Sen. Ralph Smith finally has a victory in his long-running fight for budget transparency.
The Senate today unanimously passed legislation that would require the final version of the state budget bill to be posted on the General Assembly’s website for 48 hours before lawmakers vote on it.
Smith, R-Bedford County, has introduced a similar bill in each of the past five years, only to have the legislation bottled up in committees. This year, Senate Bill 1161 sailed through the Senate Rules Committee last week without a peep of dissent and was passed by the full Senate without opposition.
The bill would require the budget negotiated by House and Senate negotiators to be posted online for two days before lawmakers act on it. It is not uncommon for legislators to vote on a budget compromise hours after the document has been printed and before the public has a chance to digest the details.
If the House of Delegates and Gov. Bob McDonnell approve Smith’s bill, the law would be in effect for the 2014 General Assembly session.
Smith’s original document called for the budget conference report to be posted for 72 hours before legislators vote, but the legislation was amended in committee.
– Michael Sluss