Update to the last post: I’ve now gotten confirmation from Rep. Andy Davis that the idea of annual regular sessions of the General Assembly is his. He said that it was just in the idea phase and that he doesn’t have anything drafted yet. His heart is not set on it, he said — “just an idea to toss around.” Either way, he supports eliminating the fiscal session, which he described as “more useless than helpful.”
Under current law, the legislature convenes for a regular session in odd-numbered years and a shorter fiscal session ostensibly only devoted to budget matters in even-numbered years.
Davis said that if the legislature moved to annual sessions, one possibility would be to cap each session at 60 days, so that in practice the approximate time in session would be equivalent to today. (The biennial regular session now is 60 days but inevitably gets extended; the legislature can extend it 15 days with a two-thirds majority and beyond that with a three-fourths majority under current law. The biennial fiscal session is 30 days but can be extended 15 days with a three-fourths majority.)
We’re going to chat in more detail about it tomorrow, but Davis offered these general thoughts about his thinking:
He said that he thought House members would feel less pressure to rush bills in session if they knew that they had another opportunity in the same two-year term.
He said that he thought it would allow constituents to respond to requests more quickly.
He expressed the hope that it would reduce the need for special sessions.
Regarding the impacts on those who work outside of the legislature, Davis, an engineer who owns a business providing parts and services related to wastewater treatment, said that special sessions can often be worse than regular sessions in terms of planning to take time off from work. (Readers of this blog will remember that Davis has been accused of pursuing legislation that benefits his business interests.)
Any change to how the General Assembly meets would have to come via a constitutional amendment; any such proposal coming out of the legislature would then have to be approved by voters. For more, including a proposal to simply do away with the fiscal session and meet biennially, see our previous post.