Senate Finance Adds Contingency Clause to House Bills; House Subcommittee Recommends Killing Two Constitutional Amendments; Plexiglass Gone from the Senate

RICHMOND, Virginia – As the legislature approaches its March 12 adjournment, legislators are working on budget negotiations, wrapping up their consideration of other bills, and continuing to return to pre-COVID-19 operations.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a number of bills from the House of Delegates, but at the beginning of the meeting Committee Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) warned that the committee would add a financial contingency clause to several of the bills that aren’t currently funded in budget proposals. Health and Human Resources Subcommittee Chair Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) presented the subcommittee’s report on many bills.

Addressing Howell, he said, “We had the issue that you referred to as you began the meeting where on a number of them, there was not an allocation of funds coming from the House. So, we’re going to have, obviously, resource issues as we enter conference in terms of whether or not we can support all these good ideas that we’re going to advance today with the clause.”

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Virginia House of Delegates, Senate Pass Budget Bills with Competing Tax Policy

RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates and the Senate have passed their separate budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023. Both chambers debated floor amendments to the bills on Thursday before passing them, but the final versions are broadly similar to the proposals announced earlier this week. Each chamber’s proposal is based on former Governor Ralph Northam’s budget proposal, but the money committees made significant amendments before sending them to be passed out of the House and Senate. The Senate bill contains fewer tax cuts than the House bill, allowing for more spending, while the House bill is closer to the tax policy Governor Glenn Youngkin has called for. The two chambers now enter a process of working to a compromise.

Senate Finance Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) told the Senate that the proposal fulfilled promises made amid spending cuts during earlier hard times.

“In this budget we’ve done that, by making significant investments in education, natural resources,  public safety, and human services. We’re also chipping away a funding cap on support positions for K-12 education over both years of the biennium, embracing increased teacher and state employee pay, and adding to those compensation increases a one-time bonuses for teachers and state employees,” Howell said.

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Senate Budget Amendment Would Block Richmond’s Second Attempt to Get a Casino

The Senate Finance Committee killed a bill that would have blocked the City of Richmond from holding another casino referendum, after voters voted against a casino proposal in 2021. The bill would have granted the opportunity to build the casino to nearby Petersburg instead, and some committee members expressed a desire to study the potential implications of a Petersburg casino. The February 10 vote against the bill left the door open for Richmond to try again, and take the last of five casino licenses in Virginia. Now, Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is pushing to block Richmond through a budget amendment.

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Facing a Skeptical Senate, Youngkin Enlists Virginians to Pitch Tax Cuts to Legislators

CHESAPEAKE, Virginia – The day after celebrating his first major legislative win, Governor Glenn Youngkin is anticipating a bigger battle over the budget. On Thursday, he began touring Virginia to tout his tax reduction plans and enlist locals across the commonwealth in an effort to woo legislators. He made stops in Leesburg, Chesterfield, and Chesapeake.

“Now, because we are where we are in our legislative cycle, now there’s another three weeks or so of work to be done. And I need your help,” Youngkin said at his Chesapeake stop to an audience of local politicians and business leaders.

“I need you to talk to your elected representatives. Talk to your delegates. Call your senators. Send them a note. We need to cut taxes,” he said.

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Manchin Objects to Dems’ Billionaire Tax, Saying They ‘Create a Lot of Jobs’

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin came out against his party’s plan to tax billionaires in order to finance their social-spending package just hours after it was first released.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like the connotation that we’re targeting different people,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday morning, describing billionaires as people who “contributed to society and create a lot of jobs and a lot of money and give a lot to philanthropic pursuits.”

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Virginia General Assembly Passes Compromise ARPA Allocation Bill

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax sp ... inance Chair Senator Janet Howell.

RICHMOND, Virginia – After hammering out a compromise between the House of Delegates and the Senate, the Virginia General Assembly voted to send its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) budget bill to Governor Ralph Northam. The bill passed the House 78-20 and passed the Senate 23-16.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said that she and other senators fought for the Senate’s amendments in a conference committee with representatives from the House.

“As you look at the conference report you will see that on several items our position was affirmed, and on others we were able to compromise,” she reported to the Senate.

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Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Delays Confirming Biden’s CBP Head

Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden will delay President Joe Biden’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) head confirmation until the federal government answers about how officials responded to civil unrest in Portland, Oregon, last year, CNN Politics reported Thursday.

Wyden said he would not advance Tucson, Arizona, Police Chief Chris Magnus‘ confirmation to CBP commissioner, according to CNN. Wyden won’t move forward with Magnus’ nomination “until DHS and DOJ give Oregonians some straight answers about what they were up to in Portland last year, and who was responsible,” the senator said in a statement.

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Senate Report Slams Bidens for Conflicts of Interest, Flags Possible Criminal Activity

by John Solomon   A year-long Senate investigation concluded Wednesday that Hunter Biden’s efforts to cash in on foreign business deals during his father’s vice presidency raised alarm among U.S. government officials, who perceived an ethical conflict of interest and flagged concerns about possible criminal activity ranging from bribery to…

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