By Sarah Hogg, Advocacy & Communications Intern. Contact her at @SarahLovely or email her here.
Last week was a pretty crazy week in Virginia politics. In case you missed it, we’ve got your recap right here!
On Monday, June 9th, anti-choice Democratic Senator Phillip Puckett abruptly and unexpectedly resigned. This shocking news – announced as Richmond legislators continued their ongoing debate over Medicaid Expansion – marked a huge and consequential power shift in the Virginia Senate. While Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam had been serving as the tie-breaking vote in an evenly split (20 – 20) Senate, Puckett’s resignation effectively gave Virginia Republicans the majority with a 20 votes to the Democrats’ 19. Furthermore, Puckett’s resignation initially appeared to be prompted by new jobs for himself and his daughter — leading at least one progressive organization to call for an investigation into the possibility of an ethic violation.
Regardless of the motivation behind Puckett’s resignation, the news is incredibly troubling. Although Sen. Puckett is anti-choice (and has consistently scored a 0% on our legislative scorecards) loss of Democratic control in the VA Senate could have HUGE consequences for women’s rights — not to mention healthcare for over 400,000 Virginians.
The first casualty came late in the evening on June 13th. After hours of debate, the Virginia General Assembly finally adopted a state budget. But instead of including federal money to expand Medicaid in Virginia, the budget completely rejects Medicaid Expansion – and even includes language to further block health care expansion in the Commonwealth. We at NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia are extremely disappointed that the current budget (currently awaiting action from Governor McAuliffe) does not include health care for 400,000 working men, women, and their families. We will keep you updated as the budget process continues — check back for more information & breaking news!