by Brandon Jarvis

Del. Luke Torian (D), the Chair of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates, sent a memo to the House members recently notifying them that the House and Senate finance committees would not be allowing member amendments for budget bills that the governor proposes during the upcoming special session. 

“I write to share with you that because of the unique circumstances and limited nature of the 2021 Special Session II, neither the House Appropriations Committee nor the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee will be accepting any member amendment request to the Governor’s introduced bill,” Torian wrote in the memo to delegates. “It simply would be impossible to thoroughly evaluate those items in what is expected to be a short and expeditious Special Session.” 

The legislators are convening next week to allocate the $4.3 billion in funds that Virginia received from the American Relief Plan. Governor Northam already pledged $250 million towards helping localities update the ventilation systems in their schools, $350 million for small business and tourism, and $700 million to expand access to broadband. More announcements from Democratic leaders are expected throughout the week for how they wish to use the funding during what the governor’s office dubbed ‘Investment Week.’

Republicans are in a position to potentially slow down the Democratic efforts from easily passing the governor’s budget, but they lack the numbers in either chamber to actually prevent bills from passing. Additionally, these proposals will benefit a lot of their constituents — opposing these measures could backfire on the Republican candidates only a few months before they try and chip into the Democratic majority in the House of Delegates with all 100 seats up for election Nov. 2.

Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) said he hopes that this money can be used to help Southwest Virginia students gain access to broadband internet. “This is the commonwealth’s chance to finally address this critical infrastructure issue facing our students, an issue the SWVA delegation has advocated for years,” Kilgore said in a press release.

Legislators convene Aug. 2 for the second special session of 2021.

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By vascope