Virginia Senate Committee Passes Gas Tax Hike

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Virginia's General Assembly is considering a number of pieces of legislation this week, including a possible resolution to the transportation bill debate regarding Gov. Bob McDonnell's funding proposals.

According to the Washington Post, the state's Senate Finance Committee has passed a compromise transportation bill that gave some hope to the Republican governor, who was quoted as saying "we are on the brink of success," when he'd heard the news.

Here's the latest on the transportation funding proposal and other bills being considered by the General Assembly.

* The measure passed 9-6 and will increase the gas tax and use more general fund sales tax to fund transportation. The amended plan would boost the gas and diesel fuel tax to 22.5 cents per gallon, a five-cent increase.

* Car registration fees will also be raised by $15.

* McDonnell's plan had called for eliminating the gas tax and increasing the sales tax.

* The Associated Press reports that the amended bill will also forbid collecting tolls on existing Virginia interstate highways without first seeking legislative approval.

* The bill, amended by Sen. Frank W. Wagner, would bring in roughly $728 million in revenue for 2014 and more than $1 billion by 2018.

* Delegate S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, was unable to present McDonnell's bill on Tuesday. He began to address the committee, but was stopped by Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, who demanded that House Speaker William J. Howell present his own bill.

* Jones responded, according to the Washington Times, by saying "I am speaking on behalf of the house. This is the governor's bill. The speaker put it in at the request of the governor," noting he was the appropriate delegate to speak, as Howell was not available. Howell did not appear.

* Tuesday was the final day to act on revenue bills.

* In other legislative news, the House of Delegates passed legislation that will keep the names of concealed handgun permit holders secret, according to another article from the Associated Press.

* The house passed the bill 76-23. The bill was amended to expand the protection from just applicants who have obtained a protective order against another person to any permit applicant.

* The bill returns to the senate for consideration. Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, originally proposed the bill, which he referred to as a "public safety bill" as opposed to a gun bill according to the AP.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington in Germantown, Md.

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