Mike Turner and Liz Miller Slug It Out

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.)