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Congress is back in session from their summer recess and Hanover County’s Board of Supervisors wants to make sure their issues will be heard in Washington, D.C.
Supervisors met with U.S. Rep Eric Cantor (R, VA-7) Sept. 4 to ask for the Republican Majority Leader’s help in representing localities like Hanover at the federal level.
“What we’re trying to do in Washington is really get back to the balance of removing so much mandate from Washington,” Cantor said.
Chickahominy Supervisor and Legislative Committee Chair Angela Kelly-Wiecek and members of the Board asked Cantor for assistance with funding for their participation in the Chesapeake Bay Program.
“We realize that the train can’t be stopped but we need some assistance in funding it if that’s what the law of the land is, but even better, if we could get the support for the Chesapeake Bay Accountability Act, we think that’d be the step in the right direction to remedy it,” Kelly-Wiecek said.
Kelley-Wiecek said that in order to “address just urban stormwater” runoff, it would cost the county about $2 million in Fiscal Year 2015.
The Board asked Cantor to support a bill, the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act of 2013, introduced to Congress, which would put responsibility in the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA would create a plan to manage the program as well as any Bay restoration-related programs. In addition, the EPA would have to give financial reports to the Office of Management and Budget.
The current mandate does not entail any measurement of success for the program.
Also on the agenda was the Voting Rights Act, because it is now in the hands of Congress. The board asked Cantor to make sure that localities, like Hanover, will remain “bailed out” if Congress rewrites section four of the act.
Hanover County had previously requested an exemption from the Act. The Department of Justice approved Hanover just a day before the Supreme Court struck down a part of the law.
“I think it makes absolute sense to grandfather counties/localities who have already passed the test,” Cantor said.
The Board also asked for Cantor’s support with maintaining tax-exempt status from municipal bonds. In President Barack Obama’s budget for 2014, a limit was placed on tax-free municipal bonds.
“We just believe that if the tax exemption is eliminated or reduced, states and localities like Hanover, we’re going to have to pay more to finance projects and that’s going to lead to fewer projects,” Kelly-Wiecek said. “Then other subtracted costs will obviously fall on taxpayers.”
“It is our hope that you will support maintaining tax [free] municipal bonds,” she said to Cantor.
In response, Cantor said this issue gets brought to him often and he would try his best, but “prospects for tax reform are challenging” in Congress.