My constituents continue to ask me if the House of Delegates is different in light of the dramatic change in composition brought on by the Blue Wave Democratic victories last fall. The answer is both a resounding “yes” and a more complicated “no.” Six highlights from this session (including the special session) help explain why this is so [Read more…]
House and Senate Pass Historic Budget with Medicaid Expansion
After almost two months of waiting, the General Assembly has passed a historic budget that expands access to Medicaid for more than 300,000 Virginians. It took a five-year fight in Richmond to get this done, and the battle could not have been won without the efforts of so many Virginians who pushed, especially at the ballot box, for this initiative.
This budget is probably the best I have seen in my twelve years in the General Assembly.
House Passes Budget with Medicaid Expansion — Governor’s Vetoes Sustained
We returned to the special session in Richmond on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to debate the House Budget. The House budget includes Medicaid Expansion, which accesses federal dollars that are incorporated into our budget so that we can fund critical needs of the Commonwealth while insuring some 400,000 Virginians who do not yet have coverage. The House budget passed with a strong bipartisan majority. It is time to pass Medicaid Expansion in Virginia. [Read more…]
Back to Richmond — No Medicaid Expansion Yet
Since the House and Senate could not agree on a budget during the regular General Assembly Session, which adjourned in March, the Governor has called us back for a Special Session to get it done. The Special Session begins April 11, 2018, but no action will occur immediately on the budget. The new budget bill introduced by Governor Northam will have to go through the regular committee process just like the previous one. The House Appropriations Committee will begin its work quickly, and so it’s entirely possible that a House budget will be ready in time for floor debate on Tuesday, April 17 – but this could change depending on scheduling. We expect that the House budget will include Medicaid expansion and the hospital provider assessment, which allows us to expand without use of additional state dollars, much like it did in the regular Session, but we are not sure yet what will be included in the Senate’s budget. Because the Senate initially rejected Medicaid expansion and the provider assessment, its budget cut more than $400 million from education and other services that would have been funded by accepting the federal Medicaid dollars. While there has been some recent media coverage suggesting that Medicaid expansion will be adopted by the Senate, nothing is assured until the green lights go up on the vote board, and there will need to be considerable negotiations before a final budget compromise is reached. The momentum is positive, but Senate Republican leadership is now the main barrier, and we need to keep advocating for expansion. More than 7,000 citizens in our area would benefit from Medicaid expansion and it would certainly help our local hospitals by recapturing some of the money that would otherwise be spent on indigent care. You can watch the online live stream of the special session here. [Read more…]
Overtime—Special Session to be Convened
The 2018 General Assembly Session adjourned on Saturday, March 10, without voting on a final budget bill. This is unusual but not unprecedented; in my first year, 2006, we deadlocked on a budget until June 28, and in 2014 we did not have a budget until June 23. I am confident we will pass a budget, but it appears that it will take some time for the House and the Senate to come to an agreement. I fully expect that if we do not have a budget early enough to fund government operations on July 1, Gov. Northam will likely propose a new budget and require us to vote on it. [Read more…]
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