GAO previously reported the good news that Virginia’s elected representatives rejected Bloomberg’s money, saying he can’t buy his way into Virginia law enforcement via planting attorneys in the Virginia Attorney General office. AG Mark Herring has asked for Bloomberg’s resources “to advance the agenda represented by” a group created to “advanc[e] progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions”. GAO applauded the Virginia General Assembly’s willingness to say “no” to outside special interests trying to use those positions to leverage our judicial system to impose a failed policy agenda.
In the document recently posted on the Virginia General Assembly website titled “Budget Amendments – HB1700 (Governor’s Recommendations)” there is good news; Governor Ralph Northam chose not to challenge (or otherwise draw attention to) that restriction on AG Herring’s Office, meaning it will be in effect once the new fiscal year begins in July.
There is one mention of climate in the Governor’s recommendations and amendments: (emphasis added)
“I am proposing several language-only amendments that undo restrictions the General Assembly has placed on the use of state funding. …Two amendments remove language that would restrict the Commonwealth’s ability to join and use proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an important way for us to address the negative effects of climate change.”
Virginia may or may not succeed in joining and using taxpayer fund to enable RGGI, and its cap-and-trade scheme. This language does add throwing money at the “negative effects of climate change”, on top of demands to address impacts of negative weather — such as increased road maintenance after a severe winter — which in Virginia like elsewhere is now largely attributed to climate change, and human influence.
Sources in the VA legislature report that Governor Northam tinkered with enough items in that budget that it looks like a “veto session” is forthcoming. That discussion to come before July 1st, 2019, when the VA budget is due to become law, will likely re-open certain issues of dispute.
On the budget, the only votes will be on whether or not to accept the Governor’s line amendments. Anything untouched — like this slap at the AG canoodling with his party’s (and Herring’s) mega-donor Bloomberg — is in and stays in. If Gov. Northam vetoes the entire budget because he don’t agree on one of those changes, that’s new territory.
GAO will continue to monitor and report on the situation.