General Assembly Update
March 10, 2014
General Assembly Adjourns Without a Budget
On Saturday, March 8, 2014 the Virginia General Assembly adjourned its 2014 session. However, the failure to adopt a budget means that the General Assembly will reconvene on March 24th to take up Medicaid funding and other issues that have prevented the legislature from agreeing to a budget.
Attached is the status list of bills that VTCA was engaged with on behalf of its members. Bills that passed will move onto the Governor for signature, veto or amendments. Here are a few highlights of bills of interest to our members:
Project Prioritization: VTCA worked with the House leadership to advance legislation that would require the CTB and VDOT to prioritize transportation projects based on their ability “to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s transportation system.” HB 2 requires that the “prioritization process shall be based on an objective and quantifiable analysis that considers, at a minimum, the following factors relative to the cost of the project or strategy: congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety, and environmental quality”.
PPTAs: A handful of bills were introduced that would have severely hampered the ability of the Commonwealth to deliver PPTA projects. VTCA worked to kill all of these bills.
Procurement: Numerous bills were introduced that would have changed the way VDOT procures projects. Most significantly, HB 549 would have required VDOT to take into consideration a variety of factors (reputation of the contractor, comments from local citizens and the public body, the contractor’s compliance with a minority business enterprise participation plan or good faith effort to comply with the goals of such plan, the contractor’s plans to employ local contractors and residents, etc.) in awarding construction contracts. VTCA worked to kill this bill. Numerous other procurement bills were referred to a study commission which will spend the next year looking at VDOT procurement practices. VTCA will be working with that commission on behalf of its members. The only procurement bill to pass is one that VTCA worked with VDOT to draft and pass: HB 948 which provides that limitations imposed upon single project fees procured by competitive negotiation shall not apply to environmental, location, design, and inspection work regarding highways and bridges by the Commissioner of Highways or architectural and engineering services for rail and public transportation projects by the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Transportation Funding: Last year, VTCA took the lead in working with the Governor and General Assembly in the passage of the largest transportation funding bill (HB 2313) in the history of the Commonwealth. This year several legislators introduced bills that would have repealed or significantly reduced the funding provided by that bill. VTCA took the lead in defeating efforts to reduce the funding provided in HB 2313. Only HB 975 passed the General Assembly. That bill eliminated the fee on hybrid vehicles that was included in last year’s funding bill. The fiscal impact of that bill is about $8 million a year.
Mineral Mining: SB 551 added several rivers to the “scenic river” designation. VTCA worked with the patron and the General Assembly to make sure that such a designation did not adversely impact mineral mining rights. The bill specifically provides that designation as a scenic river shall not be used to designate the lands along the river and its tributaries as unsuitable for use as a location for a surface mineral mine.
Small Business/Minority Participation: HB 1194 would have required the Department of Transportation, to develop a program establishing a requirement that at least 15 percent of all state purchases be made from minority-owned or women-owned businesses that are also certified as small businesses. That bill was defeated.
Hampton Roads Transportation Authority: VTCA supported HB 1253 which created a transportation authority in Hampton Roads similar to the one that exits in Northern Virginia. The authority is granted oversight responsibility for advancing transportation projects funded by the proceeds of HB 2313, and granted the authority the ability to bond that money. This provides Hampton Roads with the ability to leverage their transportation revenues and put more projects on the street.
Special Construction Equipment: VTCA worked with VDOT to write and get passed HB 509 which allows VDOT to issue contractors permits for “specialized construction equipment” (rubber-tracked, or tracked when protective matting is used, self-propelled equipment being used in highway maintenance and construction projects) to be driven across structures maintained by the Department of Transportation within, or to gain access to, a highway construction or maintenance work zone of the Department of Transportation, or access any road or structure maintained by the Department of Transportation when needed by the Department for snow removal or other emergency operations.