Virginia General Assembly - 2006 Session
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The 2006 Legislative Session was from January 11 - March 11, 2006. A Special Session convened on Monday, March 27, 2006 to try and pass the biennial budget. The main sticking point in the budget was the package to raise money for transportation projects. The usual Reconvened Session is scheduled for Wednesday, April 19, 2006 when legislators will respond to any bills that the governor has vetoed or amended.
RAIL Solution is actively supporting many efforts to enhance the rail alternatives available in the I-81 corridor. Legislation we have promoted includes:
Rail Feasibility Bill
VICTORY! HB 446 and HB 1581 (Patrons Schuler and Cline, respectively) These identical bills sought to develop a feasibility plan for rail to divert 60% of the through trucks off of I-81. Delegate Shuler's HB 446 bill was rolled into Clines's HB 1581 in committee so the chief patron would be of the majority party. The House committee also amended "at least 60% of the long-haul, through-truck freight traffic" to "the maximum amount feasible of the long-haul, through-truck freight traffic." Several Senate amendments were added, with which the House concurred. HB 1581 passed the House and Senate and now awaits Gov. Kaine's approval.
View HB 1581
Bill to Create a Virginia Rail Development Authority
SB 215 (Patron Edwards) - A bill to create a Rail Authority to develop a rail transportation plan for Virginia and assist in funding this plan. Senator Edwards scaled back his 2006 statewide Rail Authority Bill to only apply to the TransDominion Express passenger rail corridor that runs from Bristol to Washington, D.C. and Richmond. This substitute language stood a better chance of passage, over the almost certain death of the Virginia Rail Development Authority bill. Senator Edwards removed all language relating to bonding and imminent domain. The bill would serve as a pilot model for expanding into a statewide authority after details are worked out while getting the TransDominion Express up and running. After passing the Senate, and clearing the House Rules Committee, SB 215 was referred back to the House Appropriations Committee from the House floor on third reading. Since the Appropriations Committee will not be meeting again this session, the bill is essentially dead for this legislative session.
View SB 215 (search on "sb215")
Bills to Suspend VDOT Contract Negotiations with Star
SB 397 and HB 1580 (Patrons Hanger and Cline) - These bills would suspend contract negotiations for I-81 improvements until construction requirements and funding sources are known. Senator Hanger requested that his bill be stricken in committee. Delegate Cline's bill was tabled in the House Transportation Committee.
View SB 397 (search on "sb397") or View SB 1580 (search on "sb1580")
Resolutions to Suspend VDOT Contract Negotiations with Star
SJ 165 and HJ 143 (Patrons Hanger and Gilbert, respectively)
These resolutions started out with identical wording and would have asked VDOT to halt negotiations with STAR Solutions and make specific, immediate improvements for safety and congestion relief. When VDOT told Senator Hanger that they would oppose his bill, he offered to amend it to their satisfaction. The resulting legislation was very open ended and unsatisfactory to grassroots rail advocates. SJ 165 passed the Senate but was tabled in the House Rules Committee. Delegate Todd Gilbert withstood a lobbying effort by VDOT and the Virginia Manufacturers Association to insert their language into his bill. Instead, Gilbert made amendments that were more acceptable to the Shenendoah Valley Network (SVN), calling for: no tolls; limited widening within the existing right-of-way and mainly for truck climbing lanes; greater enforcement; and rail development to divert trucks. Delegates Gilbert and Cline held a press conference, along with many of the I-81 Corridor legislators, to promote HJ 143. By an 8-7 vote, the House Rules Committee tabled (killed) the resolution.
View SB 165 (search on "sb165") or View HJ 143 (search on "hj143") Here's the substitute language for HJ 143 that Gilbert submitted on behalf of the Shenandoah Valley Network.