By Brandon Jarvis

The General Assembly is meeting today to begin a special session with a broad mandate to address budget pitfalls from COVID-19, criminal justice and police reform, and election security concerns. This page will be updated throughout the day, split into sections for each individual meeting or session with time stamps.

Budget representation to money committees from Governor Northam’s administration

9:30 a.m.

The day begins at 9:30 a.m. with an address from Governor Northam to the finance committees from both the House of Delegates and Senate.

Northam told the legislators that spending cuts enacted since the beginning of the pandemic has saved the state $500 million.

Localities across the state received $1.3 billion of the federal CARES Act money that was given to Virginia. This is 45% of the total $3.1 billion that Virginia received.

The Governor said there was a $234 million shortfall in revenue at the end of the fiscal year at the end of June. His administration is predicting $2.7 billion less for the general fund in revenue for the upcoming biennial and that the new revenue forecast is recessionary.

After making investments in public schools across the country during the normal 2020 session at the beginning of the year, Northam says he is not reinstating spending on his top educational priorities right now. The funding of this new legislation was put on hold after the pandemic caused the economic crisis. These priorities included an increase in teacher pay and more investment in behavioral health and school transportation.

Northam says he plans to return to these priorities in January but that the economy must improve first – following up by saying the health crisis must improve for the economic crisis to improve.

The broad view of Northam’s priorities includes increasing access to broadband internet, police and criminal justice reform, investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and ensuring access to safe, affordable housing while trying to prevent people from being evicted.

Aubrey Layne, the Finance Secretary told the committees that the makeup of Virginia’s economy helped keep the economy from falling quickly. Layne said the defense spending in Virginia is a part of that.

1 p.m. House of Delegates and Senate convene

1:15 p.m. View opening remarks from Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn here.

1:30 p.m. The House is debating the scope of the session moving forward. Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R) asks Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) if the Democrats are going to allow any GOP bills to be voted upon, Herring says that decision is up to Speaker Filler-Corn (D).

2 p.m. The House of Delegates is discussing HR514, which permits conducting a session of the House, or a committee or other legislative branch public body meeting, by electronic communication means during a disaster or other emergency.

The resolution fails on party lines, Democrats supported voting virtually while Republicans voted against meeting virtually.

2:15 p.m. The House is debating suspending rule 18e for the duration of this special session. Speaker Filler-Corn says committees and subcommittees would be able to meet and vote as soon as soon as Thursday

2:15 p.m. The House is debating suspending rule 18e for the duration of this special session. Speaker Filler-Corn says committees and subcommittees would be able to meet and vote as soon as Thursday if they approve this, instead of having to wait until Sunday.

2;37 p.m. While the House is still at ease, VPM’s Roberto Roldan reported that Delegate Marcus Simon (D) said they’ll meet virtually going forward. Roldan reported that Simon indicated that If Republicans won’t vote with them on a rules change or a rules suspension today, then they’ll wait until the weekend to pass it with a simple majority and then start everything next week.

2:45 p.m. The House failed to pass the motion to suspend 18e, meaning that they will have to return on Sunday to vote again, this time only needed a simple majority to pass.

3:20 p.m. The House is voted on on HR 515 which authorizes the Speaker of the House of Delegates to provide for a session of the House to be conducted by electronic communication means during the 2020 Special Session I. The motion passed the House.

3:22 p.m. The House passed HR516 – which entails salaries, contingent and incidental expenses, and per diem to be paid during 2020 Special Session I.

4:30 p.m. The House continues to be at recess.

New Story at 4:45 p.m. House Democrats Win Effort To Allow Virtual Meetings During Special Session

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