The halfway point of the legislative calendar, crossover, is upon us. The pace in the Senate was quicker and the floor sessions longer.
Although we’re already more than 30 days into this year’s 60-day session, we’re actually not quite halfway done. The second half of the legislative session is when it becomes a lot clearer what will and what will not be approved and sent to the Governor. During the first half of the session, both chambers consider the bills filed by their respective members. When crossover arrives on February 13, the Senate will have considered just under 1,000 bills filed by senators.
After crossover, we will be considering bills filed by delegates that won approval in the House. Although delegates filed more than 1,600 bills this session, the Senate won’t have to consider nearly that many during the second half of session. The House will have winnowed down its bills, approving only a fraction of the ones submitted by delegates.
The Senate has been especially efficient this year. Over 80% of the bills filed by senators have already been acted upon with several days remaining before the crossover deadline.
In Washington, the Senate must approve the appointments made by the President to his cabinet, embassies, and a wide range of other key policy positions. It’s a little different in Virginia. Yes, the Senate must approve appointments to the cabinet and a wide range of boards of commissions. But unlike Washington, the House also gets to weigh in as its approval of gubernatorial appointments is also required.
This week, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee approved dozens of Governor Northam’s appointees. Now, those appointees will be considered by the full Senate and then by the House.
There was action on several of my bills this week. This week a couple of my bills received overwhelming support, passing out of the Senate and crossing over into the House. SB 368 which will provide teachers who are preparing to be reading specialists additional training in identifying and instructing students with dyslexia was passed unanimously, while SB 369 that will require our children have a solid background in history and social studies passed by a vote of 38 to 1. Both now head to the House Committee on Education for their consideration.
More Virginians took the time to come to the Capitol this week. Several stopped by our offices and saw the legislative process up close. We welcomed a contingent of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, conservation representatives and some individuals who came with concerns on various bills.
Remember, you can also contact our offices by writing us at District23@senate.virginia.gov or calling us at (804) 698-7523.
After crossover is behind us, we consider legislation filed by delegates and complete our work on the Senate version of the Commonwealth’s 2018-2020 biennial budget. That means there’ll be a lot to talk about – and a lot going on – in the coming weeks.