Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

Vetoes and Amendments

Readers will see the News-Press—and this column—the day after the General Assembly acts on the Governor’s amendments and vetoes.

Readers will see the News-Press—and this column—the day after the General Assembly acts on the Governor’s amendments and vetoes.

Last Monday, as required by the Virginia Constitution, Governor offered his amendments and vetoes. As in the U.S. Congress chief executive vetoes can only be overridden by two-thirds of the members elected to each House of the General Assembly. Vetoes by Virginia Governors are rarely overridden.

Separate amendments can be defeated by a majority vote in either House. In such a case, the Governor has the final word: a veto with no opportunity for an override.

If the Governor proposes several amendments in the form of a substitute for the whole bill, the amendments must be separated and voted on individually if a majority in one House decides to do so. The bill would then be sent to committee for a full review and action on the original bill and the Governor’s substitute. The Governor’s compromise proposals on transportation offer that opportunity. Some have strongly recommended that action, particularly the homebuilders and developers.

I oppose sending back to committee because it could result in lengthy delays and probably kill the transportation bill.


Death Penalty Expansion

This year more bills expanding the death penalty than I can remember were passed. Before, during and after the 2005 campaign, the Governor expressed his strong opposition to the death penalty while committing himself to enforce the law. In keeping with that commitment, he has not pardoned or commuted the sentences of any death row inmates whose petitions have come before him.

In keeping with his religious faith and strong conviction, the Governor has vetoed all five bills. Since the original bills passed by overwhelming margins, I suspect that some or all of these vetoes will be overridden.


Calls from Phillip Morr-eees!

When I was growing up in Winchester, we looked forward to seeing the red-suited, be-capped Johnny Phillip Morris during the Apple Blossom Festival Parade. His call was “Call for Phillip Morreees!”

Tuesday, I received call from a woman who said Phillip Morris asked her to call for Phillip Morris to ask me to vote against the Governor’s amendment banning smoking in bars and restaurants. She said she was a smoker, her mother is a smoker who has emphysema, and she did not want her 5-year old daughter to smoke, but she was concerned that restaurants would lose a lot of money if smoking were prohibited in bars.

I told the caller that the most profitable Northern Virginia restaurants—Great American Restaurants—includng Artie’s Coastal Flats, and Sweetwater Tavern had banned smoking several years ago, and if anything, those restaurants are more popular now.

You can guess that by the time you read this, I will have voted for the Governor’s amendment.

Another controversy has arisen about the bill requiring the replacement of older voting machines with optical scanners that create paper trails. Some reform advocates oppose the Governor’s amendment to delay the effective date so more adequate information can be obtained about the cost of this mandate on localities. As requested by the City Council, I support the Governor’s amendment. It will allow the Governor an opportunity to add funds in his next budget to aid localities.