Archive for January 2007
This year’s increased scrutiny of committee meetings has created an interesting new creature in the House of Delegates – the “Floor Flipper.”
Floor Flippers vote for a bill in committee (often overwhelmingly), but later vote against the same bill when it arrives on the House floor.
That’s what happened last week to Del. Chuck Caputo’s HB 1876, a bill to ban teenagers from talking on their cell phones while driving. As The Washington Post noticed, 11 Republicans who voted to report the bill from the House Science and Technology committee later voted with Republican Leader Morgan Griffith to table it.
So what gives? The Post reports that Griffith denies any partisan motives, but there seems to be a trend developing:
Earlier, Del. Dave Poisson’s HB 1808 narrowly survived its second reading (five Republicans floor-flipped), only to be sent back to the Transportation committee when eight Republicans floor-flipped. It had initially passed with a 17-5 vote.
Currently, Dels. Gear, Saxman, and Hugo lead the Floor Flippers with three flips each (since they twice voted to send back HB 1808 after first supporting it in committee). Dels. Cosgrove, Rapp, Reid, Crockett-Stark, Rust, Ed Scott, Welch, and Fralin are close behind at two flips each.
Republican legislators have made no secret of their disdain for our experiment in transparency here at Assembly Access, which makes their decision to kill three separate measures that would have allowed public broadcasting of House floor sessions even more baffling.
Del. Caputo’s HJ 757 would have allowed television broadcasts of session, while Del. Englin’s HR 47 and Del. Landes’ HR 45 would have allowed the general public to access the existing internet video feed.
Any such transmission would by definition be nonpartisan, since it would simply open up the existing broadcast to anyone and everyone. Neither party controls the cameras on the floor.
Instead, Republicans on the Rules committee this morning chose to continue operating in the dark, with Republican Leader Morgan Griffith offering his usual excuses.
The Health subcommittee also sent two bills authorizing stem cell research at Virginia universities – Del. Shuler’s HB 1768 and Del. Moran’s HB 2857 – to indefinite limbo in the Stem Cell Research Commission, which AP writer Bob Lewis points out is “unlikely to take it up in time to pass this year.”
Del. Kris Amundson’s common-sense HB 2221, which would define “birth control” in the code of Virginia as any contraceptive method approved by the FDA, was defeated in a late afternoon subcommittee meeting of the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions committee. Dels. O’Bannon, Purkey, Nutter, and Janis voted against the motion to report.
For Immediate Release
January 29, 2007
Democratic senators announce budget amendments to treat sickle cell disease
Would increase funding for treatment centers, establish community health programs
(Richmond, VA) Today, Senator Edd Houck and Senators Lambert, Marsh, Lucas, Locke, and Miller announced that they would sponsor a budget amendment to provide additional funding to support the Commonwealth Sickle Cell centers. In addition, they will sponsor a budget amendment to establish financial support for community based treatment programs.
Sickle cell disease is an incurable genetic disorder that affects the shape and function of red blood cells. To date, over 1100 newborns annually have been referred into Virginia’s Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers. The incidence of sickle cell disease is highly prevalent in the African American community, occuring in approximately one in three hundred and fifty African Americans.
Since 1994 the Commonwealth of Virginia has not increased funding for sickle services and treatment for children and infants, while the number of patients served annually has increased by 186%.
The current centers providing treatment that would receive increased funding include: Children’s Hospital of Kings Daughters (Norfolk), Sickle Cell Center at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond), Sickle Cell Center at Inova Fairfax Hospital, and the Sickle Cell Center at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville). The budget amendment would increase funding to these centers by $532,900 to deal with the increased caseload and establish transition services for youth who will require adult services.
They also announced that they would sponsor a budget amendment to provide $200,000 for community based treatment programs. Virginia’s community based sickle cell programs have the potential to provide culturally competent, family centered support for families coping with sickle cell disease through education and advocacy on the local level.
“Since 1994, we have ignored this urgent funding need,” Senator Houck said. “With the rising cases of sickle cell disease, the Commonwealth needs to recognize this important medical need and provide services to thousands of children afflicted across Virginia.”
“The impact on the African American community is staggering. I will fight to make sure the Commonwealth of Virginia provides the medical treatment and support for families in need,” Senator Lambert said.
Last week, Republicans killed several bills making absentee voting easier in a predawn subcommittee meeting, but Del. Lionell Spruill’s HB 2911, to allow persons aged 65 years or vote absentee, managed to slip by before a few of them arrived.
Today, the bill came before the full House Privileges and Elections committee. In the video below, subcommitee chair Del. Chris Jones summarizes the bill, Del. Jim Scott questions if they should be considering it with so many members out of the room, and Del. Rob Bell (around the 2:00 mark) expresses his annoyance that it ever got out of subcommittee in the first place.
Del. Ward Armstrong reminds the House of how thing operated under the sound fiscal management of Gov. Jim Gilmore.
After yesterday’s subcommittee vote, Del. Al Eisenberg spoke about the importance of paying a fair wage on the House floor.
Doug Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, speaks in support of raising the minimum wage at this morning’s subcommittee meeting.
Jim Leaman, president of the Virginia AFL-CIO, speaks in support of raising the minimum wage at this morning’s subcommittee meeting:
Segments from the Senate floor debate on Sen. Creigh Deeds’ independent redistricting measure, SJR 352:
Del. Ward Armstrong spoke on the House floor today on his hope that the general fund will continue to preserve Virginia’s committment to our senior citizens. Click here for the full speech. (MP3 file, right-click to download)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 24, 2007
Contact: Mark Bergman, 804-269-1323 (cell)
Democrats call for Appropriations Committee to hold regional public hearings
Today, the House Democratic leaders, Delegates Frank Hall and Brian Moran released the following statement regarding the Appropriations Committee briefing on the Republican transportation plan.
“After today’s briefing before the House Appropriations Committee on the Republican transportation plan, we believe many questions remain unanswered. We believe there should be a bipartisan, robust discussion on this important proposal and the people of Virginia deserve to have their voice heard.
Therefore, we are calling on the House Appropriations Committee to hold regional public hearings to answer the people of Virginia’s questions regarding this important legislation.
The test of this proposal should not only be that it can pass the House of Delegates but that it creates a real transportation solution for the people of Virginia.
This bill makes significant changes in Virginia’s budget and it deserves more than a cursory hearing – it deserves public debate.”