Posts Tagged ‘House of Delegates’

A Blog to Watch

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

The Virginia Conservative is already one of the best blogs in the Valley. Always intriguing, often witty, VC brings a great deal to the table. He very closely hews to the type of blogging I strive to her: taking a story, analyzing it and offering a unique spin, not just the regurgitation of standard talking points or (god forbid) the verbatin reprint of press releases. To wit, there was his classic post where he link Pepsi’s Throwback soda to Ron Paul’s stance on subsidies:

But…this isn’t a food review blog?  What does this Pepsi product have to do with politics?  Representative Ron Paul has the answer.  In his bestselling work, The Revolution: A Manifesto, he discusses this topic.  The reason for the switch is one of cost.  It is cheaper for soft drink manufactures to use the corn syrup.  But wait, you say…in other countries they use sugar, why would it be more expensive in the U.S.A.?  The answer is subsidies and quotas.  Not only does the federal government subsidize corn growers, as Ron Paul tells us, “The United States government limits the amount of sugar that can be imported from around the world.  These quotas make sugar more expensive for all Americans, since they now have fewer choices as a result of diminished competition.  The quota also put at a competitive disadvantage all those businesses that use sugar to produce their own products.  That’s one reason that American colas use corn syrup instead of sugar:  American sugar, thanks to the quotas, is simply too expensive.”  (p. 72).

Now, he’s announced the beginning of a series of posts looking back on his time working in the 93rd Delegate race during this past election. House watchers will recall that the seat was one of two that switched from Republican to Democratic control and was the only one in which a Democrat knocked off the sitting Republican. This series will be one to watch not just for those interested in knowing the full story behind Delegate Hamilton’s quick fall from grace but also to consultants everywhere who want insight on how to deal with a race that explodes almost overnight.

The Kaine Hole Keeps Getting Deeper

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell sat down today with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and outgoing Governor Tim Kaine (oh, how sweet it is!) to hear the budget projections for the coming year. And the news is not good. From the AP:

Gov. Timothy Kaine on Monday met with his Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates to hear state fiscal projections, the final such meeting of his four-year term. Kaine then will likely use the most conservative revenue figures — updated at the end of the month to include November tax receipts — as the foundation of his proposed biennial budget, which he will present to the General Assembly’s money committees Dec. 18.

After the meeting, Kaine and other legislators didn’t disclose figures but said the estimates the council heard Monday largely squared with information presented last week to General Assembly budget writers. Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker projected that Virginia needs to cut at least $250 million more from its budget, and face an anticipated shortfall of nearly $3 billion for the next two years.

His Excellency Kaine’s first path to look to? Why, more tax hikes, of course.

Kaine said Monday he wouldn’t rule out proposing tax increases to help preserve core services, Virginia’s AAA bond rating and its competitiveness with other states — but the General Assembly would ultimately decide.

DJ notes that maybe somebody missed the memo delivered to Democrats on November 3rd:

After all, it’s not as if the last fellow to call for a tax increase went down to the greatest landslide defeat in almost fifty years . . .

The always practical Norm lays out the challenges facing those who were selected on November 3rd to lead our great Commonwealth:

This will be a test of several things…

1. Bob McDonnell’s “read my lips” pledge not to increase taxes;

2. The General Assembly’s appetite for higher taxes, considering they have cut (to and through the bone) every hint of unnecessary spending;

3. The Republican House’s newly-elected members, many of whom have never faced a withering media drumbeat for greater taxes.

One longtime legislative hand is already sensing that this mess may lead to extra innings, particularly thanks to the coming health care bills out of DC. From NBC29:

At least one lawmaker says he might have a solution. 19th District Independent Delegate Lacey Putney, the committee’s chairman, suggested “The possibility of coming into session, maybe recessing, let the members go back, except the money committees working on the budget, in order to give us time to see what they’re going to do in Washington.”

Putney said discussions about that plan were ongoing.

A delay could give budget writers a chance to understand the financial obligations required by federal health care bills. But it would also drag out the legislative session, a scenario that could cause problems of its own.

Thank heavens that we elected a man of principle to the Governor’s Mansion. Having worked for the man, I have no doubt that McDonnell will live up to his promises. Indeed, he was never part of the “country club”/good government set that dominated the Caucuses for too long. Still, its going to be a bumpy ride, and we the people need to keep up the pressure on our legislators in Richmond.

Howell Does Good

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Long time readers will know that Speaker Bill Howell, who was recently re-elected to his position as Speaker of the House (or is at least the Republican pick, though the current majority more or less secures his choice by the Caucus), is not exactly one of my favorites. I’m not going to back away from my position on the smoking ban coming into effect at the beginning of next month, though I will admit that it didn’t really hurt the ticket’s pro-business platform (though McDonnell himself opposed it, and frankly I can’t think of a single race where this was a deal breaker).

However, I do give kudos where kudos is due. Howell played very smart politics over the last few years by keeping costs down in the House and by allowing recorded subcommittee votes. That particular plank managed to appease both the media and liberal types along with conservatives for whom transparency has become a hot new issue. Howell doubled down on this strategy today by not walking away from proportional representation. From the Washington Post VA Politics blog:

House Speaker Bill Howell plans to honor current rules of proportional representation as he reorganizes House committees in the wake of the Nov. 3 election results. That means Howell will add one Republican to each committee, in line with the GOP caucus’ growth from 55 to 61 members. He will not be adding two Republicans, as has been widely rumored, according to Howell chief of staff Paul Nardo

Kudos to the speaker. Frankly, not much was to be gained here. Barring a defection from the Democratic caucus to the McDonnell administration (and possibly two, if Republicans don’t hold the 37th Senate district seat vacated by AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli), we aren’t going to control the Senate any time soon. While tempting, adding two GOPers wouldn’t do much and only aid any narrative of Republican overreach. Governor-elect McDonnell is in a good position to get many of his iniatives through already. No reason to queer the deal by angering and giving the Democrats good reason to fight tooth and nail and to give the media the possibility of comparison’s to Obama’s overreach in his first year.

So kudos to Speaker Howell and the Republican Caucus. But remember: we’re still watching.

House Election News

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

While there’s certainly a flurry of activity coming out of Capitol Square today with the end of the General Assembly Session (and it appears as if today will in fact be the end, but more on that later), there’s also big news on the election front. 

First off, Republican William Fralin of Roanoke will be retiring. This move comes as somewhat of a surprise, as at 46 Fralin isn’t exactly an elder statesman in the House, and while Roanoke has (like many of Virginia’s cities) been bluing of recent vintage (46.3% for Bush in ’04 to 37.5% for McCain in 2008), the outlying territory is red enough that it was still a solid district for McCain. As a relative moderate in the House GOP Caucus (primarily on education and fiscal issues), Fralin could, COULD stand a shot against John Edwards in 2011. That, however, will take time to shake itself out. In the meantime, can now project that, should he secure re-election in November, Delegate Todd Gilbert of Woodstock will officially be the tallest member in the House of Delegates. 

In related news, Delegate Steve Landes will face Democrat Greg Marrow this fall. Landes, who has represented the district for 14 years, has not faced much opposition. However, with a fading red Waynesboro at the heart of his district (63.9% for Bush in ’04 to 53.3% for McCain in 2008) Landes may face a stiff challenge, but again, the outlying territory in Rockingham and Augusta counties made this a solid McCain district in 2008. With both Landes and Matt Lohr facing challenges in November, this means that half of Rockingham County’s four man delegation is under fire. However, with Chris Saxman’s district being based in Staunton (which went from 60.3% for Bush in 2004 to 48.4% in 2008) and Todd Gilbert still under fire from liberal circles for his comments about Barack Obama this past fall, we may very well be seeing challengers for those two as well. 

Stay tuned. This is shaping up to be a great political year in the Shenandoah Valley.

Can our trash work for us?

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

From Too Conservative, we hear that Delegate Joe May has submitted a bill that would allow localities to work with power companies to mine for methane in our landfills. From Delegate May: 

This bill originated because of my participation in the Climate Change Commission. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and landfills are a large untapped energy source. By making methane mining eligible for public-private partnership methane can be used to produce electricity for local communities. In Maryland several companies have entered into contracts with Baltimore Gas and Electric to supply electricity from methane mined from large landfills. These companies mine methane gas from local landfills, burn it and use the energy produced to supply electricity to local communities. This bill will reduce greenhouse gas, produces energy and has the potential to save the Commonwealth millions of dollars. A win-win for everybody

I don’t agree with some of May’s votes, particularly his actions in 2004. However, he is a very affable guy, and probably one of the brightest in the statehouse, holding more patents than Thomas Jefferson himself. His failed 2005 LG bid was a real shame, but he’s really proving his worth in the house these days.

On the actual policy, what a great idea. Not only would localities benefit from the sale of the gas, helping to offset the amount of aid needed from the state, but it would also cut down on emissions from the landfill and remove a public hazard (no kidding, they actually have to have pipes all around our county landfill to vent the gas in order to avoid explosions).