Thursday, February 27, 2020

Budget Conferees Named, All Money Bills Wrapped Up

The last two days have been very busy. Both bodies have debated and passed their own budgets. This is done during a very long day of floor debate. The members of the House and Senate debated specific lines in the budget while also trying to add new amendments that were not included in the budgets drafted by each body’s money committee. The House and Senate debated their budget bills for hours and hours.

As you can imagine, after all that work, both the House and Senate believe that they have the best approach to the 2020-2022 biennial budget. However, the legislative process requires that all bills cross over to the other body for consideration. The House budget was rejected by the Senate because they prefer their budget. Same thing happened in the House. That leads to two budget bills with differences.

In the General Assembly that means there needs to be a group assembled to work out a compromise. This process is called conference. The Speaker in the House and the Majority leader in the Senate choose the legislators who serve on the committee of conference. Budget conferees will decide the funding priorities for the biennial budget. They are very powerful in this process. All communication about our needs and requests need to now go directly to the conferees. Here they are:

From the House: Delegates Torian, Sickles, Carr, Bulova, Tyler, Cox, and Knight
From the VA Senate: Senators: Howell, Saslaw, Norment, Hanger, Lucas, Barker, and Locke

We will see the budget conference next week ahead of expected adjournment on Saturday, March 7. 

All eyes really go towards budget, but there is still much work to do with many other bills. My good friends Delegate Lashrecse Aird and Delegate Marcia Price, for the last three session, have taken advantage of quiet times on the House floor and have gone live on Facebook with really informative videos. They generally do these videos when the House is at recess or “at ease” and taking a quick break. They call their installments “At Ease.” Last night’s At Ease does a really good job explaining what is happening in these last few days of session. You need to be able to log into Facebook to see the video, but it is worth the 10 minutes for the lesson.