Both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate today overwhelmingly approved their respective versions of the state’s spending plan. Budget day at the Virginia State Capitol typically reveals how lawmakers really feel about the state of the Commonwealth and how dire things are.
A lot weighs heavily on the House budget, and Appropriations Chair Chris Jones insists that it has much of what Virginia needs-including pay raises for state employees, teachers, and state police, and no cuts to K-12 education.
Virginia’s two big electric companies will escape state regulation of their base rates for up to eight years under a bill which caught opponents by surprise – a measure just approved by the Virginia House. Its sponsor promised a rate freeze for consumers, but your bill could still be going up.
Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have now approved bills that authorize ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to operate in Virginia-but under greater scrutiny. The legislation would apply standards to the companies that are similar to those governing the taxi industry.
The taxicab industry balked at the notion that these companies could not only set up shop and compete for the same customers, but could do so without paying set-up costs, getting insurance, or vetting drivers. House bill sponsor Delegate Tom Rust described the benefits.
Faced with a budget shortfall, state legislators are eyeing a very large piggy bank - the unclaimed cash of Virginia residents being held by the Treasury. About $1.7 billion dollars - that’s billion with a B - is awaiting a call from the rightful owners.
Benjamin Jarvela looks nothing like Santa Claus, but he hopes to give Virginians lots of presents this year. As spokesman for the state’s treasury, he says one in four people has a forgotten utility deposit or some other money in Richmond, waiting to be claimed.
State and local government officials would be subject to more restrictive ethics rules under separate bills that have passed both houses of the General Assembly. The measures lower the cap on gifts that officials may accept from $250 to $100, and remove the distinction between tangible and intangible gifts, such as travel or meals. However, the legislation may not completely have Governor McAuliffe’s seal of approval.