Saturday, February 23, 2013

Update: Legislators work to get beyond AG's eleventh-hour ruling

Interesting. An eleventh-hour legal opinion by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli questioning the constitutionality of expanding Medicaid in the Commonwealth put a stop to the debate going on over transportation, causing the State Senate to adjourn Friday without voting on the bill that was passed earlier in the day by the House.

Reporter Jim Nolan with the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote that local delegate Ben Cline, who voted against the transportation bill in the House, took the question to Cuccinelli:
But while lawmakers were closing in on a deal, and a letter from McDonnell, to allow legislative action to move forward on transportation, Del. Benjamin L. Cline, R-Rockbridge, the co-chairman of the Conservative Caucus, asked Cuccinelli whether the General Assembly, as part of enacting the budget, could delegate the authority to make spending decisions regarding Medicaid to a smaller "sub-group of elected officials, including members of the General Assembly."
Nolan updated with the latest going on at the Capitol:
House and Senate budget negotiators say they already have language that addresses the constitutional concerns raised by Attorney General Ken Cuccinell over the proposed creation of a special legislative committee to determine whether Virginia could expand its Medicaid program.

"We feel like we have worked it out in a constitutional manner," said Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Augusta, chairman of the Senate Finance subcommittee on health and human resources.

Hanger's position was supported by two key House negotiators, Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, and Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, who huddled in the Capitol before meetings of their respective caucuses.

"We have language already agreed to," said Landes, who said the conference report would not require amendment.

Jones said the attorney general issued his opinion to Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, without seeing the actual language in the Medicaid budget amendment agreed to by the conference committee.
It's the last day of the 2013 regular General Assembly session. With these latest maneuverings, will it go into the night?

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