One reason it's prudent for lawmakers to review the fine print of amendments offered to the Virginia state budget is because it may contain legislation that might not pass both houses on its own. Such is the case with an amendment approved by the House and attached to its version of the state budget. It directs the executive branch on how to proceed in controversial cases, such as the lawsuit challenging Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.
Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell and other GOP members of that chamber are characterizing the first half of the General Assembly session as a success.
Howell says many of their key initiatives have passed, and they worked well with Democrats. But when asked if the House will work with the Senate on passing Medicaid expansion, GOP leaders still say they just don't see that happening.
The certification of the election of former Delegate Lynwood Lewis to the Virginia Senate ultimately gives Democrats control over that chamber.
Although its partisan split is now 20-20, Democratic Lt. Governor Ralph Northam presides over the Senate, giving his caucus the tie-breaking vote to pass whatever rules it chooses. Today's order of business was all about Democrats subtly making a statement about control.
Republican State Senator Mark Obenshain is turning to a special court that includes the chief Richmond Circuit Court judge … to aid him in a ballot recount of the closest statewide race in modern Virginia history. Although his Democratic opponent, Mark Herring, has been certified the winner in the Attorney General's election by a 165-vote margin, Obenshain and his team believe there's a chance that votes were missed or might be invalidated.
With the election of Ralph Northam to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, his state senate seat will open, and there will be a special election to replace him. It’s a vote that could have statewide implications.