Thursday, December 11, 2008

Republicans follow Democrat Lead on Open Vote


Assembly GOP Has No Need to Fear Openness

In 2006, the Republican-dominated chamber, in a drive to make its committees more efficient, changed the rules to allow subcommittees to kill legislation on unrecorded votes. Prior to 2006, subcommittees didn’t record votes on recommendations to the full panels but they also couldn’t kill legislation outright.

The minority Democrats in the House cried foul and tried to change the rules in 2007 and 2008, failing both times. News organizations across the state also joined the discussion, with the editorial pages of several of the state’s large dailies calling for recorded subcommittee votes as being in the best interests of all Virginians.

Both years, the GOP caucus refused to move to recorded subcommittee votes on motions to kill a bill.

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From Last Year's General Assembly

“We call on Speaker Bill Howell and House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith to join leaders in their own caucus like Delegate Terry Kilgore in support of open government and giving the people of Virginia the right to know how we vote,” House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong said.

“It’s time for us to ensure accountability in state government by making sure every vote is public,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran. “Virginia is the birthplace of Democracy and Jefferson’s House deserves better than voting behind closed doors.”

“Hundreds of bills were dispensed without a recorded vote last session,” Delegate Ken Plum, who introduced the resolution last session to require recorded votes in subcommittee. “Every vote should be recorded and open to the people of Virginia. It shouldn’t matter whether it happens in a subcommittee or on the floor of the House of Delegates.”

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Now This Year...

Republican activists push for rule change on vote records

Republican activists are pushing party leaders to abolish a rule that allows members of the House of Delegates to defeat bills without leaving any record of how they voted.

Under House rules, when legislators take action on bills in subcommittees, no votes are recorded. The practice has been used by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers over the years to kill bills without a leaving a voting trail.

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