We end the second month of the fourth year of the decade with a humorous, but candid admission from Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico), who continues an amazing run of QODs won by Democrats this session. We don't agree with Senator McEachin on almost anything, but it was good to hear him honestly admit his legislative tactics. The House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Compensation and Retirement met early this afternoon and had only one bill on its agenda: Senator McEachin's SB 252, a bill that started out as a domestic partnership benefits bill for state government employees, but was "amended down" to an almost harmless bill. But as much as it was watered down, passing it would represent an however-small-incremental move toward domestic partner benefits.
In introducing the bill he made a point of the fact that as amended, the bill only allows access to purchasing health insurance and that no non-family member could be added to a policy. That was meant to allay fears of these purse string watchdogs that Virginia's budget wouldn't take a hit in extra human resource costs. When sub-committee Chairman Charles Poindexter (R-9, Glade Hill) asked for those who supported the bill to come forward, a representative of the City of Richmond approached the lectern to admit the bill was put in at the city's request. He assured the delegates that it was optional, not mandatory for localities many of which share expenses with the state), but that Richmond needed it so that it could compete for workers in an area with several Fortune 500 companies. With that, Senator McEachin jumped back into place and said:
I didn't mean to leave out local government, Mr. Chairman. I wasn't trying to pull a fast one on the committee. It doesn't mean I wouldn't try, but it's not this time.
Not that he's the only lawmaker out of the 100 delegates and 40 senators who harbors such machinations, although he was probably behind this one earlier in session, and not that there are tricks of the trade that can benefit and bereft either side of any issue. But he it was a frank admission despite the chuckles it elicited — perhaps because his fellow lawmakers recognized the truth of it.
By the way: the bill was tabled by unanimous voice vote, effectively killing it for the year. Senator McEachin may need to try that fast one next year. But we'll be watching.
Big Don put appropriators on notice today. He needs to be watched.