State and National Government
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed budget amendments met a mixed fate Friday, some clearing the General Assembly and others, including his push for a gas-tax holiday, voted down on a bipartisan basis. Legislators sent the Republican governor a compromise spending plan on June 1, and he returned it earlier this week requesting several dozen amendments. They spent Friday churning through them and also elected two Supreme Court justices.
The governor did not seek changes to many budget provisions that would offer tax relief to families and working people, including one-time rebates. But he did push anew for a three-month suspension of the gas tax, which Democrats and one Republican senator have consistently opposed. “Democrats failed to put politics aside for the good of Virginians — for a third time,” Youngkin tweeted after the amendment failed.
Youngkin’s other amendments involved an array of spending and policy areas, including abortion and criminal law. House Democrats repeatedly accused him of overreaching. Stop trying to legislate failed policy in the budget,” House Minority Leader Don Scott said.
On one amendment, even Republicans who control the House bucked the governor. A Republican made the motion to shelve a proposal to create a new felony penalty for certain actions during demonstrations aimed at judges or other officers of a court. Youngkin advanced the proposal after recent protests outside the northern Virginia homes of some U.S. Supreme Court justices.
The chamber also shelved a companion amendment for funding to the Department of Corrections for a potential increase in prison bed space associated with creating a new felony.
House Speaker Todd Gilbert said his caucus voted against the protest amendment because “it was a unique procedural move that we thought required additional vetting.”
The House agreed to the governor’s other proposals, which then crossed over to face more opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
On a party-line vote, the Senate defeated an amendment to further limit when public funds can be used for abortion services. Currently, Virginia denies state funding to women who are eligible for Medicaid and seek abortions, except when the mother’s life is at risk and in cases of rape, incest or severe fetal diagnoses. The amendment would have eliminated the exception for incapacitating fetal diagnoses.
Senate Democrats also blocked an amendment to provide the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University $1.6 million to research ways “to increase opportunities for K-12 students.” The former governor, a Democrat, has backed Youngkin’s education initiatives.
Also, Senate Democrats voted down an amendment from Youngkin that would have allocated $229,570 in each year to add two support positions to the office of Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, who presides over the chamber. Republicans defended the spending.
For the first time in three decades, Republicans will hold a primary in the 6th Congressional District. Merritt Hale is challenging incumbent Ben Cline for the party’s nomination, a run he says began with a fatal family disease. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:
Hale spoke live this morning on The Roanoke Valley’s Morning News. Here is the full conversation:
Members of the General Assembly will head back to Richmond tomorrow to consider 38 budget amendments announced by Governor Youngkin yesterday. Republican State Senator David Suetterlein spoke about tomorrow’s special session at the Salem-Roanoke County’s Legislative round-up this morning. Both Suetterlein and fellow panelist Joe McNamara, a local Republican delegate, said a 3 month gas tax “holiday” would not impact scheduled construction projects that the tax was designed to support.
The first two of seven planned January 6 committee televised hearings in the House of Representatives has portrayed former President Donald Trump as an election result denier who may have fomented a riot at the US Capitol. But will it have much impact on Trump’s base of support? Our political analyst weighs in, as WFIR’s Gene Marrano reports:
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) – A Washington Commanders assistant coach referring to the Jan. 6 insurrection as a “dust-up at the Capitol” is just the latest off-field controversy for NFL franchise. Jack Del Rio apologized for the language he used when comparing the riot at the U.S. Capitol to protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Multiple Virginia lawmakers cited Del Rio’s comments and other issues with the team as reasons to push off voting on a stadium bill for at least the rest of the year. A Congressional investigation into sexual harassment is ongoing. Owner Dan Synder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have been invited to appear before a House committee later this month.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – An author who’s written extensively about Virginia politics has filed a new lawsuit seeking to force all 100 members of the state’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates to face an unscheduled election this year. The lawsuit brought by Jeff Thomas was filed two days after the dismissal of a similar lawsuit filed by Democratic Party activist Paul Goldman. The 2021 elections were supposed to be the first held under constitutionally required redistricting based on the 2020 census. But because census results were delayed, the state held elections under old legislative boundaries. Thomas argues that voters in his Richmond-area district have had their voting strength and political representation “unconstitutionally diluted or weakened.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The General Assembly is abandoning for the year legislation intended to lure the Washington Commanders to Virginia. That’s according to a top state lawmaker who sponsored one version of the legislation. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said in a brief interview that there were too many issues to be resolved and controversies surrounding the NFL team for the legislation to proceed. He says it could be reintroduced next year. The team said in a statement that it supported the legislature’s decision to “more deeply examine this issue.”