Virginia lawmakers returning to Richmond for 2023 General Assembly Session
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Ahead of the start of the 2023 Virginia General Assembly, state lawmakers are pitching their bills to the public and hoping for support across the aisle.
On Tuesday morning, lawmakers gathered for a bipartisan push to allow the State Corporation Commission to lower electric utility rates if customers are overcharged. An hour before that, there was another push to create a new Prescription Drug Affordability Board to reduce the cost of medicine.
“Those are some of the things we want to do to help working families, you know, bring down the cost of health care, make sure their kids have a world-class education,” said Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, (D) 72nd District.
In Virginia, Democrats control the Senate, and Republicans control the House. That means lawmakers will have to find common ground to pass any legislation.
“We have divided government, and so we are going to try to work with our Democratic colleagues in the Senate to try to find a pathway forward on things that we can accomplish,” said House Speaker Todd Gilbert, (R) 15th District.
While that won’t happen over a 15-week abortion ban, republicans think they can find bipartisanship to overhaul state mental health services. The governor wants $230 million for a “Right Help. Right Now” campaign.
“Find more opportunities for intervention, for rehabilitation, which means more bodies, more professionals, more money, frankly,” said Speaker Gilbert.
Both parties agree on the need to address pay for teachers and law enforcement officers, improve workforce training and boost economic development.
On that last part, Republicans hope an additional billion dollars in tax cuts will do the job. Democrats disagree with proposing a fully refundable earned income tax credit. Democrats also seem doubtful that marijuana regulations will move forward.
“I really think that that’s going to require an effort from the top down, meaning the governor and the leadership in the house and senate to come together. I’m not optimistic that that’s going to happen,” said Del. VanValkenburg.
Those gavels come down inside both chambers of the Virginia Statehouse at noon on Wednesday.
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