Now that election results are in, the process of passing a state spending plan is moving forward as members of the General Assembly resume their special session today (Monday).
Up for consideration are a handful of budget amendments from Governor Northam. One is tied to a constitutional amendment that was on the ballot.
Virginians voted in favor of changing the state constitution so districts are drawn by a group of legislators and citizens instead of the General Assembly. Now, the governor is asking lawmakers to put language in the budget that gives direction on how to implement the new redistricting commission.
"It puts meat on the bones of the constitutional amendment on how the process unfolds," says Delegate Mark Sickles. Sicles is vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
With several deadlines looming, Sickles and his colleagues are trying to set up the commission as quickly as possible. Including instructions in the budget is the best way to get the ball rolling, he says.
Sickles expects that amendment from the governor to pass, but others, like the one allowing estheticians to give facials to customers not wearing a mask, may not be popular with some in the legislature. "He is making that very difficult in that language and so, if we say ‘no, we’re not going to accept your recommendation,’ he would have an opportunity to strike, line-item veto the item. "
Northam is also asking lawmakers to give him more flexibility in how CARES Act money is spent and to eliminate funding for two transportation projects, while also setting aside $1 million for an investigation at Virginia Military Institute following allegations of systemic racism.