Is it possible for a bill to create more buzz in death than in life? That's a pretty tall order, especially with an important bill such as HB 570. But we caused quite an uproar yesterday and today with the post about its missing PBI vote. Delegate Sal Iaquinto's (R-84, Virginia Beach) bill wold have made the burden of proof an equal share between homeowners and assessors in assessment appeal cases. Several blogs picked up on it, including our friends Norman Leahy and Lynn Mitchell at Tertium Quids and SWAC Girl, respectively. Even though the vote was taken a couple weeks ago, the bill's home page yesterday reflected a "Left In Committee" inaction by the Senate Finance Committee, even though the world knew it got plenty of action as committee liberals sunk it on a straight party line vote (a motion to "Pass By Indefinitely"). We reported the whole affair here along with the video of the entire committee debate and vote, yet the vote was taken down as if the world wouldn't find out.
"Left In Committee" has a totally different meaning than PBI. It means that the bill was never given a hearing and the patron never had the opportunity to introduce the bill. There's a big difference between a committee shirking its responsibility by not voting and in hiding its vote (that its members sought office to cast and for which they get paid to make). Not that one is worse than the other, there's just a big difference between the two.
Just a few minutes ago, however, I received an update on HB 570 from the Legislative Information System. An unexpected update yesterday verified another twist in this dead bill's life. Sure enough, voila! Just like David Copperfield (again) it appeared! So, if seeing the (video) isn't believing, it's now official with the vote listed here. Our disinfectant (this blog) did a little good as it turns out.
Earlier today, it must be said, at a meeting with another conservative organization, an ally relayed what she was told by someone either at LIS or from the Finance Committee staff: That since a vote to PBI doesn't technically kill a bill, it was still alive, thus the vote was not posted online until it was past time upon which official action could be taken. But this explanation still doesn't make sense.
A PBI vote kills a bill. If it is to be resurrected, it must be done so with a motion to reconsider. For that, the public needs to know how the vote went because only a member from the prevailing side can ask for such a motion. Either the bill was killed, and the people have a right to know who voted which way, or it was technically still alive and citizens need to know who to approach to try to save it. Furthermore, yesterday was the last day for committee action on bills. No matter the rationalization, the committee vote should have been posted within 24 hours of the meeting and not taken down. Just more games politicians used to get away with.