House of Delegates degrades into outright juvenileness

From the AP via WTOP: Va. House Floor Clash Prompts Partisan Meltdown:

What little remained of bipartisanship in the House of Delegates lay in shambles Thursday after a rare procedural move by Republicans triggered a fierce floor dispute.

The extraordinary partisan rancor arose over a delegate’s routine request to withdraw a bill he sponsored and left in doubt whether the House GOP majority and the Democrats can cooperate effectively in the remaining 43 days of the 2008 General Assembly.

“It was not a good day for the commonwealth,” House Democratic Leader Ward L. Armstrong said after lambasting the GOP as bullies and tyrants.

“They put a bill in, then they’re too cowardly to take a vote on it,” House GOP Leader H. Morgan Griffith said after the clash.

And you’re too cowardly to record subcommittee votes…

Del. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, had asked that his legislation to allow collective bargaining by state and local government employees be withdrawn. Such requests are often made and routinely granted every year.

But Republicans refused, intent on forcing Democrats to take a floor vote that could potentially alienate unions, among the Democrats’ most generous constituencies.

In a roll call vote, the House’s 53 Republicans and two allied independents voted against a motion to withdraw the bill for the year while 43 Democrats voted for it.

The floor speeches that ensued bordered on breaching the House’s nearly 400-year-old rules on civility: fingers jabbed angrily toward partisan adversaries amid icy glares and hot rhetoric.

Armstrong, D-Henry, urged his fellow Democrats not to debate or vote on a subsequent motion to engross and advance Ebbin’s bill, then pointed toward the Virginia flag bearing the state motto, “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (thus always to tyrants).

“The tyranny of the majority is what you want, it’s what you shall have,” Armstrong said.

Griffith shot back: “I have not heard such philosophical tripe in all my years here, in all my life.”

The ensuing roll call showed 55 Republicans, two conservative independents and two Democrats voting not to advance the bill. There were no votes in favor of it, and 42 of the House’s 44 Democrats did not vote.

Then, invoking a rare parliamentary privilege, Republicans singled out 25 Democrats who did not vote and, one-by-one, ordered that the official record reflect that they had voted no, just as the Republicans had, creating an inflated final count of 82-0 to effectively kill Ebbin’s bill. Griffith said he quit after 25 because he got tired.

After the vote, Del. Lionel Spruill, D-Portsmouth, was angry but worried. “This _ the rest of this session _ is going to be rough if we can’t find a way to put this behind us.

Griffith acknowledged a measure of payback in making an issue of Democrats’ ties to labor. Unions have helped Democrats gain House seats in every legislative election since 2003.

Remember this when a Delegate says they don’t have the time to cover certain bills or issues.

So…full-time funding for the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Caroline County? When is the hearing for that going to be?

When is the hearing to fix the completely FUBAR Composite Index that counts federally owned property (that the feds don’t pay real estate taxes on) as an income source for the county? Meaning the county loses money from the state because the state says the county is getting money from the feds when they’re not.

But no, we have to do one-by-one votes for a bill just to pay back a group.

UPDATE: Fred2Blue has more.

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