Posts Tagged ‘Bob Brink’
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:
Virgina House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong is already feeling the reverberations from a controversial campaign ad that puts distance between he and President Barack Obama. In the ad, Armstrong touts his “pro-life, pro-gun” record and calls any comparisons to him and Mr. Obama a “stretch.”
Armstrong has not returned our inquiries about whether or not he supports the president’ re-election, but it is clear that his efforts to retain his seat could make life a lot different for him come January.
Armstrong, already one of the most conservative democrats in the House, will face a fickle House minority that may look to replace him with a member that more accurately represents the voice of the left in Virginia.
“This makes it harder to justify Ward as the primary voice for our party in the House,” said Del. Dave Englin a liberal member from Northern Virginia and a rising democratic star. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. “
Englin has been rumored to be considering a run for house leadership, a position that could propel him to future run statewide, and make him a powerful liberal voice. A voice that could get a great deal of attention, especially if Virginia gives control of the Senate to republicans.
“A number of people have asked me to run for higher leadership in our Caucus,” Englin told me. “We have several talented Members who could provide that, and we’ll work out the details within our Caucus family after November 8.”
Englin is not alone in his criticism of Armstrong. Lowell Feld of the influential Blue Virginia blog wrote Friday that Armstrong should not expect any help from the blog in the future.
“Whether Ward Armstrong wins his race for delegate or not,” wrote Feld. “He can forget about any support whatsoever on this blog for statewide office in 2013, or for any other office for that matter.”
But Armstong, who hasn’t responded for comment on this story, still has his supporters including in Northern Virginia. Del. Bob Brink told me that he wasn’t ready to talk about organizational matters for the upcoming session, but had high praise for his democratic leader.
“Ward has been a skillful and articulate floor leader for House Democrats,” said Brink. “The issues on which we agree far outnumber those on which we disagree.”
Armstrong won’t be able to escape the specter of Obama anytime soon. The president’s bus tour scheduled for next week is expected to roll through the Southside. Virginia republicans are already asking if one of the leading democrats in Virginia will be there to greet him.
It looks like, barring a miracle, Governor Bob McDonnell‘s plan to privatize the state’s liquor stores will not survive the 2011 Virginia General Assembly session.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that the chairman of the House General Laws committee, Del. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) will use his Chairman’s privilege to prevent the bill from being heard. The move effectively kills the bill in the 2011 session. Senate leaders have said that they won’t take the bill up until it passes the House. Governor McDonnell could send down new legislation at any point in the session to reignite the debate, but given the signals sent today by House leadership that seems unlikely.
But just because liquor stores won’t get privatized in 2011, don’t think that means the debate has ended. Tucker Martin, Communications Director for McDonnell told me tonight that the Governor is “disappointed” that the bill did not get a full hearing in this year’s session, but said that McDonnell is committed to seeing ABC stores privatized during “this administration.”
Del. Bob Brink, the Democrat who carried the bill for McDonnell in the House still had not officially learned that the bill would not move forward when we reached him on the phone tonight. Brink believes Republicans should have allowed the bill to be heard in this session. Brink, has yet to give his full support to any of the proposed ABC privatization plans, but said he supports the idea “philosophically”. He also said this won’t be end of the debate.
“Well the governor has made it very clear that philosophically he thinks that selling hard liquor isn’t something that the state should be in the business of,” Brink said. “But it’s a question of, since we have been doing this for 75 years what’s going to be the effects of selling off those stores. I think he will be back again.”
You can hear extended clips from Del. Brink’s remarks below:
In case you missed it Friday night on NBC12-TV. Here is my special report on the Virginia General Assembly’s District Office Allowances:
You can read the story on NBC12.com.
As a matter of record, each lawmaker that we spoke to on the record (several refused our request to speak on the issue) said that the system needs a degree of reform. That includes both Governor Bob McDonnell and the Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.
Arlington Delegate Bob Brink (D) has already offered several opportunities for his fellow lawmakers to offer more accountability in the system and his proposed legislation has gone nowhere. In 2001, he proposed this bill, that was promptly bottled up in committee. He offered a different version of as late as 2006, that would allow current members to be grandfathered in, but then would apply levels of accountability to newly elected members. That too, never even made it out of committee.
We will continue to keep up with the members of the General Assembly to see if they act to improve the system.
Meanwhile, we’d like to know what you think. Is this important to you, or is it not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? Leave your comments below or on the story posted on our main site NBC12.com.