Gov. McDonnell vs. Jones-Wagner -- rival approaches to port restructuring

Gov. Bob McDonnell and a group of Hampton Roads lawmakers both want to reform the management structure for state-run ports.

But dueling bills lay out divergent approaches when it comes to the governor's power at the piers.

For example, the bill sponsored by Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, and Sen. Frank W. Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, takes away the governor's authority to remove commissioners on the Virginia Port Authority board without just cause.

Famously, McDonnell in July 2011 removed 10 of 11 Tim Kaine apointees on the board. The bill favored by the governor, and carried by another local legislator, Virginia Beach Sen. Jeff McWaters, maintains the governor's ability to remove VPA board members "at his pleasure."

Both bills would add a thirteenth member to the VPA board -- the CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. And they both add the port authority's executive director as a non-voting member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The Jones-Wagner bill also bumps up the number of Hampton Roads members on the VPA board from three to four, by adding an appointee who is not from Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth or Virginia Beach (residents from those cities already make up three of the board's commissioners).

PPTA

Part of the Jones-Wagner bill also prevents companies from submitting unsolicited bids "regarding the ownership or operation of any seaport or port facility" under the state's public-private partnership law. The provision would have stopped APM Terminals from offering to take over management of the ports through a long-term lease, a bid that is currently under consideration by the VPA board.

The McWaters bill makes no change to the portion of state law governing the acquisition and lease of state property, however.

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