Crossover: Dems Repubs offer views on ’12 GA session
At a press conference in Richmond on Thursday, members of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses stood together to denounce the dozens of extreme, divisive bills passed over the first month of session.
Republican leaders then responded with a press event aimed at highlighting what they termed their “positive reform agenda.”
“Republicans are so focused on divisive policies that they are hindering our efforts at progress, putting our kids’ education at risk, and leaving them less prepared for the future,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin (D-Henrico). “In the last four weeks, Senate and House Republicans have introduced hundreds of bills that target the poor, women, and immigrants, make it harder to vote, and discriminate against gays and lesbians. It’s time for Republicans to put divisive ideology and raw partisanship aside.
“It was just last month in his State of the Commonwealth address that Gov. McDonnell warned Republicans not to overreach,” said House Democratic Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville). “All people need to do is look at these bills – allowing guns in child care parking lots and airports, drug testing for poor people, and restricting a woman’s right to choose. Meanwhile, we are short-changing our schools and not focusing enough attention on creating jobs and economic opportunity.”
Democratic leaders said House and Senate Democrats remain committed to returning the General Assembly’s focus to jobs, education, and transportation while ensuring that our schools and safety-net programs remain fully funded in the budget.
House Republican Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover) responded with a report on the progress of the agenda being advanced by the Republican majorities in House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia.
“Contrary to the assertions of our colleagues in the minority, Republicans working here at the Capitol have developed, passed, and now look forward to implementing legislation that addresses the issues Virginians care about: jobs, education, transportation, and government reform,” said Del. Hugo. “While our Democrat colleagues remain singularly focused on a small number of social issues, we are enacting the reforms necessary to move Virginia forward.”
McDougle and Hugo both pointed to significant bills that have already been approved by the House and Senate, including incentives for expanding existing businesses, economic development grants for agricultural and forestry businesses, charter school enhancements, and the most sweeping government reorganization plan in recent history. In the first four weeks of session, the Senate has passed over 300 bills while the House has passed over 380. Only a handful of the bills approved were included on the list of bills legislative Democrats characterized as “divisive” at their media event.
“The irony of the Democratic mantra is that the bills they cite appear to have created the most division within the Senate Democratic Caucus,” Sen. McDougle said. “Democrats cite thirteen Senate bills that are still active, of which eight have received support from members of the Democrat Caucus.”
“The Democrats continue to focus on a handful of bills that have received extensive debate in order to divert attention from the extreme legislation sponsored by their members. After members of their caucuses introduced legislation to study the sale of marijuana in ABC stores, to impose a tax on plastic bags, to abolish the Court of Appeals, to reinstate the Death Tax, and to allow convicted drug offenders to receive government benefits, it is little wonder want to divert attention.”
“Fewer than 3 percent of the bills passed so far in the House are what the Democrats are calling ‘divisive’,” said Hugo. “The disparity between their talking points and the facts suggests they are at best wildly unaware of the legislation before them this session and at worst intentionally misleading Virginia’s citizens.”