Lawmakers uphold Governor's vetoes, but block new taxes for Metro

Virginia lawmakers returned to Richmond to take up Gov. Ralph Northam's vetoes and proposed amendments to legislation.

On a 50-48 party-line vote, members of the House of Delegates have blocked a measure that would have boosted some hotel and real estate transfer taxes.

"I've been very supportive of Delegate Hugo's push to make sure we get the $150 million, but that it be done without a tax increase and that there be some key reforms", said House Speaker Kirk Cox (R - Colonial Heights).

The House action allowed Democrats to avoid voting for tax increases that weren't going to pass. With only a slim majority of seats in both the House and Senate, Republicans didn't have the needed two-thirds majority to override any of the Governor's ten vetoes this year.

While he argued the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will still have $266 million per year available for other transportation projects, Falls Church Democratic Del.

But Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, said the proposed new taxes were "rather modest" and preferable to losing regional transportation funds that localities would have to raise taxes to replace. In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Northam called the bill "historic", but repeated his concerns. But Hugo wanted to do that without raising taxes, tweeting "I will insist that the final bill have no tax increases".

His options are limited with the stakes so high for Metro, considered a vital cog in the Northern Virginia and state economy, and the continuing budget impasse over the House proposal to expand Medicaid. Northam sought to add a re-enactment clause to each bill, so that it could not take effect unless the legislature passed it again in 2019. The Senate Finance Committee canceled a meeting that had been scheduled Wednesday to hear a presentation on state revenues and a comparison of the competing budgets, but it could meet next week to act on the House spending plan. A sanctuary city is a locality that declines to notify federal immigration authorities when undocumented immigrants are arrested.

Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, urged Democrats to uphold the veto, calling the proposed ban an unnecessary and divisive measure that would impede immigrant communities' relationships with law enforcement. Marcus Simon said that remains far short of what the region really needs.