Pope, Church and State: A Weekly Look at This Year’s General Assembly Session

General Assembly 2018-01As part of our continuing General Assembly coverage, Luke Church and Michael Pope sat down each week of the session to break down the highlights from the Capitol.


The first week of the session was largely centered around outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe, who delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address to the joint chamber. McAuliffe discussed the accomplishments of his administration, although expanding Medicaid coverage in the state was one of his priorities that did not come to fruition. Church and Pope discussed reactions from both sides of the aisle to former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s final address.


Governor Ralph Northam’s honeymoon as the new Governor of Virginia didn’t last long, as week two at the General Assembly saw partisan lines reemerge. Republicans saw Northam’s first address to the joint chamber as a continuation of rhetoric from out-going Governor Terry McAuliffe. Despite a tense atmosphere in Richmond, there were attempts to move forward with legislation in a bipartisan manner. Luke Church and Michael Pope also discussed some of the newest faces at the session this year.


Medicaid expansion was at the forefront of discussions at the General Assembly this week. In addition, many in Richmond were still reeling from the way the tied 94th House District race was decided — by the luck of the draw. There were calls on both sides of the aisle to make sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen again.


Discussions over Medicaid expansion continued this week at the General Assembly. Republicans indicated a desire to potentially compromise, but they wanted a work requirement to be included in any possible expansion. The debate over Confederate monuments also came to the forefront of discussions this week.


Lawmakers came together in a bipartisan manner this week to strike a deal that will reform Virginia’s criminal justice system. Democrats got to raise the felony theft threshold limit, while Republicans got to reform the state’s restitution system, which is plagued by hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid money to victims.


The session reached its halfway point this week. Democrats and Republicans alike said they were surprised at how much had been accomplished. Some big fights remained though, including medicaid expansion and the budget. Michael Pope and Luke Church discuss lawmaker reaction to the Florida shooting as well as what had been accomplished up to the halfway point of the 2018 session.


Money, money, money. The push to approve budget amendments was the main highlight of the session this week. Both chambers reached a final budget, but a showdown over Medicaid expansion became a major sticking point.


The end of the 2018 General Assembly session was in sight this week, but there were still some big issues to tackle. Gun control reform measures went nowhere, and vast differences over how to reach a final budget agreement remained.


The session adjourned on Saturday, but there’s one major task still left to tackle: a final budget agreement. The major sticking point seems to be Medicaid expansion. Governor Ralph Northam has indicated he plans to call for a special session in order for lawmakers to come together on a final state budget.


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