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New Virginia Speeding Fines Losing Support in Legislature
As public outrage grows, more Virginia delegates are supporting a full repeal of the civil remedial fees.

Speaker William J Howell
Despite behind-the-scenes efforts by Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine (D) and House Speaker William J. Howell (R) to hold members in line, a number of state delegates are calling for the unconditional repeal of the controversial "civil remedial fees" that took effect July 1 (fee details). TheNewspaper emailed each member of the House of Delegates asking whether he would support the complete and unconditional repeal of the fees added by House Bill 3202 in April. The legislation imposed a mandatory $1050 fee on anyone convicted of speeding at more than 20 MPH over the limit (or 15 over in a 65 zone). These fees came in addition to an already steep maximum fine of $2500, bringing the total possible cost of a speeding ticket to $3550.

"Transforming the commonwealth's policemen into highwaymen is no way to run a government," said National Motorists Association President Jim Baxter. Baxter yesterday called on the legislature to hold a special session for the repeal of the fees.

Some former co-sponsors of the fee legislation agree. Delegates Ken Plum (D), Scott Lingamfelter (R) and Jeff Frederick (R) told us they would now support the unconditional repeal of the civil remedial fees. Governor Kaine and Speaker Howell only support an expansion of the fees to collect additional funds from out-of-state motorists.

The push for a complete repeal comes from just under four percent of all active, registered voters in the commonwealth who continue to sign a petition stating that they will not "vote for ... any delegate or senator who does not take action to repeal the sections of House Bill 3202 that inflict these exorbitant and unjust penalties" (view petition). Although the views of 160,000 petitioners sounds significant in races that typically gather fewer than 20,000 votes, the vast majority of Virginia delegates face no serious opposition in the elections this November. Of the few that do face a tough race, many are quick to respond to constituent demands. Delegate Frederick, for example, won with just over two percent of the vote in 2005. He became the first to call on the governor to hold a special session for a complete repeal of the fees. Only twelve other delegates won by a margin of less than ten percent. On the other hand, Dave Albo, a leader of the ticket tax effort, faces no opponent in the November election even though he won by less than a four percent margin.

As a result, observers say party leaders are waiting until January in the hope that the issue will "blow over."

Below you will find the responses of delegates who have told us they support unconditional repeal of the fees. Each delegate's name is linked with full contact information. If your representative unambiguously supports a repeal of the fees, let us know through our feedback page. (View list of supporters)

Update: On March 27, 2008 the abuser fees law was repealed. For our full coverage of the effort that forced lawmakers, reluctantly, to end the practice, see here.

Article Excerpt:
Supporters of Unconditional Repeal of the Ticket Fees
  • Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr. (I) "I would vote to repeal HB 3202."
  • Ward L. Armstrong (D) Regarding modifying the fees: "It's like putting new tires on a car with no motor... You're not going to get far." Roanoke Times, 8/23/07
  • Robert B. Bell (R) "There's a clear consensus that the fees right now are a mistake... I don't think there's any realistic tweaking to do on this bill." Daily Progress, 8/23/07
  • Danny C. Bowling (D) "I'll vote to repeal it." -- Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 7/31/07
  • Mark L. Cole (R) "I have consistently opposed the "abuser fee" bill every time since it was first introduced several years ago and will support its total repeal."
  • Adam P. Ebbin (D) "I have consistently opposed these excessive new fees as a means of addressing our transportation funding crisis."
  • David L. Englin (D) "It's bad public policy to use law-breaking as a revenue stream to fund roads."
  • Jeffrey M. Frederick (R) Editor: Delegate Frederick sent Gov. Kaine a letter calling for a special session for repeal of the fees.
  • Robert D. Hull (D) "Sorry, Governor, even though we are both Democrats, I strongly disagree with you and hope that this miserable law is repealed." From 7/26/07 op-ed
  • L. Scott Lingamfelter (R) Support for repeal cited in Potomac News interview.
  • Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. (D) "I voted No to HB 3202 and will continue to oppose it."
  • Robert G. Marshall (R) "I have come to realize over time that none of these fees are acceptable, even those in previously proposed legislation that I supported." Called for special session.
  • Kenneth R. Melvin (D) "Yes, I will support a repeal. I've consistently voted against that foolish legislation."
  • Jackson Miller (R) "If the only options on the table are to 1. keep the current form. Or 2. repeal them, then yes I would vote to repeal them." Supports special session.
  • Brian J. Moran (D) "The fees are excessive, the implementation flawed and unfair, and the policy is in error."
  • Kenneth R. Plum (D) "Yes."
  • Mark D. Sickles (D) "This was a mistake and I share in the blame for it. If this inequity cannot be fixed in the short run, I will vote to repeal the entire civil remedial fee part of the bill."
  • Lionell Spruill, Sr. (D) "I will vote to support repealing these unfair fines impossed on the citizens of the Commonwealth.
  • David J. Toscano (D) "It's bad policy. It's a bad way to raise transportation money." Daily Progress, 8/23/07

Support Modifying/Expanding the Fees or Did Not Answer Directly
  • David B. Albo (R) "I wish we could all get to the point where everyone understands what's in the bill and what is not in, and we could discuss improving it, or if people still want to, repealing it. For example, it is a legitimate complaint that the bill applies only to in state (drivers)."
  • Clifford L. Athey, Jr. (R) "It was only meant to apply to drunk driving, and other felonies and Class 1 misdemeanors which require incarceration of up to 1 year in jail. Upon further reflection, I have requested that the Governor call a Special Session under Article IV, Section 6 of the Constitution to remedy the problem."
  • Rosalyn R. Dance (D) "During the next session I am committed to supporting legislation to amend the current version of HB3202 related to the amount of civil fees and the current application to 'Virginian's Only.'"
  • Phillip A. Hamilton (R) "While the legislation may need to be refined, I do not support the "unconditional and complete repeal of the civil remedial (fees)."

Voted in Favor of Fees (House Bill 527, February 14, 2006), Did Not Respond

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