We are now one week away from the scheduled end of our 60-day legislative session. This week was a productive week for the House of Delegates. We are finishing committee work, reviewing amendments from the Senate, and continuing to work on the budget. As we wind down our General Assembly session, I want to update you on a few important areas.
This past week, Governor McAuliffe announced his veto of Senate Bill 21, which is identical to a House bill that would require General Assembly approval before Virginia complies with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan regulations. This legislation would protect the Commonwealth from expending taxpayer resources on a set of unconstitutional regulations that are now being reviewed in court. In fact, the Supreme Court stayed the official implementation of the plan because it may be unconstitutional.
Because of the Governor’s veto, the House included a budget amendment that would prohibit any funds from being spent to comply with the Clean Power Plan. This budget amendment will effectively stop the Governor from continuing to implement this plan without approval of the Commonwealth’s elected representatives.
The domestic violence legislation that passed the House earlier this session is making progress in the Senate. Several bills that would combat domestic violence by enacting tougher penalties for repeat offenders passed out of Senate committee and will be making their way onto the Senate floor in the next several days. Legislation to empower women to protect themselves from domestic violence offenders has already passed the Senate and is awaiting signature by the Governor. All of the bills received broad, bipartisan support and show that the House is leading the effort to combat domestic violence.
Last week, I detailed the House’s budget proposal. The House budget is a strong, conservative, and structurally balanced two-year budget that invests in the core functions of government while protecting taxpayer dollars. I am proud to report that our budget passed by a wide bipartisan margin in the House. The Senate also passed their version of the two-year budget.
We now begin the budget conference process to work out the differences between the two budgets. The Speaker has named House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico), Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun), and Delegate Luke Torian (D-Prince William) as the budget conferees.
The Senate and House conferees met throughout the week to discuss a final budget proposal. The House remains committed to conservative principles and ensuring the final budget does not contain any tax or fee increases, reduces the amount of bond borrowing, and increases the Commonwealth’s “rainy day fund” that acts as a savings account. I am confident we will pass a budget before the General Assembly adjourns next week.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do my job representing you better. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on our social media page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.