Thursday, April 16, 2015

Update from the General Assembly's reconvene session

Yesterday the General Assembly was in Richmond for the 2015 reconvene session. Although Governor McAuliffe made no amendments or vetoes to the budget, it was still a busy day for legislators with several vetoes and amendments to legislation. Both pieces of education-related legislation that Governor McAuliffe vetoed, House Bill 1626 and House Bill 1752/Senate Bill 724, relating to home-school sports participation and the Common Core State Standards respectively, were upheld. HB1626, commonly referred to as the Tebow bill, did not receive the required 67 votes, or two-thirds majority, to be overturned in the House thus not being sent to the Senate for a vote. HB1752, prohibiting the Board of Education from adopting the Common Core State Standards without prior statutory approval, did receive the required votes in the House but failed to receive 27 required votes to overturn in the Senate. The identical Senate companion bill, SB724, also did not receive the required votes to overturn in the Senate.

In addition to the vetoes, there were several amendments made to legislation, many of them technical changes. To approve these amendments, it only requires a simple majority, not the two-thirds majority required to overturn a veto. Governor McAuliffe did recommend changes to the ethics bills (HB2070/SB1424), however one of his amendments inadvertently imposed a $100 lifetime gift cap on public officials, rather than an annual cap. While the General Assembly worked to fix the problem, House and Senate leaders called to extend the session to Friday, where they will reconvene to take up the ethics bills. All of the bills taken up yesterday, amended or unamended, will now be sent to the governor's desk for his signature or veto.

Thank you for your continued interest in the General Assembly. VSBA will update you as more information comes available.