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 same form and being read three times before a vote is taken, there are certain rules the legislature adopts each session to govern the conduct of business. One function of those rules is to set forth exactly how much time each body has to consider its own bills, including its version of the budget. The crossover, when the Senate and House have to finalize action on bills that originated in their own chamber, is February 13. With the budget bill, a few more days are granted. We will not vote on our respective versions of the budget until February 22.
This session has brought some uncertainty, for a couple of important reasons. [Read more…]
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, but it is hard to believe we are already over two and a half weeks into the 2018 Session. Committee meetings occupy most of the mornings and afternoons, and the daily floor sessions are getting longer.
Medicaid expansion remains one of the priority issues this legislative session. In my newsletters in the past, I have outlined many of the benefits and potential concerns about expanding Medicaid. The bottom line is that Medicaid expansion would provide coverage to nearly 400,000 Virginians, seventy-five percent of whom work full-time or live with someone who does. The population we are discussing is the working poor: people who cannot get insurance through their employer and do not make enough to afford private insurance. Virginians are paying for Medicaid expansion through increased taxes contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We are just not receiving the benefits of those taxes, which were not repealed during the first year of the new federal administration. In terms of cost, the federal government pays no less than 90 percent of expansion. In fact they paid 100 percent during the first few years. We lost out on that opportunity. Now it is down to 92.5 percent. We are spending state revenues because of our decision not to expand, so expansion would add nearly $130 million to Virginia’s budget. Expansion would allow us to ease the pain of many rural hospitals struggling to deal with federal cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates. The money we save and the increased access to services would allow us to fulfill much of our vision to improve our mental health system. Medicaid expansion is critically important to me, and I will continue to beat the drum. [Read more…]
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 2018 Session. He laid out his accomplishments and his suggestions for the future. Governor McAuliffe and I have had our differences, as any two individuals would, but he’s been a good governor and good for Virginia. Life must be lived with urgency. This is particularly true for our governors. You only have four years. Terry McAuliffe has served with more enthusiasm and energy and a greater sense of urgency than any governor since Jerry Baliles.
On Saturday Ralph Northam will be inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ralph has been a friend of mine for many years, and I look forward to working with him. [Read more…]