With balance of power uncertain, state lawmakers meet ahead of 2018 legislative session

State lawmakers met in Virginia Beach on Dec. 1, 2017, to talk about the big issues facing the region.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — State lawmakers met in Virginia Beach on Friday to talk about the big issues facing the region, and how they’ll address those concerns when the General Assembly convenes in January.

We found out they need to get through the election mess before anything can get done. Three elections in the House of Delegates are still up for a recount, and the final balance of power is uncertain.

“I absolutely think it was a Trump backlash,” says Delegate Barry Knight (R-81st) blames a Trump backlash for the stunning November election in which Democrats picked up 15 seats from Republicans in the House of Delegates, and Republicans know January’s General Assembly session could get messy.

Who will have power?

“What this means, if tied…it says the House is going to pick a Speaker. It doesn’t need to be a Republican or a Democrat, it could even be the Clerk of the House Paul Nardo,” says Delegate Knight.

If Democrat Shelly Simonds can pick up 11 votes in a vote recount, and beat Republican Incumbent David Yancey (R-94th) by one vote, then the House will be split 50-50.

Knight doesn’t know what will happen, but he’s ready to serve as Speaker: “They are going to have to have someone in there that really isn’t partisan. Everybody likes me. They probably will pick me for all I know. I get along with everybody,” Knight said with a laugh.

Knight and State Senator Tommy Norment (R-3rd) knows stabilizing the political discord is priority No. 1 to move forward on other big issues, “Maybe as many as 31,000 jobs may have been lost…not all military,” said the Norment about local jobs lost during the last year.

“So curbing job loss in Hampton Roads and Virginia is vital. It appears sequestration is the root of unemployment evil,” Norment said. “Even though it hasn’t been fully implemented, it is looming, and it is certainly a chilling effect. I think some of the contractors have decided maybe there are other places they need to be. They may have moved to Northern Virginia.”

Both spoke before the Kaufman & Canoles Business Leaders Forum, and Norment said his communication with three bond rating agencies in the past continues to haunt him today.

“All three of them raised the issue of sequestration, and it concerned them about Virginia’s economy, and bond rating, and that we on the state level have no control over sequestration,” Norment told us.

Norment said these are the big issues: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Education and K-12 funding could be $700 million. Mandatory reimbursement for Medicaid could go up to maybe $600 million. Putting money into the Virginia Savings Account to show Wall Street that Virginia can get millions of dollars real quick will also demand funding. The point of all this is a lot of tax dollars are already committed.

The General Assembly session begins January 10.