Northam’s vetoes survives reconvened session

The following Va. leg. session speed-read comes by way of Dentons50 partner Shawn Day of Capital Results–editor

In his first year as governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam’s 10 vetoes survived the legislature’s reconvened session this week.

Northam had vetoed bills addressing myriad topics, including immigration enforcement, more regulation of local government contractors’ wages, prohibition of market-based efforts to promote clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, changing the frequency of redistricting and imposing new mandates on local officials to investigate registered voters.

Republicans, who hold a tenuous one-seat majority in the House and Senate, attempted to override Northam’s veto of a bill banning localities from becoming “sanctuary” cities for illegal immigrants but failed to come close to the two-thirds of seats needed in each chamber.

Northam led a Democratic wave in November that resulted in all three statewide offices being won by Democrats, and significant change in the House of Delegates. Republicans salvaged a one-seat advantage in the chamber – where they previously enjoyed a nearly two-thirds majority – after a drawing of lots determined the Republican candidate won a House district race that had ended in an electoral tie.

Republican legislators did succeed in defeating the governor’s amendments to a measure pertaining to funding for the Washington area’s Metro transit system. Northam had amended the bill to raise deed and lodging taxes in Metro localities to fund improvements to the system, and he needed a simple majority in the legislature to approve. While Northam and fellow Democrats were able to win approval in the Senate, they failed to persuade a single Republican in the House to support the plan.

Virginia’s General Assembly remains in special session, which the governor called after delegates and senators failed to negotiate a new two-year budget during the regular session.

Republicans and Democrats in the House of Delegates have approved a budget proposal that aims to reform and expand Medicaid under provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act; Senate Republicans have remained steadfast in refusing to accept a budget that accepts federal tax dollars to cover Medicaid expansion.

The fiscal year ends on June 30.

Northam romps in VA gubernatorial contest

The following election speed-read comes by way of Dentons 50 partner Shawn Day of Capitol Results in Virginia

Current Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam easily defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in the race for Virginia governor, leading a Democratic sweep of statewide races and capturing more than a dozen new seats in the House of Delegates.

In the campaign’s final weeks, Northam had been criticized for the airing of a provocative ad characterizing Gillespie supporters as Confederates stalking minority children; omitting Justin Fairfax, the African-American Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, from a campaign flyer; and changing his position on sanctuary cities, declaring in a news interview that in fact he opposed them. The RealClearPolitics polling average showed Northam’s lead shrink to 1.9 percentage points, well within the margin of error.

Those figures, however, didn’t hold, as popular dissatisfaction with Republican President Donald Trump and the GOP spurred Virginia voters toward Democrats. Northam, a pediatric neurologist, posted a margin of victory of about 9 percentage points in Tuesday’s Democratic wave.

Democrat Justin Fairfax, a Northern Virginia-based attorney who has never held elected office, defeated Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor by a margin of six points.

By the same margin, incumbent Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring sailed to re-election over Republican and political neophyte John Adams, a Richmond-based attorney.

Northam, Fairfax and Herring will be inaugurated on Jan. 13, 2018.

In the House of Delegates, where all 100 seats were up for election, Republicans saw their 66-seat majority collapse. In unofficial returns, Democrats were poised to pick up at least 14 seats, including the seat of the Republican caucus chairman, the Republican caucus whip, and multiple Republican committee chairmen. Two additional seats appeared to tilt to Democrats, and two others appeared to qualify for an automatic recount.

If Democrats manage to pick up 16 seats, they would force a power-sharing agreement with Republicans, marking the first time since the late 1990s that such an arrangement was made in Virginia’s House. A gain of 17 seats would give Democrats an outright majority, their first since 1997.

Republicans maintain a one-seat majority in the state Senate. As the lieutenant governor, Democrat Justin Fairfax will follow in Northam’s footsteps in casting any tie-breaking votes in the chamber.