Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Before the "Spin" cycle gets cranked up...


Looks like some very good work got done down in Richmond and the Representatives from the Valley did a great job in keeping Virginia the strong State it is... A friend forwards these releases from the House of Delegates Speakers office, Speaker William Howell (R-Stafford), and thought it would be good to post it here for people to see before the local media gets their "Spin" up and going...

Commonwealth of Virginia Speaker's Office Virginia House of Delegates RICHMOND FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

House Republican Initiatives Win Final Approval During General Assembly’s Reconvened Session

-- Landmark Transportation Legislation Wins Final Approval with Strong Bi-partisan Support -- --

Legislators Strengthen Public Safety by Overriding Three of Governor’s Vetoes on Death Penalty -

- -- Strong Protections from Eminent Domain Seizures by Government Pass Final Hurdle

RICHMOND, VA April 4, 2007 – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today heralded the success of the House Republican reform agenda at the conclusion of the 2007 Reconvened Session of the Virginia General Assembly.

“With the final approval of a landmark transportation reform and funding bill, strong protections for individual property holders from government eminent domain abuses, and budget amendments that expand our commitment to core services, including transportation, the 2007 Session of the General Assembly will be remembered for being one of the most productive in Virginia history,” Speaker Howell declared. “Those positive actions, coupled with the successful efforts to override the Governor’s vetoes on the sensible application of the death penalty, make this an especially successful session of progress for the people of Virginia.”

House Bill 3202, the Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007, was approved by the General Assembly on February 24. The most significant legislative initiative on transportation offered since 1986, House Bill 3202, sponsored by Speaker Howell, won support from both parties in the House of Delegates and was subsequently approved in the Senate.

After a lengthy tour of the Commonwealth, Governor Timothy M. Kaine offered amendments to the transportation plan that accepted the basic framework of the Republican-controlled General Assembly. As Speaker Howell and many others have long been advocating, the Governor dedicated moneys from the tax on insurance premiums and the recordation fee – General Fund revenue sources – to fund transportation. In addition, the Governor’s amendments increased the portion of future General Fund surpluses – from one-half to two-thirds – that would be allocated to transportation. The Governor’s amendments also increased from the $2.5 billion to $3.0 billion the amount of debt authorized by the plan.

The Governor’s amendments to House Bill 3202 were accepted by the House by a vote of 85-15, and 29 to 10 in the Senate. The Governor’s vetoes of House Bill 2347 and House Bill 2750, and Senate Bill 1116 were overridden by both the House and Senate. As Kaine’s expressed opposition to the death penalty was a major focus of the 2005 campaign, the possibility that legislators might override these vetoes generated much coverage over the last several weeks. The bills won widespread support from law enforcement groups, including the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, which vigorously opposed the Governor’s decision to veto the bills. The Governor’s vetoes of House Bill 2348 and Senate Bill 1288, Virginia Crime Commission bills that allowed for the application of the death penalty in cases where individuals were responsible for the crime but did not physically commit the act that (ending the so-called “triggerman rule”) were sustained by the Virginia Senate. Four Senators switched their previous votes in support of the measure, resulting in a vote of 25 to override, two short of the necessary two thirds.

House Bill 2954 was one of the primary initiatives of the House Republican Caucus, which had initially pledged to enact this measure in 2005, immediately following the highly controversial decision of the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London. The legislation would dramatically strengthen the private property protections of individual citizens. Although approved by the House during the 2006 session, this year marked the first time the measure passed the Senate. With the approval of the Governor’s amendment to the bill, a technical change pertaining to one project pending in Hampton Roads, final passage of the new protections is assured.

House Bill 2048 limited the amount the Commonwealth could charge parochial schools for fire inspections. In 2004, the legislature approved legislation enabling the State Fire Marshall to enforce the Statewide Fire Prevention Code in areas where the locality does not enforce the code. Under this measure, the Commonwealth was allowed to charge a fee – estimated at the time by the Warner Administration to not exceed $250 – for this service. Several religious schools have subsequently received bills from the state three to five times larger than the initial estimate. This legislation, approved by a 78 to 18 vote in the House and a 35 to 5 vote in the Senate, would exempt religious educational institutions from those fees. Governor Kaine subsequently vetoed the legislation. The House voted to override that veto by a vote of 68 to 31. The Senate failed to garner the votes necessary to override the veto, with 23 Senators voting to override and 16 voting to sustain.

Citing undue burdens on communities and individuals in Virginia, the House rejected the Governor’s recommendations on House Bill 1908 and House Bill 2261. To ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections, the House also rejected the Governor’s amendment to House Bill 2707.

In all, the General Assembly overrode three of the Governor’s eight vetoes that were contested by lawmakers.

The House of Delegates voted to override the Governor on four of the House Bills he vetoed, with the Administration narrowly sustaining a contested veto only on House Bill 1755. The Senate voted to override the Governor on one of the three Senate Bills he vetoed, Senate Bill 1116. The House also voted to override the Governor’s veto of this bill, bringing its total to five successful votes to override. The Senate joined the House in voting to override the vetoes of House Bills 2347 and 2750. It sustained the Governor’s veto on House Bill 2348, which was identical to Senate Bill 1116, and on House Bill 2048. Delegates who sponsored House Bills 1979 and 2128 decided against contesting the Governor’s vetoes.

In addition, the House of Delegates rejected the Governor’s recommendations on 10 House Bills and six Senate Bills – a high percentage of the bills contested by members – during its single-day Reconvened Session, the first held in Virginia’s newly-restored State Capitol building.

No comments: