Pope, Church and State: A Weekly Look at This Year's General Assembly Session

Jan 26, 2018

Throughout Virginia's 2018 General Assembly session, All Things Considered host Luke Church and reporter Michael Pope will break down the highlights from the Capitol each week. It was the last week of the session, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

The session is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, but there's one major task still left to tackle: a final budget agreement. The major sticking point seems to be Medicaid expansion.

The end of the 2018 General Assembly session is in sight, but there are still some big issues to tackle. Gun control reform measures went nowhere, and there are still vast differences over how to reach a final budget agreement.

Money, money, money. The push to approve budget amendments was the main highlight of the session this week. Both chambers reached a final budget, but a showdown over Medicaid expansion could be a major sticking point as budget discussions continue over the next several weeks.

The session reached the halfway point this week.  Democrats and Republicans alike say they've been surprised at how much has been accomplished.  Some big fights likely remain though, including medicaid expansion and the budget.

Lawmakers came together in a bipartisan manner this week to strike a deal that will reform Virginia's criminal justice system. Democrats got to raise the felony theft threshold limit, while Republicans got reform the state's restitution system, which is plagued by hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid money to victims.

Discussions over Medicaid expansion continued this week at the General Assembly. Republicans indicated a desire to potentially compromise, but they want a work requirement to be included in any possible expansion. The debate over Confederate monuments also came to the forefront of discussions this week.

Medicaid expansion was at the forefront of discussions at the General Assembly this week. In addition, many in Richmond are still reeling from the way the tied 94th House District race was decided -- by the luck of the draw. There have been calls on both sides of the aisle to make sure that sort of thing doesn't happen again.

Governor Ralph Northam's honeymoon as the new Governor of Virginia didn't last long, as week two at the General Assembly saw partisan lines reemerge. Republicans saw Northam's first address to the joint chamber as a continuation of rhetoric from out-going Governor Terry McAuliffe. Despite a tense atmosphere in Richmond, there were attempts to move forward with legislation in a bipartisan manner.

The first week of the session was largely centered around outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe, who delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address to the joint chamber. McAuliffe discussed the accomplishments of his administration, although expanding Medicaid coverage in the state was one of his priorities that did not come to fruition.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.