The Constitution? A Mere Technicality.

The GOP transportation plan has run into a potential roadblock: It’s called the state constitution. Report Christina Nuckols and Warren Fiske with the Virginian-Pilot:

A transportation plan for Hampton Roads will collapse if individual cities and counties can opt out of regional taxes, several lawmakers said Thursday. But some voiced doubts that they can constitutionally force local governments to collect taxes against their will.

The issue is a major disagreement hanging over a long-sought plan that would generate about $210 million annually for Hampton Roads’ top-priority road projects. The Hampton Roads plan is part of a larger roads package that includes statewide money for road construction and maintenance and regional aid for Northern Virginia.

House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said he thinks the Hampton Roads plan is unconstitutional without an escape hatch for cities that don’t want to participate in the regional taxes. “I think there is a constitutional problem in forcing someone to opt in,” he said. The constitution says the legislature “can’t raise local taxes,” he said.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


11 responses to “The Constitution? A Mere Technicality.”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Why were Regional taxing authorities put in a Constitutional amendment in 98 – which Virginians soundly defeated – (Republican Caucus: that means they voted NO) and yet the regional government (see where it says a ‘political sub-division of the Commonwealth) in 07 doesn’t require a change in the Constitution?

    I saw where the cities and counties could vote for raising a bunch of taxes (way to pass the buck, GBA), but I missed that others could be forced to raise taxes.

    So, if six Democrat controlled cities and counties from ‘The Authority’ then the other cities and counties aren’t going to be forced to raise their taxes are they?

    And if 4 out of 6 cities and counties in The Authority raise their taxes then the other cities and counties aren’t goingb to be forced to raise their taxes are they?

    Where is this in the bill? I missed it.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim Bacon:

    As we watch the various twists and turns
    the GOP House Transportation package is
    taking (the latest being a constitutional
    issue), I again would argue that Virginia
    will not resolve our growth and transpor-
    tation issues until we convene a group of
    all of the stakeholders in this matter to
    formulate a plan for our state. The Utah
    model – Envision Utah – would be a good
    program for us to pursue.

    I take great exception to Virginia’s AG
    brokered secret meetings at a posh down-
    town Richmond hotel between six GA members,
    three each from the House and Senate, prior
    to the current session to formulate a House
    plan to be shoved on the public, as a take
    it or leave it deal.

    That action had to do with the AG wanting to
    protect the GOP in the 2007 GA fall elections
    and little to do with our creating good plans
    to solve these critical issues.

    Jim, you should reconsider your support for
    this process and work product.


    Rodger Provo

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Rodger, I’ve stated clearly more than once that I regard the GOP compromise package as severely wanting, with the flaws in the financing component outweighing the merits of the VDOT/land use reform components. What more would you like to see from me?

  4. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Well Jim , … how about you joining myself and other taxpayers in Richmond? I’ll bring some extra rope, an extra pitchfork, and an extra tourch for you … it is past time for a taxpayer revolt in the Commonwealth.

    -Disgusted in Sandbridge VA

    BTW – Did I mention I am a life long Republican? As were my parents … and their parents?

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim Bacon:

    I would encourage you to use Bacon’s Rebellion and
    Bacon’s Rebellion Blog to promote a better effort to
    bring the various stakeholders in Virginia concerned
    about our growth and transportation problems together
    to find constructive solutions to these problems and
    reject those who create plans in secret and seek to
    use their efforts for political gains against the
    Governor and Senate.


    Rodger Provo

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    This tells me once again that neither our elected Democratic of Republican “get it”.

    This is so dismaying that I wish we had an alternative to both of these feckless groups.

    NEITHER of them is deserving of the trust of citizens.

    The two of them have essentially colluded in restricting choice in Virginia to two of them.

    NEITHER of them have considered in their wildest dreams that their constituents not only deserve, but are ENTITLED to accountability and transparency with regard to the spending of tax money and here we have both sides … as usual .. attempting to back-door tax increases.

    t h r o w t h e BUMS O U T!

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Larrry Gross:

    Our state government does not promote citizen
    participation in seeking solutions to our problems
    to the extent I would like for us to do.

    The AG’s secret meetings to produce a plan for
    the 2007 session relative to our growth and major
    transportation problems was wrong. He is has no
    standing in the GA relative to such matters.

    A Utah program — Envision Utah — reached out to
    all of the stakeholders with vested interest in these
    issues to produce a plan for their state to insure
    that the future of Utah would be good for future

    Why can’t we do that in Virginia?


    Rodger Provo

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Roger – I thought the Concept of Reality Check in Fredericksburg would be a good model as long as they would follow through on a process that ensured genuine collaoration.

    I DO very much AGREE.

    For what it’s worth, two years ago I quietly urged some major developers in Fredericksburg to be brave enough to meet with citizens about the proposals and to engage in a true dialogue even if they had to put up with some who preferred demonizing developers.

    I’m not claiming credit but I think one voice added to others got a few of them to do just that.

    I would also say that I’ve spent time with the Fburg rep for the Builders Association and again.. dialogue, collaboration, honesty and compromise are all things that can happen once people agree to talk to each other as people.

    So I think we CAN do that.

    I actually think some of that has actually started to happen in the Fburg Area.

    Spotsylvania… has preserved some major Battlefields AFTER they were acquired by developers by brokering collaborative discussions between diverse interests so it CAN work.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Larry Gross:

    Last fall, prior to the secret GOP meetings in
    Richmond arranged by the AG, I proposed to a
    House GOP leader (via his wife, who is active
    in the preservation field) that the Urban Land
    Institute be solicited (via myself for I am an
    active ULI member) to put a team of national
    experts together to help Virginia create a
    “Envision Virginia” plan, as has been done in
    Utah to create a meaningful plan to deal with
    growth and transportation issues.

    Such a process would bring all of Virginia’s
    stakeholders into the process to create a plan
    for us, our children and grandchildren.

    I got no response to this offer, but instead this
    GOP leader and others launched themselves into
    their program we have seen unfold during this GA

    I concluded from those actions the House GOP Caucus
    is more interested in scoring points and trying to
    damage the Governor, the Senate and the Democrats
    instead of trying to bring us together to find good
    broadly public supported solutions for our complex

    They are doing damage control to try to maintain their
    majority in the House which could be lessen in the fall
    2007 GA elections, when all 140 members have to run, for
    they know the public is frustrated about our traffic jams
    and the inability of our state government to deal with our


    Rodger Provo

    p.s. I hope Jim Bacon will comment about this posting.

  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Roger – I don’t want to be negative but this has been attempted before with Tayloe Murphy in the 1990s.

    To get something like this to move forward… would require.. in my view.. much more than suggesting to 3rd parties… some ideas.

    Fredericksburg did have a Reality Check and from that exercise – there was general agreement that the group wanted to pusue policies that would be developed collaborative by stakeholders in the community.

    While this is not statewide – my point is that this is a concept that has to “grow” – gain adherents… who convince more than one and perhaps many of our local lawmakers to take action – that is advocated.

    In other words.. I don’t think we ask our representative to figure this out and put together a state level commission.

    They are going to want the advocates to first put together an articulation of what is desired… the approach.

    I think that Bobby Orrock, Edd Houck, and Mark Cole would all consider such a thing.

    Orrock has indicated a strong desire for the Fredericksburg Area jurisdictions to join together with their Regional Planning.

    Edd Houck is also a strong supporter of linking Land-use to Transportation.

    Mark Cole is not a supporter of Regional Authorities but he does believe that the way we do transportation needs to be reformed.

    If a majority or all of the Fredericksburg Area legislators would support legislation for Fredericksburg – it might spread to the state.

    I did say before that everyone is leery, and rightly so, of any state-level appoint commission of having the right to dictate land-use and transportation policies and decisions.

    I would be opposed also.

    I would sign on to an elected board and one that is automatically sunset and would have to be renewed per voters as a way to keep that group responsive to citizens and tuned in to what citizens want and expect.

    We simply do not what yet another government agency who interprets it’s mission as independent of the voters.

    Having said all of this – I think the need to plan Regionally and Statewide is critical but Virginia has a bad history of having groups co-opted by interest groups and ending up with citizens having to file FOIs just to find out what they are doing.

    Note .. VDOT, as well as DEQ and DGIF as well as other agencies in Va that are at times unresponsive to unfriendly to citizen questions about their operations.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Larry Gross:

    The Reality Check forum (a discussion by various
    stakeholders about the future) in Fredericksburg
    was a spin off of a similar exercise held for the
    Greater Washington DC Area sponsored by the Urban
    Land Institute and others draw from a process used
    by “Envision Utah” to create Utah’s citizen based
    growth management and transportation plan. I wrote
    a piece in Virginia Business Magazine, May, 2005
    about this process.

    Since Tayloe Murphy’s efforts to deal with our
    growth issues more than 12 years ago, Virginia’s
    problems have grown to be more complicated and dire.
    Nor did that effort include the transportation concepts
    being used in many communities today to link new growth
    to mass transit, thus reducing the public’s need to use
    personal vehciles for many trips.

    I think Virginia needs a “Virginia Envision” project,
    drawn from the work done in Utah. The ULI could provide
    solid, profession assistance to help us tackle our many
    growth and transportation issues. It will take an effort
    by the Governor and General Assembly drawn from such a
    citizen effort to turn our situation around.


    Rodger Provo

Leave a Reply