A Rough Road Ahead
Chaos reigned at today's meeting of the Senate Courts of Justice committee, which took the state legislature's first crack at killing the unpopular abusive-driver fees.
The panel struggled to combine 10 bills that essentially did the same thing-- repeal the fees. Senators argued along party lines over two issues: should the thousands of motorists who have already been assessed the fees get their money back, and should the committee attach an "emergency clause" to the bill so it takes effect as soon as the governor signs it?
More than an hour into the proceeding, the committee finally decided against both. But not without creating some bad blood.
Immediately after the meeting, a furious Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax) lashed out at the Democratic majority on the committee over the slim, party-line vote to reject the emergency clause, saying in a statement that the committee's seven Republicans were "absolutely baffled" by the decision.
Democrats, however, said repeatedly during the meeting that it was a political calculation. A bill with an emergency clause requires an 80 percent majority vote, they said, giving the bill an uphill climb in the House. But Gov. Timothy M. Kaine can always add an emergency clause later, they said, noting that the bill would then require a simple majority to pass. Kaine has said he wants the repeal to go into effect as soon as possible.
January 16, 2008; 5:30 PM ET
Categories: Abusive Driver Fees , General Assembly 2008 , Sandhya Somashekhar
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