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Del. Ken Plum: The Other Branch of Government

by RestonNow.com April 19, 2018 at 2:30 pm 8 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Legislators who were in Richmond on April 13 for the Special Session to complete work on the biennial budget interrupted their work on April 18 for the Constitutionally required Reconvened Session commonly referred to as the “veto session.” In 1980 the State Constitution was amended to provide that on the sixth Wednesday after the adjournment of a regular session the General Assembly is to reconvene “for the purpose of considering bills which may have been returned by the Governor with recommendations for their amendment and bills and items of appropriation bills which may have been returned by the Governor with his objections.” Prior to the establishment of a reconvened session, a Governor could veto bills without concern that the vetoes would be over-ridden.

Governor Terry McAuliffe set a record with nearly a hundred vetoes all of which were sustained by the General Assembly even if by the narrowest margin. Governor Ralph Northam has exercised his veto powers on eight measures that are highly unlikely to be challenged with the almost even distribution of partisan representation in both the House and Senate. A two-thirds vote is required to pass legislation without the Governor’s approval. In the case of Governor McAuliffe and now Governor Northam, vetoes by the other branch of government–the executive branch–have kept the General Assembly from enacting some of the more divisive laws on social issues proposed by extremely conservative legislators.

Two of the bills Governor Northam vetoed related to voter registration records that would unnecessarily burden the registration and voting process under guise of preventing fraud and abuse. Virginia has not had a problem with voting irregularities; the state’s problem has been to get more people to vote since Virginia has among the lowest levels of participation in the nation. Efforts to make it easier to vote such as “no excuse” absentee voting have been defeated in the General Assembly.

The Governor vetoed three bills that would limit the powers of local government when the local governments are in the best position to know what would best serve the people of a locality. One bill would have prohibited local governments from requiring contractors to pay more than minimum wage for work for the locality and another would interfere on local governments establishing property tax rates for country clubs. A bill that would prohibit “sanctuary cities” of which there are none in Virginia was also vetoed.

The Governor vetoed a bill that would have prohibited state participation in adopting regulations on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs thereby limiting Virginia’s ability to deal with climate change. He also vetoed a bill that would have allowed legislators to change legislative district lines between the federal census dates.

In considering bills passed by the legislature, all of which must be signed by the Governor to become law, the Governor can propose amendments. Of the dozens of amendments proposed by Governor Northam, most are technical corrections in language passed in the fast pace of the legislative session.

After the likely one-day Reconvened Session is adjourned, the General Assembly will return to the Special Session to complete the budget. I believe there will be good news to report on the budget very soon!

  • 30yearsinreston

    Would the low level of voter participation have anything to do with the gerrymander perpetrated by both parties ?
    No, its a mere coincidence that benefits our Ken

  • OneReally

    “divisive laws on social issues proposed by extremely conservative legislators.”

    Translation – People that don’t share your political views.

    Ken P
    You’re a hateful old man
    You have old ideas
    You drive a wedge in our community
    You don’t have to go home just please don’t stay here

    • 30yearsinreston

      Coming from Ken, the master of identity politics and divisiveness,this is a bit rich

  • The Constitutionalist

    I wonder why Virginia has a low voting turnout, is it because 95% of the county’s votes mean nothing?

    • 30yearsinreston

      The,commisar demands 99.99% turnout for one candidate elections

  • Dr. Phil

    Is Ken actually bragging about bills being veto’ed now? Has onset liberalism caused him to become so cognitive impaired that he’s declaring a series of “no action” a success??

    • 30yearsinreston

      He has nothing to brag about
      A blowhard who has not a bill to his credit

    • Cognitiva Imminuerat

      The true solipsist feels at one with the universe, and so very identical to it that he does not even feel the need for two terms.


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