This Week in Richmond

Posted: April 15, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

This weekly column, written by Thomas Hennessey, chief of staff to President Alan Merten, is published to keep the university community informed on the legislative situation in Richmond and how those developments directly affect George Mason.

In a continuation of what may be called “the endless session,” the Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 5018 on Tuesday. Some suggest that this was a monumental achievement. Why? For one thing, some say it may end the stalemate on a budget for the commonwealth. For another, some say it illustrates that members of the General Assembly have begun to listen more to their constituents than to a few party loyalists.

Speculation aside, this is what happened in the General Assembly 31 days after it should have adjourned with a balanced budget for fiscal years 2005-06. A group of Republicans, sometimes referred to as the “renegades,” crafted a piece of legislation, HB 5018, that increases revenue in the commonwealth slightly less than $1 billion over the biennium. More important may be that this legislation increases revenue significantly in future biennia. There were almost a dozen attempts to amend the bill, and after receiving some assurances from the Senate that the proposal would be seriously considered, the House passed the measure 52-46.

The Senate Finance Committee met yesterday to go over the bill and will likely report it out to the Senate for consideration. Should there be no significant amendments, the bill will likely be passed by the Senate and sent to the Conference Committee for final resolution of the differences in the House and Senate versions. The revised budget bill will then be presented to the House and the Senate for their approval and, if both approve, will go to the governor for his signature.

Not surprisingly, multiple agreements remain yet to be accomplished. Without them, the “endless session” continues.

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