The Rise and Fall of a Buddy Bill: HB1900 Fails on 47-48 Vote

Today the infamous “dog bill,” HB 1900 was defeated in the House of Delegates by only one vote 48-47.  Despite working with Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam to lobby legislators to support an amended version of the bill, Speaker Howell has chosen to pull the legislation, ending the the bill’s path forward for this General Assembly.

Given how controversial the legislation was to begin with, it was little surprise that even with the Speakers considerable influence behind it, the reason for and motivations behind the introduction of this bill were questioned from day one.  Research revealed that commercial hunting interests in Virginia appeared to be the catalyst for it.  You can read Bearing Drift’s full coverage in our “Rise and Fall of a Buddy Bill” series here: Part I; Part II; Part III.

HB 1900 encountered major difficulties from day one with no delegate in the GA really wanting to support such legislation which adds yet another layer of government to dog and leash laws.  It also lays a considerable unfunded mandate squarely on local government.

The bill was rewritten multiple times to try to split the coalition opposing it, and generate enough support to pass an unpopular bill that would never have made it out of Committee but for its chief co-patron.

In what was probably a bad move on Thursday, Delegate Terry Kilgore insulted many citizens and their delegates east of the Blue Ridge by amending the bill to exclude western Virginia, an unnecessary addition given that dog hunting is already banned west of the “dog line” in the Commonwealth under existing rules.

This ensured that pet owners west of the Blue Ridge, who were still impacted despite the multiple changes to the bill, would not be effected. This caused the property rights cover story to go out the door.  Not only was it made clear that this bill wasn’t about property rights – which are as important west of the Blue Ridge Mountain as they are east of the Blue Ridge – it was yet another attempt to carve out opposition to the bill simply to get it passed.

This latest attempt to divide and conquer opponents was not enough to garner enough votes to safely pass the bill, and in fact probably sealed its fate in today’s vote.  Coming on the heels of the rest of the anti-dog hunting side’s missteps – the “Nazi Commercial” still angers many dog hunting supporters – it was just too late to try to fix the many, many problems with this bill on the fly.

Members of the GA who asked to not be identified said the pressure and the sheer amount of time spent on this bill is unheard of.  One said, “this is all personal with the Speaker and no one wants to make him mad.”

Fortunately, there were enough Republicans willing to do the right thing regardless of the potential political fall out and the bill failed.

The Speaker, regardless of how hard he pushed this legislation, should be commended for accepting this defeat gracefully and not attempting to force through the measure even after it was clear the support wasn’t there to get it done.


For those asking for the vote breakdown, here it is:

YEAS–Adams, Albo, Anderson, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bulova, Carr, Cole, Cox, Dudenhefer, Filler-Corn, Greason, Hayes, Heretick, Hester, Holcomb, Hope, James, Keam, Kilgore, Kory, Krizek, Landes, LaRock, LeMunyon, Levine, Lindsey, Lopez, Loupassi, Massie, McQuinn, Murphy, O’Bannon, Plum, Price, Robinson, Rush, Sickles, Stolle, Sullivan, Torian, Toscano, Villanueva, Ward, Watts, Yost, Mr. Speaker–47.

NAYS–Aird, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Boysko, Byron, Campbell, Cline, Collins, Davis, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Fowler, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Herring, Hodges, Hugo, Ingram, Jones, Knight, Leftwich, Lingamfelter, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Miyares, Mullin, O’Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Ransone, Rasoul, Simon, Tyler, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey–48.


NOT VOTING–Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris–4.