Washington, District of Columbia 2020-10-16 23:35:20 –
Virginia General Assembly specializes on Friday by giving police a bonus, paying for a number of new criminal justice reforms, and approving a new state budget to extend the moratorium on evictions and utility blockages during a coronavirus pandemic. The legislative meeting was closed.
The budget is currently allocated to Governor Ralph Northam. Governor Ralph Northam can propose changes before the final decision.
Friday’s budget vote marked the informal end of the special legislative assembly, unlike what the General Assembly has seen in more than 400 years of history. The virus has overturned normal operations. The delegations met in remote areas and often had technical problems. The Senate has abandoned the Capitol due to a large conference room nearby.
Initially a short session focused on virus-affected income and spending, it lasted for two months instead and expanded to include police reforms and other issues after George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police. Did. Prohibition of non-knocking warrants, laws that allow local governments to establish subpoena and disciplinary powers, and facilitate revocation of accreditation of police officers who commit illegal acts Major new criminal justice reform bills, including changes, have been passed.
On Friday, lawmakers gave final approval to a bill to establish a community care team around the state to respond to emergency calls involving people with mental health problems. The team is headed by a mental health provider and has police as backup support. The law is named after teacher Marcus-David Peters, who was shot deadly after being charged by a Richmond police officer during the 2018 mental health crisis.
“This is a life-saving bill, no doubt,” said Democratic Senator Jeremy McPike.
Parliamentarians also approved a law that puts the jury’s practice of making judgments in criminal cases to the judge. Virginia is currently one of six states in which a jury can rule a defendant.
In terms of budget, lawmakers took much longer to pass spending plans than originally expected. Part of the issue was the dispute over whether to include budget wording that would allow voters to implement a new constituency change committee if voters approve the constitutional amendment on this election day. The proposed committee split Democrats. The final compromise would include having Norsam send a budget amendment in that language after the election if the referendum passes.
“It will take weeks to get here, but it’s still a big budget for the federal people,” said Senator Janet Howell of the Senate Finance and Expenditure Commission.
The state overcame the pandemic without the need for painful cuts, but lawmakers were often on teacher salary increases, free community college programs, and other priorities approved earlier this year shortly before the pandemic occurred. Had to postpone the new spending.
The Northam administration announced in August that it forecasts a loss of $ 2.7 billion in revenue over the next two years due to a pandemic.
Virginia is relatively wealthy compared to other states, primarily due to its high federal defense spending. Congressmen were also able to spend a little more money than Norsam originally proposed, thanks to his new savings and income. This includes more than expected profits at state-owned liquor stores during a pandemic.
Let’s take a look at some notable budget measures that still require Governor approval.
Public sector wages
In the Democratic legislature, raising salaries for state staff and teachers was a priority, but the effects of the coronavirus prevented it from making approved salary increases earlier this year.
With this new budget, parliamentarians approved a $ 1,500 bonus to state officials in September next year, provided that revenue forecasts are stable. The budget also includes wording instructing the governor to include teacher salary increases in next year’s budget if additional funding is available.
Parliamentarians found about $ 11 million in December to give law enforcement officers a $ 500 bonus.
The law imposes a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year and new restrictions on evictions starting next year. The utility disconnect moratorium has also been extended, requiring Dominion Energy to allow $ 127 million in customer debt.
It also includes provisions dealing with the planned storage and removal of Richmond’s historic statue of Robert E. Lee.
Norsam announced in June that a statue of a state-owned Confederate general would collapse, but proceedings detained his plans in court. Parliamentarians agreed to a budget amendment to abolish the joint resolution of the 1889 General Assembly, which relies on plaintiffs in the proceedings to claim that Northam is not authorized to remove the statue. The trial is set for Monday.
The Associated Press writer Sararankin contributed to this report.