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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 25

    Document Title
    Public-Private Partnerships Related to Seaports in Virginia (HJR 72, 2008)

    Division of Legislative Services, Joint Subcommittee

    Enabling Authority
    HJR 72 (Regular Session, 2008)

    Executive Summary
    Joint Subcommittee Studying Public-Private Partnerships Related to Seaports in Virginia
    (HJR 72 (2008))

    During the 2008 Session of the General Assembly, the General Assembly passed HJR 72, which established a joint subcommittee to study public-private partnerships related to seaports in Virginia.

    Delegate Purkey, the patron of HJR 72, served as chairman of the joint subcommittee, and Senator Wagner served as vice-chairman of the joint subcommittee. Other legislative members of the joint subcommittee were Delegates Cosgrove, A.T. Howell, Massie, and Joannou and Senators Lucas and Miller. Messrs. J. William Cofer, John G. Milliken, Arthur W. Moye, Jr., Fred Whyte, Robert E. Martinez, Eric A. Sisco, Thomas W. Godfrey, Jr., Robert T. Taylor, and John D. Padgett, Esq. served as citizen members representing the port-oriented transportation business community.

    The joint subcommittee met four times during 2009 on August 12, September 24, November 20, and December 3.

    The General Assembly instructed the joint subcommittee to "examine different operating and financing mechanisms for addressing seaport development, including both public and private approaches to such efforts. Such work will include an examination of the current operating and management structure of the Commonwealth-owned port facilities."

    In addition, the General Assembly requested the joint subcommittee to "identify the total cost of future development of Virginia’s seaport including the refurbishment and enhancement of existing and planned future seaport facilities."

    Furthermore, the General Assembly charged the joint subcommittee with determining "the surface transportation impacts of the import and export of trade through Virginia’s seaports and the gaps in today’s surface transportation. Included within this determination shall be the impact of future development of the seaport."

    The General Assembly also directed the joint subcommittee to "recommend the priorities of addressing the related surface transportation needs throughout the Commonwealth by 2015, 2025, and 2035."

    Finally, the General Assembly required the joint subcommittee to "hold public hearings to solicit public comment on the work of the joint subcommittee."

    In furtherance of the resolution's aims, the joint subcommittee studied public-private partnerships regarding seaports in Virginia. To that end, the joint subcommittee heard testimony on August 12, 2009, from the mayor for the City of Norfolk, Paul D. Fraim, who delivered remarks as a representative of cities that host seaports and suggested that the citizens of Norfolk have standing to be represented in discussions about the future of Virginia's seaports. Additionally, Ashley S. Colvin, Project Leader for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, delivered a presentation entitled "Lessons Learned from Public-Private Partnerships," which centered on two issues: (1) the variation of legislative oversight of public-private partnerships and (2) lessons learned from selected public-private partnerships. Pierce R. Homer, the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, delivered a presentation centered on the Commonwealth's port and Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) priorities, which include (1) the promotion and realization of benefits of continued economic growth; (2) the provision of surface transportation to serve community and port; and (3) the addressing of community impacts of the ports. Furthermore, Dr. James V. Koch, who is President Emeritus and Board of Visitors Professor of Economics at the Old Dominion University's College of Business and Public Administration, delivered a presentation entitled "Some Issues Worth Thinking About Re: The Operation of Virginia Port Authority Terminals" in which he posed rhetorical and unanswered questions for the joint subcommittee's consideration. Jo Anne Maxwell, in her capacity as Senior Assistant Attorney General/Section Chief for Transportation in the Office of the Attorney General, answered questions posed by subcommittee members.

    On, September 24, 2009, the joint subcommittee heard testimony from Mayor Paul D. Fraim, who expanded upon his remarks from the August 12, 2009 meeting, by focusing on the topic most relevant to the City of Norfolk and the other port host cities: the proposed tax exemption of privately operated port operations. In addition, Dr. Robert Martinez, Vice President of Business Development at Norfolk Southern, testified in his own capacity and not that of his company, Norfolk Southern. His remarks focused on the primary questions that the Virginia Port Authority and the Secretary of Transportation should consider in their review of the proposals. Also, Dr. Wayne K. Talley, Executive Director at the Old Dominion University International Maritime Ports and Logistics Management Institute, presented sets of questions that should be asked in connection with the three unsolicited proposals relating to the privatization of the operations of Virginia's seaports. Furthermore, Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority, Jerry A. Bridges, who had previously testified before the joint subcommittee in 2008, also testified before the joint subcommittee. He told the joint subcommittee members that the Port of Virginia is (i) an efficient port and, during its best year in 2007, handled more than 2 million TEUs making it the third busiest container port on the USEC; (ii) a very healthy operation that has the necessary infrastructure in place, or is building it, to handle a growing volume of containers; (iii) a port that continues to use its natural assets to its advantage; and (iv) a port that has historically had good labor relations with its union.

    On November 20, 2009, the joint subcommittee heard testimony from the Honorable Patrick O. Gottschalk, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. The Secretary focused on the economic impact of the Port of Virginia, its major competitors, and its strengths. Also, Joseph Dorto, President & CEO, Virginia International Terminals, Inc., Jerry Bridges, Executive Director, Virginia Port Authority, and Jo Anne Maxwell, Senior Assistant Attorney General/Section Chief for Transportation, Office of the Attorney General, made some brief remarks and answered questions.

    On December 3, 2009, the joint subcommittee heard testimony from the Carlyle Group, Carrix, Inc./Goldman Sachs, and CenterPoint Properties. The presenters described the aforementioned companies' unsolicited proposals to operate Virginia's publicly operated seaports.

    The joint subcommittee intends to submit to the General Assembly and the Governor a report of its findings and recommendations for publication as a House document.

    The joint subcommittee's Internet website is http://dls.virginia.gov/ports.htm.