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Supreme Court rejects transportation plan

The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled today that the regional transportation plan for Northern Virginia violates the state constitution.

The constitution bars the imposition of taxes by non-elected bodies such as the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn wrote for a unanimous court. It doesn’t matter that the all but two of the members of the authority are elected officials – representatives of the Northern Virginia localities, two members of the House of Delegates, a member of the Senate and two citizens appointed by the governor.

The designation of the seven taxes and fees and their rates by the General Assembly doesn’t save the proposal either because the authority still has the power to refuse to impose them, Goodwyn said.

The taxes and fees would have provided the revenue for $130 million in bonds designated for transportation projects in the area. They were part of a transportation plan that sharply divided the legislature in 2006 and 2007.

Goodwyn was appointed last year by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and elected to a 12-year term as a justice earlier this month. Marshall v. Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is his first opinion for the court.

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