Lawmakers reject fuel tax vacation, oust prime Democrat, kill hashish invoice in drama-filled session

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)-In a drama-filled day on the Virginia State Capitol, a fuel tax vacation proposal was rejected, a prime Democrat was ousted from management and an effort to create new marijuana penalties failed. 

The politically-divided General Assembly got here again to Richmond to behave on 26 vetoes and greater than 100 amendments from Governor Glenn Youngkin. Other issues stole the present within the morning.

Gas tax vacation rejected

Youngkin’s push to droop the state’s portion of the fuel tax was rejected by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan vote of 12-3. The laws sought to get rid of the tax fully for 90 days beginning in May earlier than phasing it again in totally in October. 

“It’s a chance for us to give Virginians a break when they need it most. So yeah, I’m disappointed that the Democrats don’t see that and they continue to think it’s their money,” Youngkin advised reporters throughout a short look on the State Capitol.

Opponents of the fuel tax vacation raised issues about hurting transportation funding and questions on whether or not shoppers would truly see financial savings. 

“There is only one reason why the conditions of the roads look the way they are today: money, they don’t have the money,” Senator Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) stated. “This whole thing could not have come at a worse time from the standpoint of highway maintenance.” 

“We can’t stop inflation by having a tax holiday, we can’t. Number two, construction costs are going up rapidly…and then three, I just simply don’t think that a gas tax holiday makes a difference,” stated Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). 

The laws remains to be alive within the Republican-controlled House of Delegates however the rejection signifies an uphill battle. 

Top Democrat faraway from management

Drama from House Democrats generated extra headlines.

Former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn was ousted as minority chief by a skinny margin in a closed-door caucus assembly. 

Filler-Corn declined to touch upon digital camera however, in an announcement, she thanked Virginians for permitting her to develop into the primary girl and first particular person of Jewish religion to function Speaker. 

“I was proud of all that we accomplished after taking the majority in 2019 and was willing to step up as Minority Leader once more to regain that majority. Our caucus is made up of 48 talented and diverse individuals and I look forward to working with them to retake the majority,” Filler-Corn stated. 

Delegate Don Scott (D-Portsmouth), who’s hoping to fill the now-empty prime spot, refused to provide particular causes justifying Filler-Corn’s elimination. 

“It’s family business,” Scott stated. 

Bill creating new marijuana penalties, cracking down on Delta-8 useless

The Senate used a procedural maneuver to kill a invoice amended by Youngkin that would have created new misdemeanor penalties for marijuana possession beginning at two ounces.

Youngkin gained’t have a chance to approve the unique invoice that got here to his desk as is customary, in line with Senator Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William). 

“Number one, it created new crimes,” stated McPike in an interview earlier than the vote. “It’s a non-starter. That substitute needs to fail and it’s important that folks do a reset on this. I think there was good intention with the original bill.” 

The now-dead invoice as handed set new per bundle and per serving limits on THC that despatched shock waves by the CBD business. Many feared they might be compelled to discontinue merchandise. 

The laws additionally sought to ban the retail sale of Delta-8 hashish merchandise and sure edibles which may be interesting to children.

“For this body to fail to take action this year…I think it’s really an egregious irresponsibility,” stated Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico). 

Youngkin’s vetoes had been both uncontested or upheld, regardless of pushback from Democrats.

“This is what we’re up against. Nonsensical rationale for killing bipartisan legislation that could’ve helped thousands,” Delegate Marcia Price (D-Newport News) stated on the House ground. 

Budget stalemate continues

Notably absent from the motion on Wednesday was a vote on the state’s subsequent price range. Lawmakers have been at a stalemate because the common session led to March. 

Senator Steve Newman (R-Bedford) isn’t anticipating a deal till subsequent month. 

“We’re still making some progress but there are a couple of big issues, including how much money we’re going to return to working Virginians in tax cuts. That’s still up in the air,” Newman stated. 

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