The Virginia Senate failed Friday to pass emergency legislation to conform the state’s tax code with new federal tax law after Democrats insisted on allowing conformity separately from potential major changes in state tax policy.

However, the Senate voted along party lines to adopt the legislation without an emergency clause, which required only a simple majority. 

That will allow the debate to continue with the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, over three widely different approaches to dealing with an anticipated $1.2 billion windfall from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that President Donald Trump signed more than a year ago.

“The reality is, if we are going to move forward on any policy regarding tax reform, then we need a legislative vehicle,” Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, after his proposed emergency legislation died on a 20-20 vote.


Norment sought to pass the legislation with an emergency clause - which would have enabled it to take effect immediately upon the governor's signature, rather than on July 1 - in order to provide clarity for taxpayers who are beginning to file their state returns.

Emergency legislation requires 80 percent approval by the members of each chamber – 32 in the Senate and 80 in the House.

Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, a principal architect of the Republican tax plan, voted with the chamber’s 19 Democrats to produce a tie vote, but Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, did not cast a tie-breaking vote because the bill already had failed.
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