RICHMOND – (WMAL) Virginia lawmakers will get to work today attempting to override some of Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes, and they’ll have plenty on their plate. McAuliffe has set records with his vetoes, both in a single session (40) and over his entire term (91).
McAuliffe has trumpeted the numbers, taking pride in being a brick wall against what he sees as a hard-right conservative agenda. Likewise, Republicans have relished their fights with the governor.
“I think what you’re seeing is really the Washington-ization of Richmond,” University of Mary Washington political scientist Dr. Stephen Farnsworth told WMAL. “What you see in the legislature today is much more liberal democrats and much more conservative republicans and very few of those moderate lawmakers that used to make the place run.”
Overrides will be difficult to come by mainly thanks to the composition of the Virginia Senate, which is in the hands of Republicans but only by a two-seat margin.
“You need significant Democratic buy-in to override a Democratic governor, or it’s not going to happen. And that’s why it isn’t happening,” Farnsworth said.
All eyes will be on the final iteration of the long-running battle between McAuliffe and the legislature – expanding Medicaid. McAuliffe re-inserted the provision into the state budget and it is up to Republicans to take it back out.
“It’s the topic that has driven a wedge between the Governor and the Legislature for all four years of this governor’s term,” Farnsworth said.
Lawmakers already failed in their attempt to override a bill that would have eliminated state funds given to Planned Parenthood. Other vetoes up for debate include legalizing the concealed carry of a switchblade, allowing the State Board of Education to authorize charter schools without local permission, mandating identity verification at polling places, and notifying parents of any explicit content being taught in school.
The veto session may represent the capstone to McAuliffe’s term, which will be over at the end of the year. In beginning to think about a legacy, Farnsworth pointed to one of the few issues that drew bipartisanship since McAuliffe took office in 2013.
“There has been a significant effort on the part of McAuliffe, backed by the Republicans in the legislature, to come up with new jobs and new businesses that are not so directly tied to the federal government, and therefore less at risk if there’s a sequester and some of these other issues,” Farnsworth said. “An area, by the way, where there is some level of bipartisan agreement on moving forward.”
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