Virginia General Assembly Update to January 24, 2011

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Virginia General Assembly Update  to  January 24, 2011

News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly

 

Points of Contact: Ira Agricola, Senior Vice President &
Candace Reid, Director, Municipal & Governmental Affairs
Representing: Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce &
Greater Williamsburg Chamber &Tourism Alliance

 

 Monday, January 24, 2011


Government Reform Commission – Several recommendations made by the Government Reform Commission are moving forward in this General Assembly Session.  The top priority is to create one central Inspector General that reports directly to the Governor.  There are also bills that would transfer three types of tax collection to the Department of Taxation.


Governor McDonnell’s 2011 Transportation Funding Proposals

  • In 2008, up to $3.18 billion in Capital Project Revenue Bonds were authorized, $492 million of which was issued in May of 2010.
  • The Governor’s Transportation Funding Plan calls for accelerating the issuance of the next $1.8 billion in Capital Project Revenue Bonds over the next three years.  The plan is to take advantage of low interest rates and low construction costs.
  • Proceeds from the bonds will accelerate a number of projects that were in the Six-Year Improvement Program but not funded.  Many of the 900 projects are in Hampton Roads.
  • Debt service for the Capital Project Revenue Bonds collected on all insurance premiums, a portion of the motor fuels tax from increased revenues from collections at the rack and interest earnings.
  • Dedicated revenue streams can pay the debt service on the newly issued bonds without a tax increase.
  • The Governor’s plan also calls for issuing $1.1 billion in direct GARVEES.  These are bonds backed by future federal reimbursements.  Combined with toll credits, they allow major infrastructure projects to be built without state funds.
  • It should be noted that GARVEE bonds are called FRANS in Virginia.  The state makes application directly to the Federal Highway Administration for their use.

Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank

  • The Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank is a revolving loan fund overseen by the Secretary of Transportation’s office designed to leverage local and private sector investment in the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Loans will be payable from tolls, user fees and other dedicated sources of revenue.
  • The bank will initially be capitalized with $150 million from FY2010 surplus and $250 million identified in the VDOT performance audit.  An additional $600 million is committed.

Revenue Sharing

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s Revenue Sharing Program provides matching funds to cities.


General Fund Surplus

Provides that the Comptroller shall, in each year where there is an end-of-year General Fund Surplus, assign within his annual report 2/3 for transportation.


Passenger Rail Capital and Operating Fund

  • Virginia currently operates two Amtrak intercity regional passenger trains – Lynchburg and Richmond – with expansions to Norfolk.
  • Under federal provisions, the Commonwealth will assume responsibility for capital and operational funding in 2013.
  • The Governor’s proposal will create an Intercity Passenger Rail Capital and Operating Fund within DRPT’s current 14.7% share of the Transportation Trust Fund.  This fund will support intercity passenger rail.

$54 Million Proposed for Economic Development – includes $5 million for tourism efforts, $10 in tax reform to create jobs, and $25 million for the Virginia Research and Technology Innovation Fund.


Electronic Work Verification Program

Several bills require businesses to register and participate in the Federal Electronic Work Verification Program.  This would not replace the Federal I-9 process.  Proposed bills make E-verify a requirement, it’s currently voluntary.


SB1401
– The Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 contains many provisions affecting the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program.

The law contains provisions to increase unemployment benefit payments and provides incentives for states to expand the number of individuals who qualify for unemployment compensation.

 

In order to receive federal incentive funding of approximately $125 million, the Virginia General Assembly must permanently EXPAND our State UI law by passing two of the following four provisions:

1.    It must provide benefits to former part-time workers who seek part-time work.

2.    It must provide additional benefits (up to 26 weeks) to individuals who have exhausted their regular benefits but are enrolled in a state approved training program.

3.    It must provide benefits for voluntary separations from work for “compelling family reasons.”

4.    It must provide dependents allowances to UI recipients with children.

The Chamber OPPOSES SB1401 and all bills that permanently expand the UI law in Virginia in order to receive one time federal monies.

 

The Chambers SUPPORT a UI program that pays defined benefits to individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own and who are available for and are looking for full-time work.


HB1498 (Ware)
– banned thin plastic shopping bags in favor of durable bags designed for re-use.  Delegate Ware’s bill was tabled in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and National Resources Committee.  The retail business community opposed the measure.

 

During the General Assembly session, please feel free to contact the Chamber’s governmental affairs team. Ira Agricola can be reached at 664-2570 or at iagricola@hrccva.com.You may contact Candace Reid at 664-2572 or at creid@hrccva.com to bring any business issue or concern to the attention of the Chamber

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