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Bob Marshall Wins HB 3202 Lawsuit - UPDATED

By Greg L | 29 February 2008 | 13th HOD District, Virginia Politics | 28 Comments

I’m hearing that the Virginia Supreme Court has sided with the arguments of Delegate Bob Marshall and determined that granting the Northern Virginia Regional Transportation authority taxation powers is unconstitutional. The power of this authority was granted by the General Assembly during last year’s session with HB 3202. Details aren’t out yet, but when they’re available I’ll add them at the bottom of this post.

This is a huge victory for Bob Marshall, one of the very few legislators who questioned the legality of allowing an unelected body to impose taxes on Virginians, and the one legislator that felt so strongly about legislators being casual about the laws that constrain them that he spent his own time and money fighting HB 3202 in court.

The spirit of Patrick Henry is alive and well in Virginia.

UPDATE: The DC Examiner has early coverage on this.

The court agreed with Marshall’s contention that the Virginia Constitution allows only officials directly elected by the people to levy taxes.

The decision reversed an Arlington County judge’s ruling that the Constitution gives the General Assembly broad powers, including the power to create a “special purpose political subdivision” and grant it powers.

The revenue measures took effect Jan. 1 and include new taxes on home sales, car rentals and repairs and hotel-room stays. The new fees include a $10 safety-inspection fee and a $10 regional vehicle-registration fee. Each locality represented by the NVTA also can choose to raise additional revenues by assessing impact fees on new development, imposing additional commercial real-estate taxes or adopting local vehicle-registration fees.

Marshall said the authority should have held off on collecting the taxes until the Supreme Court ruled.

“It was close to thievery what they were doing,” he said.

So does the Washington Post, reporting that Chuck Colgan is already talking about raising taxes state-wide:

Some top legislative leaders predicted the court’s ruling will lead to a special session this spring to address the issue. The regular session of the General Assembly, which began in January, ends March 8.

“I hope we go ahead and finish this session and call a special session to address the issue,” said Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “This is something we have to concentrate on, and it will take a special session.”

He added: “This puts pressure on every member of the General Assembly.”

Colgan said lawmakers should explore a statewide tax increase to fund transportation projects.

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  1. J.R. said on 29 Feb 2008 at 11:56 am:
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    Couldn’t agree with you more, Greg. As I wrote in my post, the biggest winner today is Bob Marshall. His stock has just gone way up.

  2. Arlington Minority said on 29 Feb 2008 at 12:05 pm:
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    Once again the five tax-happy potentates of my jurisdiction see their expensive and extra-constitutional experiment dashed by the Court’s adherence to the Commonwealth’s Constitution.

  3. Big Dog said on 29 Feb 2008 at 12:20 pm:
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    Some thoughts before folks hoist Bob “Patrick Henry”
    Marshall on their posting shoulders and parade through
    the blogs.

    First, HB3202 was flawed Rube Goldberg legislation
    passed, in large part, to let Republicans in the GA
    “do something about transportation” without, they
    hoped, being drawn and quartered for the GOP cardinal sin
    of raising taxes. Its death will not be widely mourned.

    Second, Bob Marshall is a good “Dr. No.”, but the
    core problem remains - how does Virginia fund
    transportaion? The needs are clear - what is Bob Marshall’s
    plan to meet them? Did Bob miss the class when the
    good Jesuits spoke of sins of omission as well as sins
    of commission?

  4. Harry said on 29 Feb 2008 at 12:47 pm:
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    Bob wins, so we have no way to pay for roads, the House majority will not raise taxes statewide to solve the Northern VA, Hampton Roads problem. So I guess we just sit in traffic unitl absolutely nothing moves and our vibrant economy turns to crap. What a great win.

  5. G Man said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:00 pm:
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    Dog, Bob was in Vitues & Morals 101 where they taught the “ends don’t justify the means.” Just because there needs to be some funds for transportation doesn’t justify violating the state Constitution.

  6. G Man said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:04 pm:
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    The VA GA has since day one found plenty of ways to tax the crap out of us. I’m sure the tax-and-spend Democrats in the Senate will come up with plenty of ways to live up to their name without violating the Constitution this time.

  7. Mom said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:06 pm:
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    Whoa Harry, don’t blame Bob for a problem of the BOCS’ own making. All Bob did was kill an unconstitutional action by the GA, the traffic problems in NOVA were created by NOVA’s local bodies despite their frequent cries that Richmond abandoned us and left us with the transportation crisis we have.

    Truth of the matter is a simple one, with their voracious appetite for things like proffers (which don’t actually begin to offset impact) the local BOCS mortgaged the future by gambling that Richmond would come through prior to them having to pay the piper. They gambled and they lost. The crisis is merely a function of development at a pace that couldn’t be sustained by the slower pace of infrastructure improvements.

    You want to blame someone, I would suggest the various county BOCSs and planning staff as it was their avarice and incompetence that brought us to this point.

  8. G Man said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:19 pm:
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    Sharon Pandak ….I mean Mom, your fangs are coming out again!

  9. Cardinal Dogwood Flag said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:37 pm:
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    If there is a special session, we can most certainly believe that Sen. Puller will be in favor of keeping this unconstitutional taxation body afloat. Without it, she would actually have to do something about the Rte. 1 Corridor; a location that though she is responsible for, she has left to deteriorate and become a haven for illegal aliens to pander for work.

    It’s time to send someone from the 36th to Richmond that will work with all members of the Senate to come up with sustainable, affordable transportation planning for Northern Virginia not just grandstand, obstruct and vote solely along party lines.

  10. Big Dog said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:44 pm:
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    Mom - Virginia has always been a strong property rights
    state. If farmer Brown sold his 100 acres for
    for ten million, it is difficult, three years later,
    to tell farmer Smith, with a hundred acres,
    “tough luck, keep milking those cows forever”.
    Suggest you research what a “take” is in land use
    terms. BOCS and city councils are not without
    blame, but the real problem is in Richmond -
    the rurals don’t give a rat’s ass about
    traffic problems in Northern Virginia. Hopefully,
    more votes and power will come our way
    after the 2010 census and redistricting.

  11. Mom said on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:17 pm:
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    Big Dog, I’m very aware of what a “taking” is as well as what a rezoning is. The issue isn’t really by-right use but rather rezonings, one is by right, thus the name, the other is at the option of the jurisdiction and often comes with sweetners in the form of proffers.

    Maybe it’s you who needs to do a little research, if the “rurals” don’t want to underwrite NOVA’s faulty planning, so be it, that is a reality the local BOCSs have ignored and continue to do so to our detriment. It’s sort of like living within ones means and consequences that eventually have to be dealt with when you don’t.

  12. /\/\3|)iç 64 (Winner of the BVBL 40k and 50k post award) said on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:41 pm:
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    G Man said on 29 Feb 2008 at 1:19 pm:

    I noticed the lack of response to your post ;)

  13. Mom said on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:48 pm:
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    I can’t be she as I’m blaming her in part (she was, in her capacity as county attorney, part of the planning staff) and besides (and this is scary) she has better legs.

  14. Big Dog said on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:49 pm:
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    Mom -
    It is interesting that not one, but, in your mind, most
    of NOVA’s BOCS are working to the detriment of their
    citizens with “faulty planning”. Fairfax, Prince William,
    Loudoun, Stafford, etc. - All governed by the inept and/or
    crooked for years?

    This is a systemic problem centered in Richmond.

  15. Beck said on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:49 pm:
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    Mom said, “if the “rurals” don’t want to underwrite NOVA’s faulty planning, so be it, that is a reality the local BOCSs have ignored and continue to do so to our detriment.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  16. Beck said on 29 Feb 2008 at 2:51 pm:
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    Big Dog wonders, “All governed by the inept and/or
    crooked for years?”

    I would say Yes to that.

  17. Mom said on 29 Feb 2008 at 3:02 pm:
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    “This is a systemic problem centered in Richmond.”

    As long as we are engaging in supposition BD, that statement (and your moniker) lead me to suppose you’re part of the problem, elected official, county staffer or developer. Am I off the mark?

  18. Citizen 12 said on 29 Feb 2008 at 3:07 pm:
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    The window for any practical transportation solution in Northern Virginia slammed shut many, many years ago. It’s been proven that any “solutions” attempted in the last 15 years have only fueled the growth and gave only temporary relief for the volume of traffic at that time. This Chicken Little mindset that states if we stop growing we start dying has got to stop! Unfortunately no one will soon convince the Federal Government it needs to relocate one third of both its workforce and related subcontractors out of the area. No, they will wait until they erect a sprawling web of elevated freeways which cut up sections of suburbia, resulting in isolation and decay. The area around Springfield Mall, like many areas now around the beltway, is looking more like many major northern cities every year.

  19. Mark W. Weaver said on 29 Feb 2008 at 3:55 pm:
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    I am in the construction business and my livelihood depends on building infrastructure. Improving our existing tranportation arteries in Northern Virginia is certainly in my own best interest because it keeps me working.

    Many in my industry pushed hard for taxing authority to be delegated because it would bring more work to Northern Virginia. In addition, it would potentially alleviate some of the nightmarish gridlock we face nearly every day.

    But … I am a freedom loving American first and foremost. I am not willing to sacrifice my freedom for a bigger paycheck. Nor am I willing to sacrifice my freedom for breaking up the gridlock.

    Willingness to empower a non-elected body with taxing power is so unbelievably short-sighted. Self-government only works when we, the people, can closely monitor what those with taxing power are actually doing with our money. It’s hard enough holding our elected officials accountable.

    I salute Bob Marshall, one man who has the courage and fortitude to stand up for what is right, unlike the 99% who will do whatever is politically expedient.

    Shame on them, and congratulations to the Virginia Supreme Court for getting it right.

  20. Anonymous said on 29 Feb 2008 at 3:58 pm:
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    Harry said on 29 Feb 2008 at 12:47 pm:
    Bob wins, so we have no way to pay for roads,

    Get rid of the illegals who are saturating our school systems and there will be money for roads.

  21. Dave Core said on 29 Feb 2008 at 5:37 pm:
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    At a recent budget work session in Manassas, a question was asked “What do we do with the taxes collected if the courts rule against the taxing authority of NVTA?” An answer by one Councilmember, “Refund, I guess.”

    I’m not advocating a refund of all taxes collected, but I do advocate that the General Assembly address this like Colgan has suggested. Let the Assembly work toward a solution … and not pass the responsibility to an unelected body or the citizens via a referendum. Both have failed.

    Considering the budget the Senate just passed with a huge new government program (pre-K), there are opportunities to cut spending, to consider a new transportation bond and to put gas and other taxes collected for transportation back into transportation. The easy way is to raise taxes — the hard way is to negotiate solutions with our Southwest Virginia counterparts who could care less about N.Va. or Hampton Roads transportation needs but do care about the taxes that these two regions generate and dole out to the S.W.

    Our Senate Finance Chairman has a lot of work to do with his Finance colleagues. Keep an eye on them!

  22. Big Dog said on 29 Feb 2008 at 5:42 pm:
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    Illegals are expensive, but we had road funding issues
    before most of them showed up. Their great negative
    fiscal impacts have been on schools, public safety and
    public health.

    Bob FitzSimmons was right when he said we aren’t
    getting our fair share back on the money we send to
    Richmond. But I did think it was naive to think all we
    had to do was throw a hissy on the Senate floor and
    would have our way. Hopefully, though, the
    redistricting following the 2010 census will change the
    mix in the GA in our favor.

    For now, the economy as put the brakes on rapid
    building and development. A small siver lining in
    a very big dark cloud.

  23. Patty said on 29 Feb 2008 at 9:11 pm:
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    Hey, does this mean Sharon Pandak is out of a job? NVTA

    I guess we just witnessed the power of one.

  24. starryflights said on 29 Feb 2008 at 9:39 pm:
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    I would like a refund for any of these taxes that I paid. So how and when will the refunds start coming? I agree, get rid of all the illegal aliens and the roads will have less traffic and there will be more money to help pay for roads.

  25. Tommy Marshall said on 29 Feb 2008 at 11:06 pm:
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    Go Dad!!

    P.S. My dad is going to be introducing a bill to return the fees and taxes that were collected. He warned them not to collect the taxes until the lawsuit was decided, but they did it anyways. So, they owe that money back to the people.

  26. Gnarly said on 29 Feb 2008 at 11:07 pm:
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    Let’s just hope that this tells the General Assembly that the revenue scam as was devised in HB3202 just won’t cut it anymore. Both sides are to blame in all this. We have Democrats who have decided that in these uncertain times that it’s a priority to have new state programs such as a Pre-K program, so they can happily take another step towards finally realizing their “dream” of having the government in charge of people from cradle to grave. We have Republicans who will gladly sign the bogus no-tax pledge from Grover Norquist, then turn around and vote for new revenue called fees or fines or Authorities or anything else they can devise…but they’ll swear to you, “No, I didn’t vote for tax increases.”

    Then we end up with a mess like HB3202 that supposedly will help solve our transportation woes and it can’t even pass Constitutional muster – and they were warned repeatedly that it wouldn’t. Right now there are so many people refraining from saying “I told you so” because sadly the brilliance that is the General Assembly has put the Commonwealth in an even worse position than they started…..all because they continually refuse to deal with fiscal reality.

    From 1990 to 2001, state spending grew at almost twice the rate of population growth plus inflation. In less than a decade, the Virginia budget has more than DOUBLED, yet we are unable to provide basic services such as roads.

    To the General Assembly I say “stop the out-of-control SPENDING”. All the economic experts will tell you that taxpayers are tapped out. The TAXPAYERS will tell you that the taxpayers are tapped out. There is NO MORE revenue to be had at the federal, state, and local levels. This culture of over-spending must stop because the money to properly run the state government is already there and then some. Any budget expert who is not blinded by special interests or drunk with power (as many elected officials seem to be) can find the money in the state budget to maintain every necessary service and cover core needs such as roads.

    Just like the grassroots movement that we are seeing over illegal aliens, this is a movement that will have to come from the anger in our communities and be built from the ground up until elected officials FINALLY get the message.

    My hat’s off to Bob Marshall or as he was called in an earlier post “Dr. No.” I think the answer to this mess IS just to say “NO!”

  27. MP Resident said on 4 Mar 2008 at 2:17 pm:
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    I’m going to donate some money to Bob Marshall. He saved me at least $20 already.

  28. MP Resident said on 4 Mar 2008 at 2:18 pm:
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    And how do I get the $10 back from the DMV for the other car that I registered for a year?

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