Energy Utility Bill Emerges from Senate Commerce and Labor
Senate bill 966, which makes a number of changes to the way the Commonwealth regulates utilities, passed on a 10-4 vote from Commerce and Labor. The bill includes money for utility customer refunds and larger investments in energy efficiency. Other provisions in the legislation focus on upgrading the grid to better accommodate renewable power and placement of utility lines underground. If SB 966 becomes law; Dominion customers will receive about $200 million in refunds. Governor Northam has signaled his support of the revised version of SB 966.
Bill Aimed at Reduced Regulation Advances
HB 883 (Webert R-Fauquier) creates a pilot program that reduces requirements in the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Department of Criminal Justice services. The House General Laws Committee passed the bill 21-0. HB 883 calls for a 25 percent reduction of "regulatory requirements, compliance costs and regulatory burden." The Northam Administration strongly supported the legislation and Finance Secretary Aubrey Layne is providing the leadership to move this initiative to implementation.
Virginia Considers Joining a Proposed Federal Program Allowing Heavier Trucks
HB 1276 and SB 504 would allow Virginia to participate in a potential federal pilot program that allows for six axle, 91,000 pound trucks. Current regulations limit trucks to 80,000 pounds. Several Virginia manufacturing companies support the bills while some in the trucking industry as well as railroads oppose. The Chamber's concerns have historically been focused on the cost of maintaining the Commonwealth's surface transportation network.
Gas Floor Bill Advances
The Senate Finance Committee approved SB 896 (Wagner, R-VB). The bill sets the "price floor" using the February 23, 2013 statewide average sales price for gasoline for calculating the two regional gas taxes authorized by the 2013 General Assembly. If current prices fall below the "price floor" than the price floor will be used instead of the current market price. SB 140 (Peterson) was folded into SB 896. The change could mean that the Hampton Roads region will have approximately $15,000,000 more in transportation funding annually.