I knew this week would be hectic preparing for Crossover’s midnight deadline on Tuesday and the Budget coming to the House floor on Thursday. I never imagined Virginia also would be hit with deadly tornadoes and strong storms that sent those of us in our downtown offices, hotels and business establishments scurrying to obey instructions to take appropriate cover.
While Richmond escaped tornado damage, Waverly, Appomattox, Tappahannock and Ararat were struck hard. Thankfully, no lives were lost in Ararat, but my heart aches for all who suffered property and other losses.
I send my greatest appreciation to all the first responders who led and carried out emergency responses. Thank you, too, to neighbors, church members, businesses, and others who continue to assist Ararat’s residents in their time of need.
In my last report, Week #6, I covered most of the contents of the two-year proposed budget. This budget was presented by the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) on Sunday, February 21, to the full House.
As a member of the HAC and chairman of the Compensation and Retirement (C&R) Subcommittee, I reported C&R’s recommendations for state and state-supported local employees salary and VRS retirement actions and state employee health insurance coverage. The full HAC accepted my report and reports from other subcommittee chairs. The budget went to the full House for a vote on Thursday.
This year we changed the rules to increase from 24 hours to at least 48 hours for members and the public to review the budget prior to our voting on it. The House is committed to transparency, and this additional review time also provides more time for delegates who are not members of the HAC to examine the budget prior to voting. Full copies were available in hard copy and online by Tuesday morning.
On the House Floor on Thursday, members raised 28 objections and 28 floor amendments. We processed these by the end of the day and passed the resulting House budget in a fully bipartisan manner 98-2. The Senate was taking similar actions on their budget and now six House members and six Senate members will meet as conferees to negotiate and reconcile the differences.
Upon agreement of the conferees, the resulting bill (HB30) will be voted up or down before we end session, scheduled for March 12.
For technical clarification, there are two budget bills, HB29 and HB30, to pass. HB29 concerns the current fiscal year July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. This bill is necessary to update this year’s actual revenue and spending items through June 30. The bill of major interest is, of course, is HB30, which concerns the next two years July 1, 2016 –June 30, 2018.
I said at the beginning of session that I and my House Republican Caucus came to Richmond this year to address the effective and efficient government delivery of core services, promote economic development and jobs, and pass a conservative, balanced budget without increasing taxes and fees. This budget does all of that.
In short, we came to Richmond to govern on behalf of the citizens of our Commonwealth and did exactly that. I am pleased to have been a part of preparing the budget and voting “Yea” for its passage.
In addition to budget matters, we continued to process bills. This week my HB263, containing a ‘friendly’ amendment requested by the Senate, passed the House 100-0 and went to the Governor for his signature. The bill updates the membership of the Western Virginia Public Education Consortium to reflect the correct House and Senate representation.
My HB590 was considered and passed 39-0 in the Senate and has gone to the Governor. HB590 is a government agency efficiency bill that eliminates duplicate reporting by the Tax Department and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).
We scheduled few visitors this week due to budget and bills work. Several expected visitors’ plans changed due to the storm’s impact on their lives. Even with that, I met with several people from Stuart. Abigail Vass came to speak to me on behalf of the Patrick County 4-H. Also from Patrick County, Gerald Williams, Betty Moorma, Victor Williams, and Penny Pauliks visited on behalf of Landmark Group. Thank you all for coming.
To arrange a Capitol tour or schedule a meeting with me, contact my legislative assistant William Pace at (804) 688-1009 or DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov.