Of Retirements and Vetoes

Wednesday's one-day “Veto Session” at the General Assembly proved to go largely as expected, primarily along party lines, with the Governor’s legacy cemented as the most obstructionist executive in the history of the Commonwealth.

Since ascending to office four years ago, Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a record 111 bills – with none being overridden by the legislature.  A two-thirds majority of those present for the votes is necessary to override a veto, and with no Democrat courageous enough to go against the hysterical “progressive” base that demands nothing less than absolute devotion to its dogmas, overrides were impossible.

With the Governor’s vetoes of many common-sense bills, several of which protected life, rights of conscience, and parental authority, there was plenty for state legislators to consider as they voted.  But the day began with the shocking retirement of 24 year House veteran and chairman of the House Courts of Justice committee, Republican Dave Albo.  This came on top of the recently announced retirements of Richmond area Republican Delegates Jimmie Massie and Peter Farrell.  With the retirement of Speaker of the House Bill Howell already announced, it’s clear the House of Delegates will take on an entirely new flavor next year.  We appreciate all the work of Delegates Howell, Albo, Massie and Farrell, with whom we have worked on many issues over the years.  They will all be missed. 

After nearly two hours of farewell speeches, the House finally got down to business and began the process of reviewing the Governor’s vetoes and dozens of amendments to bills, including the state budget.  The Senate methodically worked through its bills dealing with the Governor’s actions as well.

The good news was the House once again rejected the Governor’s repeated effort to expand Medicaid under the failed Obama “Care” government health insurance scheme. 

No vote to override a veto showed the left’s dogmatic adherence more than the failure to override the veto on HB 2191, a bill from Delegate Steve Landes giving parents a say when schools want to teach sexually explicit material to kids.  When the bill passed the House in February it received 74 votes, meaning several Democrats voted yea.  But today, they fell in line with their party and voted with the Governor. 

Also in the House, the veto of Delegate Nick Freitas’s HB 2025, which would protect religious charities and schools from government discrimination because of their beliefs about marriage, wasn’t challenged with a vote.  However, Delegate Freitas correctly pointed out that in the Governor’s own reasoning for vetoing the bill, he made the argument that religious charities are protected by the first amendment and statute for religious freedom – which means the Governor essentially argued why his own Executive Order discriminating against religious charities is unconstitutional!  Remarkably, the Governor’s explanation says, “I veto House Bill 2025, which would shield from civil liability those who actively discriminate against same-sex couples. I vetoed this exact same bill last year, and my rationale for that veto remains the same.”  Except we amended the bill this year to remove the civil liability part, which means, of course, it isn’t the “exact same bill”, but apparently neither the Governor nor his staff actually read the bill!  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Regardless, even though the House and Senate could not garner the votes necessary to overcome the Governor’s vetoes, our message was heard clearly in the General Assembly yesterday.  And credit where credit is due, despite secular leftist and media hysteria on these bills, for the most part Republicans in the General Assembly stood their ground and voted correctly. 

The frustrations over the Governor’s vetoes of common sense legislation that protects religious charities, unborn life, taxpayers and parents’ rights must now be translated into action.  The next Governor of the Commonwealth will either carry on the obstructionist tradition or be a conservative leader who will side with a majority of Virginians and sign these key bills.

Which Governor that is will be up to you.