Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love, Love, Love and Three Really Bad Votes in House P&E

Today is Valentine’s Day at the General Assembly, and folks here take the holiday very seriously. I have included some photos at the end of today’s blog for you to see. 

Legislators showed some love to the VEA teacher salary bill today in Senate Finance. HB2332 unanimously reported from Senate Finance today. The bill passed the House unanimously, Senate Education unanimously, and Senate Finance unanimously, so the last stop is the Senate floor. It looks like this may be the year that we finally get language that sets a state policy that teacher salaries should be competitive with the National Average! The bill will appear on the Senate floor calendar for first read tomorrow.

Interestingly, the ONLY nay vote the teacher salary bill has received was in the House Education Committee from Delegate Mark Cole. He voted in favor of the bill when it came to the floor of the House, but he has the honor of being the only no vote, so far, on our bill. I mention that because Delegate Cole is on the House Privileges and Elections (P&E) Subcommittee on Elections. This committee seems to have a mission to kill any and all redistricting bills. Today they took out the Senate versions of these good bills. This is the committee that killed the House versions of the bills earlier in session, and, today, they didn't let a packed room of Virginians who supported the bills deter them. All week legislators have been bombarded with phone calls urging support of a fair redistricting process in Virginia, that didn't matter to this committee. The other interesting point is that there was not a single word of opposition to any of these bills today. That didn’t matter to this committee, either. What seems to matter to this subcommittee is keeping a system in place where legislators draw their own districts. Each of these bills had already passed the Virginia Senate and each passed out of the Senate P&E Committee 12-2. The House is unwilling to move on this bipartisan effort. The committee moved to pass the bills by indefinitely (kill them). A NAY vote was the right vote.

SB 846 Virginia Interim Redistricting Commission; criteria for remedial redistricting plans.
02/14/17  House: Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (5-Y 2-N)

YEAS--Ransone, Jones, Fowler, Adams, Cole--5.
NAYS--Sickles, Torian--2.
ABSTENTIONS--0.
NOT VOTING--0.

SJ 231 Constitutional amendment; Virginia Redistricting Commission, criteria to redraw certain districts.
02/14/17  House: Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (5-Y 2-N)
YEAS--Ransone, Jones, Fowler, Adams, Cole--5.
NAYS--Sickles, Torian--2.
ABSTENTIONS--0.
NOT VOTING--0.

SJ 290 Constitutional amendment; criteria for electoral districts (first reference).
02/14/17  House: Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (5-Y 2-N)
YEAS--Ransone, Jones, Fowler, Adams, Cole--5.
NAYS--Sickles, Torian--2.
ABSTENTIONS--0.
NOT VOTING--0.


In case that vote has left you feeling unloved, I share some photos from the General Assembly Office Building this morning.