Local Lawmakers Talk About Progress Made in General Assembly

Lynchburg, VA - With less than two weeks to go in their first session, lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly are still dealing with several issues. But local lawmakers representing District 23 say the transportation bill is the most important one.

"To address this critical infrastructure needs that have just been shoved, pushed back and pushed back for decades frankly," said Delegate Scott Garrett.

Republican Senator Steve Newman introduced the transportation bill to the Senate. It was rejected there by two votes.

The bill in the house passed, and next week senators will vote on that bill.

"My hope is that if there are amendments on that bill, they will be conservative amendments that don't raise taxes on working Virginians. But really start to get at the transportation problem that's really growing and growing in the state Virginia," said Newman.

Provisions include getting rid of the gas tax and increasing state sales taxes.

According to the Washington Post, Democratic Virginia Senators Richard Saslaw and Donald McEachin have pledged to work with Governor McDonnell on passing the transportation bill, but they will still hold to their sticking points through the negotiations.

Another big issue this session is the budget.

Newman says he has a problem with an amendment to the Senate budget that calls for the expansion of Medicaid.

"That basically adopted some of the provisions of Obamacare. I did not vote for that and I'm concerned that will become a sticking point between the house and Senate," Newman said.

Garrett says it's hard to make a decision without guidance from the White House.

"Right now, the uncertainty out of a very dysfunctional Washington is almost preventing us from coming up with meaningful solutions for that," Garrett said.

Both lawmakers did say they are happy that the budget includes funding for the Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) project. The budget will include between $28 to $30 million for the programs in the city of Lynchburg.