Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2005

HJR 707: Joint Subcommittee Studying the Balance of Power Between the Legislative and Executive Branches

November 30, 2005

The Joint Subcommittee to Study the Appropriate Balance of Power Between the Legislative and Executive Branches held its fourth meeting on November 30, 2005, to finalize its recommendations. With the assistance of the Directors of the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance, the joint subcommittee reviewed several options to increase the legislature's ability to independently and critically analyze economic data and revenue forecasts. The joint subcommittee also considered several constitutional amendments that would modify the term of the Governor, the length of legislative sessions, the appointing authority for members of the Board of Education, and procedures regarding legislative veto of administrative regulations.


The joint subcommittee agreed to the following proposals and legislation for consideration at the 2006 Session:

Revenue-Forecasting Process

  • Outsource to the private sector the development and maintenance of a revenue-forecasting model that would be used by the legislature to evaluate the Governor's six-year revenue forecasts.
  • Create a joint subcommittee comprised of legislative members who currently sit on the Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates to oversee the outsourcing process.
    Balance of Constitutional Powers

In endorsing a six-year term for the Governor, the joint subcommittee recommended that the following constitutional amendments be adopted as a set to achieve a constitutional balance of power between the legislative and executive branches:

  • Allow the Governor to serve one six-year term that would begin with Governor elected in 2009.
  • Allow the General Assembly to extend sessions for any length of time with a two-thirds vote.
  • Permit the General Assembly to nullify or suspend administrative regulations by a joint resolution.
  • Permit standing committees and legislative commissions designated by the General Assembly (the Joint Commission on Administrative Regulations) to suspend administrative regulations during times when the General Assembly is not in session.
  • Transfer to the legislature five of the nine appointments on the Board of Education. Three members would be appointed by the House of Delegates and two members would be appointed by the Senate, in accordance with the rules of each house.

Organizational Session
The joint subcommittee also endorsed as a stand alone constitutional amendment to provide for an organizational session. The organizational session would convene on the second Wednesday in December or on another day in December as may be designated by a joint rule, and it would be limited to three days. The organizational session would deal only with matters concerning the administration of oaths, seating of members, selection of officers, organization of committees, adoption of rules, confirmations of gubernatorial and other appointees, and elections of judicial and other officers. The proposed amendment would also clarify that unless the General Assembly states otherwise the refusal to confirm gubernatorial appointees at an organizational or special session would invoke the constitutional provision that prohibits the reappointment of these appointees by the Governor during the interim.

The joint subcommittee agreed to recommend the transfer of the following appointments currently made by the Governor to the legislature:

  • The five at-large citizen members on the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The transfer would give the legislature a significant minority influence in determining the composition of the Board. The Governor would continue to appoint the remaining nine citizen members who are appointed from the nine construction districts. The legislation would be contingent upon the passage of the constitutional amendments to balance the powers between the legislature and the Governor.
  • Legislators who currently serve on the Tourist Train Development Authority, the Chippokes Farm Foundation Board, and the Potomac River Basin Commission. One Senator is added to the Tourist Train Development Authority to give the Senate representation on the Authority, and two Delegates are added to the Chippokes Farm Foundation Board to give the House of Delegates the correct proportional representation on the Board.

The Hon. R. Steven Landes

For information, contact:
Ginny Edwards, DLS Staff



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