Virginia Senate Votes to Require General Assembly Approval of Tolls

Transportation legislation involving tolls on Interstate 95 (I-95) is moving fast in the Virginia General Assembly. There are several pieces of legislation under consideration with anti-tolling language that would give the Virginia General Assembly the final approval in the tolling of existing interstates. 

Last week, lawmakers in the Virginia Senate approved a bill, SB 865, by a 30-10 vote that would require the General Assembly to approve any tolling plan on existing capacity, excluding HOV and HOT lanes. For weeks, a bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers has joined together in opposition to tolls on existing interstates, demanding that the General Assembly have final say in placing tolls on I-95 and other existing highways -- not the Virginia Department of Transportation or Gov. Bob McDonnell. Under current state law, the governor can apply for federal permission to toll existing interstates—except for I-81—without legislative approval. The Virginia House of Delegates will now consider the legislation. 

Concurrently, Virginia lawmakers have incorporated anti-tolling language into the larger transportation funding bill that is also under consideration in the legislature. The transportation funding package that would eliminate the state’s 17.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax and raise the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent passed the House, 53-46, and will now be considered in the Senate. 

NATSO continues to urge Virginia operators to spread the anti-tolling message to their state lawmakers. If you are located in Virginia, email and call your Delegate and Senator today to tell them that tolls are taxes and any transportation funding plan coming out of Virginia should give the General Assembly the final say in the tolling of existing interstates. 

Tell them:

  • It is crucial that the General Assembly have the final say in the tolling of existing interstates. 

  • By bringing tolling approval under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly, it does not prevent the state or a locality from building a new road and putting a toll on it, but simply allows the public’s concerns to be heard by those that were elected to represent them. 

  • A toll is a tax and taxing authority has always been under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly. 

  • The implications of tolling Virginia’s existing interstates are far too great for it to not go before the General Assembly for a thorough review of the ramifications. 

  • By bringing tolling approval under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly, it allows the public’s concerns to be heard by those that were elected to represent them. 

Contacting legislators is a crucial step in keeping I-95 and other existing roads toll free. Virginia-based Operators or chain locations can find lawmakers' contact information on the Virginia General Assembly's website. Join the fight by signing the petition in opposition to tolls on I-95 at www.virginiatollfree95.com.

 

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This article originally ran in NATSO News Weekly (NNW), NATSO's member only weekly electronic newsletter. NNW is packed with the latest updates on government and business issues affecting the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

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