Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Bedford County, has more work to do in persuading the General Assembly to make the final version of the state budget available to the public before legislators vote on it.
The bill has died without a vote in the House of Delegates.
Smith won a long-sought victory earlier this month when the Senate unanimously passed his bill (Senate Bill 1161). The legislation would require the budget deal worked out by House and Senate negotiators to be posted online for 48 hours before lawmakers act on it. Smith has proposed similar legislation in each of the past five years, but never got the bill out of committee and to the full Senate until this year. His original bill would have required the budget to be posted for 72 hours before a vote on passage.
After passing the Senate, the bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. And that’s where it remained Monday when the deadline passed for committee action on legislation.
Smith said House committee members told him the bill was not needed because the 48-hour provision was adopted as part of a procedural resolution governing the conduct of legislative business in this session. Smith’s bill would not have taken effect until July 1, and would have had no practical application until the 2014 General Assembly session.
Smith said he was happy to get the bill through the Senate this year and will keep pushing for the legislation.
“If I live long enough, it’s going to be on the governor’s desk,” Smith said.
– Michael Sluss