Was it pique that killed the voting rights bill?

Why and how the House subcommittee on constitutional amendments decided to scrap Gov. McDonnell’s proposal to restore voting rights to non-violent felons gets closer to an answer, thanks to our friend, and veteran General Assembly watcher, Steve Rossie:

The first hint that the resolution was going down, before a packed General Assembly Building Fourth Floor West Conference Room, with interested persons spilling well out into the hallway, was when the sub-committee rolled all proposed resolutions on the subject, including Delegate Habeeb’s, into HJ 535, patroned by Democrat Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria — saving the large Republican majority from killing a Republican governor’s legislation. (“Rolling” is a consolidation of similar bills into another existing bill to streamline a committee’s meeting agenda.)

In this case, Delegate Herring’s version became the resolution of record and, therefore, as the third ranking House Democrat, much more favorable to the sword. It died on a 6-1 vote to “pass by indefinitely” with one of the two sub-committee Democrats (Delegate Johnny Joannou of Portsmouth) voting with the GOP members. Sources indicate that many Republicans not only had serious policy questions about the content of the proposal, but took exception to a lack of notification by the governor — they heard about it for the first time Wednesday night during his State of the Commonwealth Address.

I put the emphasis on Steve’s last line because it illustrates a key ingredient in legislative sausage making: pique.

And if it was the deciding factor in the subcommittee vote, shame on them.

  • This is the classic case of the Governor’s loss of power and prestige as a result of two factors. First, the disastrous election in which he showed everyone he has no clout whatsoever, and second, he is done having any influence in the General Assembly, assuming that he really ever had much to begin with. Commentators smarter than me can regale this audience with examples of the power of the Speaker at the expense of the Governor, but this is just one of many classic examples.
    I expect this will play out in the signature bill for this session; that is, continued inaction on transportation. In the long run, knowing that the solutions to fix a two decade long failure to sustain transportation is just too big an issue for no tax republicans to deal with. McDonnell’s attempt to obfuscate with this absurd proposal will not spur the no tax Legislators to any effective action.
    A thorough housing cleaning is the only plausable solution for that problem.

  • You always see a little of this coming from the General Assembly in the last year of any governor’s term — that sort of “lame duck” approach where the GA reminds the governor that his time runneth short.

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