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Archive for February 2007

A “compromise”?

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Sen. Phil Puckett also posed an interesting question to his colleagues – how could the transportation plan be called a “compromise” when he was excluded from the meetings of his fellow conferees?

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February 24, 2007 at 4:31 pm

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Profiles in courage (and lack thereof)

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The debate on the final GOP transportation plan for transportation is still unfolding in the General Assembly, but already some contrasts are becoming clear.

For example, compare Sen. Russ Potts’ speech (below) with Del. Jeff Frederick’s absence on the most important vote to his constituents this year.

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February 24, 2007 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Video

Virginia statesman retires

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This afternoon, Sen. Russ Potts announced his retirement from the Senate of Virginia. We thank him for his years of service, and wish him all the best.

Written by assemblyaccess

February 22, 2007 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Video

A curious argument from Mr. Wardrup

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On the House floor this afternoon, embattled Del. Leo Wardrup expressed a rather keen interest in making it a criminal act to release any images taken by a traffic light photo-monitoring system (the original bill called for a civil penalty).

Now why, pray tell, would Del. Wardrup want to increase the punishment for such a thing?

Hmm, we wonder

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February 20, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Audio

House kills minimum wage increase

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During this morning’s floor session, Republican leader Morgan Griffith moved to refer SB 1327 to the Appropriations committee, which will not meet before the end of session.

In his speech, Griffith feigned outrage that there had been no debate on the bill when it came up in Commerce & Labor, apparently forgetting that he and his fellow Republicans tried to prevent the bill from ever being heard at all. We captured the whole episode last week.

You can hear Griffith attempt to explain himself – and refuse to yield to any questions – here. (MP3 file, right-click to download)

Earlier in the morning hour, Del. David Toscano refuted the claim that paying a minimum wage hurts business, and Del. Ken Plum later pointed out the utter hypocrisy of Griffith’s “no debate” claim.

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February 20, 2007 at 12:56 pm

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House GOP sticks with gerrymandering

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This morning, the House Privileges and Elections committee heard the final attempt before the General Assembly to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission, Sen. Creigh Deeds’ SJR 352. The resolution had previously passed the Senate by a 23-17 vote (amended).

Today, Republicans swiftly killed it immediately after Sen. Deeds’ testimony, in an unrecorded vote.

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February 16, 2007 at 10:01 am

Posted in Video

SB 1327 lives to see another day

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Despite the best efforts of Republicans led by Del. Tim Hugo – who attempted to prevent the bill from even being heard – Sen. Chuck Colgan’s measure to increase the minimum wage was revived in the Commerce and Labor committee this afternoon.

Hugo’s attempt to kill the bill failed, and the committee ultimately voted to report SB 1327 to the full House on a 12-9 vote.

Written by assemblyaccess

February 15, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Video

Last chance for minimum wage increase

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This morning, Del. Kathy Byron’s Utility/Employment subcommittee failed to report Sen. Chuck Colgan’s SB 1327, the last remaining bill before the General Assembly to increase the minimum wage.

In the video below, Del. Ken Plum moves to report the bill to the full committee; Del. Tim Hugo makes the substitute motion to lay the bill on the table (with the support of Dels. Byron, Kilgore, and Nixon, in an unrecorded vote).

The bill has one last chance for survival, if the full Commerce and Labor committee manages to take it up this afternoon.

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February 15, 2007 at 9:32 am

Posted in Video

Senate transportation debate

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The Senate debated several transportation measures in a lengthy floor session this afternoon. In the video below, Sen. Edd Houck speaks against the a substitute from the Transportation committee, which would divert $250 million from the general fund (the measure later failed on a 17-23 vote).

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February 14, 2007 at 4:33 pm

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Omnibus debacle

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Del. Ward Armstrong spoke on the House floor this afternoon, to both praise the Senate for their progress on the transportation plan and to point out today’s rather scathing Daily Press lead editorial:

Some Republicans were labeling their road legislation with the always popular and thoroughly meaningless appellation of “omnibus” – a gathering together, you know.

What a hoot. Omnibus debacle is more like it. It’s big-time borrowing on a not-altogether solid basis. It’s “instructing” local governments to raise taxes, because state legislators prefer not to do so themselves… Worst, it’s building roads on the back of the state general fund.

Written by assemblyaccess

February 13, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Audio

Even Republicans tire of their own radical agenda

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Del. Bob Marshall, after a busy week tailing the president of William & Mary, returned to his usual extremism on the House floor today and tried to slip an irrelevant, invasive floor amendment on to Sen. Edd Houck’s SB 1112.

Interestingly, it was Republican Del. Phil Hamilton who questioned its relevance, and Speaker Bill Howell who ruled it not germane.

Marshall, it seems, is so far gone that he’s now alienating his own party.

You can listen to the full exchange here. (MP3 file, right-click to download)

Written by assemblyaccess

February 12, 2007 at 2:19 pm

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“I’m into consistency.”

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This afternoon, Del. Tim Hugo rose from his seat on the House floor to embark on a lengthy speech against Del. Chuck Caputo’s budget amendment to provide $225,560 for Best Buddies International. He proceeded to mock any legislators who dared to vote against diverting the general fund into anything but transportation projects, saying that he, on the other hand, is “into consistency.”

Really? As previously pointed out, Del. Hugo’s a frequent floor-flipper, so we wondered how “consistent” he’s been on other matters.

Del. Hugo claims his main priority is transportation – but of the thirteen meetings held during his short term on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (July 2004 – September 2005), he attended precisely two before asking to be removed from the board in a letter to Speaker Howell. That’s a 15% attendance record.

As for general fund spending, Hugo patroned or co-patroned non-transportation budget items to the tune of $19 million. And that’s only counting last year.

Top that all off with his vote for the GOP transportation plan, which plenty of Republicans seem to think is at odds with their Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and you’ve just got to ask: consistency? What consistency?

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February 8, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Audio

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For Immediate Release
February 8, 2007

Democrats fight for education, public safety, minimum wage and legislative audit in House budget

Richmond, VA— Today, House Democratic leaders objected to key provisions in the proposed House budget that would have cut funding for economic development grants, increasing teacher salaries, and funding additional benefits for deputy sheriffs.

“By investing in our schools, our economy, and our law enforcement personnel, we can keep moving Virginia forward and make Virginia government work for our families,” House Minority Leader Frank Hall said.

House Democrats also proposed an amendment to the budget that would require any company doing business with the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide employees with a minimum wage no less than $6.50 an hour.

“Raising the minimum wage for Virginia families will ensure that working hard and playing by the rules is never a ticket to poverty,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran said. “Raising the minimum wage is not only a matter of fairness and valuing hard work, but it will help drive Virginia’s economy.”

Delegate Steve Shannon also offered an amendment that would appropriate state funds for audit of the legislative branch. Currently, the Legislative Department has an annual budget of $63 million. The Department of Planning and Budget has developed successful programs for evaluating the efficiency of schools that has to date produced savings of over $15 million dollars in multiple school divisions across the Commonwealth.

“We have an obligation to make sure we are conducting business in the most efficient way possible with Virginia taxpayer dollars,” Delegate Steve Shannon said. “We should be investing our tax dollars towards our roads, our schools, and keeping our streets safe, not towards unnecessary spending in the legislative branch of government.”

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February 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Press Release

Slow news day

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With the chaos of crossover done with, today’s floor sessions were relatively uneventful – save for a visit to both chambers from Southwest Virginia native Billy Wagner, now an all-star relief pitcher for the New York Mets.

In the video below, Sen. Phil Puckett introduces Wagner to the Senate chamber (Del. Dan Bowling spoke on the House side). You can read the full text of the resolution here.

Written by assemblyaccess

February 7, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Audio, Video

Sen. Edd Houck on transportation

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Sen. Edd Houck also spoke on Sen. Potts’ motion, expressing his hope that there is still time for a transportation plan and urging his fellow Senators to stand by their principles.

Written by assemblyaccess

February 6, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Video

Sen. Saslaw on transportation

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Democratic leader Sen. Dick Saslaw also spoke in favor of Sen. Potts’ motion and the importance of a transportation solution, saying that “a bill of this importance ought not to come out of the Senate 21-19.”

Written by assemblyaccess

February 6, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Video

“No is not an answer”

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The Senate transportation plan was effectively killed today when Sen. Russ Potts rose on the Senate floor this morning to refer his bill back to committee. Potts urged his colleagues in the House to help find a responsible solution, saying “we stand for solutions in this body, not ‘no.'”

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February 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm

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Del. Jim Shuler on stem cell research

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Del. Jim Shuler speaks in support of stem cell research during today’s floor debate. (MP3 file, right-click to download)

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February 5, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Audio

Del. Mark Sickles on stem cell research

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Del. Mark Sickles speaks in support of stem cell research during today’s floor debate. (MP3 file, right-click to download)

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February 5, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Audio

Del. Jim Scott on stem cell research

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Del. Jim Scott speaks in support of stem cell research during today’s floor debate. (MP3 file, right-click to download)

Written by assemblyaccess

February 5, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Audio