Tag Archives: Gordon C. Morse

Common Sense from Young Delegate Earley

Del. Mark Earley Jr.

by Gordon C. Morse

Occasionally, a member of the House of Delegates will stand up, speak to a matter of public interest and do so coherently. 

Del. Mark L. Earley Jr., R-Chesterfield, achieved this feat on Friday afternoon, Feb. 23, 2024, when he offered his thoughts on state Sen. Bill 212 — legislation that would sanction skill games, described by the Richmond Times-Dispatch as “electronic slot machine-like devices the General Assembly tried to ban in 2020.” 

While the measure cleared the House of Delegates on a 57-38 vote, Del. Earley spoke to a broader concern:  

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, I don’t want to take a lot of your time today. I know it’s Friday. But I just feel compelled to comment on this briefly. 

As we all know, in the last few years, really about a five-year time frame, we’ve have had a serious expansion, in a very short amount of time, in gaming and gambling here in Virginia. At this point, we got the lottery, we got casinos, we got sports betting, we got all sorts of things.

And now we have these gray games, skill games, whatever you want to call them, that have really sort of come here imposed upon us in a certain way, and now we’re dealing with it. 

Now,  don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand the arguments about how small business can potentially benefit from this, and I appreciate that. I am very sympathetic to it. 

But I do think that we have a different obligation, and perhaps a higher obligation, to consider what this means for our neighborhoods and our families. 

I’m concerned about turning every neighborhood store and every gas station into a mini casino.  Continue reading

A Brief Case for Giving Virginia Legislators a Raise

by Gordon C. Morse

I thought it would be worthwhile to pursue further the subject of legislative compensation in Virginia. A report I’ve  referenced before is dated December 1998 – 25 years ago – and offers the following rationale for increasing the amount paid to Virginia lawmakers holding these posts, attending the annual legislative sessions and all that pertains thereto: 

The significant increase in the time required for members of the General Assembly to carry out their responsibilities, to our way of thinking, requires an increase in compensation and in per diem allowances. In addition to the 90 days required of a legislator for the two sessions of the General Assembly, the time a legislator has to devote to attending meetings of committees, subcommittees and study commissions has increased sharply. Those members of the General Assembly who responded to our questionnaire indicated that they spent from between 30 and 60 days on legislative duties between the sessions of the General Assembly. 

Moreover, a legislator is expected to keep in touch with his constituents and to answer inquiries from them. While the performance of this duty is time-consuming, nevertheless it is necessary for a legislator to keep in touch with the views of those he represents, and to maintain a relationship with them which will reveal their desires and concerns.

There are any number of metrics and tables and summaries and all that in the report. Things sometimes get stashed away casually in the Commonwealth, but I am working on the optimistic belief that other people and/or institutions retained a copy. Legislative demands have increased in the intervening years, along with the willingness of elected lawmakers to make this their primary work in life. The implications of that, undoubtedly, will cause some of the newer members to wonder why the General Assembly is organized the way it is, as well as seed an interest in reform. Others will resist this impulse and I would be inclined to agree with them, that a full-time legislature would be unlikely to produce an improvement in representative democracy.  Continue reading