A package of dredging bills was introduced by Delegate Keith Hodges this session to seek new, effective, and creative ways to ensure the channels leading to Chesapeake Bay remain cleared and passable. Of these five bills, two have already been approved by Governor Ralph Northam while the remaining three await his signature.
HB 1091 expands the list of projects eligible for financing through the Virginia Resources Authority (VRA) to include any dredging program or project undertaken to benefit the economic and community development goals of a local government (though it excludes projects undertaken by the Virginia Port Authority). Governor Northam approved this bill March 5, 2018.
HB 1092 modifies the definition of “development project area” for purposes of tax increment financing to include any area designated as a “dredging project,” other than a dredging project for or by the Virginia Port Authority, unless the Authority has an agreement with a local governing body for local financial participation in such a project. Governor Northam approved this bill March 2, 2018.
The remaining three dredging bills all received broad support from both the House and Senate and must be acted upon by the Governor by April 9. These bills are as follows:
HB 1093 authorizes the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority (the Authority) to receive and expend public funds and private donations and apply for permits in order to perform dredging projects on waterways and construct facilities and infrastructure within the region for which the Authority exists. The bill requires such projects to enhance recreational or commercial public access.
HB 1095 authorizes the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority and the Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority to undertake dredging projects and authorizes those public access authorities and the Eastern Shore Water Access Authority, which currently is empowered to undertake dredging projects, to work together in any combination to undertake dredging projects in any of their jurisdictions.
Finally, HB 1096 directs the Marine Resources Commission to develop a fast-track regulatory permitting program for the selection and use of appropriate sites in Tidewater Virginia for the disposal of material dredged in such region, to be effective no later than July 1, 2019.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.