Gov. Mark R. Warner has said that he wants the legislature to balance Virginia's budget and to make government more effective. He also has made proposals concerning safety and health issues. Here is an update at the session's halfway point.
Budget: Warner has expressed frustration that, in his view, the assembly has not focused on the state's financial troubles. Legislators plan to approve reopening the 12 closed motor vehicle service centers, something Warner endorsed, but they also are considering restoration of Wednesday hours, cut by Warner to save money. The assembly may offer raises for state workers.
Taxes: The assembly has rebuffed bills that would have raised cigarette taxes. Both chambers have passed a repeal of the estate tax. Warner opposed the repeal, saying that there was no reason to repeal the tax when the state was struggling to balance its budget.
Governor's Succession: The House rejected a Warner initiative to allow future Virginia governors to succeed themselves. He said the change would enhance the chief executive's effectiveness. The change would not have affected Warner's term.
Information Technology: The House passed a bill backed by Warner to create a Technology Investment Board to oversee technology projects and to establish the Virginia Information Technologies Agency to replace two other departments.
Highway Safety: Several of Warner's initiatives on highway safety are advancing, but the House and Senate are divided on his request for a tougher law on seat belt use.
Security: Bills proposed by Warner to prepare the health care system, schools, other institutions and the government leadership for emergencies such as terrorist attacks are advancing in both chambers.
Water Policy: Four bills containing changes to state water policy recommended by Warner are advancing in the assembly. Warner wants to encourage planning to ensure an adequate water supply statewide.