The Governor’s Commission on Ethics has issued its recommendations to the General Assembly to act upon during 2015 session. Many of the recommendations are written to specifically address loopholes and concerns raised by the McDonnell trial.
Federal Judge James Spencer has rejected requests from former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen for new trials on their public corruption charges.
The Virginia Tobacco Commission gave away millions of dollars, more than what commission staff recommended, to help a politically connected power company. The Associated Press says commission staffers told the state inspector-general that the first of three $10 million installments paid to Dominion to help build a natural gas pipeline in Brunswick County should have been $6.5 million based on their calculations, and that they felt pressured by Governor Bob McDonnell’s office, though the inspector-general’s office did not find evidence to support that.
State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw says he will introduce a bill in the upcoming General Assembly session that would require university officials with knowledge of a sexual assault on campus to report the incident to local police within 24 hours. Under Saslaw’s bill, campus officials and faculty who fail to report incidents of sexual assault would face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Saslaw says universities like UVA have no business adjudicating felonies.
With congressional action on the Marketplace Equity Act unlikely before the end of the year, Virginia’s gasoline tax will increase by seven cents per gallon on January 1st. Virginia’s billion-dollar transportation package passed in 2013 relies heavily on funds from the federal bill. The tax increase will automatically be enacted to cover the loss of those funds should Congress not act.
The Marketplace Fairness Act would require online retailers to collect and remit state sales tax just like all brick and mortar businesses.
Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch analyzes the week's Virginia political news.
Longtime Republican State Senator John Watkins of Powhatan is retiring after 34 years in the General Assembly, announcing he will not seek re-election in 2015. Watkins is one of a shrinking number of moderate Republicans in the Senate amid a growing group of younger more conservative members. He helped forge compromises to pass the first major transportation investment in two decades and to fully fund the Virginia retirement system. Senator Watkins says staying in the middle ground has gotten harder in recent years.
Governor McAuliffe says Virginia’s economy is in a “very perilous situation” with potential federal defense cuts looming. The Governor is working on his spending plan due next month highlighted by 322 million in red ink. And he says he’s open to eliminating tax relief programs to balance the budget, including rolling back a program that partially offsets Virginia’s car tax.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly likely will have to make further cuts to the state budget to offset declining tax collections. Where those cuts will be made remains to be seen.
Governor McAuliffe and the leaders of the House and Senate money committees met with the state’s top economic advisors yesterday (11/24). McAuliffe says automatic cuts brought on by sequestration -- if Congress does not come together to repeal them -- will further damage Virginia’s economy.
Today (11/24), Governor Terry McAuliffe will meet with top economic advisors who will try to forecast how much money Virginia can expect to take in in 2015 and give him guidance on how much he’ll have to cut to meet the expected shortfall.