Archive for December 12th, 2011
It could be a tough year for democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates. They will operate in the upcoming legislative session with the fewest number of members that they have ever had. In order to push through their legislative agenda, they will be forced to be creative, and find ways to partner with republicans.
On Monday they unveiled their legislative agenda and hit both of those points with one particular piece of legislation. Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) proposed doing away with the centuries old rule that prohibits the governor of Virginia from running for re-election. The concept is creative enough to grab headlines and already has the support of one pretty powerful republican, the current governor, Bob McDonnell.
The idea of bringing Virginia up to speed with every other state in the union is something that McDonnell has been supportive of for virtually his entire political career. He backed the idea as member of the House of Delegates and even made it part of his government reform package during his run for governor. On his campaign website, McDonnell wrote that “Virginia voters should have the ability to voice their support or opposition to the policies, programs and priorities of the top elected position in the Commonwealth.”
Despite this proposal coming up often, it rarely makes much headway, in part because it is so difficult to change. It requires a change to the Virginia State Constitution. That means it must be passed by both houses in two separate legislative sessions and then be put to the citizens in a statewide vote. The timing dictates that no matter how fast the legislature moves, Gov. McDonnell will still be prohibited from running for a second term.
Brink believes that Virginia’s chief executives are handicapped by their inability to run for re-election.
“What we need to do is stretch the horizon for the governor, so he isn’t a lame duck the second he takes his hand of the Bible,” said Brink. “So that he can make greater plans that stretch beyond merely the four-year horizon we have now.”
Brink, who is from Arlington, said that this idea should appeal to Northern Virginia voters more than any other part of the Commonwealth, because the challenges in that densely populated part of the state require a long-term vision. The primary example being transportation.
“The congestion that we have threatens our quality of life,” said Brink.
Brink and his minority colleagues will need some help. He admits that McDonnell’s push may be their only shot at getting it passed.
His full comments on the issue can be found below: