Transportation, uranium mining ban bills make filing deadline for Va. General Assembly

Steve Helber/Associated Press - State Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, speaks during a press conference on uranium mining legislation at the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 10, in Richmond, Va. Watkins has proposed a bill lifting the ban on uranium mining.

Speaker William J. Howell will carry the governor’s transportation legislation in the House of Delegates.

The bill is one of only four Howell (R) is sponsoring this session. He filed the bill on Friday, the last day legislation could be submitted for the 2013 General Assembly.

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More than 2,000 bills and resolutions were filed this year. The 45-day legislative session began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to end Feb. 23.

The proposal by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) is a multi-pronged approach to tackling transportation funding, including maintenance, construction, transit and rail. The plan would generate $3.1 billion over five years and seeks to nix the state’s gas tax, which is 17.5 cents per gallon, and increase the state sales tax.

The tax on diesel fuel would remain. The plan also would raise vehicle-registration fees by $15 and charge drivers of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrids, a $100 annual fee.

Lawmakers will also consider whether to lift the 30-year ban on uranium mining permitting. Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Powhatan) and Del. Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) are the legislation’s sponsors in their respective chambers. The bill would lift the moratorium only to consider a permit for the 119-million-pound uranium lode found in Chatham and owned by Virginia Uranium.

Before the ban can be lifted, the state must adopt regulations to mine uranium and establish a permitting process.

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