Electoral College Vote, Carbon Tax, Labor’s Wants

By Steve Haner

The End of the Electoral College Looms

The legislature’s new ruling Democrats, having celebrated their adoption of the national Equal Rights Amendment, may continue their Constitutional aspirations next week and try to kill the federal Electoral College. Some believe the will of Virginia voters in choosing presidential electors should be overridden by the popular vote total in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia combined.

This idea is known at the National Popular Vote. Objections to the Electoral College process have a long history but were reignited when former Senator Hillary Clinton became the fifth presidential candidate who won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. As predicted by Bacon’s Rebellion, the proposal to grant Virginia’s votes to the national front runner is back in three bills, with far longer lists of patrons and co-patrons. The two House bills are here and here, and the Senate version here. All now rest with firmly Democratic Privileges and Elections committees. 

Another proposal for Virginia to retreat from the current “state winner take all” approach was defeated by the Senate committee, solidly. Senator Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, had the perennial bill to split the vote, granting two electors to the statewide winner and dividing the rest by the results in each of the 11 congressional districts. That is just as damaging to The Founders intent to preserve the political integrity and influence of the states.

The Carbon Car Tax Has A Low Fever Up North

Discussion of the proposed carbon tax and ration scheme for transportation fuels, which is supposed to include Virginia by 2022, is heated in New England. The Georgetown University-based Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) was planned for the entire Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions, but New England is looking shaky. Maine Governor Janet Mills has now expressed concerns, as reported by the Boston Globe earlier this week. Governor John Sununu of New Hampshire was the first down the gangplank, calling TCI a financial boondoggle. Political problems are showing up in Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island, although not always from their governors.

TCI seeks to drive down fuel demand with a substantial tax on fossil fuels, hidden at the wholesale level but guaranteed to raise retail prices. The Massachusetts governor has made the revenue part of his massive transportation proposal (the Globe reports), but Governor Ralph Northam has it hidden in the closet while he sells his own omnibus transportation funding re-write. Any TCI tax would be in addition to his current package, a tactical decision imperiling both. When he opens that closet door in a few months, he might find TCI just gone.

The Business Lobby Does Live, But How Much Can It Preserve?

Jim Bacon’s shout Monday of “where’s the voice of business?” was already being answered by a broad coalition which has recovered from its initial shock and is organizing to pressure the legislative Democrats still responsive to business. The Richmond Times-Dispatch covered the news conference and published the member list today. Informed readers will note the absence of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and then begin to wonder if there are divisions among business lobbies on any of these issues. It wouldn’t be the first time.

A useful look at the labor movement’s new clout within the Democrats was provided by Jeff Schapiro’s column in the same newspaper today. It was not that long ago Schapiro was Dissembler in Chief spreading false reassurance that these new Democrats wouldn’t grant Big Labor any Big Concessions. It was just more campaign blather. The pile of bills we will see on the Governor’s desk in March will amaze. The pen will hover, hesitate, and then the Governor will follow the political dictum that “you dance with who brought you.” The battle needs to be won or lost at the Assembly.

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8 responses to “Electoral College Vote, Carbon Tax, Labor’s Wants”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Maine and Nebraska use what Chase advocates. We’re going to have this problem from here on if the cities and both coasts vote Dem and the interior and rural vote GOP.

    Here’s how the US election map looks if you represent population instead of geography.


    here’s what the Obama map looks like on a county basis:


    1. Thanks for the maps, LG; it’s remarkable what (different) patterns and associations they reveal.

  2. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Sununu is hardly a surprise

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Agreed. But as it gets easier for customers to cross a border for gas, the rationale for this erodes.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    A question. How related to this is RGGI?

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      The list of states largely corresponds (unless there are defections.) The process of capping emissions and imposing a carbon tax is similar. But they are separate, and the power companies can adapt easier thanks to the diversity of supply, the regional markets, etc. It has been pointed out to me that calling this “RGGI for cars” is a serious oversimplification. With TCI, despite the talk of controlling “emissions” what you are really controlling is fossil fuel. This will be bigger dollars over time than RGGI, too.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        so there are two approaches to motivating folks on fossil fuels and cars.

        give a huge tag credit for electric cars –
        levy higher taxes on fossil fuels than electric “fuels”.

        RGGI – renewables for cars won’t “work” unless cars can be charged
        from renewable fuel sources. That means they can’t be at night and must be during the day. And that means during the day, there needs to be solar “fuel” available on the grid. In other words, you can’t burn more gas to generate electricity for “refueling” electric cars.

        I have zero doubts that if manufacturers offer hybrids and they have decent ranges and can recharge fairly quickly that people won’t buy them. They will. No everyone but enough to start change.

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