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Lawmakers reject restrictions on Medicaid-funded abortions, gas tax holiday

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 8:53 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Friday, lawmakers gathered to review more than 30 budget proposals from Governor Glenn Youngkin for the state’s two-year spending plan. The plan goes into effect on July 1.

Most proposals like the gas tax holiday, restrictions on Medicaid-funded abortions, and funding for laboratory schools passed through the Republican-controlled House with ease.

However, one measure that would have made protesting outside the homes of the judge’s class 6 felony was killed in the House.

Several hours after the House adjourned, the Senate was ready to take up the budget proposals.

One amendment that garnered a lot of attention, dubbed Virginia’s Hyde Amendment, would prohibit tax dollars from covering abortions for fetal abnormalities or because the fetus may be born with a disability.

The Governor’s Office says the Hyde language was reinstated to clarify that Virginian taxpayers will not be forced to pay for abortions.

Democrats hold a very slim majority in the Senate. Still, with Democratic Senator Scott Surovell absent Friday, there were fears that senators like Joe Morrisey would vote against party lines and side with Republicans to adopt the proposal without needing a tie-breaking vote from Lieutenant-Governor Winsome Sears.

Despite those concerns that the restriction would be adopted, a motion was put forward to pass by the proposal, effectively killing it. That motion passed with Senator Morrisey siding with Democrats 20 to 19.

The governor proposed Gas Tax Holiday faced the same fate. The gas tax, if passed, would have briefly eliminated the 26-cent-per-gallon tax for July, August and September at a time when summer travel would be at its height. The amendment also included language to cap future gas tax increases.

Those in favor argued that Virginias needed as much relief as possible to get by, no matter how brief or small, with inflation running rampant.

“I have a lot of constituents who are having a really, really hard time just getting by day to day, and they’re having a really hard time having to make a choice whether to put gas in their tank or food on their table,” Republican Senator John Cosgrove said.

Ultimately, the measure failed after a motion was forwarded to pass by the proposal. Those against it argued gas prices are not reflective of taxes paid and that waiving the tax even for three months wouldn’t do enough to lower gas prices for Virginians, and it would delay necessary roadway repairs the gas tax helps fund.

“We just passed a historic transportation package in 2020, which did a lot, including raising the gas tax in order to repair and maintain our roads.” Democratic Senator John Edwards said. “This was a bad amendment, to begin with.”

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