Making this a News Brief because, really, does anyone still care? Did anyone ever? If you do, Del. Barbara Comstock has weighed in with a letter of her own, responding to Sen. Chap Petersen’s letter, which followed Elizabeth Miller’s letter, which deconstructed Mike Turner’s letter, with everyone saying someone else was playing games with legislation.
Let FirewallNOVA clear this up for you: Comstock is running for Congress as a Republican at a time when Republicans are trying to court more of the women’s vote. She tried to put through some half-baked legislation that would make her look friendly to women, and the Democrats stopped her.
That is all.
Following last week’s exchange in the press between former Loudoun County Democratic Committee chair Mike Turner and former Democratic nominee for the house of delegates, Liz Miller, state senator Chap Petersen weighs in with a letter of his own. Petersen also corrects Turner, who neglected to look up what a senate committee was actually voting on before condemning the vote.
Petersen succinctly confirms that the house vote sent a vanity, do-nothing bill to the senate, where it was properly voted down. The house Democratic minority had its hand forced when the Republican majority passed an in-name-only “anti-trafficking” bill (literally, that’s all it did, was change the name of an existing law). That set a trap for the house Democrats, since no one wants it on their record that they, in any way, voted against an anti-trafficking measure (even one that does nothing whatsoever except, maybe, give its patron a campaign point in her bid to replace Frank Wolf). The house Dems didn’t fall into that trap, and the whole bit of political fakery would have failed, except that Turner fell for it himself, just in a bigger way.
Anyone who ever wonders if there is an up side to having a bicameral legislature can look at this for an example. A grand-stand play–made purely for political gain–that was forced on one party in one half of the legislature got shut down, as it should have, in the other half. As Petersen puts it, “That’s not party politics. It’s just how this business works.”
Interesting point/counterpoint pair of Op-Ed pieces in Leesburg Today recently.
Mike Turner takes a shot at the Virginia state senate’s Democrats, claiming they played politics by voting down good legislation sponsored by Republican delegates.
Liz Miller shoots back on their behalf, revealing that Turner didn’t seem to know the senate votes were on substituted versions of the bills he mentions (and those substitutes were, Miller says, completely different from the versions Turner apparently had in mind).
Beyond being a peek at the underbelly of the beast that is local politics, it’s also a bit of a demonstration of just how hard it can be to know what’s really going on during a legislative session. Apparently, a bill can be submitted by a patron and assigned a number, and can then be completely re-written, while still bearing that original patron’s name. The potential for game-playing is unlimited. A good bill could deliberately be rewritten into a bad one, just so the patron can claim political forces stopped them from passing its original form (something like that may even have happened here). Or a good bill could be deliberately rewritten into a bad one, just so the patron has to take the blame for the substituted version (that doesn’t seem to be what happened in this case; maybe a patron can pull a bill before it does?).
Apart from the battle these two writers seem to have waged, both pieces together are a valuable case-study on just how hard it can be to follow the progress of a bill, and on just how far from a bill’s original form its final form can be.
Interested wannabe policy wonks should use these two articles as guidelines as they delve into the online Legislative Information Service, where the full history of a bill can be found. (In this case, HB1, HB994, SB4, and SB373.)