Today sitting Senator Philip Puckett resigned his Senate seat. Senator Puckett is a democrat that represents southwest Virginia and has served in the Senate for close to 20 years. This is big news across the Commonwealth because of the budget impasse with a focus on Medicaid expansion.
With the resignation of Senator Puckett the Senate is now leaning republican. Before his resignation the Senate was spilt 20-20. With the budget deadline only a few short weeks away, this maybe what will get a budget passed and put Medicaid expansion on hold. It is likely that a budget will be negotiated and passed before the June 30th deadline, but Medicaid expansion will be held off until the 2015 Session. That means that nothing will happen with expansion until July 1st of 2015.
This is not the news that Senate Democrats, a handful of Senate Republican and the Governor want to hear. They are pushing for expansion, however are continually being blocked by the House Republicans. The next few days should be interesting. The House Appropriations Committee has called a meeting for this Wednesday in Richmond.
Senator Puckett’s daughter could be the reason he resigned. She is currently a substitute Juvenile and Domestic Relations judge and would like a full six year term. The Senate Republicans have blocked her appointment saying they do not appoint sitting legislators children to the bench. Now with him out of the Senate it will be interesting to see if she will be appointed. There was also a rumor that the Senator would take a job with the Tobacco Commission. He said he would not take a job with the Commission.