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