TeamSaslaw's blog

The April edition of the "Richmond Report" is available for reading on the Falls Church News-Press website.

April Richmond Report

Teaser

Since adjourning, my colleagues have used this column space to highlight some of the work of the General Assembly. I want to talk about the missed opportunity of not having a budget. The regular session adjourned with the two Republican-led chambers (both the House and Senate) at an impasse over the biennial budget. The irony in this situation is that it resembles in reverse what occurred in 2014, when the Senate supported expanding Medicaid and the House opposed expansion. Since then the Republicans have maintained a slim majority in the Senate. But the House of Delegates came within two seats of flipping to a Democratic majority with the Blue Wave of 2017. That legislative body got the “memo.” House leaders joined with Democrats to pass an amended financial plan that included expanding Medicaid by drawing down federal monies.

The 2018 General Assembly Session recently ended. Please click the link below for highlights on important issues that make a difference to the 35th Senate District. Also, look for a print edition of this report in your mailbox.

 

2018 End of Session Report


I urge my Senate colleagues to take action on a national problem that far exceeds what occurs in other western societies. The murder rate per 100,000 in this country is 10 times greater than in comparable industrialized democracies. Military-style weapons are in the hands of civilians in America. We are 4.6% of the world’s population but we are home to 43% of all guns not currently held by the military or police. In the absence of the federal government taking action, the states are going to have to react or the voters will.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKXpGGXU0Uo


I don’t normally respond to innocent misspeaks, but when a misspeak is so egregious and misleading, I can’t let it go. Last week, both the House and Senate revealed its plan for how to spend Virginia taxpayer’s money. In a 200-plus page document, several floor amendments were introduced. With the simple majorities, they failed. I stated on the floor and I will repeat it – the Senate proposal, which does not incorporate federal dollars for Medicaid, has significant repercussions for all other aspects of the General Fund. Public education and higher education take significant hits.

However, the real work begins when the conference committee is put together and both chambers stake their claims. If only putting together a biennial spending plan for Virginia was as simple as some neophytes would like you to believe...

Do you need health insurance?

Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2017. This is an earlier deadline than last year. Coverage could be more affordable than you think ($80 to $150 per month). Last year, 80% of applicants qualified for financial assistance.

Free, in-person help is available by calling Enroll Virginia 888-392-5132 or visiting www.enrollva.org to schedule an appointment. It is very important to shop for 2018 plans. Only Kaiser, Cigna, and Carefirst plans are available in Northern Virginia starting Jan. 2018, and gold plans may be less expensive than silver plans.

The Richmond Report is my annual update to constituents in the 35th District. This year's report features a budget update on how your tax-dollars are spent, a robust legislative recap, information and the exciting and growing solar industry in Virginia, and many other important items. I encourage you take a few minutes to peruse the Richmond Report by clicking here.

Highlights of HB 1500 (Budget Bill)

 LIS link to HB 1500

Major Themes

• Addresses priority issues in employee compensation and funding for mental health, public education and higher education.

– Maintains structural balance, with one-time resources matched against one-time spending.

– Maintains commitment to full funding of contributions to VRS.

• Creates a Revenue Reserve for use as a back-stop against a shortfall in FY 2018 or to fund an FY 2019 deposit to the Rainy Day Fund.

– $35.0 million in one-time resources from Tax Amnesty set-aside.

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

The General Assembly reconvened for the Veto Session April 5. It is the legislature’s turn to act on the Governor’s amendments and vetoes to bills that passed during the regular session. In 2013, Virginians elected Terry McAuliffe as governor. During his tenure in office, Governor McAuliffe has been a firewall against unjust and oppressive legislation, a stalwart supporter of women’s health, and proponent of the well-being and economic success of all Virginians. He has worked tirelessly to build a New Virginia Economy. He now holds the “record for most vetoes” by a sitting governor of the Commonwealth.

The Governor has thoughtfully reviewed nearly 1,800 bills passed by both chambers. I applaud his due diligence and am grateful for his veto pen. There is no place for discrimination in the Code of Virginia. The annual attack on the LGBT community is abhorrent and is as hurtful as the anti-immigrant unconstitutional executive orders rolled out by the President singling out individuals on the basis of their religion. Here in Virginia, SB 1262 sought to prohibit sanctuary cities. SB 1324 was designed to promote discrimination based on religious conscience, as we have seen in other states.

Stay up to date on Northern Virginia road conditions by visiting the VDOT Northern Virginia Snow Information page here. The VDOT Northern Virginia Twitter page is also a good source of information here.

The graphic below shows the extent of VDOT's snow removal operations.

 

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