Archive for February 2008
During today’s floor session, House Republicans attempted to trump up Sen. Donald McEachin’s alternative dispute resolution measure, SB161, as an assault on Virginia’s Right to Work law.
In response, Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong introduced a floor amendment explicitly clarifying that the bill would not “affect, diminish, or repeal” the Right to Work law, in order to assuage any real concerns:
Republican Leader Morgan Griffith countered with some rather counterintuitive logic, saying that putting something into the Code of Virginia doesn’t make it law. Go figure.
In any case, the bill was only before the House in the first place as a purely political move, since the Republican leadership used their new rules gimmick to bring it directly to the floor without a recommendation. In the video below (taken earlier this week), the House Rules committee defeats Del. Kris Amundson’s motion to report SB161 as usual, prompting Del. Armstrong to express his ongoing concern with bypassing committees of expertise:
Unfortunately, House Republicans again opted for rhetoric and political gamesmanship over real solutions. SB161 died on a party-line vote.
Dels. Ward Armstrong and Brian Moran spoke on the House floor yesterday, further addressing the House GOP’s questionable math when it comes to funding public education in coming years.
The nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that the Republicans’ budget methodology would result in “$227 million less in state aid to localities for teachers’ salaries,” a change the Roanoke Times today calls a “flimflam.”
This afternoon, the Appropriations subcommittee on Elementary & Secondary Education killed the second teacher pay raise measure to come before them this session: Sen. Creigh Deeds’ SB267.
Like Del. Brian Moran’s HB92, which died in the same committee last month, the bill attempted to raise Virginia’s average teacher salary to the national average.
In the audio file below, Del. Kirk Cox makes a substitute motion to kill the bill after Del. Jim Scott moves to report it:
The bill died on a party line vote, with only Dels. Scott and Mamye BaCote opposing the move. Cox was joined by GOP Dels. Clarke Hogan, Beverly Sherwood, Phil Hamilton and chairman Bob Tata.
Republican Del. Bob Marshall attempted to introduce an unwelcome floor amendment to yesterday’s budget, incurring the wrath of his own caucus in the process.
As Marshall introduced the measure to the Clerk’s desk, Del. Steve Landes moved to take a vote immediately. Upon Speaker Bill Howell’s ruling that the motion had been properly made, Del. Marshall appealed the ruling of the Chair and lamented the Republican-controlled House’s loss of “decency” and “comity.”
Like Del. Paula Miller’s HB1118 – which was killed by the same subcommittee last month – the bill would have allowed the homestead exemption to take immediate effect upon passage of the ballot amendment, rather than delaying implementation until after the General Assembly meets again to consider it. More on Del. Miller’s bill here.
In the video below, Del. Kenny Alexander’s motion to report the bill is defeated on a party-line vote by Del. Mark Cole’s substitute motion to kill the bill for the year:
HB1118 was also defeated on a party-line vote, with only Democratic Dels. Alexander, Mark Sickles, and Bud Phillips voting in support of immediate tax relief:
Following his decisive election last night, Del. Albert Pollard was sworn in on the House floor this morning. You can watch the video below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2008
The House Democratic Caucus celebrated the victory of Albert Pollard today as the newly elected delegate from House District 99. Following overnight certification of the election results, Pollard will join his House colleagues at the capitol Wednesday morning.
“We are looking forward to having Albert join us tomorrow as the 45 th Democrat in the House. He is a respected and experienced leader who will proudly represent the citizens of his district and serve as a valuable member of our Caucus,” said House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong.
Democrats have gained 11 seats in the House of Delegates since 2001 and are poised to regain the majority in 2009.
“Albert is a true environmental leader and a strong advocate for his community. He brings his unique background and experience to the important issues facing the Commonwealth. I’ll be proud to serve with him once again,” said House Caucus Chairman Brian Moran.
Albert Pollard defeated Republican Lee Anne Washington in a special election to replace former delegate Rob Wittman who successfully ran for Congress last December. Pollard previously served in the House of Delegates from 1999 to 2005.
Republicans on the House Privileges and Elections subcommittee on Elections today killed the session’s lone remaining redistricting reform measure, Sen. Creigh Deeds’ SB38 (previous House versions, HB339 and HB1070 died last month). Del. John O’Bannon made the motion to pass by indefinitely, and was joined by Dels. Chris Jones and Terrie Suit:
Shortly after, an attempt from Del. Jim Scott to revive the bill in full committee failed when the chair, Del. Mark Cole, abruptly adjourned without a motion and rushed his fellow Republicans off to caucus before a recorded vote could be taken:
Download (MP3, 2.5 MB)
Another crossover has come and gone, meaning we can finally peruse the hundreds of bills that met their demise in the dark depths of unrecorded subcommittee meetings – if they were lucky enough to even get a hearing.
You can listen to Del. Valentine present her bill below:
(The lone remaining Sudan divestment initiative, SB87, has also been referred to Appropriations.)
The House of Delegates held a “marathon 10 a.m.-to-7 p.m. floor session” on crossover eve last night, acting on dozens of bills now being passed to the State Senate.
Yet, oddly, Del. Chris Saxman’s name disappears from the recorded votes taken after 5:45 PM. Saxman missed votes on immigration measures (HB1298), child safety initiatives (HB1250) – even a resolution creating Ms. Wheelchair Virginia Day.
So where’d he go?
Turns out Saxman was about 15 minutes down Interstate 64, at the Virginia Aviation Museum for a John McCain rally. Check out the video below:
Yes, this is the same Del. Saxman who wants to limit legislators from attending political events during session.
In a response to Del. Scott Lingamfelter on the House floor today, Del. Brian Moran spoke in defense of HB1189, Alicia’s Law, which would increase funding for anti-child-exploitation law-enforcement efforts. Lingamfelter had questioned why protecting Virginia kids from sexual predators should be a budget priority.
If you’d like to check Del. Lingamfelter’s budget priorities, you can see a sampling of his budget amendment items here and here (scroll down). You can also click here for more information on the importance of Alicia’s Law.
UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics blog covers the exchange here.
House Republicans today defeated a floor amendment offered by Democratic leader Ward Armstrong to HB1318, which would have specified that monies deposited in the Virginia Taxpayer Surplus Relief Fund be designated for middle-class tax relief.
In the video below, Del. Scott Lingamfelter opposes the amendment, explaining that tax relief should be reserved for the wealthy.
On a party line vote today, House Republicans defeated a measure introduced by Del. Bob Brink that would eliminate a new rule that allows the majority to bypass public input and committees of expertise and put bills of their choosing directly on the floor (as they did last month).
You can watch Del. Brink explain his rules change below:
Del. Kris Amundson spoke on the floor yesterday, reminding her fellow Delegates that they serve the people, not the other way around.
Apparently, Republicans weren’t listening – immediately afterward, they booed a group of high school students visiting from Charlottesville.
After dispatching several gun safety measures last week, the Firearms subcommittee of Militia, Police, and Public Safety met again last night. Their first victim was Del. Chuck Caputo’s HB734, which would prohibit guns in public libraries. With only three members present – Republicans Tommy Wright, Scott Lingamfelter, and Morgan Griffith – the measure died when no one made a motion.
Del. Caputo’s HB746, which would keep guns out of child day care centers, met the same fate shortly after.