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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Colgan sides with Republicans on parliamentary dispute

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

Republicans in the state senate complaining that some of their bills are not receiving hearings in full committees found an unlikely ally Wednesday: Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Colgan (D-Prince William).

Republican senators rose on the floor of the senate Wednesday to complain about their treatment in the Privileges and Elections committee Tuesday, when committee chairwoman Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) ruled out of order motions by Republicans to add bills to the committee docket.

The bills included some top GOP priorities and Howell said she was exercising her prerogative as committee chairman to decide whether they are heard. The bills had already been heard and killed in subcommittee and Howell had told the committee they would not hear bills that had already received full subcommittee discussion. That's the way things work in the House of Delegates where bills are routinely killed in subcommittees, but not, typically, in the senate.

Colgan, the most senior member of the senate, rose to his feet to talk about abuses of power employed by majority when he first joined the senate 36 years ago--bills that were assigned to fake subcommittees that never met; budgets crafted by a few members meeting at a hunting lodge; other items considered in executive sessions where the public and even many senators were not allowed to attend.

Noting that such practices have ended, Colgan said he believes his colleagues are generally fair and collegial. But he said he agrees with the Republicans that every bill deserves a full committee hearing.

"When we take a subcommittee and let a subcommittee decide whether something will pass or fail, that's wrong," Colgan told his colleagues. "When you do that, you are disenfranchising the people who sent that legislator here."

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 26, 2011; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Comments

Senator Colgan... doing the right thing. Congrats!

Posted by: BruceFairfax | January 27, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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