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Del. Ken Plum: Until Another Day

by Del. Ken Plum March 15, 2018 at 11:30 am 20 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The Virginia Constitution provides that in the even-numbered years the General Assembly is to meet in session for 60 days and in the odd-numbered years for 45 days. Either may be extended by half the number of days with a two-thirds vote by the membership. The reason for the longer session in even-numbered years was the additional responsibility of passing a biennial budget. Yet on Saturday, March 10, the General Assembly adjourned sine die (meaning with no appointed date for resumption) without having passed a budget for the next biennium!

The budget under which the Commonwealth is currently operating does not expire until June 30, 2018. The Governor is empowered to call a special session of the legislature, and he has indicated his expectation in the near future to call such a special session whose business would be limited to passage of a budget. Members of the House and Senate understood that would be the procedure to be followed when they voted to adjourn the regular session.

There is good news in all this procedural action to bring the legislature to an end for the year. The budgets of the two houses could not be reconciled by the constitutional deadline because of one great and meaningful difference: extending Medicaid to many more persons of limited income. The really good news is that Medicaid expansion is being discussed in a positive context, and I am certain it is going to take place in Virginia within the year.

A total of about 2500 bills and resolutions have been considered during the last 60 days. Of those, fewer than a thousand will make their way to the Governor for his signature. When duplicate bills are counted once, the total production of the General Assembly will be close to 500 new laws. While that small number may seem like limited production for such great effort, some of the bills introduced are really not good ideas. It is just as important that the legislature defeat bad bills as it is for the legislature to pass good bills.

This session was noteworthy for its lack of bills limiting women’s reproductive rights and bills that would discriminate against persons for their sexual orientation or identity. Much of that change can be attributed to the defeat of one incumbent delegate who specialized in such bills but also to the great number of defeats of incumbent legislators who voted for them.

There were 70 bills introduced relating to ending gun violence, and all were defeated in a six-person subcommittee. Recent public outrage over gun violence is likely to change that dynamic in the future. Good news for Metro was the passage of a bill to put Virginia’s contribution to the system on sound financial footing with a dedicated source of funding from the Commonwealth. Maryland and the District of Columbia are expected to take similar action.

A major victory for environmentalists was the passage of the Governor’s bill to expand the use of renewables in electricity generation, modernization of the electrical grid, and expansion of energy conservation. More to come on the work of the session in future columns

  • 30yearsinreston

    “Good news for Metro was the passage of a bill to put Virginia’s
    contribution to the system on sound financial footing with a dedicated
    source of funding from the Commonwealth. Maryland and the District of
    Columbia are expected to take similar action.”

    Better news is that Hudgins is retiring

    • OneReally

      Good news for Metro and it’s Union. Bad news for us.

      Metro is like having a boat, just throwing money away.

      • The Constitutionalist

        The difference is at least you get some utility and joy from a boat. You get none from Metro.

        • Fact

          If your boat stops working you can swim to shore with metro you stuck

        • OneReally

          You don’t call walking through dark tunnels after a train breaks fun?

          • http://www.atulocal689.org

            Agree, metro so much better than ice skating.


          • The Constitutionalist

            I suppose it depends, was I walking down the tunnel to skip class in demand of legislation already in place?

          • OneReally

            True True. Nothing like 200 more laws for the 200 already on the books.

            I guess you could skip class and demand “World peace”

    • cRAzy

      The money comes from ROAD funds, so less road construction, repair, and maintenance.

      Bad idea!

  • Mike M

    “There were 70 bills introduced relating to ending gun violence . . .”

    Care to elaborate? I am quite certain your characterization of decisiveness is calculated propaganda.

    • The Constitutionalist

      Yeah, the real end to gun violence comes with student and teacher walkouts, same as the real reason the Vietnam War ended.

      The secret was right beneath our noses this whole time. Soon we’ll be able to apply this extremely effective approach to other forms of violence. I look forward to the golden age of peace this will introduce.

      • Willie Reston

        Gotta start somewhere. Are you suggesting the civil rights demonstrations of the 1950s/60s had no impact whatsoever on the American consciousness and the eventual legislation that followed?

        • drb

          Marching for the rights of others and yourself is not the same as marching against the rights of others and yourself. Marching for a kill zone of children is not the same as marching for the protection of those that have none.

        • The Constitutionalist

          Clearly I was suggesting that it was, in fact, those very protests that ended racial discrimination and ushered in the wonderful zero racism era of peace, love, and tolerance that we live in today.

          I don’t think I can be clearer with what I said.

          • Willie Reston

            My point,was that you wrongly draw the conclusion that mass protests/demonstrations have no effect at all on anything. Were demonstrations the sole reason the Vietnam Conflict ended? No, of course not, and nobody is suggesting that notion except for you. But, you can’t say they didn’t have some impact on how the American people and our government viewed our involvement in Vietnam. I brought in the civil rights example to show how silly your assertion was but obviously that flew right over your head as well.

          • The Constitutionalist

            I’m sorry but you clearly didn’t read or comprehend my comment. I’m fairly certain that I said the secret to fixing our problems IS to mass protest. I don’t really know how to make it clearer.

          • Willie Reston

            No, I comprehended your sarcasm perfectly and now you’re trying to back out if it because you know you’ve been beaten. Pathetic.

          • The Constitutionalist

            Please. Let the voter decide the winner, Willie.

  • Analysis para

    What a …
    bunch of busy bodies…

    total of about 2500 bills and resolutions have been considered during the last 60 days

    And the onus is on the citizen to keep abreast of new laws.

    • Mike M

      No kidding. And they ask me why I own guns.


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