Not understanding the legislative process

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

As we tried to end the session on time, there was a computer glitch that delayed wrapping up the budget adjustments in the final hours. This placed us in a bad situation. We could not get the budget on everyone’s desk in time for them to review it for 48 hours, which is part of the rules we follow. A rule that can only be changed by a two-thirds majority. Because everyone was aware of the major issues, 24 hours should have been plenty of time to review the changes from one year ago.

Those in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike, agreed that 24 hours was fine. However, the House Democrats, with a new leader this year, decided that they would not agree to that. They, in fact, were insistent that they would not agree to anything.

They would not agree to ending the session on time with a twelve-hour review.

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They would not agree to a twenty-four-hour extension.

After multiple meetings that lasted hours, with Senate Democrats begging their House counterparts to agree to something, someone asked them if they understood that, if at least 16 of them did not agree to vote for the budget or extending session, the session would end with no new adjustments to the budget. All the work on the budget would be for naught this session. When they finally understood, they backed off and allowed a vote. More responsible leadership would have simply encouraged House members to read the budget.

FRANK RUFF JR. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen.Ruff@, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.