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…]
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.
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. [Read more…]
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 an opportunity to override or consider the Governor’s actions.
The age of social distancing made it an interesting day. Without question, we all want to get back to work and get back to normalcy as quickly as possible. However it is also clear that social distancing is working. We are slowing the spread of the virus, and therefore saving our medical assets and lives. We are all in this together, and we must be patient. Knowing all of that did not make the Reconvened or Veto Session any easier.
Because of the social distancing rules, the House and Senate could not meet in their chambers in the state Capitol. The Senate arranged for us to meet in a spacious room at the Science Museum of Virginia on Broad Street in Richmond. In that room, we had desks that were spaced six feet apart. We were all required to wear masks, and we were equipped with gloves and hand sanitizer. Debate, questioning and presentation while wearing a face mask made it even more unusual. [Read more…]
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 three percent. The February forecast showed Virginia experiencing about six percent growth to date, so three percent seemed to be a conservative estimate. However, the stock market has fallen more than 25 percent over the last few weeks. We need to be concerned about the economy at this point for several reasons. Major forecasts are predicting a recession this year, so there are a few things we need to take into consideration. [Read more…]