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…]
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…]
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 rate setting for utility companies. In 2015, Dominion Power pushed a bill through the legislature which essentially froze part of their rates, disabled the State Corporation Commission from rate-setting reviews for a period of years, and locked in Dominion’s revenues. Dominion argued that action was needed because of the expected financial impacts of adoption of the federal Clean Power Plan. I voted against that bill because I thought it was a bad deal for the ratepayers. Interestingly, one of the “concessions” that Dominion made in that deal to get the Governor’s support and that of some environmentally-minded Democrats was a commitment to produce 500 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. That goal was attained in 2017. As anyone who watches the markets knows, the cost of solar energy is going down and the demand is going up. Hindsight being 20-20, we now know that the “concession” made in 2015 was a low bar. [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…]