Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2017 Reconvened Session

The Virginia General Assembly met Wednesday for the “reconvened” or “veto” session to consider Governor McAuliffe’s amendments and vetoes.

Governor McAuliffe signed over 700 bills this year, but he vetoed 39 bills and amended 67 more. He also made 27 amendments to the budget passed by the General Assembly.

Many of us were disappointed by the nature of the Governor’s vetoes.  The vetoes were very partisan and highlighted division and opposition.  Many of the bills he vetoed were commonsense bills, including bills that allowed parents to make their own educational decisions for their families, protected small businesses from national union bosses, and helped ensure the integrity of our voter registration system.

Among the Governor’s vetoes was my House Bill 1400, which established the Virginia Virtual School.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get the two-thirds margin necessary to override the veto in the House. Virginia is a leader in so many areas, but we continue to fall further behind with regard to virtual learning. While I am disappointed in this setback, I look forward to continuing the discussions about virtual learning in the interim and, if I am re-elected, in the 2018 Session.

Also included in the Governor’s vetoes were eight bills that originally passed the House with veto-proof majorities thanks to the support of Democrats. Yesterday, however, many Democrats put partisan politics above public policy and voted to sustain the Governor’s vetoes, even on bills that they supported in the regular session.

Governor McAuliffe also made several major amendments to the General Assembly’s two-year budget.  Included in these amendments was language to allow the Governor to expand Medicaid. The House once again rejected this effort. Despite the recent failed action of the U.S. House of Representatives to replace the ACA, nothing has changed with regard to Medicaid expansion.  Efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have stalled, but they have not ended.  This creates a tremendous amount of uncertainty around healthcare policy. It would be irresponsible for Virginia to expand a government run program on a promise from Washington that may or may not be there in the future.

With the reconvened session complete, the General Assembly has completed its work for 2017. We will return to Richmond in January 2018 to begin another legislative session.  

Despite the Governor’s vetoes, I am proud of what the House was able to accomplish on behalf of Virginians this year. We closed a billion dollar budget deficit with a conservative and responsibly balanced state budget. We also passed legislation to strengthen Virginia’s still lagging economy, improve our public education system, help make college more affordable for Virginia families, and improve healthcare.

We will be operating out of the 20th District for the remainder of 2017.  You can reach us by phone at 540-448-3999. You can also continue to reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov

Campaign inquiries should be sent to Dickie@BellforDelegate.com.

If you prefer to send written correspondence it can be sent to Post Office Box 239, Staunton, VA 24402.

It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates.  I hope you will stay connected with me over the coming months.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance to you in any way.

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