44th District's Osprey Impress!
As the Potomac River continues to recover, raptors have begun to rebound including Osprey.
William Young and Ashley Bradford has done an amazing job documenting an Osprey family near Bellehaven Marina (just north of the 44th District, but frequented by many 44th District residents!).
You can find Osprey nests all over the 44th District along the Potomac River including Little Hunting Creek and Dogue Creek. I've also seen Osprey nests on the softball field light poles at Walt Whitman Intermediate School and Mount Vernon High School.
It's only ironic that these nests include plastic bags (thank you AutoZone for helping our Osprey make their nests). What would these birds do without plastic bags? They attempted to reproduce with plastic bags attached.
Excellent videos and resources about a striking predator in our area.
10 Years & $15,000 of Saved Gas Later, The I-95/I-395 Hybrid Exemption Coming to An End
In July, 2004, the papers were buzzing with news about the new super fuel efficient vehicles coming out - hybrids.
They were a little bit more expensive, but the fuel savings were significant. The federal and state government adopted tax credits. Virginia also exempted hybrid vehicles from emissions testing and allowed these new cars to be plated with "Clean Fuel" license plates that were granted a then little used exemption for High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) in 1994. The affordability of this new technology coupled with the HOV exemption pushed thousands of Virginians to purchase these new cars.
I was one of them.
My wife and I had two children. After our second child was born, I bought my dad’s 1995 Honda Accord and sold a two-door Saturn. The gas mileage on the Accord was average and the fuel efficiency of hybrid’s intrigued me. A local Toyota dealership said I would have to wait eight months for a Prius. Sheehy Honda on U.S. 1 in Hybla Valley told me they could put me in a Honda Civic Hybrid in a week and this week, my 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid has 180,000 miles on it and turns 10 years-old.
My gas mileage has averaged around 47 MPG over the life of the car. Given that the average U.S. vehicle today gets around 23 MPG or probably closer to 21 over the last 10 years. Over the last ten years, this means:
- My vehicle used about 4,741 less gallons of gas than the average American vehicle
- That equals about 380 fewer trips to the gas station over the last 10 years, 2,654 minutes saved pumping gas at 7 minutes per visit, or about 44 fewer hours standing around a gas station.
- Assuming an average price of $3.25/gallon - I have saved about $15,410 on gasoline
- I have also saved a hours driving in HOV lanes (mainly in Old Town Alexandria and I-66 given my commuting patterns)
- My vehicle put about 90,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (see here for calculations)
These were many of the reasons so many Virginians were eager to purchase hybrid technology and remain willing to invest in alternative fuel vehicles. It also why over last year 7,000 people signed a petition I launched with Senator Adam Ebbin after Virginia attempted to assess a $100 annual tax on hybrid vehicles on top of $25 of annual license plate fees. People felt as if it was akin to the government taxing non-smokers - taxing people for doing the right thing.
Hybrids proved to be so popular between 2004-2005 that regular users of the I-95/I-395 HOV lanes began to complain so the DMV authorized a new clean fuel plate to limit the exemption to the "original" hybrid vehicles. New vehicles could use all HOV lanes except the I-95/I-395 lanes.
About two weeks ago, the Department of Motor Vehicles sent legislators a letter was going out to the 10,000 remaining "original" hybrid owners (including me) notifying us that the I-95/I-395 hybrid exemption was being shut down due to the conversion of the HOV lanes to HOT lanes in about six months. Here's the letter.
It was interesting to me that 10,000 people have held on to their vehicles for so long. I was proud of my purchase when I made it. Many hybrid owners, especially the "original" purchasers, bought these vehicles because they wanted to help stem the damage to our air, national security, and checkbook caused by gasoline consumption. Many hybrid owners also view ownership as an expression of their values.
As this last benefit is removed, the popularity of fuel efficient vehicle technology has broadened and incentives are not as necessary to encourage Virginians to purchase efficient vehicles.
These early hybrid vehicle subsidies are probably one of Virginia's most successful government programs to alter consumer behavior. Today, nearly 100,000 Virginians drive hybrid vehicles. Collectively, that has made a real difference. It has also proven that there is a market for green technology in Virginia, and that the government can help encourage consumers to improve Virginia’s environment if it carefully targets subsidies at consumers.
Easing the Burden on Military Spouses
Fort Hunt has always been a popular community for military families and growing up, I always had friends coming and going as their parents were moved around the country.
As a child, your perspective is focused upon your friend who is leaving, but not the effects upon the entire family As a practicing family law attorney, I really come to appreciate the emotional and economic stresses that transfers, deployments, and the combat injuries can place on the entire family.
For example, whenever a military family goes through a divorce, the issue of spousal support frequently comes up if only one spouse is serving in uniform. Due to frequent location transfers, it is often very difficult for the non-military spouse to develop a substantial career or earning history. Unemployment rates for military spouses are three times the rate of civilian spouses. Some studies suggest 90% of military spouses are underemployed
. Frequently, it is difficult for military spouses to start to focus on a career until their active duty spouse has retired.
On July 1, 2014, the Supreme Court of Virginia took one step to help change that for attorneys who are married to active duty members of the Armed Forces. After a public comment period, Rule 1A:8 became valid in Virginia
. This new Rule provides that the dependent spouse of an active duty member of the military can become provisionally licensed to practice law in Virginia if:
- They are licensed to practice law in another state;
- Hold a juris doctor from an accredited law school;
- Achieved a score on the MPRE exam that would constitute a passing score in Virginia;
- Is in good standing;
- Not subject to discipline;
- Physically residing in Virginia;
- Submits to a character examination;
- Has never failed the Virginia Bar Exam;
- Completes 12 hours of Virginia continuing legal education classes;
- Reads the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct;
- Pays a fee; and
- Practices law under the supervision of a local counsel.
Unlike some other licensed professions, licenses to practice law are quickly obtainable. Without such a rule, a military spouse who is an attorney would have to proceed through the Virginia bar admission procedures to be licensed to practice - this can take over six months due to the time necessary to qualify for the Virginia bar, taking the bar, and the grading timeframe (I think I applied in March or April and was licensed in October).
The latest issue of Virginia Lawyer which is published by the Virginia State Bar has a great article about this
written by the Deputy Communications Director for the Military Spouse JD Network
. It contains some excellent anecdotes which illustrate the problem.
Virginia now joins seven other states granting this privilege to military spouses - Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Geogia, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland, South Carolina, and Washington. Hopefully, this will small step will provide some measure of help ease the transition as military families move around the United States and the world.
SFDC Pushes U.S. 1 Revitalization!
Great job by the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) putting together this video featuring redevelopment possibilities in the U.S. 1 Corridor. Share it around!
Weekly Column: A State Budget, A Federal Grand Jury, and Court Challenges
The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of June 24, 2014.
A State Budget, A Federal Grand Jury, and Court Challenges
The last two weeks in Richmond have been unusually busy.
First, ethics are back at the forefront. in the wake of the resignation of State Senator Phil Puckett and change in control of the State Senate, the new state budget was written under one-party control. A $1.6 billion shortfall due to lagging income tax collections forced cuts which I detailed two weeks ago: K-12, higher education, affordable housing, healthcare, and funding for continued planning for improvements on U.S. 1 was removed from the budget.
Last week, press reports suggest a Federal grand jury was summoned to investigate the resignation of Senator Puckett and allegations that a judgeship for this thirty-three year-old daughter and a six-figure job at the Virginia Tobacco Commission were offered in exchange for his resignation. The lack of any state investigation spotlights the weakness of the ethics reforms we just passed.
In my August, 2013 column, I wrote that we needed to create an independent ethics commission that was empowered “to investigate and prosecute ethical violations, including alleged violations of campaign finance, political campaign and financial disclosure laws governing all elected officials. We should not rely on politically- elected Commonwealth’s Attorneys, our criminal prosecutors, to be put in the position of policing fellow partisan elected officials with virtually no support from law enforcement. There are too many conflicts of interest and political pressures in play.” Perhaps my recommendation will be taken serious now. The Constitution of Virginia does not delegate the enforcement of Virginia’s ethics laws to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Over the weekend, Governor McAuliffe also issued eight line-item budget vetoes. One related to a Petersburg-Chesterfield school partnership, one restored funding to ameliorate the effects of federal budget cuts, one restored the Attorney General’s ability to control settlement funds, and one had to do with Governor's budget submissions. These were not contested.
The Governor vetoed $350,000 of staff for the new Ethics Advisory Commission arguing it was irresponsible to create a new ethics bureaucracy when the law we passed was so weak and requires changes he intends to introduce next session. This veto was overridden in the House and sustained in the Senate.
Next, the Governor vetoed $8 million of funding for approximate two dozen unfilled judgeships including a Circuit Court position in Fairfax County because the General Assembly attempted to condition the appropriation on the judges being elected by the General Assembly. This is unconstitutional given our Constitution explicitly gives the Governor that right to appoint judges in certain courts when we are not in session. The Speaker ruled this veto unconstitutional – more on that in a minute.
There were also two vetoes regarding Medicaid. First, the Governor vetoed the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) which was set up to come up with “Medicaid reforms” before we moved forward with expansion. The MIRC has done nothing. The Governor called it a “sham.” I do agree with him and this veto was not contested.
Lastly, the Governor line item vetoed language explicitly prohibiting a Medicaid expansion (aka “The Stanley Amendment”). The Speaker ruled that veto unconstitutional because, like the judgeships appropriation, he held the language was not a separate “item” capable of being vetoed. I believe these rulings were wrong. Feel free to watch my floor speech on my You Tube Channel for my legal rationale.
The Clerk of the House will now enroll a final law as if the Governor’s vetoes of the judgeships and Stanley Amendment did not happen creating a legal gray area. The Governor has announced he is also moving forward with expanding healthcare to low income working Virginians. He will announce a plan around September 1.
This sets up a court challenge which will be decided by the Supreme Court of Virginia. A Court challenge has happened twice since the line item veto was created in 1840 (as best anyone can tell). To make things more interesting, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has announced her retirement.
We now have a state budget, but healthcare for low income Virginians including about 7,000 people here in Mt. Vernon is far from resolved.
If you have any feedback, feel free to email me at email@example.com
. It is an honor to serve as your state delegate.
Vetoes Drop and Virginia Moves Forward
This morning Governor Terry McAuliffe announced seven vetoes and other administrative actions. In summary, he has vetoed legal prohibitions to expanding Medicaid and he is moving forward on Medicaid expansion due to political obstruction. Administrative Action
First, the Governor announced that he is going to expand Medicaid administratively using his power as Chief Executive. There was bipartisan support to do this legislatively, but the most conservative members of the House of Delegates were blocking it.
He has directed the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to have plans drawn up by September 1, 2014.
He has also directed officials to hold all plans to construct a new $300 million General Assembly Building. He said that he cannot support this construction while Virginia cuts funding from homelessness.Veto #1 - Medicaid Innovation Review Commission
The Governor has vetoed the Medicaid Innovation and Review Committee (MIRC). The MIRC was created as a compromise in the 2013 session after some members objected to passing the Governor's transportation package without also passing Medicaid Expansion. We were promised that the MIRC would lead to expansion. It has done nothing.
The Governor also believes that the MIRC is a "sham" and he has directed his staff to stop participating in meetings or providing information.Veto #2 - Stanley Amendment Banning Medicaid Expansion
The Governor has also vetoed "the Stanley Amendment" to the budget which specifically prohibited a Medicaid Expansion without the approval of the legislature. There is no money tied to this language so the Governor believes it may be vetoed on its own.Veto #3 - Funding for New Judgeships
The Governor has vetoed all funding for new judgeships. He believes that funding judgeships and leaving a special session open for appointments is an assault on his power as Governor (the Governor gets to appoint temporary judges to Circuit Court and appellate courts if we are out of session).Veto #4 - Chesterfield-Petersburg School Partnership
The Governor is vetoing language allowing Chesterfield County to partner with Petersburg City on public schools. The Governor believes this is rife with legal problems and was not requested by either locality.Veto #5 - $4.6 Million cut from FACT Fund
The legislature created the FACT Fund to deal with contingencies created by cuts caused by the sequester. The Governor believes that these cuts are an assault on Virginia's military and he does not support it.Veto #6 - Funding for Ethics Advisory Commission
The Governor argues that the ethics legislation passed by the General Assembly this year was window dressing that did little (I agree with him). He has vetoed money to pay for staff for a new Ethics Advisory Commission and he will introduce legislation next session.Veto #7 - Forfeiture & Settlements
There was language inserted in the budget that limited how the Attorney General could use monies recovered from forfeitures and settlements. The Governor vetoed this language at the request of the Attorney General.
We vote on these vetoes on Monday night starting at 5:00 p.m. Get your popcorn ready.
Weekly Column: No Medicaid, U.S. 1 Cut, and a Frustrating Week
The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of June 16, 2014.
No Medicaid, U.S. 1 Cut, and a Frustrating Week
Last week was one of the most frustrating weeks in the General Assembly since my 2009 election. First, on Sunday afternoon, we learned that Democratic State Senator Phil Puckett from Southwest Virginia had announced his resignation to be considered for a job on the Virginia Tobacco Commission and clear the way for a judgeship for his 33- year-old daughter. This effectively gave the Virginia State Senate a Republican majority (20-19). On Monday, 21 senators signed a letter requiring the Senate reconvene and the Speaker called the House of Delegates back for a session on Thursday.
When we arrived in Richmond on Thursday, we got more disappointing news. Apparently, the state’s revenue projections for purposes of building the FY14-15 budget were off because of incorrect assumptions. The primary problem was that revenue collections were up last year because wealthy taxpayers recognized significant increased income from stock liquidations done in anticipation of increased capital gains tax rates. The budget experts did not consider this in preparing this year’s revenue projections.
Secondly, income growth in Virginia has continued to be flat in the wake of last fall’s federal government shutdown and reductions in federal spending due to the sequestration provisions passed two years ago. The bottom line is that our state budget was off by $1.6 billion.
The House Appropriations Chairman and new Senate Republican Finance Senate leader drafted several hundred amendments to cut the budget. The new budget includes a series of cuts including reducing nearly $200 million from higher education, $124 million from K-12 education (including millions for Fairfax County), eliminating a 2% pay raise for state employees, $142 million of cuts in healthcare and $8 million in cuts for affordable housing. It does not fully fund the need for judges in the state including needs in Fairfax County. The budget also continues to fund some questionable priorities including $10 million for motion picture production tax credits and $400 million for a new General Assembly building. Also, they cut the $4 million amendment Senator Toddy Puller had secured to continue the U.S. 1 improvement process. If this holds, it will delay continued progress on improvements on U.S. 1 for at least 12 months at the conclusion of the current study. Most importantly, the budget does not expand Medicaid as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act. This will deny healthcare to 400,000 people statewide and about 7,000 people right here in the 44th District – in your community. The legislature approved this “new” budget along party lines 69-31 in the House and 21-18 in the Senate. I voted “no.” I cannot support a budget that denies healthcare to thousands of families right here in our community at no cost to Virginia taxpayers, forgoes jobs and causes Virginians to subsidize healthcare in other states. A meeting I attended this week vividly illustrates the effect on our community. On Monday, I met with the Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. (ANSHI). They are preparing to open a full service clinic that will employee 100 people providing healthcare services to low-income customers on U.S. 1 right across the street from Beacon Mall. Their existing care is underwritten by federal grants. Medicaid expansion would have brought them approximately $900,000 per year of new funding and all of the new jobs that would come with that – 30,000 jobs statewide. Expansion would also free up $180 million of Virginia taxpayer money per biennium to fund other priorities like secondary education. Also, the Affordable Care Act included several new taxes which Virginians are already paying. Expanding Medicaid would ensure that Virginia’s federal taxpayer dollars return to Virginia instead of going to other states like New Jersey, Ohio or Arizona. This week, Governor McAuliffe is trying to decide whether to sign the budget, veto it or do a line item veto. Stay tuned because the battle is not over yet. This week, I and approximately a dozen other legislators urged him to use a veto or a line item veto. If you have any feedback for me, feel free to send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is an honor to serve as your delegate.
Finalizing a State Budget - Not Pretty
The new proposed amendments to the state budget are now up online. You can see them here:
The biggest issue is that revenue collections came in well below what was expected largely due to lagging capital gains tax revenues. The overall shortfall is expected to be about $1.6-$2.0 billion.
What follows below is my initial impressions of what has changed versus Governor McDonnell's introduced budget. Don't kill me if there are a couple mistakes.
Here is the bad:
Here are a few things that are not bad:
On top of that, there are rumors circulating around about more conservative members taking issue with the timing of the voting and the language relating to the Medicaid. We will see what happens.
Weekly Column: Five Myths About Medicaid Expansion
The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of June 4, 2014.
Five Myths About Medicaid Expansion
As the deadline to pass a budget approaches, Virginians will likely hear that state government could shut down because of a stalemate over expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program as encouraged by the Affordable Care Act. I would like to clear up a few misconceptions.
Myth #1 – Virginia’s Medicaid Stalemate Is a Partisan Dispute There have been media reports that the Medicaid expansion fight is a Democrat-versus-Republican battle. It is not.
Three Republican state senators have proposed a compromise to use private insurance to expand Medicaid, similar to Republican proposals in Arkansas and Indiana. All but one of Virginia’s 52 Democratic legislators have indicated they would accept this, but the Republican leadership of the House of Delegates has refused to accept this compromise.
Medicaid expansion has been accepted or proposed by the Republican governors and legislatures of Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Utah and it is not a partisan issue. Similar to the federal government shutdown last fall, Virginia’s budget is stalled because the conservative wing of the Republican party is battling moderate Republicans and Democrats.
Myth #2 – Medicaid Expansion Costs State Taxpayer Money
The federal government will pay 100% of the cost of Medicaid expansion in the first few years phased down to 90% in the out years. This means about $5 million per day from the federal Government and over $750 million lost through today by failing to act.
Multiple experts project Medicaid expansion will save Virginia taxpayers about $200 million per biennium because the federal government will pay 90-100% of the cost of prison healthcare, charity healthcare at university hospitals (e.g. the University of Virginia and the Medical College of Virginia), community service board programs (mental health), free clinics and other Virginia-taxpayer funded programs.
Medicaid expansion will also create 30,000 new jobs which generates additional tax revenues for the state as those workers earn and spend money.
Myth #3 –Virginia’s Medicaid System Is Rife with Fraud
Virginia’s Medicaid Fraud unit (MFCU) recovered a little over $11 million of roughly $8 billion spent by the state last biennium. This means that fraud in Virginia's existing Medicaid program is less than two-tenths of one percent (.2%). While the MFCU has taken the lead on several national fraud cases such as national drug settlements, that does not equate to widespread fraud in Virginia’s system.
Myth #4 – Medicaid Expansion Can Be Resolved Outside the Budget Process
In the five years I have served, major Virginia Medicaid reforms have been legislated in the state budget instead of separate legislation. For example, Medicaid managed care, which is a system under which private health care plan covers and manages patient care, was authorized in the 2011 budget. In 2013, we created the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to approve changes and expand Medicaid.
Medicaid expansion must be included in the budget because it would free up about $200 million of taxpayer dollars - funds that must be reappropriated to schools and public safety now, not in twelve months.
Also, aside from precedent, the House Republican leadership has shown no support for expanding Medicaid. Separating expansion from the budget is like starting a negotiation after the contract has been signed.
Myth #5 – The Federal Government Can "Bait and Switch"
Several legislators have state that once Virginia commits, the federal government could reduce its share from 90% to 50%, leave Virginia taxpayers "holding the bag" and locked into to a more expensive program. This is misleading.
The federal government sent Governor McAuliffe a letter stating that Virginia is free to withdraw from a Medicaid expansion at any time. Second, the Supreme Court of United States specifically held that requiring states to expand their Medicaid programs is unconstitutionally coercive. Some people apparently cannot accept the U.S. Supreme Court as sufficient authority.
In previous columns and on my blog at scottsurovell.blogspot.com I have written about the importance of Medicaid to people's health, health care facilities, long-term care and our society in general. Medicaid is an important health insurance program for many reasons and it would be a tragedy for our state to leave this gaping hole in our health care system.
Government Shutdowns and Legal Reality
Today's papers were full of headlines about focused on some of my colleagues demands that the Governor explain his legal basis for keeping state government running if the House continues to refuse to compromise on Medicaid.
They issued a letter citing a presentation given by staff attorney's with the legislature's Division of Legislative Services
(DLS). You can read the presentation here
if you are curious.
I have received a few calls over the last couple days. I have not spoken to anyone in the Govenor's Office, nor have I done any heavy duty legal analysis, but it seems pretty simple to me.
If you follow the DLS legal rationale to its logical conclusion, then all state employees must stay home and the state government cannot spend any money after July 1, 2014. While, I have the utmost respect for DLS' attorneys and they are right most of the time, but the practical reality of their legal conclusion leads to nonsensical practical outcomes, and just like we cannot maintain segregated schools or prohibit interracial marriages (or refuse to implement the Affordable Care Act), there are a few legal obligations, we cannot simply choose to ignore.
The Governor was elected by the people of Virginia to be the CEO of the government and one branch's failure to act, does not tie his hands in a crisis. The Courts will grant him temporary powers to govern necessary government functions. Here's why. Prisons Close Down?
|John Goodman escapes prison in Raising Arizona |
The upshot of the DLS analysis is that Virginia would have to close its prisons and release its inmates. I suppose they could just lock the doors and leave the prisoners inside, but I'm not confident that would work very well.
This would be illegal, unconstitutional, and would probably result in a Federal Judge ordering Virginia to get in line or some very large judgments against the state for violating constitutional rights.Courts Closed for Business?
The Courts would shut down. People arrested by police (local governments are still open) would take people to the County jails and the Magistrates (state employees) could not issue arrest process (warrants) or give them bond. Even if they did get bond, a judge (state employee) could not have a bond hearing to consider a bond motion - plus prosecutors (state employees) would not be working to represent the state and the state is prohibited from appearing in court without counsel. Again, illegal, unconstitutional, and would result in a Federal Judge ordering Virginia to follow the U.S. Constitution.Hospitals Shut Down?
Virginia could not send out Medicaid reimbursements. For some hospitals or nursing homes, this means they close. Alternatively, it means that they would have to kick Medicaid recipients out of the hospitals and nursing homes. People would be hurt. This is probably illegal under Federal Law and would expose the state to some pretty massive personal injury awards or civil rights claims. Once again, [ENTER STAGE RIGHT: federal judge carrying injunction]No General Assembly Session
If the DLS analysis is correct and we are actually in a General Assembly Session after June 30, I am not clear how we can meet in the State Capitol. I would not expect to see Capitol Police on the State Capitol Grounds, I'm not clear how we'd get into our Chambers, and I would not expect to see any employees present except legislators. Given that we are not really capable of official functioning without staff support, I don't see that happening.
There are some functions of state government that cannot shut down or else people die, laws get broken, the U.S. Constitution gets violated, or people get hurt or maybe die.
The Courts were the Founding Father's political safety valve. When we cannot adopt a redistricting plan, the Courts will do it for you or give someone else the authority to do it to limit the collateral damage. When legislatures adopt laws that violate the Constitution, the Courts step in and shut it down. When governments act illegally, the Courts enforce accountability. The same is true here and the idea that everything has to just completely stop or that the Governor has to sit around and watch prisoners escape, patients die, and criminals walk is legal nonsense. No judge would enjoin him for taking steps to prevent that.
Legally nonsensical results happen in the real world and require court involvement all the time. I have clients that draw up contracts that do not make any sense, internally inconsistent, are incapable of enforcement, or are illegal. When strict readings of the law result in absurd consequences, the Courts step in and use their equitable powers to clarify or resolve a situation. They derive from the ancient equitable maxims derived from the English Common Law. Principles that developed over centuries and hold true today:
- One who seeks equity must do equity (take note legislature - it's not like the Governor hasn't passed a budget)
- He who comes into equity must come with clean hands (take note legislature - ditto above)
- Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights (take note legislature - Governor is waiting for the budget)
- Equity sees that as done what ought to be done
- Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy
- Equity imputes an intent to fulfill an obligation
- Equity abhors a forfeiture
- Equity does not require an idle gesture
- Equity will not allow a trust to fail for want of a trustee
In other words, if there is nothing on the books or in the Constitution, then the Courts will step in and grant the Governor emergency powers to keep prisoners in jail, the state from violating Federal Law and the Federal Constitution, and keep people from dying. For example, the Attorney General seek authority in advance say on June 25ish - and ask a judge to grant the Governor authority to operate certain functions due to the failure of the legislative branch to act.
So When is D-Day?
Finally, one last thing that no one is discussing. Under Article V, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia, a bill is not final until the Governor signs it or 30 days (if we have adjourned sine die). The Governor always has amendments to the budget. They must be acted upon at the Reconvened Session six weeks after adjournment. If we adopt a budget on Monday, May 28, 2014, Reconvened Session would be July 9, 2014. The Governor then has 30 days from July 9 sign or veto the budget bill. However, the budget bill is not law until the Governor signs it.
Alternatively, if we pass a budget and do not not adjourn sine die, the Governor has 7 days to sign, veto, or line item amend. Then, we have to act on his amendments (or veto). Then, he has 7 days to sign or veto. Either way, it seems to me that D-Day is not June 30, 2014, it's more like June 15-20, but what they heck, I'm just a three-term legislator in the minority and no one asks for my opinion. If we do not have a budget before June 15, then the timing gets really tricky in terms of actually get a law in place that is actual legal authority to spend (if you want to be hypertechnical).
I do not write any of this to say that this to excuse anyone's behavior. We have all seen what operating without a budget did to the Federal Government. However, the doomsday scenarios floating around are not accurate.
Hopefully, the negotiators will stop the press stunts, sit down and have a serious negotiation to work this out. I stand ready willing and able to go to Richmond or do whatever is asked of me. Either way, get ready for a wild ride and watch out for dragons because we are sailing into uncharted waters.