Virginia Viewpoint – April 6, 2023 – In like a Lion, Out like a Lamb

April 21, 2023

“In like a Lion, Out like a Lamb” is an old weather folklore saying, but this March seems to be going out like a Lion.   With still rising inflation and concerns over a banking crisis, Virginia’s budget negotiators are pausing to see how the national economy goes in the next few weeks and months before finalizing a Virginia budget.   At meetings last week, Virginia’s Secretary of Finance told conferees that while revenue is stable, there is still the possibility for a recession.  The State Corporation Commission also assured legislators that Virginia’s banking industry is strong and does not have the same risks as the recently failed regional banks in California and New York.

Legislative update:

With a March 27th midnight deadline, the Governor and his team were busy reviewing legislation and deciding on amendments. With over 800 bills having passed the legislature, the Governor signed 738 bills, amended 78, and vetoed 3 bills. The Link to Governor’s press release outlines the actions and rational. On April 12th, legislators will vote on all of the Governor’s amendments and vetoes during the Reconvened Session.

Election update:

This is a huge year for state level elections.  The general election is November 7, 2023 and primaries are scheduled for June 20, 2023.  Political parties can determine their nominating process of primary or convention.

The Special Election for Jennifer McClellan’s Senate seat was held March 28 and Delegate Lamont Bagby won, moving from the House of Delegates to the Senate and representing the 9th district.   Retirement announcements continue to roll in.  These changes definitely affect the institutional knowledge and the balance of power in the legislature.

In the Senate:

In addition to Senators Bell, Edwards, Howell, Norment, Saslaw, and Vogel:

Sen. Steve Newman – Republican from Lynchburg and former Chairman of Ed & Health;

Sen. John Cosgrove – Republican from Chesapeake; his long-time aide has announced her candidacy for the seat;

Sen. Lynwood Lewis – Democrat from the Eastern Shore;

Sen. Emmett Hanger – Republican and budget conferee;

This still leaves two Democrat Senators Sen. Lionell Spruill and Louise Lucas pitted against one another in SD 18 comprising parts of Chesapeake and Portsmouth.

In the House:

Eighteen Delegates announced their plans to retire this year.  The most recent news comes from:

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn – the first female Speaker will retire but is considering a run for Governor;

Del. Kay Kory –  Democrat from northern Virginia will retire and not face Del. Marcus Simon in a primary

Del. Glenn Davis – Republican chairman of the House Education Committee will retire rather than challenge Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight.

Del. Nadarius Clark resigned his 79th district seat to move and run in the new 84th HD;

There are still 2 districts with two incumbents drawn into the same district:

HD 44 (Bristol) – Republicans Del. Israel O’Quinn and Del. Will Wampler;

HD 47 (Floyd) – Republicans Del. Marie March and Del. Wren Williams;

Several House members are also running for the Senate including:

Fourteen Delegates are running for the State Senate this cycle, including:

Del. Danica Roem (D) for a newly created Senate seat;

Del. Schuyler Van Valkenburg (D) who is running against incumbent Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant;

Del. Chris Head (R ) who is running for a new Senate seat in Roanoke;

Del. Tara Durant (R ) running in new Senate seat in Stafford;

Del. Angelia Williams Graves (D) running for new Senate seat;

Del. Sally Hudson (D) who is challenging incumbent Democrat Sen. Creigh Deeds;

Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D) who is challenging Democrat Sen. Jeremy McPike;

Del. Tim Anderson (R) is moving into the district of retiring Sen Cosgrove to run.

Newsclips:

Youngkin signs 51 bills; here’s a look at some new state laws

By DAVID RESS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed into law a first batch of 51 out of 819 bills that passed both the House of Delegates and state Senate. The governor can sign or veto bills or recommend amendments. The legislature will consider the governor’s amendments and any vetoes when it reconvenes April 12. Most of the bills the governor has signed are technical changes — ensuring, for instance, that the definition of a cigarette used in the law that governs tobacco sales is the same as the definition used in state agriculture laws. All were uncontroversial and have broad — often unanimous — bipartisan support. Most will take effect July 1.

Youngkin signs bill creating $300 tax credit for gun safes

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Firearm safety is about to get a little more affordable in Virginia after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bipartisan bill creating a $300 tax credit meant to reimburse people who buy gun safes or other lockable gun containers. The legislation approved by the governor last week was the only gun safety measure that passed the politically divided General Assembly, drawing broad support as a small step to encourage gun safety without imposing any new rules on gun owners.

Virginia budget negotiations paused amid economic uncertainty

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE-FM

Two top Virginia lawmakers charged with negotiating an updated state budget said Thursday they’ll hold off hammering out a spending plan until they get a better sense of whether a U.S. recession is on the horizon. Secretary of Finance Steve Cummings told budget negotiators Tuesday that while the state’s revenues remained solid, he anticipated a stronger possibility of a recession in the next few months, according to state Sen. George Barker (D-Fairfax), one of two top Democratic budget negotiators in the Senate.

State Corporation Commission, with 1 judge and 2 vacancies, falls prey to power politics

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)

Power politics is blocking the election of two judges to the State Corporation Commission, which is now relying on one member and a substitute to rule in cases of statewide importance to business and consumers. Created in the 1902 state constitution as a body independent of the General Assembly and its political interests, the SCC has been a hostage of legislative politics for a year. House Republicans and Senate Democrats have refused to agree on candidates to fill two seats.

Tennessee official Lisa Coons appointed Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Virginia Mercury

Tennessee’s Chief Academic Officer Lisa Coons was appointed superintendent of public instruction in Virginia by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday, following the resignation of former superintendent Jillian Balow earlier this month. Coons is expected to start on April 17, according to the Virginia Department of Education, after leading Tennessee’s revisions for English Language Arts instruction Coons’ appointment comes as Virginia has reported low student proficiency ratings in math and reading.

Youngkin taps executive as new head of Department of Motor Vehicles

By DAVID RESS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)

An executive who has been leading a $3 billion-a-year roofing company’s push to boost productivity and growth will take over as Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Gov. Glenn Youngkin named Gerald Lackey as DMV Commissioner, filling the post after Youngkin last year rescinded his offer of the job to Indiana official Peter Lacy. . . . The DMV’s performance has been a focus of the Youngkin administration’s efforts to boost state government efficiency after the agency closed customer service centers during the pandemic and then reopened them for appointments only.

Eileen Filler-Corn, exiting Va. Statehouse, eyes the governor’s mansion

By GABBY DEUTCH, Jewish Insider

When Virginia Del. Eileen Filler-Corn announced this month that she would not run for reelection to the House of Delegates after 14 years, political observers in Richmond and Washington quickly began to wonder about her next move. After two years as Virginia’s House speaker — the first woman and first Jewish person to hold that role — Filler-Corn was ousted last year as the House Democratic leader by her colleagues. But in an interview with Jewish Insider, Filler-Corn insisted she isn’t letting the setback keep her out of politics. In fact, it’s fueling her to look even higher.

State Sen. John Cosgrove is ninth senator to retire

By DAVE RESS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)

A ninth state senator, John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, has decided not to seek reelection, setting the stage for a turnover of at least 25% in the upper chamber of the General Assembly. “I’ve had 26 years of public service, I’m getting long in the tooth,” said Cosgrove, 68. “My wife and I haven’t had a vacation in 15 years … in at least 15 years.”…A 10th member of the chamber, Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, resigned her seat and recently took office in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ten more senators are facing primary challenges.

Northern Virginia accounts for two-thirds of data center leases

By JEFF CLABAUGH, WTOP

Northern Virginia continued to dominate the data center market in 2022, ranking by far No. 1 for leasing activity, and there’s almost a waiting list for space. Commercial real estate firm CBRE reports the data center vacancy rate in Northern Virginia ended the year at less than 1%, a record low. . . . Northern Virginia data centers accounted for 64% of all data center leasing nationwide last year.

Youngkin doubles down on quest to put nation’s first commercial small modular nuclear reactor in Southwest Virginia

By SUSAN CAMERON, Cardinal News

During one of two stops in Southwest Virginia on Thursday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin doubled down on a pledge he made here in October that the state will build the nation’s first commercial small modular nuclear reactor and place it in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. “I can’t wait until I watch that first small modular reactor turn on, and hospitals flip switches for their NICU units and senior living facilities turn the air conditioning on in the summertime, when it’s so hot. . . . That’s going to be pretty awesome,” he said.

Del. Don Scott reprimanded by state bar for mishandling client fees

By WHITTNEY EVANS, WCVE-FM

The Virginia State Bar has publicly reprimanded Democratic Del. Don Scott for violating rules dictating attorney-fee agreements. According to a filing from the bar, the issue began with a client in 2020, who paid Scott $20,000 in legal fees over four separate periods. Scott — Virginia’s top Democrat in the House of Delegates — did not deposit the fees into his lawyer trust account, which is required for keeping client funds safe until it’s time to make withdrawals. He also did not keep proper records of the deposits.

Fariss’ arraignment pushed back to May

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

The expected Friday arraignment of Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell County, who’s charged with malicious wounding and is accused of driving his SUV into a woman who had been a passenger in his vehicle, has been rescheduled for May 16. The incident happened the afternoon of March 2. According to Virginia State Police, Fariss was heading south on U.S. 501 in Campbell County in his 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe when the vehicle crossed the center line, continued off the northbound side of the road and struck a pedestrian, who suffered minor injuries.

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