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Chesapeake Bay BridgeLast week EPA issued its "pollution diet" for the Chesapeake Bay. The total maximum daily load (TDML) of various materials is established by EPA in the diet and includes a 25% reduction in nitrogen, a 24% reduction in phosphorous, and a 20% reduction in sediment according to Engineering News Record (subscription only). The plan also includes annual total watershed limits.

October 21, 2010
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Yes, it's getting to be that wonderful time of year again, and with all the 2011 pre-legislative session jockeying already well under way in Virginia, one of the 600 pound gorillas in the room this year is how the statutorily mandated redistricting process will play out.  With control over the house and senate split, and no state legislative elections until after the 2011 session, neither party will have control over the process (as was the case after the last two censuses).  With the volume of proposed legislation the Virginia Legislature handles every session, and the difficulties split control over the Senate and House of Delegates pose on proposed legislation even under normal circumstances, it is going to be even more complicated this year when redistricting gets tossed into the bartering process.  Already, people are questioning whether Richmond can get the job done before the November 2011 elections.  Not only are state legislative district lines on the table, but so are federal congressional districts.

Although obviously based upon sound legal principles, it was still surprising to find out that the Supreme Court held in Ligon v. County of Goochland that whistleblower protections for county employees against retaliatory firings under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act ("VFATA") were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.  As many of our readers know, the doctrine of sovereign immunity gives immunity to the Commonwealth, as well as localities as political subdivisions of the Commonwealth, from liability for damages and from suits to restrain governmental action or to compel such actions (such as tort liability for actions or omissions of a county's agents and employees).  However, while the VFATA was likely intended to create protection for the Commonwealth's employees from retaliatory discharge for reporting corruption and fraudulent behavior, the Supreme Court found that the plain language of the statute failed to explicitly include retaliatory discharge necessary for it to waive its sovereign immunity.  So basically, a corrupt county employee can fire a whistleblower, and the whistleblower can't sue the county to get his job back or for damages.

According to the Chesterfield Observer, Chesterfield and Hanover Counties intend to ignore the Attorney General's recent opinion (click here for our previous analysis when the opinion was issued) about the applicability of Code of Virginia Section 15.2-2303.1:1 and will continue to deman cash proferred prior to 15.2-2303.1:1's July 1, 2010 effective date.  The purpose of Section 15.2-2303.1:1 was to postpone the payment of cash proffers for residential developments from issuance of the building permit to issuance of the certificate of occupancy in order to give residential builders and developers some financial relief until 2014.

This year's proposed Constitutional Amendments are now up for review prior to being voted on during the November 2, 2010 General Election this fall.  There are three proposed amendments on the table:

Back on April 14th I blogged about the creation and anticipated operation of the Virginia Defective Drywall Correction and Restoration Assistance Fund (the "DDCRAF") via two new provisions to the Code of Virginia patroned by Delegate Oder this session.  If you read that posting you'll recall that the purpose of the DDCRAF is to create a perpetual, non-reverting fund to facilitate the remediation of property impacted by the use of "Defective Drywall" in residential construction, and I promised to find out whether funding was lined up for the DDCRAF yet.  Delegate Oder's office has been very responsive and helpful in explaining how they envision funding to come through for the DDCRAF.

We've got two new provisions to the Code of Virginia as of this last legislative session which create a perpetual, non-reverting fund to facilitate the remediation of property impacted by the use of "Defective Drywall" in residential construction.  This fund will be administered by the Virginia Resources Authority and the Department of Housing and Community Development ("DHCD"). 

Football PuntAfter much back and forth, the Soil and Water Conservation Board announced on January 14th that they voted to suspend their hotly debated changes to stormwater regulations to permit an additional 30-day comment period.  The stage was formally suspended on January 26, 2010 which means that the status will be stuck in suspension until a new round of comments opens from February 15 through March 17.

We reported on the both the initial regulations and later changes to the proposed regulations which eased some of their impacts on the home building industry.  The Home Builders Association of Virginia indicates that they mobilized significant response and opposition to even the later round of regulations.

With well over two thousand bills filed for this session, I was curious to see what our local urban delegates and senators have chief-patroned this year.  So here's what they're up to:

Delegate Brink has patroned HB 1260, which proposes that the Uniform Statewide Building Code should also apply to buildings or structures built on state-owned property and that the Department of General Services would act as the building official for all such buildings.  He has also patroned HB 1314 which contemplates providing financial incentives equal to twenty percent of delinquent taxes collected by tax collectors, chargeable to the taxpayer in addition to the amount of the delinquent taxes.