Columnist Jeff Schapiro reviews the 2015 Virginia General Assembly's actions and inactions.
The General Assembly has approved a budget and has adjusted its schedule to leave town one day ahead of the scheduled adjournment.
The spending plan includes a 1.5 percent pay raise for teachers, a 2 percent raise for other state workers and a much needed $130 million dollar deposit to the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Thou the budget does not expand the state’s Medicaid program to an additional 400,000 Virginians as envisioned by Governor McAuliffe, it does include new health benefits for over 20,000 of the state’s most mentally ill.
The Governor and the General Assembly have reached agreement on a bill that would reform the Alcoholic Beverage Control to make them follow standard business practices.
The bill, patroned by Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Fairfax, would change the ABC from an agency to an authority.
There have been multiple attempts to privatize the ABC over the past 3 decades but the state has never been able to make sense of selling it’s liquor monopoly.
The General Assembly has passed a bill that would allow prosecutors to prevent Internet service providers from contacting suspected pedophiles when their personal information is subpoenaed.
Child pornographers and rapists are typically caught after law enforcement can trace their videos and images back to their point of origin.
Once law enforcement obtains a subpoena, they must do additional investigation to obtain a search warrant. Only then can officers enter the suspects home, rescue child victims and seize evidence.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed a bill that would freeze Dominion Virginia Power’s base rates until 2020 by exempting them from biennial rate review by the State Corporation Comission. Dominion Virginia Power says the legislation will help it comply with new EPA regulations that require Virginia to bring carbon emissions significantly lower than neighboring states.
Citing the SCC, David Botkins, spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power, says this would require the utility company to pass $5-6 billion in cost on to their customers in the next several years.