As required by our state constitution, the General Assembly met in Richmond on Wednesday for our Reconvene Session. Often referred to as the Veto Session, the purpose of this legislative meeting is to consider actions taken by the Governor on bills.

As a brief civics update, Virginia’s law making process is slightly different from what we may remember from Schoolhouse Rock days. After the House and Senate pass a bill, it goes to the Governor who has three choices:

  1. Sign the bill outright. These bills become law on July 1 unless otherwise directed in the bill.
  2. Veto the bill outright. If two-thirds of both chambers vote to override the veto, it shall become law without the Governor’s signature.
  3. Amend the bill. The Governor may provide amendments to bills passed by the General Assembly. If both chambers agree to the Governor’s amendments, the bill becomes law as amended. If the amendments are not supported by both chambers, the bill goes back to the Governor in its original form for his consideration.

In this special e-newsletter, I will provide you with an update on the state budget and several bills that received debate.

Budget Update

There was quite a bit of discussion in the public sphere the last few weeks regarding the state budget. Governor Youngkin and legislative Democrats each had differing proposals with significantly different views on taxes.

When the budget process began last December, Governor Youngkin introduced a tax reform plan that would have cut taxes overall by $1 billion. The plan adopted by the General Assembly in March–one that I voted against–would have increased taxes by around $2.6 billion. Governor Youngkin countered by proposing amendments that would make the budget neutral on taxes–no increases or cuts.

Ultimately, both parties recognized that an agreement on the budget had not yet been reached. As such, we utilized the appropriate parliamentary procedures to allow for continued debate on the budget between Governor Younkgin and legislative leaders. It is understood that significant progress has already been made and that an agreement is within reach.

The General Assembly will need to return to Richmond in order to vote on the budget agreement. A special session will begin on Monday, May 13th with a vote on the state budget expected to occur on Wednesday, May 15th. I will keep you updated on any pressing developments regarding the state budget.

Legislative Update

Governor Youngkin vetoed 153 bills this year. Knowing that overriding a veto would be difficult given the existing political makeup of the House, Democrats opted against calling for a vote to override any of the Governor’s veto. Therefore, all 153 vetoes are sustained.

Governor Younkin also proposed amendments to a number of bills. A few of his amendments were technical in nature and were adopted easily, while others received a bit more debate.

One of the most discussed bills that Governor Youngkin amended dealt with skill games. This is an issue that I received many calls and emails concerning, and one that I have highlighted in my regular emails updates with some frequency. The bill as passed by the General Assembly would have legalized skill games while setting up a system to tax and regulate them.

The amendments proposed by Governor Youngkin would tax skill games at a rate of 35 percent, up from the 25 percent in the bill as passed. Additionally, the Governor’s amendments seek to create zones where skill games cannot operate–30 miles from an existing casino and 2,500 feet from a school, daycare, or place of worship. Neither the bill that passed the legislature nor the amendments proposed by the Governor included language that would give cities and counties the ability to hold referendums to decide whether they wanted skill games in their communities. The Senate rejected the amendments proposed by the Governor and sent the bill back to him for consideration in its original form. This is an issue to continue watching.

I hope you found this email update informative and useful. If you have any questions, please let me know. It remains an honor to represent our community in the House of Delegates.

Mike Cherry