AG's ruling circumvented, session meltdown averted

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm •  Published: February 23, 2013

To oversee Medicaid reforms as the commission is envisioned to do, Cuccinelli wrote, actions toward that end would require a vote of the entire legislature to comply with the state constitution.

Special legislative commissions with oversight and contingent powers similar to the proposed Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission already exist. The MIRC is patterned on the Major Economic Investment Commission, a 3-year-old panel of four senators and four delegates that vets companies looking to locate and expand in Virginia.

Similarly, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission has power to negotiate rates for the state's centralized data processing and information technology agency.

Medicaid dominated the vote on the budget with Republican conservatives siding with Cuccinelli, arguing that the change made just before the vote still doesn't pass constitutional muster.

"There is a lot to like in this budget — there is very little I see that is objectionable," Cline said. "But due to the concerns that have been raised by many regarding the constitutionality of this language and the original language, I will be voting 'no' on the budget."

One opponent, Republican Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William, promised to sue and have the provision overturned.

But others disagreed, including some of the House's most stalwart conservatives.

"The House of Delegates and the Senate have a long history of delegating authority to commissions and bodies made up of members of both bodies, with authority to make decisions," said Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta County.

Democratic Del Johnny S. Joannou of Portsmouth said the budget wasn't all he wanted, but reasonably represented as much as the House could get in negotiations with the Senate.

"If we're going to have a budget bill this year, it's important there be some kind of compromise and agreement with the body on the other side," he said.

Cuccinelli's office did not publish the ruling on the Attorney General's website Saturday, and he and his aides did not reply to requests for comment.


Follow Bob Lewis on Twitter at (at)APBobLewis.