Friday, February 8, 2013

SB 819 Update: Tourist Train

Virginia Senate Bill 819, which this web site doesn't like, passed the Senate by a vote of 35 to 5 and is now up for consideration by the House of Delegates.

How bad, exactly, is SB 819? This web site's judgment is based on the correspondence we've received from people who live in the jurisdictions mentioned. You can read the bill here:

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+SB819

I don't see anything truly horrible here--just another large outlay of funds on a project that's likely to prove unprofitable for the state, frankly--but people who live in Pocahontas and Tazewell and that part of the state say that it'll destroy businesses and cost jobs and interfere with people's right to live in their own homes, and since they're the ones who've been motivated to research all the implications tucked behind those links in the bill, this web site will take their word on that.

I also find the last paragraph strange. "Localities are hereby authorized to lend or donate money or other property or services to the Authority for any of its purposes. The locality making the grant or loan may restrict the use of such grants or loans to a specific project, within or outside that locality." This seems to restore authority to the legitimately elected officials in the affected communities, at least, but does it? If your town's economy is still enmeshed with the coal industry, God help you, and if the tourist train project will put dozens or hundreds of local voters and taxpayers out of work indefinitely, how precisely does this paragraph restore your town's or county's right to keep the tourist train project out of your town as long as a critical mass of those voters and taxpayers continue to work in the coal mines?

If you still hate this bill, and if your Delegate is on this short list, you may want to send him or her an e-mail. "Ingram (Chairman),Marshall, R.G.,Marshall, D.W.,Iaquinto,Crockett-Stark,Poindexter,Merricks,Knight,Morefield,Edmunds,Stolle,LeMunyon,Wilt,Morris,Hodges,Spruill,Ware, O.,McQuinn,Surovell,Kory,Torian,Krupicka". (I'm not sure where the spaces between those links went, but the system is designed, when lists of committee members are pasted between quotation marks, to give you readers a series of links each of which takes you to the appropriate legislator's page...and it seems to be working.)