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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 01/18/2011

UPDATED: Repeal amendment stumbles at first Senate legislative hurdle

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

The top priority of Virginia tea party groups was summarily killed Tuesday morning by a subcommittee of the state Senate.

On a 4 to 3 party-line vote, Democrats on a subcommittee of the Senate's Privileges and Election committee agreed to pass by indefinitely a bill that would have put Virginia on record supporting a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and add a provision to allow federal laws and regulations to be invalidated by the agreement of two-thirds of state legislatures.

Many tea party activists believe such an amendment would curb the federal government and restore a balance of power between states and Washington. State Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico) said the subcommittee was concerned that such an amendment would let the states invalidate any federal statute, even those that have been on the books for decades, creating deep uncertainty.

Plus, he noted that the amendment could result in small states overturning laws passed by representatives of large states. "A minority of the population could end up invalidating an act of Congress," he said. "And that's antithetical to our system of federalism."

The issue has not ended for the session. A similar bill is being carried in the House of Delegates by Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford).

UPDATE 2:51 p.m.: Sen. Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover) , who is sponsoring the repeal amendment, said he hopes his proposal might still have a hearing in front of the full Senate committee. Unlike the House of Delegates, which regularly kills legislation in subcommittee, the Senate generally allows all bills to be heard by larger committees, even when they've received a negative recommendation from a subcommittee.

"I would expect that, just like with every other bill, they will follow Senate rules on this," McDougle said. He called the proposal "not partisan legislation" that would reset the balance between state and federal government.

McDougle's bill was one of several top Republican priorities that met a similar fate in front of the subcommittee. On a 4 to 3 vote, the panel also nixed bills to write a constitutional amendment protecting Virginia's right to work laws and another to require unions to use secret balloting in elections.

Senate Privileges and Elections Chairwoman Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said the measures all received full hearings before the subcommittee. "I doubt we're going to have time to hear things that have died in subcommittee," she said. But she said she is drawing up lists of bills to be considered at future meetings and no final decision has been made.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 18, 2011; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate, William Howell  
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Can we just ship all these Tea Party people off to a remote part of the world and let them set up their own little country...Dumbassistan?

Posted by: stuckintraffictoo | January 18, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Not a surprise... the Dimwitocrats want to concentrate all the power at the federal level, against the wishes of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution they regularly ignore. We need to ship THEM off to Dumbassistan.

Posted by: dblu2 | January 18, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm no Constitutional Law expert, but isn't Article VI basically the whole point of the U.S. Constitution? Why not just revert back to the Articles of Confederation? (And before some nut says anything - AoC were NOT the Confederacy. They were the government structure from 1776 to 1788).

Posted by: mwcob | January 18, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Plus, he noted that the amendment could result in small states overturning laws passed by representatives of large states. "A minority of the population could end up invalidating an act of Congress," he said. "And that's antithetical to our system of federalism."

Don't 2/3rds of states have to ratify any amendment to the Constitution? So how would this proposal be any antithetical than the system currently is?

Posted by: pswift00 | January 18, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse


Even in VA you should not want to start changing the constitution to fit your version of politics and policy. We all know the republicans would use it to play politics. Lets overturn abortion rights, gay rights, immigration rights, civil rights for minorities but no 2nd amendment rights. It would be used as a political tool by the right and you know it. Look at what your AG is doing right now. Going after professors at state universities who got grants and dont subscribe to his personal stance on creationism vs evolutionism. He is trying to bring charges against teachers based on his personal political and social beliefs. Wasting Va tax payers monies.

Posted by: ged0386 | January 18, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

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