GA Moves on Two Major Issues

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

While Steve Haner is doing his civic duty as a poll worker today, I will step in to provide important updates on two issues that have been discussed on this blog:  energy regulation and redistricting.

First, energy regulation:

Dominion has won again. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee late yesterday killed HB 1132, which would have reinstated the traditional review of Dominion’s rate base by the State Corporation Commission. The SCC would have been authorized to require Dominion to refund any profits above the allowed amount. The vote to kill the bill was 8-7, distributed in the following manner:

Yes (Kill): Saslaw (D), Norment (R), Obenshain (R), Lucas (D), Spruill (D), Barker (D), Marsden (D), Lewis (D)

No: Newman (R ), Edwards (D), Deeds (D), Ebbin (D), Surovell (D), Mason (D), Bell (D)

On redistricting: With the Governor threatening to call a special session if there were a stalemate on redistricting reform, the Speaker has apparently relented. The House Privileges and Elections Committee voted to send to the full House SJR 18, amending the state constitution to establish an independent commission to handle redistricting. Although approved overwhelmingly by the 2019 General Assembly and by the Senate this year, the amendment had been vigorously opposed by the House Black Caucus for not guaranteeing representation of minorities on the commission. Also, critics had complained that two legislative members from the same party could block any redistricting plan and, in such a case, the Virginia Supreme Court would draw the districts.

The vote was 13-8, with four Democrats and nine Republicans supporting it. All the votes against it were from Democrats.

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7 responses to “GA Moves on Two Major Issues”

  1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Dick – the Dominion regulation bill story cannot be. Larry has posted time and time again that only Republicans do the bidding of corporations, most especially Dominion.

    In all seriousness, shame on anyone who voted to prevent VSCC review.

    And to be fair, I must complement the Governor for pushing hard on redistricting reform. I call them as I see them.

  2. johnrandolphofroanoke Avatar

    Usually there is very little independence in the “Independent Commission” title. It will be interesting to see what kind of district map is cooked up. I just hope they remember to brown the flour before they make the gravy.

  3. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

    Sorry to disappoint you, but neither political party is immune from Dominion’s influence. The opposition to the Fair Bills Act was led by Sen. Saslaw and Sen. Norment, with support from Sen. Spruill. You can watch the committee hearing in the archived video on the General Assembly website. Supporters of the legislation were from both parties and included the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office as well as entities representing a wide array of rate payers. This issue is going to continue to come up until the law is changed. The current law unfairly advantages Dominion over rate payers. One of Saslaw’s constituents put it simply: A vote for the legislation was a vote for the people and a vote against it was a vote against the people.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      People will recall that Saslaw won a squeaker primary a year ago, largely because he had two opponents splitting the vote. The person who got in late and did that, allowing him to win with a plurality, was the person who made the comment Monday night. He owes his seat to her, but he still wouldn’t listen to her suggestion!

  4. WayneS Avatar

    I do find it somewhat surprising that all the votes opposing the redistricting amendment were from democrats.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      This amendment was crafted by Republicans in last year’s session when they saw the handwriting on the wall after years of opposing any independent commission. Here is the clinker: The commission is to include four Senators and four Delegates, two from each party. To be adopted by the commission, any Senate redistricting plan must be supported by at least three of the Senate members. The same goes for the House plan. So, if one party does not like the map that the commission comes up for either house, its two members can veto that map. So, the Republicans, facing a situation in which the Democrats would likely be in charge of drawing the redistricting maps for the 2020’s, built a safety valve into the constitutional amendment and then pushed for it. Democrats were faced with a take it or leave it proposition last year and, having pushed for a constitutional amendment for years, took it. Now they face lots of criticism if they back down and the Republicans are all for this constitutional approach and will do what they can to get it passed. The alternative would be to leave Democrats in charge of redistricting next year. A sizable number of Democrats, due to what they see as a stacked commission, are willing to oppose the amendment and take the resulting heat, but there are probably enough House Democrats who are willing to support it and, with the support of all the Republicans, be enough to passs it.

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Sorry, I was out of touch all day yesterday (34% was pretty strong turnout in the precinct I work!) and a loooong non-profit board meeting today. Both these topics deserve more discussion. I have some very specific thoughts on the Monday night battle in Senate Commerce and Labor. I was asked to put something up on BR in support of the redistricting amendment, and I think my defense of legislative prerogatives shocked the person asking. Shouldn’t have. What happened with the federal court challenge to the 2011 House plan was hardly a non-partisan outcome. Non partisan redistricting is a myth wrapped in a deception.

    But it has been fun to see the Democrats squirm.

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