2021 Virginia General Assembly Session
Special Session 2021 The administration of justice is a key principle in a democracy. The rule of law and the fair application of the law are the key standards of this principle. In Virginia, we have made significant progress in our effort to make justice more accessible to people. This year we made key reforms to the appellate […]
Special Session 2021 The passage of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) this past spring gave us an unprecedented opportunity here in Virginia. The Commonwealth was allotted $4.3 billion to address the lingering health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The Governor called the General Assembly back to Richmond for a Special Session this past week […]
In four weeks, Virginians will return to the polls for primary contests, including the statewide races for the Democratic ticket for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. On June 8, you have a chance to make your voice heard, and I hope you get out and vote. With the election on the horizon, I am reminded […]
The 2021 Reconvened Session, commonly known as the veto session, occurred on April 7, 2021. Typically a one day affair, the session has been known to go long into the evening or the early hours of the following day. With the reduced bill limits this year, the legislature only sent about 550 bills to the […]
In this most unusual year, the General Assembly adjourned sine die in the most unusual way. We adopted a procedural resolution to extend the 30-day session to the usual 46 days by having a special session the last couple of weeks. We finished our work late on Saturday, February 27, but we did not adjourn […]
The 2021 Session of the General Assembly is rapidly winding down. We are in the throes of the last week, and we have reached a budget agreement. Many bills remain up in the air. For the second time in my legislative career, I was involved in the final budget negotiations.
The 2021 Session of the General Assembly is winding down. We only have a week left in the regular session, which is anything but regular this year. We are in a pandemic, and we had to go through extraordinary means simply to meet for the normal 46 days.
The 2021 Session is rapidly drawing to a close. Last week we reached crossover, and now the Senate is only considering House bills and the budget. The House of Delegates is considering the budget as well, together with the Senate bills. Both the House and Senate will adopt versions of the budget today. While preliminary, the Senate budget […]
The week leading up to crossover is always busy, although it usually lands on a Tuesday. This year it lands on a Friday – just one more unique feature of this session. While many hot topic issues have been discussed this week from the abolition of the death penalty to the legalization of marijuana, I want to focus […]
Marijuana, Bikes, and More This most unusual of legislative sessions is going quickly. We are nearing the crossover, the deadline for the Senate to act on senate bills and the House of Delegates to act on house bills. It’s crunch time as the Senate completes work on bills and get them to the House for […]
The first full week of the 2021 session of the General Assembly is in the bag. The impact of the changes put in place this year because of COVID was starker. While the work is much the same, the people, the location, and the interactions are so very different.
The 2021 Session of the General Assembly got off to an interesting start. The pandemic has pushed us into a corner. On January 1st, we lost a member of the Senate. Senator Ben Chafin was a good man who cared about the people he represented and the issues he fought for. He will be missed. His […]
As 2020 is draws to a close, I cannot help but reflect on the unusual nature of this year as we prepare for the 2021 Session. From a legislative perspective, the regular session lasted 65 days, and we convened again in August for a 84-day special session. Of course, the General Assembly did not meet […]
Statement On Recent Events – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery
I was sickened and sad to watch the video of the deliberate killing, murder, of George Floyd. There was absolutely no justification for the action of those police officers.
After the similar loss of so many black men and women, I understand the pain and the need for people to exercise their constitutional rights to voice that anger and assemble peacefully. I support this movement working to bring about real change with social and economic justice.
Words from me are meaningless unless they result in action. We have to change the way we prepare men and women for the difficult and essential work of police officers. I have long advocated for crisis intervention training, and we need to add implicit bias training at our academies too. We need to confront the systemic racism that permeates our society so we can understand and change. We need to commit to enact legislation to accomplish this at the earliest opportunity.
2020 Virginia General Assembly Session
The special session began almost six weeks ago. We are finally getting down to the heart of the matter as budget discussions ramp up. We are operating without a joint operating agreement, a procedural resolution, between the House and the Senate. The agreements stipulate the rules and parameters to govern conduct. The Senate is meeting […]
We knew back in April that we would need to return to Richmond for a special session to address budgetary issues. The pandemic dramatically reduced the amount of revenue flowing into Virginia’s tax coffers. We experienced a $2.7 billion budget shortfall and have seen nearly every aspect of state government impacted by the pandemic. Budgetary […]
The 2020 General Assembly Session seems so long ago. Way back when we were running a surplus and adopting a budget that funded so many critical priorities in the Commonwealth.
Last week the General Assembly considered two significant budget amendments offered by the Governor that I did not speak to in my most recent newsletter. I wanted to offer a few thoughts on these amendments, both of which were related to the pandemic.
The Reconvened Session of the General Assembly met in Richmond on Wednesday, April 22. The purpose of the Reconvened Session under the Constitution of Virginia is to consider amendments and vetoes offered by the Governor. It has been part of the Virginia process since the 1971 Constitution. Before that time, the legislature did not have […]
On March 12, 2020, the regular session of the General Assembly adjourned after adopting a budget for the next two years. It is a budget that will take us forward and that we can be proud of, but there are caveats. The biennial budget is built on projected growth over the next two years of […]
One week is all that remains between now and adjournment sine die of the 2020 Session. We are scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, March 7 by midnight. We have accomplished a lot this session, and I guess history will judge the effectiveness of our work.
The 2020 Session of the General Assembly is now past crossover. The Senate and House of Delegates both acted on the budget this week beginning with the release of subcommittee reports on Sunday by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. The final two weeks of the session will be spent trying to reconcile […]
We are now past the midpoint of the 2020 General Assembly Session. Crossover — the day when the Senate must complete work on all Senate Bills and the House on all House Bills — occurred this past Tuesday. The bills then cross over to the other chamber for consideration. The Senate will spend the remainder […]
The 2020 Session of the Virginia General Assembly is flying by. Committee meetings start early in the morning, and afternoon meetings run late into the evening. We all knew that coming into this session there would be a lot of hard choices. Among Democratic voters there was a lot of pent-up energy and a demand […]
The session grinds on with early mornings and late evenings. Meetings of committees and subcommittees go just about around the clock. Trying to find a balance of what is right for over eight million Virginians who are from areas as diverse as Fairfax and Arlington Counties and Wise and Bland Counties requires a lot of […]
The second full week of the 2020 Session of the General Assembly began with a huge gun rights rally at the Capitol. Officials estimated 22,000 people were in attendance. The majority of the attendees were outside of the fence and many of them were armed. The rally was without incident. The day was fairly gloomy […]
The first full work week of the 2020 General Assembly, the week beginning January 13, has fulfilled its promise of being hectic, frustrating and productive. The 2020 Session has of course seen new majorities. In the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans have traded the majority several times over the past 12 years, work proceeds. Redistricting […]
Ray Wylie Hubbard is a Texas troubadour, who I guess is an acquired taste. In the 1970s he wrote “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother.” Later he wrote “Snake Farm” and co-wrote “Drunken Poet’s Dream.” He is worth the price of admission if you ever get the chance to go to a live show. A […]
2019 Virginia General Assembly Session
The General Assembly returned to Richmond on April 3 for our 2019 reconvened session to consider gubernatorial vetoes and amendments. The governor has 30 days from the adjournment of the regular session to sign, veto, or offer amendments to legislation. The authority of Virginia’s governor to amend legislation is atypical compared to the president and many […]
The 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly is now over. For the books, we adjourned one day late due to the length of discussions over the budget. A budget agreement was not reached until the morning of February 23. We amended the rules several years ago to require posting of the budget 48 hours […]
The last week of the 2019 General Assembly Session is drawing to a close. Conference committees are trying rapidly to come to agreement and produce a final compromise. The budget conferees just reached agreement, and the details should be available soon. I will provide an update on the budget in the coming days. I’ve been […]
Only one week remains of the 2019 Session the General Assembly. Bills are being heard and meeting their fates at an ever quicker pace. Multiple meetings are scheduled at the same time. Legislators, staff, interested citizens, and lobbyists are all running around trying to protect their turf or see that their interests are being met. […]
A lot of turmoil has embroiled many of the top officials in Richmond over the past week. Amidst the uncertainty and onslaught of national media, we must focus on the work at hand. We only have until February 23 to act on hundreds of bills and finalize the budget. With crossover behind us, I can […]
The 2019 Session has almost reached crossover, the point at which the Senate and House can only consider legislation introduced in the other chamber. While the date falls just past the midpoint of each session, it is considered halftime. The big issues remain unresolved. Hundreds of bills have been discussed and have met their fates. For […]
We are rapidly moving through the 2019 short session. One of the main sticking points is disagreement over how to use the budget surplus. The parties are in a stalemate over routine tax conformity questions and larger policy issues. Every year, one of the first pieces of legislation to pass is a tax conformity bill […]
The first full week of the General Assembly is now under our belts. A few significant bills have reached the floor, but most are awaiting action in committee. The committees are running full bore. Visitors from around the Commonwealth fill the halls trying to meet their legislators and talk about issues of concern to them, […]
The 2019 Session of the General Assembly is underway. This is a short session, set to adjourn on the 23rd of February. The Session began with a committee meeting and a speech from the Governor. Usually it takes several days of preliminary work before the real action begins. This year, however, on the first day of […]
2018 Virginia General Assembly Session
The 2019 legislative session is just around the corner, which is hard to believe since it feels like the 2018 Session just ended. In fact, the General Assembly has yet to adjourn the special session. A couple of issues remain unresolved. The Governor initially called for a special session because the General Assembly did not […]
On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a budget two and half months late. The budget expands access to healthcare through Medicaid to roughly 300,000 low income Virginians. For over five years advocacy groups and some legislators have been fighting to reach this goal. The accomplishment is significant in many ways.
Ostensibly, the Senate convened on 22 May, 2018 to finish the work we could not accomplish during the regular session – to pass a budget. Senator Emmett Hanger, the co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee has been working diligently for weeks, most recently with Delegate Chris Jones, the chair of House Appropriations Committee, and the […]
The General Assembly convened a special session on April 11 to resolve the budget impasse. In the meantime, on April 18, we held the annual reconvened, or veto, session to consider the Governor’s amendments to and vetoes of bills. More on that later. As you know, we are in the situation with respect to the budget because […]
The 2018 Session of the General Assembly is history. It will be noted for a new governor, success and failures, including our inability once again to agree on a biennial budget.
We are winding up the 2018 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. This is crunch time. As I’ve told people for years, this is the most dangerous part of the session. Amendments to bills are made on the fly and passed between the House and Senate. Weary legislators often miss the meaning of amendments and […]
The 2018 Session is winding down. Our work turns to the last remaining bills. At the beginning of every session initiatives are brought forth from every corner of the Commonwealth. Sometimes a lot of excitement, even enthusiasm, surrounds those ideas. Yet when the subcommittees get to work and the questions and criticisms come, bills often […]
There are only two weeks remaining in the 2018 Session of the General Assembly. The remaining time will be spent, like the past week, on the budget. On Thursday of this week, the House and Senate passed versions of the budget. The next two weeks will be dominated by reconciling the differences between the two proposals. While […]
Crossover came and went the day before Valentine’s Day. It was notable for lots of things, both done and undone. The biggest enchilada remains Medicaid expansion. The energy for expansion is coming from the House of Delegates. Invigorated by the results of the 2017 election, the increased Democratic minority is absolutely committed to expanding Medicaid. […]
We are now ending the last full week of the 2018 Session prior to crossover. As explained last week, the Senate and House will have to finish work on bills originating in their own chambers by Tuesday. This has been a week full of contention. One of the most contentious issues of the session relates to […]
We continue to hurtle toward crossover of the 2018 Session of the General Assembly. Crossover is basically the mid-point, though it typically occurs a little past the 30th day of the 60 day session. While the Constitution of Virginia sets forth the requirements for how a bill becomes a law, such as passing both houses in exactly the […]
The old saying “the days go slow, but the years go fast” reminds us that time passes relatively quickly. My belief is that we have to live with urgency because life is short and we only get so many days in which to make a difference. With legislative sessions, the days are long and full, […]
We are nearing the completion of the first full week of the 2018 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. Last weekend we enjoyed some pageantry as Ralph Northam was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. On Monday, he gave his initial address to the legislature. The inaugural and his speech this week were […]
The 2018 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly is underway. This long session, which will run 60 days, is remarkable in at least three aspects. First, every four years a changing of the guard takes place. Governor McAuliffe gave his farewell speech on January 10, at the end of the opening day of the […]
2017 Virginia General Assembly Session
The General Assembly reconvened on the 5th of April to consider the Governor’s amendments and vetoes of legislation from the 2017 Session. While it was a busy day, we saw few surprises. The Governor’s vetoes, which totaled 40 this year and made him the Governor who has exercised the veto pen the most often, were […]
With about a week left before the 2017 Session ends, many of the controversial issues have been resolved. However, there are still some things to finalize. Several committees will be meeting on Monday, which is the final day for committees to act on legislation. In addition, the budget and many other bills are already in […]
One of the strengths of Virginia’s legislative process is that legislators are part-time. One hundred forty men and women from all over Virginia and from all walks of life come to Richmond to serve in the legislature during this time of year. The sessions are 60 days in length during even-numbered years and 46 days […]
Groundhog Day was yesterday, which means we are very close to the crossover of the 2017 legislative session. Crossover, which comes shortly after the midpoint of each session, is the point by which the Senate must act on all senate bills and the House on all house bills. The bills then cross over to the […]
The 2017 Session of the General Assembly is flying by. We are two and a half weeks into the session, and we only have about four weeks left. The committees are meeting around the clock to try to dispose of bills, and often legislators must be in three places at the same time.
While the peaceful transition of power occurs amid celebration and protest in Washington, the work goes on here in Richmond. We have about five weeks left to finish work on the multitude of bills that come up and to balance the budget. What that means is that a single bill does not get much time […]
The 2017 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly is underway. This short session is scheduled to adjourn on the last Saturday in February. During those 46 days, the legislature will consider more than 2,500 bills that come from delegates and senators from around Virginia, together with amendments to the two-year budget.
2016 Virginia General Assembly Session
With the legislature wrapping up the 2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly in a day or so, I wanted to provide a status report. Budget The budget deal has been reported in most of the major newspapers. It includes a three percent pay raise for state employees and faculty at our institutions of higher […]
One of the most important responsibilities of the General Assembly is the election of judges. After all, judges represent the Commonwealth and the whole notion of justice in the court and the community. People need to know that they are going to have an equal shot at justice in every court. I came down here […]
With one week before the scheduled adjournment of March 12, the 2016 General Assembly is nearing completion on all major issues. In fact, it will be a surprise to me if we do not adjourn a day or two early this year. On two prior occasions, in 2000 and just last year, the legislature finished […]
The 2016 Session of the General Assembly is now in warp speed. We are merely two weeks from adjournment, and it seems everybody is in two or three places at the same time. Whether you are presenting a bill before a committee, hearing other presentations in other committees, meeting with constituents or other individuals who […]
The 2016 Session of the General Assembly has crossed the midpoint. Only three weeks remain to complete our work. Crossover came and went, and as usual, tough votes were put off until the end. I voted no on a couple, but “no” doesn’t always mean “absolutely not.”
Crossover for the 2016 Session of the Virginia General Assembly is at hand. On Wednesday, February 17, all bills that remain under consideration will have crossed over to the other body for action. We will begin the process of serious negotiation on the budget and will have a better idea of which bills stand the […]
We are rapidly approaching the midpoint of the 2016 General Assembly Session. In legislative lingo, the midpoint is called the crossover, that period when Senate bills crossover to the House of Delegates and House bills crossover to the Senate. To this point, much of the work has been handled by committees that meet around the […]
The General Assembly session is moving along quickly. Committees meet early in the morning and late into the evening. The swirl of receptions, which has always accompanied the process, continues to occur, but they are less well attended than ever. Legislators are not only more conscious of the freebies, but the past week’s snow storm […]
The 2016 Session of the General Assembly has now been through its first full week. Days full of work make the time pass quickly. A 60-day session suffers under the misnomer of the “long” session and the odd numbered year 46-day sessions are the “short” sessions. We handle about the same amount of work in […]
The 2016 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly is off and running. The long sessions are held in even years and are significant because we will be adopting a new two-year budget. Due to our budget cycle, this is the first year Governor McAuliffe has an opportunity to put forward his vision for the […]
2015 Virginia General Assembly Session
The 2015 Special Session of the General Assembly was over before it began. The Governor called the legislature into a Special Session to begin on August 17 to respond to a federal ruling on the 3rd Congressional District. Specifically, the court, sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia, found that the 3rd Congressional District constituted […]
April 15 was more than Tax Day this year. Indeed, the legislature came back into session on Tax Day to consider the Governor’s amendments and vetoes to legislation passed during the 2015 General Assembly Session. Typically Senators and Delegates return to Richmond to consider handfuls of amendments and a few vetoes. This year was atypical […]
The 2015 Session of the General Assembly is history. While we passed over 1500 bills and resolutions, the Session will be remembered for a handful of things including reforming the transportation funding formula, adopting a new ethics bill that changes very little, and adjourning a day early. The Session will also be remembered for what […]
With a week to go until the scheduled February 28 adjournment, the Virginia General Assembly is moving steadily along. From what I hear, few areas of controversy remain in the budget deliberations. I still think it is possible, though not as likely as I previously thought, that we adjourn a day or two early.
The 2015 Session of the General Assembly is hurtling toward adjournment. The word around here is that we may complete our work earlier than the scheduled February 28 adjournment. Election year jitters, and a clear partisan majority in both houses, makes it less likely we will find ourselves at a stalemate this year. Medicaid expansion, […]
The midpoint of the 2015 General Assembly Session has passed. We are nearing crossover, the point when the Senate and House of Delegates must complete work on bills generated by its members. While the budget remains the focus, a number of controversial issues have come before the Senate thus far. With respect to mental health, […]
The 46 day session is moving rapidly. Subcommittees and committees are meeting around the clock, which leaves little time for reflection. This week I will address a couple of the issues I am working on. First, Senate Bill 1252 requires colleges and university employees to notify law enforcement officers within 24 hours of a report […]
The 2015 Session of the Virginia General Assembly is underway. This is a short session, scheduled to adjourn on February 28, 2015, so the work will be fast and furious. We will deal with some hefty matters this session, but as usual, budgetary issues will control much attention. Virginia’s economy is changing in fundamental ways, […]
The 2015 General Assembly Session is just around the corner. A number of bills have already been introduced, which you can review here. Over the next two months I will spotlight a bill or two of interest every week and hope to solicit feedback from constituents. During the 2014 Session and over the summer, advocates […]
2014 Virginia General Assembly Session
The 10th of November saw a reconvening of the Virginia General Assembly during what seems to be a never ending session. Not since 2001 has the General Assembly been in session this long. While these extended sessions do not often occur, I fear the Jeffersonian ideal of a part-time citizen legislature is in jeopardy. A […]
On the evening of the 23rd of June 2014, the General Assembly went back into session to consider Governor McAuliffe’s vetoes to the budget. You will recall from my last missive that I suggested that the Governor could use his constitutional power to line item veto certain articles in the budget, specifically the punitive language […]
Last week saw the passage of a state budget and also the potential demise of Medicaid expansion in Virginia. Two dramatic events of the previous few days drove the results of the Special Session. Resignation of Senator Phillip Puckett First, word leaked out gradually on June 6th and June 7th of the sudden resignation of […]
After the Special Session began on the 24th of March, I started to write a column that never got published. The column began as follows: I have always thought that it is important to maintain a sense of wonder, a sense of amazement at life’s twists and turns. That sense of wonder keeps you from […]
Final Update from 2014 Session The 2014 Session of the General Assembly is over; we adjourned on Saturday. However, the main work, the budget, remains to be accomplished. The General Assembly will go back into session on the 24th of March to try to finalize a spending plan for the next biennium. Impasse over Medicaid […]
Last Week of the Virginia General Assembly Session Every year as the General Assembly session winds down, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the things that have been accomplished, the things yet to accomplish, and perhaps the missed opportunities. With less than a week left before the scheduled adjournment of the 2014 […]
Nearing Sine Die The 2014 session of the General Assembly is rapidly moving toward the scheduled adjournment on March 8. Both houses passed competing budgets this past week and bills are headed to conference. On Thursday the House and the Senate passed out their respective versions of the biennial budget. As with all legislation, the […]
Crossover and Medicaid Expansion This past week the General Assembly saw the crossover and lots of chest thumping. Both sides, Republicans in the House of Delegates and Democrats in the Senate, claimed to be the source of all things moderate and reasonable. The proof, however, is in the pudding, and people can make their own […]
The 2014 session rolls on, and we are nearing crossover. Crossover is the time when the Senate must complete work on bills introduced in the Senate, and the House must complete work on bills introduced in the House. It’s called the crossover because after it occurs, the bills cross over to the other house for […]
This past week saw significant changes at the Virginia General Assembly. Nearly half way into the 2014 session two new senators were seated. Since both senators, Jennifer Wexton from Loudoun County and Lynwood Lewis from Accomack County, are Democrats, the balance of power shifted in the Senate of Virginia. With 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans, […]
The 2014 session of the General Assembly is streaking by and will soon be a memory. This year’s session is memorable for several reasons. First, it is the first year of a new governorship, which always brings a certain level of excitement, together with a period of uncertainty as new people get accustomed to new […]
The 2014 Session is well underway. This year, like every year, we have challenges to conquer to meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s 8.3 million residents. Before we get to those challenges, we have to go through the ceremony that is required every four years. Last week, Governor McDonnell gave his farewell address highlighting his achievements over the […]
2013 Virginia General Assembly Session
The 2013 Session of the General Assembly of Virginia is now complete, and conventional wisdom has been turned on its ear. Typically, in a state election year the legislature avoids major initiatives. Delegates and senators, who are on the ballot in odd numbered years (delegates every two years, senators every four) are leery of doing […]
The 2013 Session of the General Assembly will soon be history. Many issues have been addressed and changes, good and bad, have been made in the law. My own legislative agenda has met with success and failure. As we go into the last couple of days, a small amount of important work remains. Transportation Funding […]
We are at a crisis in transportation. In years past Virginia’s highways were lauded as some of the best in the land. In fact, our system has traditionally been recognized as one of the best in the country. But not anymore. Something in excess of 44 percent of our bridges and tunnels are structurally deficient. […]
The 2013 Session of the General Assembly is rapidly winding down. This past week saw the crossover, when each side completes work on its own bills, and passage of the House and Senate budgets. We also saw an end to the redistricting conflict that has embroiled the Senate for the past three weeks. On Wednesday, […]
We have reached the midpoint of the 2013 Session of the General Assembly. Crossover will occur on Tuesday, the 5th of February. The Senate must complete all work on Senate Bills and the House must act on all House Bills by that date. This week saw a flurry of activity on a number of major […]
The only thing predictable about a “short” session is that the days will be full and pass by quickly. We are more than a third of the way through the 46 day session and had real fireworks this past week. On Monday, the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day and the second inauguration of President […]
The 2013 Session of the Virginia General Assembly is moving rapidly toward the crossover, the date when each house has to finish work on its respective bills. The short, 46-day session does not leave much time for delay or maneuver. Things move fast, and many issues of importance have already come up for debate. This past […]
The 2013 Session of the General Assembly began on an unseasonably mild January 9. This is the short session, meaning that the legislature will be in session only 46 days. Adjournment is scheduled for the 23rd of February. We are charged with adopting amendments to the 2012 – 2014 budget and dealing with over 2000 […]
Deeds and Toscano Introduce Redistricting Commission Bill (Charlottesville, VA – January 4, 2013) – Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds and House of Delegates Democratic Leader David Toscano are introducing a bill to reform the redistricting process. The bill will amend the Virginia Constitution to establish the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a bipartisan group that would create […]
The General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 9, 2013. The filing period for new bills is underway. You can review all legislation at https://lis.virginia.gov/. If you have any suggestions or legislative ideas, please send me an email at [email protected]