Archive for the ‘General Assembly 2009’ Category
Members of the Virginia General Assembly are back in town today to revisit vetoes handed down by Governor Tim Kaine from this year’s legislative session. While the vetoes are what brings the lawmakers to town, the top issue on the agenda will be a fight to change the state’s unemployment benefit standards in order to qualify for additional stimulus money from Washington.
While on the surface this issue seems to be a no brainer, expect the fight at the Capitol to be a bit contentious. Governor Kaine has argued that extending benefits to certain groups is worth the added expense to employers because it will allow the state to take advantage of this additional aid and he believes Virginia’s current benefits are among the worst in the country.
Republicans, particularly in the House of Delegates, are not too keen on the idea of placing an additional burden on business owners in this tight economy and they see this as an opportunity to voice their displeasure with the big spending going on in Washington. Democrats in the House are very aware that it is their chamber that could be the only thing standing in the way of enacting these changes to the jobless benefits package. Yesterday members of their leadership team attempted to get out in front of the issue by holding a conference call to state the case that the measure should be passed.
Andy Jenks is covering this story for us today on NBC12. He will have complete reports tonight at 5 and 6. I will also update Decision Virginia with the latest news on the vote and any other interesting developments that come out of today’s session.
Governor Tim Kaine is playing on a much different stage than he was a year ago at this time. The Virginia Governor was virtually unknown outside the Commonwealth and the decisions he made as a centrist Democrat could easily be measured by the public opinion polling within the state.
Kaine has quickly become a national figure. It is a position he settled into after being seriously considered as Barack Obama‘s running mate and is ensconced in as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Kaine can no longer ride the moderate fence initially built by Mark Warner and expect there to be no repercussions. He may not be able to, but he is still going to try.
On Monday Kaine announced that he was going to sign into law a controversial proposal that would allow “Choose Life” license plates in Virginia. The plates were strongly pushed by the pro-life community and strongly opposed by the pro-choice lobby. Kaine has had a topsy-turvy relationship with the volatile abortion issue. He claims to be “personally opposed” to the concept, but has committed to accepting it as the law of the land. It is a delicate balance for a man who speaks openly about his Catholic faith. The Roman Catholic church is strictly opposed to abortion.
More about the challenge of being Governor and party chief as well as video of Kaine explaining his support for the bill after the jump..
Richmond area Delegate Frank Hall just put out a release announcing his intention to retire from the Virginia House of Delegates. Hall plans on stepping down effective April 14.
He has represented the 69th District for 34 sessions.
The full release is below:
~ Del. Frank Hall to retire from House of Delegates ~
RICHMOND—Delegate Franklin P. Hall announced today his intention to retire as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the 69th district, effective April 14th, 2009
“As I prepare to leave the General Assembly – after 34 sessions – I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank the people of this community for the confidence they have placed in me. Serving in the House of Delegates has been a privilege, a pleasure, and a great honor.”
“By working with constituents, consumers, advocates, and each other, we have been able to foster a public policy that promoted programs designed to better serve the public interest.”
“Working together, we have been able to enhance the Commonwealth’s reputation as well-governed, compassionate, and business friendly. For this opportunity I am immensely grateful to the people of the 69th district.”
In the moments after the House of Delegates finally passed a version of the smoking ban that he found palatable, Governor Tim Kaine told reporters that he was going to sign the bill in the “fastest drying ink I can find.” Today, without much fanfare the Governor’s office released his plan to sign the bill into law Monday at an event held at a restaurant in Virginia Beach.
According to the release of his public schedule the Governor is expected to sign the bill in front of a health advocates, legislative patrons, and other stake holders.
The details of the event are below:
Smoking Ban Bill Signings. Governor Kaine will be joined by health advocates, legislative patrons, and other stake holders as he signs legislation from the 2009 General Assembly session that bans smoking in restaurants throughout the Commonwealth.
When: 2:00 p.m.
Where: Croc’s 19th Street Bistro
620 19th Street
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Governor Tim Kaine just wrapped up a lengthy press gaggle where he discussed the end of his final legislative session as the Virginia’s top elected official. As you might imagine, the discussion was centered around the budget.
Kaine said that this was the most difficult budget process Virginia has had to face in “many, many years”. He said he was happy that despite the challenges this budget presented that the final product turned out to be closest to the one he had originally submitted of any during his tenure.
The Governor gave the most credit to his friend in the White House Barack Obama. Kaine said that if not for the Obama stimulus plan, the state would be in much worse shape than it turned out to be. He quantified the $800 million used to fill holes in the budget plan but pointing to the impact it would have in just one area: state personnel. He said that without the cash, 7,100 state employees would’ve been laid off and he would have been force to institute furlough across the board.
The Virginia House of Delegates just passed the state budget by a vote of 90-8. The Senate is now in the process of passing the same bill as well. If that goes as planned the next step is the Governor’s desk.
Governor Tim Kaine is scheduled to meet with the media at 6:30 tonight. We will have a crew there and have more during our 11pm news.
Lawmakers at the state capitol struck a deal last night that could mean that session will end on time. Today is supposed to be the final day of votes for this short session, and both houses are expected to take up the new agreed to budget plan as soon as 4pm.
We will have the latest on the budget process, including what changes that have been made that could impact you tonight on NBC12 news at 6pm.
**UPDATE** The House of Delegates is in recess until 5pm. The Senate until 4:30pm. No budget votes are expected until then and it could go even later. (quick updates at twitter.com/ryanobles)
Here is the AP’s story on where the budget stands right now:
RICHMOND, Va . (AP) – House and Senate budget negotiators reached a tentative midnight agreement Friday on amendments to the state’s cash-starved $77 billion budget.
The accord leaves in doubt whether the General Assembly will take a rushed final vote on the 16-month spending blueprint late Saturday or adjourn late for the sixth time in eight years.
Six senators and six House members bickered right up to the moment they sealed the deal with a handshake minutes before 12 a.m.
The consensus the two sides reached uses about $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money to offset a $3.7 billion shortfall, the deepest on record in Virginia.
It would restore most of the cuts a plunging economy and poor tax collections forced on health care, public safety and education.
(c) 2009. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
I just got done interviewing Rep. Eric Cantor about tonight’s Presidential address by Barack Obama. We talked about a wide range of topics including the President’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthy and the merits of bi-partisanship. I also got his take on how he feels the stimulus money (which will come from a plan he voted against) should be spent in Virginia.
A number of prominent Republican governors across the country have talked about not taking some or all of the stimulus money. Some GOP lawmakers in Richmond have criticized Governor Tim Kaine‘s plan to fill a large gap in the state’s budget with stimulus cash.
Cantor’s take was simple. If the money won’t be specifically be used to “Preserve, protect or create jobs” it should be left on the table.
Listen to the entire soundbite, and read the transcript after the jump.
**DON’T FORGET TO JOIN IN TONIGHT AT 8:45 at www.nbc12.com FOR OUR LIVEBLOG OF THE OBAMA SPEECH**
We are now just waiting for Governor Tim Kaine‘s signature before the smoking ban officially becomes law. We spoke to the Governor and Del. Chris Peace about the issue.
Tonight at 11 on NBC12, I’ll have another live report from the State Capitol, where we will hear what Virginians have to say about this new law, which will take effect December 1st.
I have a complete report on NBC12 coming up at 5 and 6. We will hear from Gov. Tim Kaine to get his thoughts on this important legislative victory and from local Del. Chris Peace who voted against the measure.
I will have more here later as well and updates on my twitter page.