We met again on Monday, June 23, 2014, to consider the Governor’s eight vetoes to the signed 2014-15 budget. There was no discussion about a government “shutdown,” because the budget is signed and takes effect on July 1. The only issues remaining had to do with whether the eight vetoes would be sustained.
As usual, hot-button issues were vetoes that the Governor made involving Medicaid. In procedural moves that are not unlike what happens in Washington, DC, the House Republicans made it impossible to have votes on several of the Governor’s vetoes, including one which involved Medicaid expansion.
It was my view that we should vote on each one of the vetoes. The body could either vote to overrule (a 2/3 vote) or vote to sustain (a 1/3 vote), but I believe that the Governor has a right to veto and constituents have a right to know where their legislators stand on those vetoes. In taking their actions, the House Republicans denied constituents the ability to assess our votes on Medicaid expansion and hold us accountable for them. This is happening with increasing frequency in Virginia, and it is yet another example of how Washington politics is spreading across the Potomac.
By day’s end the House had overruled one of the Governor’s vetoes, which dealt with funding the Ethics Reform Commission and did not contest five other vetoes, which were relatively uncontroversial.
By the time the vetoes arrived at the Senate, there was only one to consider, the Ethics Advisory Council funding. The Senate sustained that veto, meaning that there is no funding for the Council in the coming year. The Governor has indicated that he will propose a stronger ethics bill and will support funding for the Council in January when we reconvene in regular session.
Technically, we remain in “Special Session” and will hopefully reconvene in Richmond soon to discuss the one remaining issue that we have, the filling of vacant judgeships, including one in our area. I have received many questions about this vacancy, and have told constituents that it would be filled after the budget has been finalized. Well, the budget has now been finalized and it is time for us to fill the vacancy. It will be up to the Republican House to determine when we are called back to discuss judges. Hopefully, it will be soon because the citizens in our region deserve to have a full-time permanent judge sitting in the Charlottesville Circuit Court.
As always, it is a pleasure representing you in the General Assembly and I hope that you will contact me with your views and comments about issues affecting the region and the Commonwealth either at my legislative office, 434.220.1660, or at my law office at Buck, Toscano and Tereskerz, 434.977.7977.