In the State Senate, there is no more august body than the Senate Finance Committee. They have control over both taxes and spending in the Commonwealth (unlike the House which splits the functions between two committees).
This session, I have several bills before Finance. This a.m., I presented three of them with mixed success:
SB 1129 permits local governments to publish their “warrants,” i.e. their checking records, online. It’s a local option and localities can use the power as much (or as little) as they like to inform their constituents. This was a bipartisan bill also patroned by Sen. Cuccinelli. Unfortunately, it was opposed pretty vociferously by some local governments who prefer not to have this option (and thus avoid deciding how to use this info). The bill was defeated in Committee 7-8.
SB 1131 would shorten the state requirement for publishing notice on real property tax rate changes from 30 days to 10 days before official action. It’s a request from Fairfax City. In the modern age of the Internet, 10 days is a long time to receive info and act. On the other hand, 30 days notice is a major obstacle for a local government setting a budget. The bill passed unanimously.
SB 1132 eliminates sales tax charged on Virginians who pay for the processing of their own meat and vegetables. It levels the playing field for local farmers competing with vertically-integrated grocery chains. It was brought to me by our local farmers’ markets. This bill passed unanimously and was “rolled into” an identical bill (SB 944) sponsored by Senator Deeds.
All this happened in about 45 minutes. I’m now back at my desk with a cup of coffee reading the Post.