OK, so that wasn’t the headline in today’s Washington Post …
But it was certainly an ominous development that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is investigating a challenge to the constitutionality of the recently-passed HB 3202, a.k.a. “The latest piece of Richmond legislation to be called the solution for Northern Virginia Commuters.”
The reason is legally simple. Under Virginia’s constitution, the state alone has plenary power to tax. That power is delegated in certain narrowly defined instances to local governments.
Under HB 3202, a “regional” body — the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority — would have authority to raise taxes. Who elected them? Where do they get their authority? No one seems to know.
There is a process for granting regional taxation powers. It requires a referendum to be approved by the voters. Notably, that is not on the ballot this fall.
The constitutional challenge could tie up HB 3202 in the courts for months. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting for a real solution from Richmond.