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Author Topic: Repeal the VA "Civil Remedial Fees" for Traffic Offenses  (Read 7556 times)
Autox
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« on: July 11, 2007, 01:53:07 PM »

Thought my fellow auto enthusiasts would be interested in this.

Repeal the VA "Civil Remedial Fees" for Traffic Offenses
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2007, 02:30:08 PM »

It would help the people pushing the petition if they had bothered to check some basic facts. Albo was not the patron of the HB 3202, the budget bill. Speaker Bill Howell was. [http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=071&typ=bil&val=hb3202]. Albo was one of a number of the proponents of the increased traffic fees, but he was not the patron of this bill.

Wonder how many people would sign the petition if they had added, "I want you to increase the gas tax and dedicate the revenue to roads to replace the revenue from the repealed traffic fees."

David
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2007, 02:44:26 PM »

Amen David!
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2007, 04:20:22 AM »

Quote
Originally posted by wahoo5
Wonder how many people would sign the petition if they had added, "I want you to increase the gas tax and dedicate the revenue to roads to replace the revenue from the repealed traffic fees."

David


Hey!  No fair using, like logic, and everything!
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2007, 12:39:49 PM »

I like the idea of toll roads in the areas that need more roads. The residents and travellers of those areas should be paying for the roads, not everyone else.

At least using the toll route, I get to choose if I want the convenience of using a faster route that costs me a toll, or using a different road that's no extra charge.
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Cory Brown
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2007, 12:54:53 PM »

But then you have to weigh the cost of developing and maintaining the toll facility versus leveraging an extant infrastructure to levy a fine.  How many months would the toll have to operate just to recoup its operating costs?

Plus, some of the tolls in the area were originally intended only to recoup the investment of building the toll-road.  Those roads have long-since paid for themselves, but the tolls still exist.  So, if the goal here is to earn $x for the state budget, and the tolls provide $x+$n, where does $n go?  (That question obviously applies to the remedial fees, too.)
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2007, 01:20:52 PM »

Quote
Originally posted by ahamos
But then you have to weigh the cost of developing and maintaining the toll facility versus leveraging an extant infrastructure to levy a fine.  How many months would the toll have to operate just to recoup its operating costs?

Plus, some of the tolls in the area were originally intended only to recoup the investment of building the toll-road.  Those roads have long-since paid for themselves, but the tolls still exist.  So, if the goal here is to earn $x for the state budget, and the tolls provide $x+$n, where does $n go?  (That question obviously applies to the remedial fees, too.)


Hey now, don't go getting all mathy on me! :p

Many of the toll roads still in this area are privately owned. Hence, the $n is profit for the road owners.

Besides, toll booths would provide jobs for more VA citizens, who in turn could pay taxes.

Win-win for everyone!:bouncep::bounce:Cheesy

[Edited on 7-12-2007 by CoryB]
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Cory Brown
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2007, 06:57:34 PM »

Personally, I think an increase in the gasoline tax is much fairer.  To add these "fees" rather than "fines" is just disingenuous.  So the state would really prefer that everyone obey the laws and their $62Million disappear?  Riiiight.  As I understand it, the court's authority is to set fines - not "fees".  These kinds of revenue measures are simply dishonest.

Dennis
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2007, 10:51:18 PM »

They are civil fees instead of fines because fines go to the Literary Fund for books & other educational needs. They had to be civil penalties to be dedicated to transportation.

David
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2007, 07:30:00 AM »

Yes, Dave, that's what they're calling them.  But in my estimation this is a wordgame that simply isn't fooling anyone.  I know that the larger population doesn't mind taxes as long as someone else is paying them, and I know the legislators can't face their constituents when it comes to taxes - so this was the cowardly way out.  

"Fees" imply that the payor is receiving some special service from the state, and that the fee is to cover the cost of providing this service.  In this case, it is a fee in name only.  To the person paying it, it is a fine, because it is only assessed as a result of conviction of a driving offense.  And the fee is not intended to cover the cost of enforcement or anything associated with the offense - it is a tax assessed only to those who commit driving offenses.  

As I said, I'm sure this is headed to court.  You can call a pig a duck if you like, but in reality, it's still a pig.  This is still a tax - a very high tax - that is being assessed only to a small group in order to pay for road maintenance and improvements that the entire population uses.  This is what makes it unfair.  Secondly, the fact that the tax ("fee") is only applied to in-state drivers proves that it is a tax, and that they are being treated unequally as a class when it comes to assessing it, because they face a jeopardy that out-of-state drivers do not face for committing the same offense.  To me, this creates an unequal treatment under the law of a class of persons.

What I hadn't read is what happens if a person refuses to pay that special tax?

It would only have taken a couple cents increase in the state gas tax to generate the $62 million I heard mentioned.  This was the proper way to raise the funds, and with $3 gas, would mean what - 20 cents increase in the cost of a $30 fill-up?  

What a gutless bunch of legislators we have who do this kind of thing like thieves in the night.  

Dennis
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2007, 10:04:55 AM »

>> What I hadn't read is what happens if a person refuses >> to pay that special tax?

Say goodbye to your driver's license until it is paid.

>> What a gutless bunch of legislators we have who do this >> kind of thing like thieves in the night.

You can certainly disagree with what they did and vote against them, but is really unfair to accuse them of doing it "like theives in the night." Committee meetings and floor sessions are open and all votes are taken in public and posted on the web within a couple of hours. There was extensive media coverage of the fees/taxes as well. This debate over these fees started 3 years ago.

Interestingly, the RTD reported yesterday that it was the Governor's amendment that limited the applicaiton of the fees to in-state drivers.

Just to be clear, I agree that a gas tax would make more sense for road funding. For better or worse, there was simply no political will to raise gax taxes when the price of gas was rapidly escalating. Some argue that a gas tax is a very regressive tax and that the fees focus only on speeders and other traffic violators. Traffic violators don't have a very effective lobbying organization.

Finally, all of the press about teh $3,500 speeding ticket is mostly BS. Regular misdemeanor reckless is around a $1000 (eitehr $900 or $1,050, paid over 3 years. Only felonies get the $3,500 treatment. Reckless can be a felony, but I have never known anyone to get one for speeding.

David

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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2007, 12:54:21 PM »

Thanks for that answer, David.  There is so much going on when the legislature is in session, and the issues I follow are usually associated with women's rights, religious freedom and civil liberties.  I guess I just didn't see this one in the legislation I was following and writing my rep's about.  I certainly don't recall seeing much coverage of the issue, though if you say there was I must've just missed it.

I did see that the law stipulates that offenses prior to July 2007 can't be used when assessing past behavior for setting the fine... um "fee".  We'll see what the courts say with the first challenge, I guess.

Yes, all sales- ( usually use-) based taxes are somewhat regressive, but unlike groceries (no choice but to eat), if you can afford the car, maintenance & repairs, insurance, and fuel, you can pay the tax.   It would've also been a way to encourage less consumption without mandating it, and to be honest, Virginia's fuel taxes seem to be less than many of the surrounding states, judging by the way gas prices jump as you cross state borders.  

Again, because fines are stipulated as you outlined, they gave it another name so that they could get the money into highway funds - but it's still a fine in my book, as I've outlined above.  If they wanted traffic fines to fund highways, they should have amended the Constitution so as not to have to play these word games, and they wouldn't have had to add yet another layer of bureaucracy and administration that will inevitably result.  One wonders where all the lottery money goes, and how states without lotteries manage to fund education (our property tax rates sure seem to be comparable).  But that's another topic...

Later,
Dennis
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2007, 07:39:25 AM »

I would perfer to pay a gasoline tax that was equally applied to all drivers.  The more you drive the more you pay.  Anyone who buys fuel in VA would pay the extra tax.  I have a hard time seeing how the new law promotes safe driving when you can go out to Rt. 95 any day and set your speed contol to 70-75 mph and you will have a steady stream of non VA vehicles passing you on both sides.  

Wes
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2007, 09:17:47 AM »

The abusinve driver fees were just declared unconstitutional in Henrico General District Court. <http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/news/vaapwire.apx.-content-articles-AP-2007-08-02-0013.html> It will be a long time before all of the appeals in this are exhausted. A key will be whether a court stops the state from collecting the fees pending appeal. If so, the legislators will have to find another funding source.

David
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2007, 10:38:50 AM »

The finger pointing begins:

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today issued the following statement regarding the opinion of a judge in Henrico General District Court that the civil remedial fees, which are part of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007, are unconstitutional:

“I am surprised by today’s holding in the Henrico County District Court that Governor Kaine’s Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to the Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007 is unconstitutional,” said Speaker Howell.

        “Prior to its passage by overwhelming bipartisan majorities of the legislature on April 4 of this year, the legislation was thoroughly and painstakingly reviewed by both the Kaine Administration and the Office of the Attorney General, among other legal experts.

        “Members of the General Assembly will continue to monitor closely the legal proceedings surrounding any litigation of the Governor’s Amendment and consider legislative remedies so the law is applied evenly to in-state and out-of-state drivers, as we always intended, and fulfills our intent to deter and punish the most dangerous and repeat abusers of Virginia roads.”

The limitation of the fees to Virginia drivers was not in the bill that went from the General Assembly to the Governor. It was added in the Governor's amendments that then passed both houses.

David
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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2007, 12:25:53 PM »

Thanks for that update, David.  I do however really detest the language used that it is about detrrence and punishment - it's about raising funds for highways and making only a few pay for it.  Otherwise they would've just increased the fines (and I think there's still a case that they are excessive).  Since it's a tax, there's no way to enforce it on out-of-state drivers - but since it's associated with an offense, it's unequal treatment.

Raise the gas tax and make the taxation fair.  I hope they'll quit lying about the purpose sometime soon.
Later,
Dennis
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2007, 06:22:35 AM »

Richmond follows Henrico's lead in the unconstitutionality of the new laws. I wonder if "Carpet-Bagger" Kaine added the "out of state" provision because by the time his term is up, he won't have any friends in Virginia anyway. :wtf:
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2007, 12:56:46 PM »

Have there been any further updates on this? I haven't heard anything since the initial outrage.
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« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2007, 11:01:10 AM »

The Circuit Court cases have been very mixed -- some upholding the law and others striking it down for various reasons. Some have been appealed further, but I am not aware of any higher court decisions. It is also clear that there will be a flood of bills seeking to tweak and repeal the fees. Anyone who thinks they know what  will result from all of these bills should be buying Lotto tickets instead. The safest course for now is to watch your speed and avoid any reckless driving tickets.

David
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2008, 10:03:24 AM »

Saw this thread a while back...

Looks like fees will be returned.

http://www.wric.com/Global/story.asp?S=8079135

Will
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