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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