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Puckett Emails Released

Newly released emails show the interim director of the Virginia tobacco commission was uneasy about the timing of a potential job offer to former Democratic State Senator Phil Puckett, whose recent resignation has been investigated by the FBI. The emails were obtained by the Associated Press and show the GOP controlled commission appeared to create a position solely for Puckett and even solicited his input in crafting the job description.

Libertarian Sarvis Qualifies for U.S. Senate Ballot

Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Robert Sarvis has collected 10,000 signatures and been officially certified for the November ballot. Sarvis says both Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Ed Gillespie are big government candidates.

Libertarians in 7 of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts have made the ballot this cycle, including the 7th, where James Carr could have an impact against Democrat Jack Trammell and Republican Dave Brat, after the stunning primary defeat of Eric Cantor earlier this month.

McAuliffe Completes Trade Mission to California

Governor Terry McAuliffe and senior members of his economic development team have just completed a brief west coast trade mission at the San Diego Biotechnology Conference. Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones says the recent success, bringing the Shandong Tranlin Paper Company’s 2 billion dollar investment to Chesterfield County, is building positive momentum and opening the doors for many new prospects and new projects already underway.

Former Bush Aide Says Governor Cannot Expand Medicaid; House Republicans Paid Him From State Funds

Virginia House of Delegates Republicans have hired a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush for a legal analysis that says the Governor cannot expand Medicaid by executive order, without the approval of the legislature. The House leadership paid $25,000 in state funds for former Solicitor General Paul Clement’s analysis. Republicans believe this analysis would also apply to any public private partnerships the Governor may be pursuing.

Howell Rules McAuliffe Veto Out of Order

Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell has ruled unconstitutional and out of order a line item veto by Governor McAuliffe. The governor vetoed language introduced by Republicans in the General Assembly prohibiting his use of executive action to expand Medicaid. The Speaker contends that the Governor can only veto specific appropriations and not language nor conditions. Howell cites former Democratic Speaker Tom Moss’s similar ruling against then-Republican Governor George Allen’s line item vetoes as precedent.

Republicans Take Control of State Senate

Last night (June 23), Republicans in the state Senate reorganized all committees to reflect their new narrow majority, thanks to the recent resignation of Democratic Senator Phillip Puckett. Currently, there are 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats in the Senate. A special election will be held on August 19th to fill Puckett’s seat. Republicans could add one seat to their slim majority, or Democrats could retain the seat and the Senate would again be evenly divided 20-20.

McAuliffe Plans to Expand Medicaid Administratively

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced his intentions Friday (June 20) to expand the state’s Medicaid program administratively without the approval of the legislature and vetoed the General Assembly’s attempts to restrict him from doing so. McAuliffe says Republicans in the General Assembly have bowed to pressure from the Tea Party to deny 400,000 Virginians access to life-saving health care.

Legislature Returns to Consider McAuliffe’s Budget Vetoes

The General Assembly returns to the Capitol tonight (June 23) to consider Governor McAuliffe’s line item vetoes to the state budget, including one that sets the stage for him to bypass the legislature to expand Medicaid. It takes a two-thirds majority in both houses to override a Governor’s veto. While the House, which has a Republican supermajority is expected to do so, the Senate where the GOP has a one seat advantage, is expected to sustain his changes.

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