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On Saturday, Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in response to anticipated impacts from Hurricane Florence. Currently a category 4 hurricane, Florence is expected to make landfall in North Carolinas on Thursday and stall as it heads north through the weekend.  

Best of luck to students, parent, teachers, administrators and support staff as school kicks off today.

Studies have shown a correlation between the condition of school facilities and educational outcomes. However, in too many localities across the Commonwealth, aging school facilities have gone unaddressed due to lack of funding.

Over the summer, the Senate Local Government Committee School Facility Modernization Subcommittee met to begin meeting to seek input from interested stakeholders on the issue of funding for school facility construction and renovation. At our first meeting on August 16th, Professor Carol Cash presented research on the impact of school facilities on educational outcomes. We also heard a proposal from Paul Goldman and Committee Chairman Senator Bill Stanley to use portions of the sales tax collected on internet sales to finance general obligation bonds for school facilities across Virginia. Our next meeting will be held September 5th at George Mason University. We will meet later this month in Hampton Roads.

New Laws Take Effect

On July 1st, the majority of legislation passed by the 2018 General Assembly Session took effect.  In Due Course, published by the Division of Legislative Services, provides a good overview of new laws likely to affect the daily lives of Virginians. 

Complete information on actions of the 2018 General Assembly Session can be found on the Legislative Information System webpage.

Finally!

After five years of trying, the General Assembly passed a budget last week that includes Medicaid Expansion.

Once the Federal government approves Virginia's pan, 18-64 years olds who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. This will close the coverage gap for nearly 300,000 Virginians who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid now, but not enough to qualify for subsidies on the federal health insurance marketplace. The plan includes a work requirement in which able-bodied adults under 65 are required to work, seek employment, or participate in job training, education, or community/engagement programs that improve work readiness. Exemptions are provided for children, pregnant women, the aged, disabled, and seriously mentally ill, caregivers of disabled dependents, and individuals working in the TANF VIEW program or SNAP. These requirements are waived in parts of the state with high unemployment.

 

We are now over a month into Special Session and have yet to complete work on the budget for the 2018-2020, which starts July 1st.

Last month, Governor Northam introduced the same budget that Governor McAuliffe proposed in December, with once exception: Governor Northam included more money in the cash reserves portion of the budget. Governor Northam's budget includes language that would expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 400,000 Virginians and an assessment on state hospitals to cover the Commonwealth's share of the costs. With the savings realized from Medicaid expansion, the budget makes significant investments in core economic priorities like education, workforce development, mental health services, opioid addiction prevention, and pay raises for state employees, teachers and law enforcement professionals.

On Saturday, March 10th, the 2018 General Assembly Session adjourned sine die after passing over 800 bills. You can read a summary of some of the major legislation considered here. 

This is the final week of the 2018 General Assembly Session.  As of Tuesday evening, we have passed about 750 bills, with another 175 pending.  The Budget conferees have not yet reached an agreement to bridge the approximately $600 million gap between the House and Senate Budgets, primarily due to their disagreement over Medicaid Expansion. Seven of my bills have passed both the Senate and the House and now await action by the Governor.

We are in the final week of the 2018 Session. So far we have passed about 750 bills, with another 175 pending.  The Budget conferees have not yet reached an agreement to bridge the approximately $600 million gap between the House and Senate Budgets, primarily due to their disagreement over Medicaid Expansion.

Last week the House and Senate adopted their amendments to the 2018 - 2020 biennial budget introduced by Governor McAuliffe on December 18, 2017.  The two budgets are about $600 million apart.  The key difference between the two budgets is Medicaid expansion.

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