Delegate Bob Marshall’s “I-66 Toll Update!”

Here is an I-66 Toll Update that Delegate Bob Marshall sent out in email yesterday.

THE MARSHALL MESSAGEI-66 Toll Update!

Opponents of I-66 tolls upset about location of Va. transportation board meeting to approve plan

Dear Friends,

On Monday I sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation, Aubrey Layne and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) asking them to delay their vote yesterday to give preliminary approval to the I-66 Outside the Beltway tolls until they could meet in Northern Virginia and hear from concerned citizens.  (Check out the Fox5 story above.)  Unfortunately, they ignored my request.  The final CTB vote to go ahead with the tolls in the I-66 project will be on December 9th in Northern Virginia. If you live in Northern Virginia I encourage you to contact VDOT at transform66@vdot.virginia.gov with your concerns and plan to attend the meeting if at all possible.  If you don’t live in Northern Virginia this should still be an issue of concern to you since it will set a precedent that the Governor and unelected Board members can take a road that is already paid for and slap tolls on it in spite of massive citizen opposition.  

I have reviewed the Transform 66 website (www.transform66.org) and sent another letter today to Secretary Layne and Governor Terry McAuliffe encouraging them read VDOT’s own website because it conflicts with some of the statements they have made with regard to the Transform I-66 projects.

VDOT’s own 2012 and 2013 studies said:

  • tolls would be from 15-20 cents per mile;1
  • the conversion of existing I-66 lanes to toll lanes “do not assume that existing lanes would be tolled,” and  “were not analyzed;”2
  • that public support for tolls would have to be generated, and that questions remained about tolling existing lanes.3

Secretary Layne and Governor McAuliffe are undermining public trust for this project by failing to properly inform the public.  No I-66 Message Boards were used to alert drivers to potential tolls and they have provided no analysis nor justification for such tolls.

The 2014 VDOT I-66 survey of I-66 users mention tolls four times, but not the price of such tolls.  How can the Commonwealth Transportation Board vote to give authorization to this project without even know the costs of the potential tolls?

I fully support the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority prioritizing using the annual $315 million in funds they receive from the Northern Virginia taxes collected to widen I-66 inside the Beltway, expedite extending VRE to Gainesville/Haymarket, add additional parking at VRE and Metro parking lots and create 4,000-6,000 park and ride spaces in areas that do NOT take family farms.

Sincerely,

Delegate Bob Marshall

1  “The toll for the peak periods in the peak direction for Package 1 was set at 15 to 20 cents per mile (in 2007 dollars), depending on the demand in each segment. In the reverse-peak direction for the peak periods the toll was about 20 percent lower than the peak.”[page 3-25 I-66 Multimodal Study Final Report, June 8, 2012 http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/NorthernVirginia/I-66_Multimodal_-_Final_Report.pdf
2  “ … Options that simply converted existing lanes to tolled lanes were not analyzed; rather it was assumed that any tolling option would require adding additional capacity.”
“… the tolling scenarios assessed for this high-level Tier 1 tolling analysis do not assume that existing lanes would be tolled, but rather that tolls would be applied to new roadway lanes, with the most likely scenario resulting from tolls applied as part of a HOT lanes system that allow 3+ occupant vehicles to avoid paying the toll. [Page 9-8,   Transportation Technical Report, I-66, http://www.vdot.virginia.gov/projects/resources/NorthernVirginia/I66_TransportationTechnicalReport_2013-02-25-ForWeb.pdf ]
3  “Policy issues with tolling existing capacity on an Interstate wold need to be addressed; Potential policy issues with tolling Dulles Airport users;  Public support for tolling existing capacity would need to be addressed.”   [page 1-4, I-66 Multimodal Study, Supplemental Report, August, 2013, http://www.virginiadot.org/VDOT/Projects/Northern_Virginia/asset_upload_file118_54324.pdf
I-66 Improvements Study, Finalized Survey, Southeastern Institute of Research.

COULD YOU RUN A LAP FOR ME? — PART 2

Ægir and his daughters brew ale in a large pot. (from here)
Ægir and his daughters brew ale in a large pot. (from here)

Here we continue the telling of the story of Petrus and Rona.  For Part 1, see COULD YOU RUN A LAP FOR ME? — PART 1

AS TOLD BY THE KING’S CHIEF GUARD TO HIS GRANDSON

When Adolf the goði arrived with his complaint, King Adalbert sat in his throne room with two ne’er-do-wells much like himself. Even though it was still early in the day, these gentlemen were assisting the king by helping him to sample ale. Adolf the goði stepped into this small party, and he asked permission to speak. 

“My king, may I speak.”

“Yes, Adolf. What is it?”

Adolf then leveled his charge. “I have learned that Petrus worships some other god than your own, Ægir. Not only that, he calls this god the Creator God, the One God above all. If you wish to retain Ægir‘s favor, Petrus must be punished.”

The king took another drink. Then he asked, “How do you know this?”

Adolf replied. “Petrus runs up the crag every morning. At the top he stops to pray. This morning, from behind a bush, I listened to his prayer. He thanked his God for allowing him to give some of his strength to his woman.”

The king rocked back on his heels. Then he gave me my orders. “Aage, bring Petrus to me.”

So I sought five of my men, and I went for Petrus.

Petrus was a widely respected man. Not only had he achieved renown as an athlete, he was honorable and dependable. Yet here I was, ordered to take him to the king for punishment. Unlike his father, King Adalbert had no honor, and he had no respect for those who are honorable. Unfortunately, the old king was dead, and that made Adalbert the king. Spoiled, this lazy good-for-nothing  had never grown up. Even though he was in his 50’s, the king and old enough to know better, he still just took what he wanted, ate like a pig, and drank toasts to his favorite god, Ægir. With his foolish greed and gluttony, he was destroying his own kingdom. Not even Ægir would approve of such an undisciplined beast.

We arrived at the shipyard, where Petrus worked shortly after the noonday sun had reached its zenith. We found Petrus, and I told him that the king wanted to speak to him. He asked why, I said the king would explain. When the shipyard boss asked how long Petrus would be gone, I said I did not know. I was just sent to fetch him. Thereupon, I ordered Petrus and my men to get moving. Petrus’ fellow workers grumbled, but none dared to stop us.

After the sun had marched half-way down from its zenith, we arrived back at the throne room. When Petrus and I walked in, we found the king and his ne’er-do-well friends still nursing flagons of ale.

As Petrus walked in, the king turned to him. “Petrus, what is this I hear about you worshiping another god besides Ægir?”

Surprised, Petrus said nothing. Then the king asked. I understand you gave some of you strength to your lady. Can you do that for me?”

Again, Petrus stood silent. The king waited a moment. Then he howled. “Answer me!”

Finally, Petrus answered. “I don’t know. My God made it possible.”

Then the king spoke in an angry whisper. “You will share your strength with me. Tomorrow you will strengthen me, or I will have your head and your woman’s head sitting up on poles. Now begone!”

I escorted Petrus to the entrance of the castle, and I walked with him across the drawbridge. Then I said: “I am sorry. The king has no right to do this.”

Petrus calmly looked at me. Then he thanked me.

Then I asked. “Petrus, who is this god of yours?”

Petrus said. “He is the Creator, Guard Captain. All that we see He made. He is our Father.”

“How do you know of Him?” I asked.

Petrus paused for moment. Then he said, “I prayed.” After another moment, he added this. “You already know the Creator exists. We have the majesty of the night skies, the glory of a sunrise, the mystery of a child’s birth…. Our legends — even legends of so-called gods — are not enough to explain such things.”

Then I asked him, “what will you do?”

“I will pray,” he said.

To Be Continued

BAIT, SWITCH, OR KILL SWITCH?

taxes.pngSpending other people’s money can be such a thrill, particularly when there is lots of it to spend. On the other hand, when somebody else is spending your money, it is not so much fun. So it is good to place restrictions on those folks we delegate to spend our money for us. The problem? How do we keep the “thrill” seekers from evading those restriction, even the ones they supposedly placed upon themselves?

Victoria Cobb is the President of The Family Foundation. Here is an email she sent out last week.

Kill Switch

Victoria Cobb, President
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

If you’ve ever worked in an office where there are lots of closed door meetings, you know what can happen over time.  Trust diminishes, divisions arise, and eventually, productivity declines.

What happened yesterday in Richmond was a classic example of that, only it was on a much bigger stage, with issues that affect all of us being decided behind closed doors, with little or no transparency.  And because this is how the General Assembly has operated in dealing with budgets and judges, few citizens trust the outcomes.

Regardless of whether or not the cause was intentional or an honest mistake in budget drafting, lawmakers yesterday had to once again fix the state budget in order to ensure that our taxes will go up, and money from those higher taxes will go where they “promised” it would go – to transportation.   The details of the mishap are long and confusing, but in a nutshell, when the General Assembly increased taxes in 2013 to pay for transportation projects, they did so by assuring anyone who would listen that the money would always go to transportation.  Some legislators even stood on the floor of the House of Delegates and said that they would vote against any budget that redirected the new tax money.  When The Family Foundation questioned that guarantee in 2013, we were harshly chastised by Republican leaders at the time.

But then, for whatever reason, less than two years later, the new budget had money from that tax hike redirected to cover other areas of the budget due to revenue shortfalls.  Such a redirect should have triggered a “kill switch,” ending the tax hike.  How it happened is still a bit of a mystery and what you believe depends on who you trust.  Whatever the case, yesterday, lawmakers had to quickly “fix” the problem and move the money back to transportation or face losing the tax hike they fought so hard to pass.

The problem with all of this is that many of the budget negotiations and decisions that are made take place behind closed doors, outside the scrutiny of the press and public.  And, much of the detail is left to unelected and unaccountable House Appropriations and Senate Finance staff.  In this year’s case, because the new budget was updated at a special session in September, lawmakers and the public had no time to actually read the document – everyone had to “trust” that it did what they were told.  Only it didn’t.

For several years The Family Foundation has supported more transparency when it comes to the budget process.  One helpful change would be to give lawmakers 48 hours to review the budget after it comes out of conference (where just 6 legislators from each chamber craft a budget, generally in secret).   This simple bill would go a long way in helping the public to regain some “trust” in the budget and our elected officials.  Would it mean that legislators might have to stay in town an extra couple of days?  Maybe.  But that seems a small price to pay to rebuild trust in our government.

Another bill we’ve supported would require budget negotiators (conferees) to detail for other members the exact changes to the budget they’ve made meeting behind closed doors, specifically the differences between their negotiated budget and the budgets the House and Senate adopted prior to the conference committee meetings.

In 2015, we plan to make budget transparency a top priority.  Here’s hoping that legislators have learned a lesson from this year’s budget debacle.  The more open the doors the better.

Yesterday, Delegate Bob Marshall sent this email.

No Recorded VOTES on Transportation Fund Diversion and Gas Tax Increase!

Dear Friends,

TRANSPORTATION FUNDS RESTORED:  The good news is that $50 million in new transportation taxes raised under HB 2313 for transportation, which had been diverted to non-transportation uses, were restored in the recent budget session.

GAS TAX HIKE STARTS JANUARY 1, 2015:   The bad news is our Republican Speaker ruled the amendment offered by myself and Delegate Berg, to stop the 5 cents per gallon gas tax hike set to start this January 1, not germane.

The Speaker also blocked a direct up or down vote to restore the “kill switch.” The “kill switch”was a promise to the public implemented as part of his tax increase bill (HB 2313) guaranteeing that should transportation taxes ever be diverted, the taxes would be “killed.”

Speaker Howell’s HB 2313 tax increase, which passed in 2013, increased the sales tax and several other taxes in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.  The bill at first reduced the gas tax from 17.5 cents per gallon to 3.5% of the wholesale price as of 2/20/13, when gas prices were at their highest.

It also increased Virginia’s gas tax if Congress did not pass the “Market Place Fairness Act” which authorized Virginia to collect taxes (3.5% to 5.1%) from non-Virginia retailers selling in Virginia.

We now pay a 3.5% gas tax.  In January that will increase to 5.1% .  Based on gas prices of $3.17 per gallon, the gas tax will be 16.17 cents per gallon, just under the 17.5 cents prior to enactment of HB 2313.  However, HB 2313 also increased the sales and several other taxes in 2013 to generate more revenue.  Bottom line: we will be paying more come January!

My 11/10/14 amendment to Virginia’s Budget (HB 5010), would have prevented the automatic gas tax increase for the next two fiscal years unless approved by the Assembly on a separate vote in 2015 or after.

OBJECTION to AMENDMENT:  Appropriations Committee Chair, Del. Chris Jones, objected to my amendment on grounds of “germaneness.”  For an amendment to be germane, it must relate to the matter at hand.  Surely Chairman Jones knew that his own budget bill, HB 5010, contained $351.9 million in new revenues from the gas tax.

The Speaker said, “Since the floor amendment addresses a subject matter beyond the scope of HB 5010, I’m going to rule that the floor amendment is not germane.”  Again, $352 million in revenues contained in HB 5010 were generated by the Speaker’s own 2013 law and clearly referenced in the Budget bill, so germaneness was not the real problem.  They simply did not want to go directly on record and vote on it.

I appealed the ruling to the House of Delegates, as is provided for in the Rules. My appeal failed 88-2.  Only Delegate Mark Berg and I voted to overrule the Speaker’s decision.

The 88 delegates who sustained the Speaker’s improper ruling excused themselves from having to go on record on increasing our gas taxes about five cents a gallon starting January 1.

“KILL SWITCH’ DISABLED:   The second amendment which myself and Delegate Berg offered to HB 5010, would have reinstated the “kill switch” to ensure that transportation taxes would cease if diverted by the state or localities in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.

Earlier versions of the current budget held back $30 million in new transportation revenues to be spent on other uses.  That amount held back was increased to $50 million.  These diversions did not flip the “kill switch” because the “kill switch” had already be neutered in an earlier version of the budget!

Again, the Republican leadership avoided a direct up or down vote on my amendment by using a parliamentary motion to “pass by” my amendment on a “voice vote” so no one’s vote would be recorded!  The result:  Virginia and its localities can divert future transportation funds to non-transportation purposes without killing the taxes although the “kill switch” promise was then part of Speaker Howell’s 2013 law.

ACTION ITEM:  We were all outraged at Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and major architect of Obamacare, who proudly  manipulated and deceived the public, with a smug “I know better than you” attitude while he referred to citizens as “stupid.” Such attitudes have no place in government, including in Richmond.

Although there were required recorded votes in the House of Delegates and Senate on increasing a collection of taxes when HB 2313 passed, there has not been a direct vote to increase our fuel taxes, or a direct vote to suspend the “kill switch.”  I believe “we the people” deserve better.

Check out the video of the debate on HB 5010.

Please ask your delegate why he or she voted to sustain a clearly erroneous non-germane ruling from the Speaker to prevent a vote on my amendment to cut the gas tax increase.   Also ask why he or she did not demand a record vote to reinstate the “kill switch” to prevent the diversion of future transportation money to other uses.

Thank you so much for your help!  Please share with your friends.

Sincerely,

Delegate Bob Marshall

WHAT ISSUE WILL WE AMERICANS FIGHT OVER IN OUR NEXT CIVIL WAR?

war between AmericansAmericans have fought one another in two civil wars. That first civil war we now call the American Revolution. Why did so many of the colonists revolt against the mother country? To determine the causes, we need only read the Declaration of Independence. The American colonists were trying to throw off an odious tyranny.

Our second civil war goes by the name “civil war,” The American Civil War. We still argue over the causes of this war, but plainly the enslavement of blacks of African descent had something to do with it. Northern abolitionists wanted an end to the practice of slavery. Southerners wanted to spread the practice of slavery. Therefore, when Abraham Lincoln, the leader of a new political party opposed to slavery, became president, southern slave-owning states violently seceded from the Union.

Could it happen again? Could we have another civil war? The answer is “yes.” So long as the United States exists, there is a chance we will experience an irresolvable conflict that leads to war. Although we may look back at the issue of slavery and wonder why Southerners would not free their slaves, the plain fact is that the South fought with dogged determination to keep blacks in bondage. Even though they might have increased the number of their soldiers by offering enslaved blacks their freedom in return for service in the Confederate Army, the South would not do so. Some blacks served in the Confederate Army, but few had a role in direct combat. Official policy never supported the use of black soldiers in the Confederate Army.

However, blacks did serve in the Union Army (see Military history of African Americans in the American Civil War). Some were even awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

So what would the next American civil war be about? Since we cannot know for certain when or whether this war will be fought, we can only guess. How can we guess? What if we went to war with each other in the near future? What issues divide us today?

  • Abortion: Some people consider what they do with “their body” their right. Many of these even insist that they have the “right” to use government funds to pay for their abortions. Others see the rights of the unborn as far more important, and they are horrified by the prospect of being forced to pay for the “right” of other people to have an abortion. Thus, “Pro-Choice” advocates would impose their beliefs upon those who believe in Life.
  • Unconstitutional Taxation and Spending: Look at the Constitution. Then look at the Federal Budget. Don’t we have numerous large Federal programs unmentioned by the Constitution. Yet what was one of the major arguments for seceding from the United Kingdom? Was it not taxation without representation? Today our government officials routinely take money from taxpayers and give that money away to buy votes. In fact, the cost of government seems increasingly out of control. Thus, taxpayers are represented, but not in a meaningful way.
  • Secular Public Schools: Although they are suppose to be run by local and state governments, our nation’s schools have acquired many of the characteristics of a nationalized system. That includes our universities as well as K-12 education. And as the Federal role has increased, government has inexorably secularized what is taught in our nation’s schools. What the schools teach children too often conflicts with what their parents believe. Instead of being taught Christian values, government teachers preach multiculturalism, environmentalism, liberalism, humanism, socialism, and so forth. Thus, government interferes with the right of parents to educate their children in their own beliefs.
  • Immigration: According to Elements of international law: with a sketch of the history of the science by Henry Wheaton:

    A sovereign state is generally defined to be any nation or people, whatever may be the form of its internal constitution, which governs itself independently of foreign powers.

    Yet even children can swarm across our borders, and our dubious leaders will ensure these illegal aliens receive the “free” benefits of our welfare state. Thus, because we will not protect ourselves from even the weakest attempts at invasion, we risk national sovereignty.

  • Abuse Of The Powers Of Government Agencies: The power of Federal Government has grown beyond what was originally conceived in the Constitution. Here are a couple of examples.
    • At this point there is little doubt that during the last presidential campaign, leaders of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used their organization’s powers to stifle Conservative organizations.
    • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using Global Warming as an excuse, is being used to destroy the coal industry. Yet, no new legislation has been passed to justify this, and the legislation Congress has passed never envisioned carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

    Thus, because government leaders have so blatantly abused their authority, we risk both our freedom and our prosperity.

  • Dishonorable Judges: Our nation’s courts no longer adhere to what is plainly stated in the law.  Our judges have weirdly decided: (1) taxpayers must pay for the education of illegal immigrant children, (2) states must “marry” same-sex couples, (3) government can force citizens to buy health insurance, and so forth. Thus, because the meaning of the Law can no longer be discerned from what is actually stated in writing, we risk chaos and tyranny.
  • Dishonorable Elected Officials: When elected to executive positions, our officials no longer believe themselves obligated to either enforce the Law or adhere to the letter of the Law. This All-Star Panel: Has President Obama abused his authority? explains the problem. President Obama is essentially rewriting laws, threatening to combine legislative with executive authority. Thus, because the combination of executive power with legislative power is so easily abused, we risk tyranny.

What is the peaceful solution for these issues, one that might avoid a civil war? Because the United States is suppose to be a federation, we still have three identifiable levels of government: federal, state, and local. In the past, we exercised most of the power of government at the state and local level. Therefore, if the people of a city, county, or state were sufficiently unhappy with their government, they could leave and go where they could find a government more to their liking. Unfortunately, Federal Power has grown so immense we can no longer vote with our feet. In fact, we now have cause to wonder whether We The People have a government or the Federal Government has a people, and that should cause all of us to consider what we need to do to fix this problem.