Posts Tagged ‘Smoking’

And For What?

February 14, 2009 1 comment

From the Washington Post, word that Speaker Howell has once again caved on the smoking ban and is actively working with the Governor to mostly restore the original proposal:

At a meeting Friday, Kaine (D) sat down with House and Senate leaders to restore elements of his smoking ban proposal so that it includes most bars, in addition to restaurants. In keeping with the initial compromise between Kaine and Howell, smoking would be allowed in enclosed rooms that are ventilated with fresh air from the outside, the sources said.


Sources say the latest agreement, which will be announced Monday, removes most of the House amendments. Smoking would be permitted in private clubs but not in restaurants that hold private functions. The ban would apply to bars, regardless of whether minors are admitted. The patio exception, however, will remain. Legislators have to agree on what constitutes an outdoor patio, according to sources.

And what is Howell reward for his rush to sell out free market principles? Why, an opponent, of course! And not just some kook, but a popular elected official. From Fred2Blue:

Stafford Co. Board of Supervisors Chairman George Schwartz is running against Speaker Bill Howell in the 28th HD. The full press release is below.

Barack Obama captured 50.2% of the vote in the 28th last November, a district that includes the city of Fredericksburg and part of Stafford County. Although Schwartz is the Stafford BOS Chairman, he hasn’t been elected county-wide. He represents the Falmouth district and was voted in as Chairman, following the 2007 elections, with 4 votes (3 Democrats and 1 Independent) to 3. Schwartz will not seek re-election this year. This won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but we couldn’t ask for a better candidate to run against Wild Bill. Get pumped.

With numbers like that, Howell was going to have an opponent. However, in his search for an issue, he has now managed to show that, in addition to not appeasing liberals, he also has no principled backbone, meaning that grassroots activists and other free market types are going to be less than enthused about working for him. 

Good work, Bill. It’s very rare that you sell out and harm yourself at the same time.

The Untold Story–House GOP Bucks Howell

February 12, 2009 1 comment

The story line that is dominating the passage of a compromise smoking ban bill in the House is that Speaker Howell got the bill passed. However, what hasn’t been told is just what the shakedown was on his support, and it doesn’t look good for the Speaker. 

Thirty two Republicans (out of the fifty three strong caucus, excluding Abbitt and Putney) sided against the Speaker on this one, just over 60% of the Caucus. Additionally, those who should be closest to the speaker, Committee Chairs, only sided with the Speaker by an 8 to 6 margin. Add in the leadership (Leader Griffith, Whip Cox, and Caucus Chair Nixon) and that number goes to 9 to 8.

Perhaps even more telling is the margins according to when the Delegates were elected. Of those Delegates elected before the Speaker was elected in 2003, the margin is 19 against to 17 yes, meaning that a little over half of those elected prior to Howell becoming speaker voted against him. This in of itself shows the waning power of the Speaker. However, when you look at those elected after 2003, the numbers are even more eye opening. 11 voted against the speaker while just 5 voted with him. Nearly 70% of those elected while Howell was Speaker bucked him. Things are slightly better when you look at those candidates that Howell supported financially since 2003. Six voted against him, four with him. However, that’s still 60% of those he supported who bucked him on this vote. 

Howell managed to get his way this time, just as he did in 2004 with Warner’s tax package. Inside sources have indicated that Howell had several members of finance take a walk out of the Committee, allowing for its passage. This allowed the bill to get through but also allowed Howell to vote no, sparing him some criticism. However, this time it wasn’t clear that Kaine had the votes. Howell orchestrated this with many of the NOVA, Hampton Roads and Richmond members who will be counting on his financial support to give them an issue to campaign on (as well as to benefit his own re-election prospects). He did this, however, on the back of the party being the party of liberty, and without realizing that Kaine will also be dumping money on the candidates who will challenge the GOPers regardless while at the same time giving Democrats an issue. It will be the Democrats who can say they are the party that saved Virginia’s non-smokers, not Howell.

I’ll put up a spreadsheet later, but it has become fairly obvious that Howell is losing the support of the conservative and rural wing of his party. The big question is: will the 11 Young Turks who bucked Howell despite his support in their races be able to find 15 or so votes if they think they can knock him off as Speaker? The GOP has to hold the majority first, but it’s clear that even many old hands are tired of the Speaker’s wishy washy leadership and tendency to back down, even when, as we saw this time, the votes are there to stand on the side of property rights and personal liberty. 

As an long time observer of the General Assembly shared with me, one has to wonder if Chichester is still sitting in some dark corner of the Commonwealth, pulling the strings to make his boy Howell dance.

RPV Executive Committee Bucks Howell

February 11, 2009 Leave a comment

In a surprise move, the RPV Executive Committee (not to be confused with the State Central Committee) has repudiated the efforts of Speaker Howell to compromise with Governor Kaine on a ban on smoking in public places. From Bearing Drift:

As members of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia, we wish to remind you of the following core tenet of our Party’s creed: We Believe: That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice. We write to remind you of this key element of our Republican Creed because we understand that HB 1703 is moving on a fast track to a vote on Tuesday, and as our duly elected Representatives we urge you to vote NO. The passage of such legislation is completely antithetical to our Party’s core free market principles. This not about smoking. This is about unnecessary government intrusion into the private sector. This unconscionable encroachment will cost those affected their ability to operate a free enterprise and further alienate our Republican base.

Unfortunately the bill managed to pass this afternoon, though not without some changes. The biggies: Establishments that don’t allow minors can still allow smoking and the ban won’t begin until 2009. These are decent changes towards a compromise here, but a compromise that bans smoking in any form and prevents business owners from dictating their clientele on the basis of their consensual behaviors is still a violation of free enterprise. 

Clearly, there is a schism in the party on this issue, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by outside observers. From the AP

Or the legislation could create an intra-party rift, warns a group of GOP party leaders and district chairmen who wrote a letter to Republicans in the General Assembly pleading for a “no” vote.

Among the letters’ authors is Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, R-Prince William, chairman of the state party.

“Supporting [House Bill] 1703 will discourage and demoralize the Republican base and confuse those that view us as the party of free market principles,” the letter states.

The letter notes that Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the all-but-official Republican nominee for governor, “understands our principles and position in regard to the smoking ban, and we believe you should take heed of his position.”

Del. William R. Janis, R-Henrico, spoke against the smoking measure on the floor, at one point saying that “it would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”

Janis said that since September — no matter what his constituents contacted him about — they were most concerned about the economy and joblessness.You can find my complete thoughts here. The bill will almost certainly be hashed out in conference–let’s hope that a deal can’t be made. 

Can’t win ’em all.

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Looks like Governor Kain is having a win:


The Democratic National Committee has elected Tim Kaine as the party’s new chairman.

The vote was a formality and the outcome was expected.

President Barack Obama chose the Virginia governor for the post earlier this month. Kaine is a longtime ally who endorsed Obama for president in early 2007.


And lose kinda day:


Gov. Tim Kaine’s efforts to ban smoking in all Virginia restaurants and bars has hit a snag.

A Senate committee voted 6-6 on a bill that would have allowed localities to decide if they want to ban smoking or not. The even vote means the bill is stalled, but can resurface later in the session.


Many people were surprised when Governor Kaine declined to be considered for any cabinet slot. His Excellency (I’m not mocking him, that’s actually how the Governorship is styled in the state Commonwealth) said that he was elected to four years and would be serving it out. Most people took this to mean that he would be focusing on saving his legacy. 

Read more…