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Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 01/20/2011

GOP's 'repeal amendment' sounds like 1861, black caucus chair says

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

The leader of Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus says she is disturbed by what she termed "1861ish" rhetoric that surrounds the GOP's push for a constitutional amendment to allow state legislatures to repeal acts of the federal government.

Joined by other members of the caucus at a morning news conference to unveil the group's legislative agenda for this year's session, Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) said she was concerned by efforts to have Virginia endorse holding a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

"When you talk about nullification, that was pretty much the language of the 1850s, preceding the Civil War, of the relationship between the states and the federal government," she said.

She and other caucus leaders say they are also concerned by policy proposals from Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to divert funding now spent on state schools and other core services to transportation.

"Part of our concern is not how he's doing with proclamations," said Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), referring to McDonnell's controversial April proclamation honoring Confederate History Month. "Or with outreach. But with the policies he's putting forward that have a disproportionate impact on our communities."

Locke also provided an update on the health of Sen. Yvonne Miller (D-Norfolk), a key committee chairwoman who has missed the first part of the session due to recent surgery. Locke said Miller was released from the hospital Wednesday, is in good spirits and is planning to come to Richmond Feb. 1.

A Senate subcommittee voted against the "repeal amendment" proposal this week but it is being sponsored in the House by Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford).

"This country was founded by a lengthy discussion by those participating in the constitutional convention to give the federal government certain powers," Locke said of the proposal. "Now, all of a sudden, it's like, we don't like this anymore, so we want to be in a position to get rid of it. ... It's the same kind of language, it's the same type of rhetoric. It doesn't say anything about people sitting down and having dialogue that's useful and meaningful. It says. 'I'm right, you're wrong and you will be wrong until you agree with what I say.' "

The group is pushing a series of bills this year, including legislation reforming foreclosure proceedings to help struggling homeowners, targeting urban blight and changing a law that allows some weapons to be sold at gun shows without background checks. They'd also like to see Virginia's Constitution amended to allow nonviolent felons to recover their right to vote after completing their prison terms without gubernatorial approval.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 20, 2011; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Next: Va. congressmen tell Gates how to fix BRAC at Mark Center


What else would you expect out of Richmond?

Posted by: jckdoors | January 20, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Mamie Locke. I think she was one of those NAACP people that were putting up a wooden frame around George Washington's statue the other day.

Posted by: MillionSix | January 20, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

There was a time when the WaPo would practice basic journalism, and not simply republish press releases.

Mamie Locke is entitled to her racially inflammatory rantings. The WaPo has every duty to reprint them. But Ms. Helderman might have taken five minutes to get a response from a Republican to these attacks.

Or does the WaPo no longer believe there ARE two sides to a story?

Posted by: va_lawgal | January 21, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Nullification- funny how history repeats itself. And for the Tea Party, it is not the Health Care issue, it goes to the very core of the role of a Federal Government in relation to State and Local Governments. I can see all sorts of consequences to this action- some states rejecting military expenditures because their constituents don't like the wars, other states rejecting environmental, or securities mandates because they disagree with them, other states raising their own militia- it goes on. Idaho being the first state to really move on this should not surprise anyone. Are we going to experience a movement that could cause another Civil War?

Posted by: Larry66 | January 21, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Virginia little ungrateful snot, you get BILLIONS from the Federal Fathers!!!

Look at all the facilities that will go away when you leave the union -- there goes the Pentagon; CIA; Norfolk Naval Ship Yard; Ft. Belvoir and the growing Veterans hospital; Ft. Lee and all that procurement staff; Quantico and the massive FBI and CIS research facilities; etc, etc, etc...Billions in jobs, benefits.

Nothing says the Federal government can't move it all to West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania or at least to pro-union states. Bye, Bye Virginia's free source of wealth!

Posted by: lpberkoff | January 22, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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