referred to Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns

01/11/12

HB 802 - May - Virginia Pump Toll; established.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/11/12

HB 806 - May - Overweight vehicle permits and fees.

(H) Committee on Transportation

(H) Referred to Committee on Transportation

01/11/12

HB 867 - Rust - Certificates of insurance; property and casualty insurance.

(H) Committee on Commerce and Labor

(H) Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor

01/11/12

HB 892 - Alexander - Highway Construction Projects Trust Fund; established.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/11/12

HB 898 - Albo - Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund; for transportation funding.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/11/12

HB 899 - Albo - Retail Sales and Use Tax and motor fuels tax; funds for transportation.

(H) Committee on Finance

(H) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/11/12

HB 909 - Minchew - Highway maintenance and construction; allocation of funds.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 928 - Lingamfelter - Mechanics' liens; site development improvements.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 945 - Villanueva - Virginia Public Procurement Act; performance and payment bonds on transportation-related projects.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 960 - Bell, Robert B. - Certificates of insurance; property and casualty insurance.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 983 - Scott, J.M. - Motor fuels tax rate; converts rate from cents per gallon to a percentage rate.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 1015 - Comstock - Virginia Public Procurement Act; bid match preference for Virginia businesses.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 1035 - Joannou - Eminent domain; lost profits and access.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 1038 - Keam - Overweight and oversize vehicle permits and fees.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HB 1076 - Hugo - Special use permit for land filling activities.

(H)  Referral Pending

(H) Committee Referral Pending

01/11/12

HJ 137 - Poindexter - Study; land-disturbing activities; report.

(H) Committee on Rules

(H) Referred to Committee on Rules

01/11/12

SB 79 - Watkins - Public Procurement Act; bid match preference for State businesses.

(S) Committee on General Laws and Technology

(S) Referred to Committee on General Laws and Technology

01/05/12

SB 177 - Stuart - Performance guarantees; street construction.

(S) Committee on Local Government

(S) Referred to Committee on Local Government

01/10/12

SB 220 - Black - General fund; assignment of year-end surplus.

(S) Committee on Finance

(S) Referred to Committee on Finance

01/10/12

SB 242 - Obenshain - Public procurement; state agency agreements with labor organizations.

(S) Committee on General Laws and Technology

(S) Referred to Committee on General Laws and Technology

01/10/12

SB 250 - Obenshain - Small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses; enhancement or remedial measures.

(S) Committee on General Laws and Technology

(S) Referred to Committee on General Laws and Technology

01/10/12

SB 437 - Obenshain - Eminent domain; lost profits and access.

(S) Committee for Courts of Justice

(S) Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice

01/11/12

SB 525 - Marsh - Virginia Public Procurement Act; preference for local products and firms; applicability.

(S) Committee on General Laws and Technology

(S) Referred to Committee on General Laws and Technology

01/11/12

SB 526 - Marsh - Virginia Public Procurement Act;

(S) Committee on General Laws and Technology

(S) Referred to Committee on General Laws and Technology

01/11/12

SJ 2 - Obenshain - Constitutional amendment; Transportation Funds (first reference).

(S) Committee on Privileges and Elections

(S) Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections

11/21/11