House GOP accedes to recorded subcommittee votes

House Democrats are claiming victory in a decision by the Republican majority in the lower chamber of the Virginia General Assembly to record subcommittee votes in the upcoming legislative session. Me, I’m wondering if this change in approach from the GOP might be a setup for some election-year gimmickry.

“When citizens learn that votes are not recorded in subcommittees of the House of Delegates, they are surprised and disappointed,” Del. Shannon Valentine, D-Lynchburg, said in response to the news regarding subcommittee votes.

“Open, honest government that is accountable to Virginians is critical if we going to address the serious issues facing our Commonwealth,” Valentine said.

The House GOP caucus announced the change in approach in a written statement released Sunday. The caucus had given subcommittees the power to kill legislation without having to report recorded votes beginning in 2006.

Which might be reason to wonder aloud what they might be up to in 2009 with elections deciding the fate of the statewide offices and also the majority in the House of Delegates itself. Wins by Democrats in the House and the governor’s race would give them control over the redistricting process that will come after the 2010 Census.

Throwing a few nonsense litmus-test-type bills for subcommittees to consider briefly before discarding might make sense in an election year with those kinds of stakes.

But for now, anyway, Dems are taking the high road. “Public support for transparency in government is overwhelming.” Del. Ken Plum, D-Reston, said today. “Clearly, a vote in the House of Delegates without binding caucus rules would have resulted in this change. I am pleased that the Republican caucus has finally come around on this issue.”


– Story by Chris Graham

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