The 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly ended as scheduled. Legislators did not, however, complete work on the session’s primary assignment, the budget. House and Senate negotiators did not reach an agreement on a new two-year spending plan because the Democrat-majority Senate continues to insist on including Medicaid expansion in the budget. Their plan for Medicaid expansion, which they are calling “Marketplace Virginia,” was never presented as a stand-alone bill. Instead, they embedded the scheme in the budget, effectively using funding for schools, public safety, and other core services as leverage to get the House to accept to a…..
This week in Richmond, Virginia’s two-year budget became the latest front in the battle over the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare. And because Governor McAuliffe and Democrat senators have been devoted to the federal healthcare law and fiercely defending it, one of my measures to gather needed information on the law’s impact on Virginians was put on hold by a Senate committee. House Joint Resolution 147 would require the Virginia’s Bureau of Insurance to study ObamaCare’s effects on consumers in Virginia. It wouldn’t change the law or delay its implementation. Virginia cannot unilaterally do that. But,…..
Capitol Square was busy this week, with both the House and the Senate unveiling – and ultimately approving – their respective versions of Virginia’s biennial budget. In even-numbered years, the General Assembly is responsible for approving a two-year spending plan for the Commonwealth. Some years, the process of approving a two-year spending plan is pretty straightforward and reasonably uneventful. That was certainly the case in 2008 and 2010. Although there were genuine disagreements between the priorities of the House and Senate in those years, the differences were able to be ironed-out by budget conferees, which is legislative-speak for negotiators……
Any optimism that winter might be winding down was dashed this week, as Richmond got socked with two days of snow. The inclement weather was sufficient to keep many of the General Assembly Building’s usual inhabitants at home. With very few exceptions though, legislators were in their seats for session every day. This week marked crossover, so both houses had to complete work on all legislation filed by their members. For me, that meant action on two of my remaining bills that had been approved by committees but not by the full House. House Bill 1006, which deals with…..
It was, finally, a snow-free week in Richmond. But since it was the week before crossover, the halfway mark of the legislative session, the General Assembly was considering bills at a quickened pace. Early in the week, my legislation to ensure those who want to serve as volunteer emergency responders, House Bill 1010, was heard by the full House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. As the bill has moved through the legislative process, it has received a lot of commentary from two distinct groups of emergency medical technicians. One group, which has been supportive of the legislation from the…..