It’s been quite a week.
After crossover, the House hears all of the bills that passed the Senate. Some are similar or even identical to bills that have already passed the House. Others, however, are very different from the House version, or raise new issues.
It has been an unusual year post-crossover. Given the partisan divide between the two chambers, and the dynamics created by the upcoming election, most controversial bills have died in one chamber or the other. From my perspective, the Democratic majority in the Senate has done a terrific job of stopping the numerous awful bills the House Republican majority sent to the Senate. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: House Republicans have voted down most of the really good bills coming from the Senate.
One such good bill was SB1484, which would ban firearms on the campus of public universities. Many public universities have regulations in place that already ban firearms on campus, yet those bans are not criminally enforced. SB1484 was introduced to correct that and ban firearms on every public college campus. The bill would help keep our college kids safe. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that SB1484 was killed in the House Public Safety subcommittee this week.
Wednesday was the deadline for the budget bill and all revenue bills to be put in conference. The budget remains a work in progress. I remain hopeful that a budget will be produced that reflects Virginians’ values.
But time is growing short, and I am told budget conferees have not even held their first meeting. The gulf is huge. The Governor’s insistence on another massive tax cut for corporations and wealthy Virginians drains $1 billion from the proposed House budget, while the Senate budget uses that $1 billion for our teachers and public schools, health care, mental health, and other pressing needs. Rumors are beginning to circulate about needing more time, and a possible special session. I hope not.
Three of my bills, HB1581, HB1590, and HB1587 have all passed the Senate and will be headed to the Governor’s desk.
The Affordable Energy Act (HB1604), the bill I am carrying with Delegate Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) and its Senate counterpart (SB1321) carried by Senators Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville), is wending its way through the process. This will be an important step forward for electricity rate reform, and will save Virginia ratepayers money. It has drawn broad bipartisan support, and even support from interest groups that rarely align politically. Take a look at this supportive article recently in the Roanoke Times, written by the leaders of Appalachian Voices and Americans for Prosperity. Please click here to view the article.
I was pleased to meet this week with the Arc of Virginia, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Virginia. The VFW is a veterans’ service organization dedicated to caring for those who have served in the U.S. military, their families, and our local communities. It was an honor to meet with these patriots.
I also met with activists advocating for the defense of the Virginia Clean Economy Act and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Virginians overwhelmingly support the Virginia Clean Economy Act nearly 2 to 1 (62%-33%), according to Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center. I will continue to make it my priority to defend the VCEA, RGGI, our Clean Cars initiative, and our progress on energy and the environment against the efforts of the Governor and his Republican allies in the General Assembly to reverse our progress. Not only is it good policy, but Virginians overwhelmingly support it.
The week started with the annual Capitol Classic charity basketball game that raises money for VCU’s Massey Cancer Center. There are actually two games. The first is between the Governor and his staff and Richmond lobbyists. The second—the real event—pits House members and staff against members and staff of the Senate. The House has a 7-game winning streak against the Senate. Unlike the Super Bowl last week these games are usually not competitive. I am pleased to report that the House won the game, of course—in dominant fashion. My Chief of Staff John Daniels even participated in the game. Please see below.
Come down and say hello if you can, and if my office or I can be of any help to you, please be in touch at 804-698-1048 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.