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2016 Virginia General Assembly Legislative Update

2016 Virginia General Assembly Legislative Update

The General Assembly adjourned on March 12, 2016 and with this Session; they passed a series of transportation related bills along with others that were forwarded to the Governor’s desk.  Governor Terry McAuliffe had until 12:00 a.m., Sunday April 10, 2016 to sign the bills into law. 

The following briefly summarizes transportation related bills passed by the 2016 General Assembly affecting the Hampton Roads region: 

  • House Bill 384 (HB 384 Commonwealth Transportation Board; meetings) – Requires any meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board that involves a discussion or vote related to a transportation project valued in excess of $5 million be held in the highway construction district where the project being considered is located.
  • House Bill 719 (HB 719 Commonwealth Transportation Board; value of statewide prioritization factors) – Requires the Commonwealth Transportation Board to make public the criteria used to determine the value of each factor used in the statewide prioritization process for project selection no later than 30 days prior to a vote on such project or strategy.
  • House Bill 1069 (HB 1069 Tolling civil penalties; period of nonpayment; limitations on tolling; notification of toll violations) – The bill prohibits tolling any highway, bridge, or tunnel without approval of the General Assembly except in limited circumstances and requires the Department of Transportation to allow E-ZPass account holders to provide an email or phone number and to electronically notify account holders of a toll violation and further requires toll operators to notify the Department of such toll violations. The bill amends the definition of High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes to ensure that mass transit vehicles and commuter buses meet the high-occupancy requirement. The bill lengthens the period following notification of an unpaid toll on HOT lanes from 30 to 60 days, after which, if the toll is still unpaid, the owner or operator of the vehicle is in violation. The bill decreases the civil penalties for an unpaid toll violation on the HOT lanes, making them equal to civil penalties for other toll violations, and allows the HOT lanes operator to offer reduced civil penalties if the owner of the vehicle pays within 14 days prior to the hearing date, which is also permitted for other toll operators. For violations on any toll road, the bill provides that for a first court appearance there are reduced civil penalties and places a cap of $2,200 on civil penalties and administrative fees. Finally, the bill provides for a 10-day grace period for unpaid tolls and requires toll operators to attempt to process and collect unpaid tolls twice during such period.
  • House Bill 1111/Senate Bill 476 (Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission).  HB 1111/SB 476 ensures that moneys in the Hampton Roads Transportation Fund (HRTF) are distributed to the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) and allows the Commission to invest these moneys in excess of those required to meet current needs in accordance with applicable law.  The bill allows HRTAC to spend HRTF moneys on administrative and operating expenses and removes the requirement that, if no other funds are available, administrative expenses of the Commission be allocated among the localities within Planning District 23 on the basis of relative population. The bill allows an elected official (of any of the four counties embraced by HRTAC) who serves on the county's governing body and has been appointed by resolution of such governing body to represent the county and serve on the Commission. Currently, only the chief elected officer of the county may serve on the Commission. The bill also allows a member representing a city or county to designate a current elected officer of the same governing body to serve in his place on the Commission after making such designation to the Chair with a limit to two meetings or 25% percent of the Commission's meetings per year.
  • House Bill 1344 (HB 1344 Bonds; certain capital projects) – Authorizes the Virginia Public Building Authority and the Virginia College Building Authority to issue bonds in a total aggregate amount not to exceed $1,504,400,000 plus costs to fund certain capital projects.
  • House Bill 1382 (HB 1383 Commissioner of Highways; annual report to be made public) – annual report to be made public. Requires the Commissioner of Highways to provide his annual report public in an accessible format. Currently, the report is only provided to the Governor, the General Assembly, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The bill requires the report to include all aspects of traffic modeling and any cost-benefit analyses performed.
  • State Budget Bill: Amendment 449-D to HB30/SB30. Because of the overwhelming need for the delivery of services provided by the investment in a balanced transportation system in the Commonwealth, and in an effort to deliver intercity passenger trains utilizing the Commonwealth's investments and to increase passenger train frequencies to Norfolk and Roanoke, notwithstanding the provisions of § 33.2-1601 and § 33.2-1603, Code of Virginia, the Commonwealth Transportation Board may only make further investments in intercity passenger rail capacity to serve new markets in North Carolina, provided the Six-Year Improvement Plan adopted pursuant to § 33.2-214, Code of Virginia includes sufficient funding to complete projects underway to deliver train capacity improvements and provides the funding for service for additional passenger rail frequency to Norfolk and an extension of passenger rail to Roanoke. Any Rail Enhancement Funds utilized for the purposes of the service delivery outlined in this paragraph shall be administered according to the guidelines governing the use of Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Funds. 

More information on the General Assembly Bills is available at this link.

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