Lawmakers uphold Governor's vetoes, but block new taxes for Metro

Lawmakers uphold Governor's vetoes, but block new taxes for Metro

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - State lawmakers were back at the capitol for Veto Day. With only a slim majority of seats in both the House and Senate, Republicans didn't have the needed two-thirds majority to override any of the Governor's ten vetoes this year.

In a last minute move, House Republicans did reject two taxes the Governor added to a bill to fund Metro.

While lawmakers didn't even try to override some vetoes, there was a debate about the bill that would have banned sanctuary cities. A sanctuary city is a locality that declines to notify federal immigration authorities when undocumented immigr ants are arrested.

Governor Northam vetoed the bill.

Delegate Ben Cline (R - Rockbridge) originally proposed the bill and argued for it again on Wednesday.

"The Governor said this could have a negative impact on public safety. You know what has a negative impact on public safety? Not enforcing the law," said Delegate Cline.

"A recent University of Illinois study found 45 percent of immigr ants were less likely to report a crime as the result of increased involvement of local police in immigration enforcement" responded Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D - Arlington).

While Virginia has no sanctuary cities at present, Delegate Cline announced petitions are circulating to establish Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Harrisonburg as sanctuary cities. Republicans didn't have enough votes to override the veto, therefore the ban failed.

Another hot debate: Governor Northam added two tax increases to the $150 million Metro funding bill. One was an increase in a hotel tax on jurisdictions served by Metro from two to three percent. Another was an increase in a real estate transfer tax.

House Republicans blocked those taxes at the end of the day, upholding their original commitment to funding Metro without raising taxes.

"I've been very supportive of Delegate Hugo's push to make sure we get the $150 million, but that it be done without a tax increase and that there be some key reforms," said House Speaker Kirk Cox (R - Colonial Heights).

Before session convened, supporters for Medicaid expansion rallied again outside the Capitol, hoping the Senate will adopt the House budget with Medicaid expansion.

"I care for my father, so it's really hard, it's difficult. Just seeing him be so helpless and not be able to get all the services you need in your home. That's why I'm so dedicated to this," said supporter Shana Boston of Charlottesville.

Most Senate Republicans are still opposed.

"It exposes us tremendously financially, which could lead to a number of problems in the future. Medicaid is our fastest-growing expenditure, even without expansion," said Senator Ryan McDougle (R - Hanover).

A date has not yet been set for the Senate to take up the House version of the budget.

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