Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Bill Howell is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, to issue a ruling on whether Governor Terry McAuliffe’s appointment of 3 state legislators to state position is legal. Howell believes the appointments are legal, but says the ongoing investigation into the resignation of former Democratic State Senator Phillip Puckett raises concerns that should the House confirm the appointments they could be facilitating the violation of federal law.
Speaking yesterday at Peabody Middle School in Petersburg, Governor Terry McAuliffe set an ambitious goal for all schools in Richmond, Petersburg and Norfolk to reach full accreditation by the end of his term in three years. Governor McAuliffe believes the goal is achievable by implementing the best practices of accredited schools with high poverty rates.
In addition, McAuliffe wants to further streamline the SOLs, pursue federal grants to expand access to Pre-K programs and offer incentives to keep teachers in hard to staff schools in their jobs.
Analyst Jeff Schapiro says Medicaid will continue to be a contentious issue.
Last night on a 64 to 33 vote, the House of Delegates rejected a private insurance based Medicaid expansion alternative proposal from a northern Virginia Republican. The plan from Republican Delegate Tom Rust of Fairfax would return $1.9 billion that Virginians are already paying under the Affordable Care Act to the Commonwealth, to expand coverage through employer based insurance, managed care organizations and qualified health plans and would also remake the existing Virginia Medicaid program.
The House of Delegates has voted to give the Speaker of the House the power to hire outside counsel to defend the state’s ban on same sex marriage or any other state law. Attorney General Mark Herring declined to defend the same sex marriage ban earlier this year and has since actively worked against it. The resolution represents the position of the House and does not need the approval of the Senate or Governor.
Advocates for Medicaid expansion say real people will be affected by the decisions the Virginia legislature makes during its two-day special session, beginning today (September 18) at noon.
Ray Scher, a member of Virginia Organizing, wants legislators to vote their conscience when the consider expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Scher says Medicaid expansion is a social ethical issue, not a political or special interest group issue.
The plan from Republican Delegate Tom Rust of Fairfax returns $1.9 billion that Virginians are already paying under the Affordable Care Act to the Commonwealth, to expand coverage through employer based insurance, managed care organizations and qualified health plans on the federal exchange to create a bridge program.
The Rust plan also provides financial assistance to those who earn between 133% and 150% of the federal poverty rate to encourage them to buy coverage. His bill would then substantially remake the existing Virginia Medicaid program.
Tomorrow (9/18) the General Assembly will likely overwhelmingly approve legislation to fill vacant judgeships and close the state’s most recent $1.2 billion budget shortfall. Though no progress is expected on expanding access to health coverage for the state’s poorest citizens.
A Wason Poll just released says Virginia voters strongly support Medicaid expansion but worry about the cost and expect the upcoming special session of the General Assembly to fail.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and Speaker of the House Bill Howell have announced their compromise plan to close the state’s most recent 1.2 billion-dollar budget gap, without raising taxes or cuts to K-12 public education. The plan cuts spending by up to 3.5%, though so far neither the Governor nor the House leadership can say whether that will lead to cuts in state jobs or how many that may be. The state will withdraw just over $700 million from the Rainy Day Fund over the next two years.