Lawmakers wage street fight at General Assembly


ROAD BLOCK: State Delegate Bob Marshall wants to protect the transportation tax, the largest tax hike in Virginia history, from being siphoned.

By Kenric Ward | Virginia Bureau

RICHMOND, Va. — Two state lawmakers on Monday will attemptto restore a “kill switch” to protect transportation funds and cancel Virginia’s impending gas-tax hike.

“The budget bill — HB 5002 — neutered the transportation tax ‘kill switch’ and authorized spending $30 million of the new road money for other purposes,” said Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas.

On Monday, lawmakers are scheduled to vote to restore $49.8 million for transportation projects, while allowing funds to be siphoned for other uses.

Marshall, along with Republican Mark Berg of Winchester, say they will offer amendments “to ensure that transportation taxes will cease if diverted by the state or localities in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.”

“Unless our amendment passes, Virginia and localities will be free to divert future transportation funds to other non-transportation projects,” the lawmakers said in a statement.

Marshall will also introduce an amendment blocking a 45-percent gas-tax increase set to take effect Jan. 1.

In a little-noted move, the General Assembly conditionally authorized the tax hike if Congress does not enact the controversial Marketplace Fairness Act (Internet sales tax) by the end of this year.

Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, said, “Even with the proposed increase, Virginia’s gas tax will still be among the nation’s lowest.”

Marshall acknowledges he and Berg are in an uphill battle.

“It is very likely that members will use a parliamentary procedure to avoid a direct up or down vote on these amendments,” Marshall predicted.

He urged Virginians to contact their delegates and senators to urge them to “go on record with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote … and not duck these amendments.”

Kenric Ward is chief of’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward