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State to get muscle on VRE decisions

RICHMOND—The Senate has passed a bill that would give the state a weighted vote on the Virginia Railway Express Board.

The House already passed the bill, and while it will need to review an amendment put on by the Senate, the bill seems likely to reach Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk.

Sen. Steve Newman, R–Lynchburg, said that under the current arrangement, “in essence, Virginia has a vote and it does not count” because it isn’t weighted to reflect the fact that the state is the biggest contributor to VRE.

The bill wouldn’t take effect until next year, so that it wouldn’t affect any bonds that VRE currently has.

“This bill allows the taxpayers of the commonwealth of Virginia, who are putting millions of dollars into this program, to have a vote that actually counts,” Newman said.

“The request in this bill is not that we have a supermajority of the vote. It is that we have a vote that is equal to the largest local government. It is important that if we’re going to continue to have such strong financial support coming from this chamber that we have a vote that counts.”

VRE member localities and officials have objected to the bill, saying the state wants to take more control over transportation commissions.

But no one spoke against it on the Senate floor, where it passed 32–7.

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245