Heated debates expected in General Assembly's veto session

Heated debates expected in General Assembly's veto session

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday for the veto session. While Republicans are not expected to have enough votes to override the Governor's vetoes, heated discussions are still expected.

Governor McAuliffe has been boasting about vetoing a record number of bills in Virginia over his term, including 40 just this year.  Now the House and Senate will debate those vetoes and consider some significant amendments the Governor added to other bills.

At the top of the list is Medicaid expansion. Since Congress did not replace the Affordable Care Act a couple of weeks ago, the Governor proposed an amendment that would allow him to expand medicaid to cover 400,000 more people in Virginia.

Democratic Senator Jennifer McClellan of Richmond supports it, saying, "There are about 400,000 Virginians who don't have insurance as a result, and the only rationale they gave was the Affordable Care Act is going to be repealed. Well, it wasn't. I think it's time to move forward and close that coverage gap."

House Speaker designee and current Majority Leader Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights say the Republican majority will reject the amendment.

"We have really tried to help the folks who really don't fall into that safety net," said Cox. "So, for example, we've probably put $32 million to $33 million in the mental health fund. We do a lot with free clinics. I ran into a lady today who thanked us for the work we do with free clinics. We think that's a better safety net and also for the state's fiscal health."

The Republican majority in the House and Senate are also expected to reject the Governor's amendment to restore Virginia's one-gun-a-month law.

Both Cox and McClellan say there's more support for the Governor's amendment on coal ash. That measure would delay Dominion Power from closing its coal ash ponds until it provides more information about possible contamination and closure alternatives.

Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority vote, which the Republicans don't have in either body. Therefore, they're not likely to override the Governor's vetoes unless some Democrats are swayed or do not vote.

Amendments to bills only need a simple majority vote to pass.

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