Wednesday, January 9, 2008

High Court Hears Challenge on Transportation Authority

The Virginia Supreme Court this morning heard arguments in a case challenging a ruling earlier this year by an Arlington Circuit Court. That court upheld the power of a regional authority -- set up to finance transportation improvements in Northern Virginia -- to impose taxes to pay for the bonds that would underwrite new roads.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch article, opponents say that's illegal because the General Assembly can't grant tax powers to unelected entities. Supporters say there's nothing unusual about this arrangement -- that, for example, since the early 20th century, it's existed in other forms. They note that circuit judges appoint members of drainage authorities, who -- in turn -- impose taxes to pay for projects.

The decision of the court, expected later this year, ultimately could determine whether these authorities can legally do what their backers envision: help ease traffic congestion in the state's fast-growing suburbs.

So... pretend you're a judge on the state's top court. What do you do? Do you vote to keep the authority and it's taxing power, or do you say "no way" to another taxing entity? Let's us know by posting a comment below.

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