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Virginia Politics Blog: March 7, 2010 - March 13, 2010

Virginia House agrees to forfeit overtime pay; Senate to accept pay

House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R) decided that now is not the time to be paid for overtime. So, as the General Assembly prepares to go a day more than its regularly scheduled 60-day session, Griffith proposed -- and the Republican-led House unanimously passed -- HJ40 stating that members would not receive per diem for the extra day. Left unsaid was the obvious: When lawmakers were whacking $4 billion from state spending, forcing the layoffs of teachers and other public employees, it would not look good to have the state pick up the tab for legislators' meals and hotel rooms in Richmond because they failed to meet a deadline. But Griffith also hinted that senators in the Democratic-controlled chamber at the other end of the state Capitol did want per diems -- a revelation that elicited whistles among the delegates. And now, over to the Senate ... -- Fredrick Kunkle...

By Multiplatform Editor  |  March 13, 2010; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Virginia session heads to one-day overtime

It's official: The Virginia General Assembly is headed into overtime and will not adjourn today, which is the session's 60th day. But it doesn't look like we're headed for an an endless budget stalemate as the legislature experienced in 2004 and 2006. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) just announced on the floor of the session that he will shortly ask the body to approve a resolution extending the session. He said budget negotiators have largely come to terms and should complete their work this afternoon. Then, it will take 12 to 14 hours to compile the budget and print copies for members. Senators probably will gather tomorrow at 3 p.m. for a briefing on the budget and then gavel into session for the final time this year at 5 p.m., to take up action on the budget. It costs the taxpayers more than $20,000 a day to...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 13, 2010; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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House and Senate negotiators say budget deal is close

House and Senate negotiators inched closer late Friday to reaching a deal on Virginia's two-year budget, which will likely allow the General Assembly to pass the spending plan this weekend. They say they have come to general terms on which proposed fees to eliminate and how much to spend on key areas, including K-12 education and public safety. But legislators did not release details of the deal, saying they were still in flux. Much of the negotiations took place privately in a small meeting room in the General Assembly Building. State law requires budget conferees to meet in public if more than six (three from each chamber) are present, but Sen. Ed Houck, a conferee and vice chairman of the FOIA advisory council, said they left the door ajar for anyone to come in. They will continue to work Friday night and Saturday. They are racing to finish before Saturday,...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 12, 2010; 11:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Lt. Gov. Bolling: Anti-gun bill panel creation broke Senate rules

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) says the Senate broke its own rules when it created a special panel to kill House gun-rights bills -- but there's nothing that can be done about it.

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  March 12, 2010; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Bill Bolling , Fredrick Kunkle , General Assembly , General Assembly 2010 , State Senate  
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Cuccinelli stands by advice to colleges on gay policies

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said this afternoon that it remains his legal advice that Virginia's colleges and universities should remove language dealing with sexual orientation from campus anti-discrimination policies. In brief comments to reporters after briefing lawmakers on redistricting laws, Cuccinelli said he still believes colleges are limited in their ability to adopt policies by authority extended to them by the General Assembly. The legislature has repeatedly declined to embed legal protections for gays into statute. "What I said in my March 4 letter was accurate advice under Virginia law, and it still stands," Cuccinelli said, referring to a memo sent to every college and university last week that touched off a political uproar. Colleges, he said, "don't have any more authority than the General Assembly gives them--which is a similar position as the localties. And until the General Assembly gives them more authority, their quarantined by what they've got."....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 12, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Former Gov. Baliles challenges Cuccinelli on college gay policies

Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Baliles has written a legal response to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's letter to colleges and universities on nondiscrimination policies, indicating he believes Cuccinelli erred in his legal interpretation of whether college Boards of Visitors have the power to adopt their own policies on gays without authority from the General Assembly. In addition to being an interesting rebuke from a former governor, the letter is noteworthy because Cuccinelli and some of his supporters have suggested no one has contested his legal reasoning. But now Baliles (D) has done exactly that. Baliles has a special perspective, because Cuccinelli cited a 1982 opinion from the then- attorney general Balilies in his own letter ("somewhat conveniently," Baliles writes) indicating that he wad advancing what has been the consistent position of the office for 28 years. Baliles said in 1982 that local governments could not extend legal protections in discrimination cases...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 12, 2010; 11:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell visits legislators on their turf, encourages budget deal

As negotations over Virginia's budget proceed, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) made an unannounced appearance in the General Assembly Building to encourage the House and Senate to come to terms. McDonnell met separately with House and Senate conferees in their respective lairs on the 9th and 10th floors of the building. Sen. William C. Wampler Jr. (R-Bristol) said it was the first time he could recall in more than a decade as a budget conferee that a governor has come onto the lawmakers' terrain in the final days of negotiations to encourage them to complete their work. Wampler said McDonnell asked what he could do to help the two sides finish in time for an on-time adjournment of the session Saturday. He said his staff was available to help as needed. With a twinkle in his eye, Wampler said senators told McDonnell he could help by encouraging House members to come...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 12, 2010; 10:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Virginia's first lady hosts legislative spouses at the mansion

Here's a sign that the legislative session may really be coming to an end. Today, on what is supposed to be the day before legislators leave town, their spouses are invited to join First Lady Maureen McDonnell at the Executive Mansion for a reception. It's a tradition for the first lady to host all 100-plus significant others -- men and women -- at the mansion at the close of the annual legislative session. The event comes at the conclusion of a program for the spouses held during the session that is led by House Speaker Bill Howell's wife, Cessie. Most spouses do not live in Richmond during the session, choosing to stay back home with their kids, jobs and homes. Today, many will come to town for the event at the mansion and stay overnight in the hope that they will leave Richmond tomorrow with their legislator-spouse -- though that...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 12, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Virginia budget negotiations continue, deal unlikely tonight

House and Senate negotiators continued to meet to work out their differences on the state budget, but as they began the latest round of talks several legislators said a deal was unlikely to be reached tonight. "Get real,'' Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw said. "It's not even close." The small group of budget writers who are working on K-12 spending -- one of the most significant differences between the two chambers -- were to meet for the first time tonight. The Democratic-led Senate wants to spend nearly $500 million more on education over the next two years than the Republican-led House. Legislators have been trying to reconcile two versions of the state budget that must be trimmed by $4 billion due to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The budget include deep cuts to education, health services and public safety. A dozen negotiators have been meeting since last...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 11, 2010; 8:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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Fairfax, Falls Church propose real estate tax rate hikes

The cities of Fairfax and Falls Church are proposing to raise their real estate tax rates to offset still-declining residential and commercial property assessments. Falls Church, a city of about 11,000, proposed a 20-cent increase in its tax rate, from $1.07 to $1.27 per $100 of assessed value. City Manager F. Wyatt Shields said commercial assessments fell by more than 13 percent this year, and sales tax receipts decreased by more than 18 percent. To make up an $8.9 million deficit in the city's $68 million budget, Wyatt said the city would cut 16 full-time positions, freeze employee pay for the second straight year and make cuts to pension and health benefits. Fairfax City Manager Robert L. Sission proposed increasing the city's tax rate by 8.5 cents, from 88 cents to 96.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. Fairfax's $111 million annual budget notes that residential assessments fell this year...

By Washington Post Editors  |  March 11, 2010; 2:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County  
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Updated: Protestors oppose Northern Virginia imam who gave House's opening prayer

Correction: Del. Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) was sitting in his seat with his head bowed in prayer when the imam was delivering the prayer. Update: About a dozen delegates, most Republicans, were not in the House chamber at the time of Imam Johari Abdul-Malik's prayer. They were in their lounge or downstairs, where members had met immediately prior to the opening of session. In his prayer, Abdul-Malik asked them "to go beyond tolerance to understanding...Where there is fear, let us find faith." Delegates joined him in saying saying "amen" at the conclusion. Missing delegates included: Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville), Kathy J. Byron (R-Lynchburg), John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Riley E. Ingram (R-Hopewell), Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas), Lacey E. Putney (I-Bedford), James Edmunds (R-Halifax) and John Cox (R-Ashland). Many would not comment about their absence. "It's certainly people's right to participate or not to participate,'' said Del. Adam...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 11, 2010; 10:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Updated: Moran pens letter on offshore drilling royalties to 'Governor McDonald'

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) sent Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) a letter warning him not to expect too much from a bill that passed the General Assembly that directs 70 percent of any future drilling royalties to state road improvements. The only problem is Moran spelled the governor's name wrong in the letter dated March 5: Twice. McDonald instead of McDonnell. Oops. Moran, who represents traffic-clogged Northern Virginia, argues that drilling will not occur for at least eight years and any royalties that come from offshore gas or oil must go to the federal government, not Virginia. "I would strongly advise against any assumption that oil and gas royalties will be flowing into the state's treasury,'' he writes. Virginia is currently in line to be the first Atlantic Coast state to drill off its shore, though it will probably take years to start even if the state...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 11, 2010; 8:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , James P. Moran Jr. , James Webb , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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McDonnell's nondiscrimination directive carries force of office, not law

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's (R) decision to issue an executive directive prohibiting discrimination in the state workforce including on the basis of sexual orientation when he had previously resisted issuing an executive order on the same topic has raised some questions about the difference between the two gubernatorial actions. As we mentioned in this morning's story on the topic, an executive order carries the force of law. An executive directive, on the other hand, was a creation of Gov. Mark R. Warner (D). The rarely issued directives are policy statements, in this case a direction to employees from their boss that carries the imprimatur of the executive office. So what does McDonnell's directive really mean?...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 11, 2010; 7:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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UPDATED: McDonnell directive prohibits discrimination on basis of sexual orientation

Hoping to quell a growing uproar on Virginia's college campuses over gay rights, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) issued a directive to all 102,000 state employees Wednesday that prohibits discrimination in the state work force, including on the basis of sexual orientation, and warns he will reprimand or fire anyone who engages in it. McDonnell's directive comes a week after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli distributed a letter to the state's public colleges and universities asking them to remove references to sexual orientation from their campus nondiscrimination policies. Cuccinelli argues only the General Assembly has the authority to extend legal protections to gays. McDonnell has said he supports the legal reasoning of that opinion, which mirrored his own advice on the issue as attorney general. The governor said Wednesday he continues to believe that without legislative approval, universities and state agencies cannot issue orders that would allow employees or others the...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  March 10, 2010; 7:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: Mims selected for Va. Supreme Court seat

The Virginia General Assembly today selected William C. Mims, a former attorney general and Republican legislator from Loudoun County, to fill a vacancy on the Virginia Supreme Court. Mims, 52, will replace Barbara Keenan, who last week was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. He served three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate, then completed the final year of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's term as attorney general last year when McDonnell resigned to run for governor. Mims was on the short list to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2007. He is now a partner at Richmond law firm Hunton & Williams. Update: McDonnell issued a statement: "The overwhelming support for Bill's appointment to the highest court in Virginia is a reflection of the high regard in which he is held by leaders from...

By Anne Bartlett  |  March 10, 2010; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010  
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Hundreds protest Fairfax imam giving prayer in Va. House tomorrow

Hundreds of people are urging House of Delegates leaders to revoke an invitation to a Falls Church imam to give the prayer tomorrow, accusing him of condoning violence and defending the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Johari 'Abdul-Malik demonstrates regularly his contempt for the rule of law and his support for terrorist acts against America,'' writes James Lafferty, chairman of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force. "Speaking before the General Assembly is an honor which should be reserved for those who have done something worth honoring." Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said he asked Abdul-Malik of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center to give the opening prayer in the House tomorrow because many of his constituents attend the center. "He's a great guy,'' Ebbin said. Ebbin sent a letter to his 99 colleagues this morning defending his choice of Abdul-Malik, and saying any concerns about him were driven by "false rumors propagated...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 10, 2010; 2:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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Senate panel votes to add nondiscrimination to Northrop Grumman bill

A Senate committee voted this morning to add language to a bill (designed to help the state lure the headquarters of Fortune 100 company Northrop Grumman) that would write into law that Virginia "maintains an ecumenical atmosphere in its sexual orientation hiring policies in the private and public workforce." But House Speaker Bill Howell (R) ruled a similar amendment out of order on the floor of the house chamber, effectively killing the idea in the House of Delegates. The move is one of numerous efforts that have been made in recent days to get the legislature to extend legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation, in response to a letter sent by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to state colleges and universities last week asking them to rescind nondiscrimination policies that recognized sexual orientation in absence of approval for such policies from the General Assembly. What does Northrop Grumman have...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 10, 2010; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Virginia yogis still will be regulated by authority higher than state

Yoga instructors will not have to bend to state regulators after all, thanks to a measure that two Northern Virginia lawmakers have guided through the General Assembly. The bill -- HB703, sponsored by Del. David L. Bulova (D-Fairfax) -- would protect yoga training programs from being regulated as "higher education" by the Virginia State Council for Higher Education (SCHEV). Bulova's bill was merged with a similar measure, SB598, sponsored by Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun). Gov. Robert F. McDonnell signed the bill Tuesday night. The legislation came about after SCHEV, which regulates vocational training of bartenders, dog-groomers and ballroom-dancing instructors, decided that existing law required them to regulate the training of yogis, as yoga instructors are known. Officials believed that regulating the training of yoga teachers would protect students who sometimes invest serious money in the programs. But opponents argued that the regulations would add too much cost and...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  March 10, 2010; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle , General Assembly 2010  
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UPDATED: Resolution commending pregnancy centers protested in the House and Senate

Legislators file hundreds of resolutions each year commending people, sports teams, marching bands, even Indian Tribes. Rarely are they controversial. But this week, abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is lobbying against HJ 435, which commends pregnancy centers across the state. Earlier this year, NARAL released a yearlong report about 52 antiabortion pregnancy centers in Virginia, finding that 38 do not have medically trained or supervised personnel on staff, and that two-thirds of the centers provided "some degree of medically erroneous information." Emily Polak, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said the pregnancy centers shouldn't be honored in a resolution. "These centers are using deceptions and inaccurate information,'' she said....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 10, 2010; 10:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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Virginia Senate passes McDonnell's charter school bill

The Virginia Senate on Tuesday passed Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's proposal designed to expand the number of charter schools in the state. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed the bill 27 to 12. It had already won approval in the Republican-led House of Delegates. The bill is a weakened version of the Republican governor's initial proposal, but he declared victory. "I applaud the Republicans and Democrats who came together today to help Virginia schoolchildren, especially those who are at-risk and disadvantaged, gain more educational opportunities,'' McDonnell said in a statement. McDonnell declared charter schools a top priority in his first legislative session. He has praised President Obama for his support of charters, and hopes it will help the state receive millions of dollars through the federal Race to the Top grant program.l The state was not included in the first round, but will apply for the second round this summer....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 9, 2010; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Cuccinelli asked if proposed fees would violate Virginia constitution

Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William)has written a letter to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, asking him to weigh in on whether it would be unconstitutional for the General Asssembly to embed fee increases into the budget this year. The "one subject" rule has become a perennial point of contention in budgeting, as lawmakers argue over whether it is legitimate to assume revenues in the budget without separate legislation approving tax or fee increases. Marshall notes that the House and Senate conferees have had some discussions about agreeing to raise $76 million in fees from car registration fees, recordation fees and fees to reinstate driver's licenses, including those fees in the budget bill rather than separate legislation. "Since raising funds whether by taxes or fees is one purpose, and appropriating money is a separate and distinct purpose, would including a provision for raising $76 million in fees to be spent as part...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 9, 2010; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Virginia House votes against consideration of gay protections bill

A Northern Virginia delegate unsuccessfully tried a parliamentary maneuver Tuesday to force a floor vote on a measure that would ban discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The House has repeatedly rejected such legislation and voted against floor consideration of the bill 55 to 42. Del. Ken Plum, a Democrat from Reston, moved to revive the gay-rights bill that had languished in a House subcommittee, saying the legislature must respond to Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's recent advice to the state's public colleges and universities that they had no legal ability to add sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination policies. Cuccinelli has recommended that such statements be rescinded. "It's particularly timely at this time because the eyes of the nation are upon us," Plum said....

By Fredrick Kunkle and Rosalind S. Helderman  |  March 9, 2010; 1:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle , Ken Cuccinelli  
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Bolling enters debate over taxes and fees in Virginia

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) has weighed into the budget debate by encouraging the House and Senate conferees to reject certain tax and fee increases, including those that raise property and casualty insurance premium taxes, fees on phone lines, Internet sales taxes and taxes for retailers and manufacturers. "These are broad based taxes and fees and I believe that increasing them would violate our promise to balance the budget without general tax increases,'' Bolling wrote in a column to supporters Monday. Bolling presides over the Senate and is a close ally of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who has yet to express a specific opinion on the many fees that the Senate has included in its version of the budget. Just last week we asked McDonnell what he thought of adding 18 cents to a 75-cent fee on phone lines a "surcharge" which code of Virginia calls a tax. McDonnell's office...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 9, 2010; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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McDonnell pledges not to discriminate, backs Cuccinelli's legal reasoning on gays

Washington Post metro columnist Robert McCartney sat down yesterday with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for a wide-ranging interview, which you can read more about in McCartney's future columns. We included a few comments from the governor on the topic of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's letter to colleges and universities in a story this morning on reaction to the letter on college campuses, the governor's first since the letter became public Friday. For those who would like to hear more of what the governor had to say on the topic, here are some additional excerpts from McDonnell's comments on the subject to McCartney. About Cuccinelli's legal reasoning: "The opinions with regard to the sole province of the General Assembly to set discrimination policy go back to Jerry Baliles in 1982. There's a long list of opinions. It's all separation of powers issues . . . But that doesn't mean that a...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 9, 2010; 9:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Virginia Democrats select Mills as executive director

Virginia Democrats announced this afternoon that Dave Mills will be their party's new executive director. Mills has worked in Virginia politics for seven years and is the Democratic Party of Virginia's current finance director. He has previously worked on gubernatorial, congressional, delegate and issue campaigns in Virginia and is married to Del. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond). "You couldn't ask for a better person to take over as executive director than Dave Mills," Party Chairman C. Richard Cranwell said. "Dave has years of experience in Virginia politics and in multiple facets of campaign work. He is the right choice to lead the DPVA into a new era of grassroots party-building and cutting-edge media." Mills replaces Leigh Anne Collier, who announced in December that she would be leaving when a replacement was found....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 8, 2010; 6:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , House of Delegates  
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Senate committee kills speaker's asbestos liability bill in an unusually terse meeting

A Virginia Senate committee killed a proposal championed by House Speaker William J. Howell that would have helped protect a Fortune 500 company from asbestos lawsuits. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee voted 13 to 2 with just one Republican and one Democrat siding with Howell, who had quietly maneuvered behind the scenes for much of the legislative session to garner support for the bill, HB 629. The House of Delegates narrowly passed the bill last month. The proposal -- one of the few that Howell (R-Stafford) put his considerable power behind -- would limit liability for Philadelphia-based Crown Cork & Seal. Senators, including Committee Chairman Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), were unusually terse in their meeting, cutting off the company's general counsel and asking him a series of pointed questions that made it clear which way they were leaning. "Crown would have no way of knowing that 10 years in...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 8, 2010; 6:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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McDonnell sends new economic development bills with Northrop Grumman in mind

With just a few days left before the adjournment of this year's legislative session, Gov. Bob McDonnell has sent down late legislation to the General Assembly that could help Virginia snag the massive defense company Northrop Grumman. The L.A.-based company is considering offers from Virginia, Maryland and the District as sites to relocate its corporate headquarters. The company has said public incentives could play a role in its decision-making process. Virginia officials have been tight-lipped about the details of their offer to the company, not wanting to tip their hand to their competitors in Maryland and the District. But some indication of the kind of incentives that could be offered to the company came with the introduction of companion bills in the House and Senate. The identical bills would allow the Governor's Opportunity Fund, an economic development grant program which can now be spent only on public infrastructure, to be...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 8, 2010; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli position on university policies on gays draws praise, criticism

The conservative Family Foundation sent a letter to its supporters Monday supporting the letter written by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli Thursday to public colleges and universities, asking them to remove language dealing with sexual orientation from their nondiscrimination policies. In its email, the group argued that the governor has pledged he will not allow discrimination and there is no evidence discrimination has occurred. A push to write legal protections into the law, they argue, is "not about discrimination. It is about government recognition--and acceptance--of the homosexual lifestyle." Meanwhile, the head of the Virginia conference of American Association of University Professors has written to Gov. Bob McDonnell expressing the group's "deep concern" over Cuccinelli's position. "Discrimination on grounds irrelevant to qualifications and merit is abhorrent to the values of higher education," writes Patricia W. Cummins, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, as she echoed a call from Equality Virginia that McDonnell...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 8, 2010; 1:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Va. Capitol buzz: House Minority Leader Armstrong's statewide ambitions

After we told you Friday that Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D) is considering running for statewide office in 2013, the news quickly became the talk of the House of Delegates. Delegates started gossiping about it. Republicans speculated about it at their closed-door caucus meeting. The partisan blogs began to chatter about it. Even Speaker Bill Howell -- Armstrong used to talk frequently about replacing him until November's election made that extremely unlikely -- got into the act. During the House floor session Friday, a seemingly serious Howell called Armstrong the "Gentleman from Statewide" causing the chamber to erupt in laughter. Check out the video below: So what does former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who is widely expected to make another run at governor in 2013, say about Armstrong possibly joining him in the race? "I've always said the more the merrier,'' McAuliffe said in an interview last week....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 8, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Terry McAuliffe  
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Last-minute lobbying blitz in support of speaker's asbestos liability bill

A Fortune 500 company is making an aggressive last-minute push in the final days of the legislative session in support of an bill championed by House Speaker Bill Howell that would help protect it from asbestos lawsuits. The House of Delegates narrowly passed the bill last month after Howell quietly maneuvered behind the scenes for weeks to have his chamber support the proposal. Officials with the Philadelphia company, Crown Cork & Seal -- including general counsel William Gallagher and former general counsel Richard Krzyzanowski -- were in Richmond last week personally lobbying senators. Legislators say they were told that the company, the inventor of the bottle cap, may have to close the company's pair of Virginia plants in Winchester and Suffolk, employing 300 workers, if the bill doesn't pass. Lobbyists for Owens Illinois, a Fortune 500 glass container manufacturer that argues it would pay more in asbestos claims if Crown...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 8, 2010; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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Gay rights group urges McDonnell to counter Cuccinelli's college advice

Equality Virginia sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) this weekend asking him to "end his silence" on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) decision to urge the state's public colleges and universities to rescind policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The gay rights group wants McDonnell to introduce a bill during the final week of the legislative session that would include sexual orientation as a protected class in the state's non-discrimination policy for state workers. Earlier this year, McDonnell signed an executive order barring discrimination in the state workforce on the grounds that include race, sex, religion and age, but not sexual orientation. McDonnell criticized former Democratic governor Tim Kaine for including language about sexual orientation in his executive order, arguing he overstepped his authority by extending protections not authorized by the General Assembly. But McDonnell did not support bills that would have banned discrimination...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 7, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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