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. [Read more…]
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 death from complications of COVID-19 brought home the real consequences of this novel coronavirus. While the vaccines have been developed and everyone is tired of social distancing and wearing facemasks, we must remain careful. Until a sufficient number of people are vaccinated, we will not have this disease under control. [Read more…]
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 every day during the 65- and 84-day spans. During a regular session, legislators typically go home to spend time with family or to work their full-time jobs on the weekends. The special session met even more sporadically.
Politically, this year saw the return of Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate and a lot of pent-up demand from Democratic constituencies. The change in power meant the General Assembly was busy. [Read more…]
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 a few days a week in person, and the House is meeting remotely for committee meetings and floor sessions. So the session goes on.
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 matters, for the most part have yet to be considered. The first few weeks of this special session has been consumed by other issues, such as the eviction crisis and utility bills, and by criminal justice reform. [Read more…]