Even though the House of Delegates had its rules package ready to go and committee asignments set in short order, even with 20 new members, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, waited around for the result of Tuesday's special election in the 37th Senate district. That seemed kind of strange, given that even with a win, which the Dems got, wouldn't change the committee proportions. Besides, rules are adopted at the beginning of a legislative term and are supposed to last the entire term (in this case four years for the Virginia Senate). Leave it to Democrat leadership to go for broke on both counts. They simply are not replacing committee seats of the departing senators (Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli and new Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle) with their replacements, or at least shuffling members around to keep the same committee proportions, they are radically altering the committees. Rosalind Helderman from the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog has it all here, confirming the rumors (or nightmares, depending on your point of view) of the last few days. Among the details:
Instead, (Courts of Justice) will be allowed to drop from 16 members to 15. That means GOP representation on the committee will decrease from 7 of 16 members to 6 of 15.
There will be two new Democrats on the Courts of Justice Committee. Stolle is being replaced there by a Democrat. So is former Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, who resigned after he was elected state attorney general in November. Democratic Sen. David Marsden won Cuccinelli's seat on Tuesday. Now, Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond) will be joining Courts.
So, there you go. So much for the new era of bipartisanship, or post partisanship, or the honeymoon period of a new governor brought in by a massive landslide. When it comes to making nice, Virginia's Senate Dems don't know how.