Commentary: Returning for ‘Veto Session’

Commentary: Returning for ‘Veto Session’

Next week I join my colleagues in the General Assembly to return to the Capitol for the 2018 Reconvened Session, also known as the “Veto Session.” According to the Rules of the House the purpose of the Reconvened Session is to specifically, and exclusively, consider only the Governor’s recommendations to amend, and vetoes to, the legislation we passed during the 2018 Regular Session.

He had until this past Monday, April 9, to complete his bill review and return all the bills to the Clerk of the House who serves as the Keeper of the Rolls of the Commonwealth.

Governor Northam has signed 811 bills into law, which is 93 percent of the 874 bills we passed. So, we will have one day to act on the rest of the legislation during the Reconvened Session on April 18. The Governor vetoed just eight House of Delegates’ bills, and made 35 recommendations, including one awful bill to ban “sanctuary cities,” a law that the Governor called “unnecessary and divisive.”

It would turn our local police into immigration enforcement officers, which is currently the responsibility of the federal government. This action would have a chilling effect on reporting small crimes and domestic violence in the immigrant community, because calling police in emergencies could trigger deportation. This would be detrimental to community policing and keeping civilians safe.

Governor Northam also vetoed two particularly bad bills: HB158 and HB1270. He said HB158 would allow the General Assembly too much latitude to alter legislative districts outside the constitutional process so they correspond with local voting precinct boundaries. This would allow members of the General Assembly to adjust districts at their own discretion, threatening Virginians’ rights to equal apportionment.

HB1270 would forbid state participation in adopting important regulations on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs. The Governor explained that the bill if enacted into law would limit Virginia’s ability to tackle climate change and to provide additional clean energy jobs. I support efforts to participate in a regional carbon carbon cap-and-trade program.

The Governor also vetoed two Senate bills and made recommended changes to another 25 bills from that body. The House will consider these bills only if the Senate votes to override the Governor’s vetoes, or in the case of the recommendations, the House will act on the Senate bills provided that the Senate has agreed to the Governor’s recommendations.

We do not anticipate this veto session to be as long and arduous a day as last Session where Governor McAuliffe vetoed 26 House bills. Governor Northam and his staff spent a lot of time analyzing this legislation before he made the tough decisions to veto or recommend changes. It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a veto.

The list of bills that Governor Northam signed include three of my own: HB48, HB80 and HB81. HB48 implements an important fix to provide more transparency to the state reporting of charitable solicitation statements. HB80 cuts red tape and reduces barriers to professional development so that high-quality teachers coming from other states can teach in Virginia. The Virginia Educators Association supported this bill. They also supported HB81, which gives public school systems an extra 180 days to fill the school superintendent position.

Meanwhile I am in Richmond this week for the Special Session (including an Appropriations Committee meeting on Friday) to fight for a state budget that would expand affordable healthcare to nearly 400,000 hard-working Virginians that can’t afford insurance on the private marketplace. I look forward to going back to work on behalf of the residents of the 44th district.