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Lt. Gov. Bolling: Anti-gun bill panel creation broke Senate rules

Yes, Democratic leaders in Virginia's Senate broke the rules when they killed a bunch of gun rights bills in a specially formed subcommittee. And, no, there's not a thing anybody can do about it.

That's the upshot of a ruling that came down Friday from Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who is president of the Senate.

The controversy began when Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Courts of Justice Chairman Henry Marsh (D-Richmond) created a special subcommittee to consider several gun bills passed by the Republican-controlled House, including an attempt to repeal Virginia's ban on buying more than one handgun a month.

Almost all of the gun bills, except those that were similar to measures adopted by the Senate, died there last week on party-line votes. Among the dead was Del. Scott Lingamfelter's (R-Prince William) closely watched attempt to repeal the gun-a-month law.

Some gun-control advocates praised the end if not the means. Others criticized Senate leaders only for not thinking of the idea sooner. But gun-rights supporters derided the Courts of Justice special subcommittee as "the death star" committee and accused the Senate leadership of acting like autocrats.

Other newly created subcommittees killed other unwanted House bills too, including one that would have protected Virginians from involuntary microchip implantation -- a measure derided by critics as the "mark of the Beast" bill.

Saslaw wasn't shy about the purpose of the Courts of Justice special subcommittee, which was stacked with four Democratic senators and one moderate Republican. Saslaw said in interviews that the Democratic-controlled Senate was merely engaging in a little payback after years of watching bills roll out with significant majorities only to die at the hands of a few delegates on subcommittees in the Republican-controlled House.

On Thursday, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) tried to revive a gun-rights measure--shielding public access to the list of concealed weapon permit holders--by amending another gun-related bill on the floor of the Senate. She withdrew the amendment eventually, but not before criticizing the handiwork of the newly invented subcommittees and their propriety.

Enter Bolling.

His March 12 memo, citing Rule 20 (h), says:

"Accordingly, and based on my objective interpretation of the Rules of the Senate, it is my belief that Senate subcommittees do not have the authority to take final action on any bill or resolution referred to them. The subcommittee can consider such bills and resolutions, but ultimately, the subcommitee is only empowered to make recommendations to the full Committee. The ultimate authority of taking final action on such bills and resolutions rests solely with the full committee."

Bolling's memo also points out that, unlike the Senate, the House's rules specifically grant subcommittees the authority to take final action on bills.

Bolling spokeswoman Ibbie Hedrick said the memo cannot force compliance of the rules. "It's just his opinion on the matter," she said.

But Bolling's memo also included a genteel reminder to the senators to play nice:

"As you know, the Senate has long prided itself on compliance with the Rules and traditions of the Senate. It is important that the Rules and traditions of the Senate be complied with when they advance members ultimate goals and objectives, and even when they do not."

-- Fredrick Kunkle

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  March 12, 2010; 5:33 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Bolling , Fredrick Kunkle , General Assembly , General Assembly 2010 , State Senate  
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Comments

It appears that the Richmond City Council isn't the only place where corrupt politicians nest in Virginia.

It's a shame that there isn't some kind of law that requires politicians to obey the rules they were elected to follow. Saslaw and Marsh should be charged with a crime, in my opinion.

Posted by: bblackmoor | March 13, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Patron: Ware, R.L.
Concealed handgun permits; access to applications and permittee information. Prohibits a clerk of court from providing public access to concealed handgun permit applications and information regarding identifiable permittees without the written consent of the applicant or permittee. The applications and information would be available to law-enforcement agencies, and the clerk of court would be authorized to release aggregate information that does not identify individual applicants or permittees.

What happened to freedom of information? How can a person receive written consent of the applicant or permittee if they do not know who has a permit?

H.B. 236
Patron: Janis
Shooting firearms in certain areas. Makes a locality no longer able to prohibit hunting generally within a half-mile radius of a subdivision, but a locality would still be able to prohibit hunting within a subdivision.

How far can a bullet travel?


H.B. 490
Patron: Lingamfelter
Development of plan for the issuance of a lifetime concealed handgun permit. Directs the Department of State Police, in cooperation with the Secretary of Public Safety, to develop a plan to allow for the State Police to issue lifetime concealed handgun permits to Virginia residents.

Is this the part where “Gun don’t kill, people use guns to kill other people” Sooo when does a responsible person cross the line and become a killer?

Posted by: knjincvc | March 13, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Patron: Ware, R.L.
Concealed handgun permits; access to applications and permittee information. Prohibits a clerk of court from providing public access to concealed handgun permit applications and information regarding identifiable permittees without the written consent of the applicant or permittee. The applications and information would be available to law-enforcement agencies, and the clerk of court would be authorized to release aggregate information that does not identify individual applicants or permittees.

What happened to freedom of information? How can a person receive written consent of the applicant or permittee if they do not know who has a permit?

H.B. 236
Patron: Janis
Shooting firearms in certain areas. Makes a locality no longer able to prohibit hunting generally within a half-mile radius of a subdivision, but a locality would still be able to prohibit hunting within a subdivision.

How far can a bullet travel?


H.B. 490
Patron: Lingamfelter
Development of plan for the issuance of a lifetime concealed handgun permit. Directs the Department of State Police, in cooperation with the Secretary of Public Safety, to develop a plan to allow for the State Police to issue lifetime concealed handgun permits to Virginia residents.

Is this the part where “Gun don’t kill, people use guns to kill other people” Sooo when does a responsible person cross the line and become a killer?

Posted by: knjincvc | March 13, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"Other newly created subcommittees killed other unwanted House bills too, including one that would have protected Virginians from involuntary microchip implantation --"

I see the Black helicopter crowd is still flying around with wack-a-do beliefs.

Posted by: knjincvc | March 13, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

So they are breaking the law here.. state law. So, this would fall under the Sheriff's office to enforce. Whether civil or criminal charges can be levied, I'm not sure. They are disarming people. Where does that fall?

Whatever those Democrats are thinking, it won't matter next election. While you may enjoy subverting democracy- and that's what this is- you won't be able to run from it.

Richard "Dick" Saslaw, you've been a professional politician for 40 years. I think it's time you went back to selling gasoline on the corner. I'm going to help make that dream come true.

Posted by: HDThoreau | March 13, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Just an "opinion?" Who are we kidding? The rule that was violated is crystal clear, an average 5th grader would understand it. Let's tell the truth here: Sasslaw and Marsh saw the writing on the wall and realized that the will of the people, through their duly elected representatives, was about to override their own twisted wishes. The only way to stop this was to break the rules, and disenfranchise the vast majority of the citizens of Virginia. (One of the "killed" bills had already passed the House on a 99-0 vote!) How is this not a first step toward anarchy? What rule will they break next? How do we teach our children about the integrity of our elected leaders when they break rules to advance their own agenda, and specifically to thwart the will of the people. What happened to "of, by and for the people?" I guess Sasslaw and Marsh are the only "people" who really count. Funny, I don't remember any recent coronation ceremonies...

To address specific bills, HB79 is not about freedom of information, it's about protecting the very lives of citizens who need to protect themselves from stalkers, estranged spouses or domestic partners, or from simple home invasion. Anti-gunners are supposed to be all about keeping guns "off the streets", why in the world would you want to provide criminals access to a list of people and their home addresses where firearms are likely to be stored?

HB236 does not reduce any safety measure. It simply allowed hunting near a subdivision, as long as it is done safely (namely, shooting away from the development). In todays fast developing land environment, there are plenty of areas where hunting is perfectly appropriate within a half mile of a small "subdivision". It doesn't matter how far a bullet "can" travel, the only thing that matters is where a bullet is aimed. This bill provided the same penalty for unsafe shooting (toward a development) as is currently in place for hunting within that half mile radius of a development.

Your objection to HB490 is nonsensical. It is a money saving effort, to simply drop the 5 year renewal. The bill only authorized a study of how to implement it safely. You imply that all gun owners will eventually become criminals. Or perhaps you take the stand of the "Brady Bunch" and other anti-gun fanatics that all gun owners are by definition, criminals. Neither view has a place among the sane.

Posted by: TFred | March 13, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what Saslaw and Marsh would say if half of the population of VA wrote them and thanked them for the leadership showing that Virginia residents don't have to follow rules if they don't want to. That would include all VA laws. Isn't that what they're doing, ignoring laws they don't like? Well what about the speeding laws? Shouldn't the citizenry be able to ignore that law if they so desire?

Some leadership.

Posted by: paperregister | March 13, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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