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 votes are miscast. Mistakes are made.
The Constitution of Virginia requires that the House and Senate pass legislation in the exact same form in order for the bill to go on to the Governor and become law. Disagreements between the House and Senate have to be resolved through a conference committee process. The House and Senate each appoint a few members to try to resolve differences in the legislation. If they can reach a resolution, the conference reports then go back to both chambers for approval. If the compromise passes both the House and the Senate, the bill then goes on to the Governor. The Governor then has the opportunity to sign into law, amend or veto the legislation. If a bill passes both chambers and is communicated to the Governor more than seven days before the end of session, the Governor must act on the bill before the legislature adjourns. The remaining bills must be acted on by the Governor within 30 days of adjournment. [Read more…]
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 disappear for the year. Certainly that has been the case this year.
Like every year, over 50 firearm-related bills were introduced this session. We considered bills to promote gun safety, to control ownership, and to reduce restrictions on ownership. At least a half dozen of these bills attempted to make it easier to carry a concealed weapon or possess a firearm. At this point in the session, the only bill I think will pass relating to firearm safety is one I introduced, Senate Bill 669. The legislation ensures a minor who is committed involuntarily shall be ineligible to possess or purchase a firearm when he or she comes of age. The law already exists for adults, and many thought this was the state of the law. However, two families reached out to me in recent years about experiences with their loved ones that suggests otherwise. While the bill has moved slowly through the process and people have been trying to research thoroughly the possible nefarious intentions of the bill, it looks like the bill will pass. [Read more…]
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 there is much common ground between the two budgets, there is about a $621 million gap between the two largely due to the House’s adoption of Medicaid expansion. [Read more…]
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. The reduced Republican majority seems resigned to it and apparently wants to put the issue behind them, so it will not control the flow of another election cycle. In the Senate, which was last on the ballot in 2015, the discussion does not appear to be that dramatic. But behind the scenes, the pressure is building. [Read more…]