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Virginia House, Senate now Must Reconcile Budget Bills

TYLER WHITLEY AND JEFF E. SCHAPIRO TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITERSPublished: February 26, 2010 Updated: February 26, 2010 Source: Courtesy of Richmond Times Dispatch

The House of Delegates and Virginia Senate easily approved budget bills yesterday, but the hard part, trying to reach agreement on widely different bills, lies ahead.

The two bodies now have about two weeks to fashion a budget on which they can agree before the scheduled March 13 adjournment.

After almost four hours of partisan wrangling, the House passed its budget bill 61-38, with all the Republicans and two independents voting for it and all Democrats voting against.

The Senate plowed through its budget-balancing plan in about an hour, approving the package 30-10.

"I've seen some difficult budgets but never as tough as this one," said Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William, a 34-year veteran.

Only Republicans voted against the measure. They included two from the Richmond area, Stephen H. Martin of Chesterfield County and Ryan T. McDougle of Hanover County.

In the House, Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the difficulty in making $4 billion in cuts to balance the budget.

"However, I believe that the budget before us today strikes a sensible balance between meeting the core commitments that we as politicians like to talk about and the burden placed on the taxpayers who must foot the bill."

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Va. House Passes Bill to Defy Health Care Mandate

By: William C. FlookExaminer Staff Writer Source: Courtesy of The Washington Examiner February 12, 2010

Virginia's House of Delegates on Thursday voted to defy a potential health insurance mandate from Congress. The vote, which follows the passage of a similar measure in the Virginia Senate last week, puts the state legislature squarely in opposition to a core provision of congressional Democrats' health care bill.

The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, sponsored by Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, passed 72-26 in the Republican-controlled chamber.

The legislation looks to exempt Virginians from any government requirement to buy into a health plan, although its larger purpose is as a "message bill" meant to persuade federal legislators — especially those representing Virginia — to back off from the proposed overhaul.

"It's pretty clear that government-run health care is unwelcome in Virginia," said Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation. "Hopefully our federal representatives will get the message and pull the plug on Obamacare."

READ THE FULL TEXT at THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Air Force vet takes on 18-year House vet

Source: InsideNova.com By Jonathan Hunley

The House of Delegates’ 13th District has changed dramatically over the past few years: more people, more business, more traffic.

Democrat John Bell is banking on the notion that those changes foreshadow voters wanting another switch: that of their representative in Richmond.

Del. Robert G. “Bob” Marshall, on the other hand, is touting his 18-year record of speaking for residents in parts of Prince William and Loudoun counties. By the night of Nov. 3, it should be clear whose arguments won out.

Until then, political observers have a lot to contrast.

Bell claims that his Republican opponent’s time at the State Capitol has focused too much on social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.

He said he would target “commutes, jobs and schools.”

“I’m a frustrated commuter,” said Bell, who’s lived in both counties in the 13th District. “I go to McLean every day.”

One way to have more money for roads would be to improve maintenance efficiency, he said, thereby saving money devoted to that task.

On jobs, he said 13th District residents could benefit if two industries were brought to Prince William and Loudoun: the fields of alternative energy and automating medical records.

And on education, he said he wants to maintain the availability of extracurricular activities for students.

To defeat such an entrenched opponent, Bell has tried to literally reach as many voters as possible.

On Oct. 12, he said his campaign had knocked on 3,500 doors the weekend before.

“I don’t know of another House campaign in Virginia that had that much canvassing,” Gov. Timothy M. Kaine told Bell workers and volunteers outside the campaign headquarters in Gainesville that day.

“Well, we think it’s an absolute key to victory,” Bell responded. “Door-to-door, face-to-face contact, make it real.”

Bell has been endorsed by stalwart Democratic groups such as unions and environmental groups, and by the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

As of Oct. 15, he had raised $395,004 in campaign funds, according to the State Board of Elections, and spent $320,471.

Marshall, conversely, had raised $105,640 this year, as of Oct. 15. He had spent $64,678.

But he points out that he’s frequently outspent by voters.

And he brushes off Bell’s talk about being overly concerned with social issues.

“Well,” he said, “he obviously is ignoring my real public record.”

He notes that he worked with other Prince William area lawmakers to get approval for widening Interstate 66 in the Manassas area.

And he pointed out in a debate before the nonpartisan Prince William Committee of 100 that Kaine, a Democrat, asked him — instead of a member of the governor’s own party — to introduce a slow-growth bill.

He also said he that he would like efficiency councils set up to always make sure Virginia is operating cost-effectively.

And he championed an unsuccessful bill this year that would have mandated insurance companies cover autism-related treatments.

So he’s not a right-wing nut, he said.

However, he’s proud of his stance of trying to protect life, and of authoring the state’s constitutional amendment saying that marriage is only between one man and one woman.

“How many people have a constitutional amendment behind their name?” he asked.

Staff writer Jonathan Hunley can be reached at 703-369-5738.