Delegate Bob Brink

This Just In: Democrat Controlled Senate Transportation Committee Kills Planned Parenthood License Plate Bill!

Yesterday, the Democrat controlled Senate Finance Committee did something very unusual — they aimed their wrath on a Democrat House colleague, Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville), and purposely killed his property rights bill. This afternoon, the Democrat controlled Transportation Committee proved it could kill a fellow Democrat's bill by accident! Here's what happened:

We're all familiar with the Planned Parenthood license plate bill by now (HB 1108). Patroned byDelegate Bob Brink (D-48, Arlington), the bill would allow the abortion provider its own plate with slogan ("Trust Women, Respect Choice"). Money from its sales was designated to go to the coffers of the partisan political organization. However, the House of Delegates accepted a floor amendment by Todd Gilbert (R-15, Shenandoah) to redirect the money instead to the Virginia Pregnant Women Support Fund. This amended bill was what was before the Transportation Committee.

Now, the Senate finished its floor business today earlier than the House, but instead of waiting for Delegate Brink to attend to introduce his bill, committee chair Yvonne Miller (D-5, Norfolk) decided to hear the bill without him. Not rare, but still unusual. In addition, two senators, Edd Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania) and Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) were absent taking committee membership down to 13. A motion was made to amend the bill to redirect sale proceeds back to Planned Parenthood. The vote was close, 7-6, in favor of the amendment. Senator Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell), a pro-life Democrat (speaking of same), voted with all but one of the Republicans against the amendment. Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) voted with the Dems to give them what they wanted. False sense of security. Thinking they had the votes, Chairman Miller proceeded with a vote on the amended bill — but it went down, 7-6! Now, not only is there no funding, there's no plate! The entire bill is . . . dead!

What happened? Simple. Voting for amendments rarely is a big deal. Many senators do it to give the patron the legislation he or she wants so the committee can cast an up or down vote on what it is he or she is trying to accomplish. That's all the Senator Watkins did. On the vote on final passage, he voted "no" with all the Republicans and Senator Puckett, whose decision was probably hardened by the possibility of Planned Parenthood getting license plate money.

I can hear the "Ooooooooops" coming from Senator Miller now. Better still, the hissy fit coming from Planned Parenthood! Great news — and fun — all the way around. Gotta love those unintended consequences. Still, there's another Planned Parenthood plate bill alive, as part of an omnibus special license plate package, including one to benefit a low income children meals program. That PP plate bill funding has been stripped, too. However, its patron, Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), has threatened to block the whole ball of wax if the PP funding isn't restored. But liberals never take food from the children, do they? The pro-abort crack-up gets wackier every day!

Quick hypothetical: If the two absent senators were there, the outcome wouldn't have changed. Even if Senator Houck voted for the plate, Senator Blevins has been consistently against all specialized license plates. He either would've voted no or abstained. A tie would have killed the bill.

Deja Vu All Over Again Twice In One Day

Four years ago, only a few weeks after taking office and proposing (against his campaign promise) the largest tax increase in Virginia history, Congressional Democrats chose then-Governor Tim Kaine to deliver their party's response to then-President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address. Yesterday, it was reported (see Washington Post), that Congressional Republicans have chosen newly sworn-in Governor Bob McDonnell to give the GOP response to President Barack Obama's January 27 State of the Union. How about that for asymmetrical karma? But there's more.

Yesterday, House Republicans brought to the floor Delegate Bob Brink's (D-48, Arlington) HB 1155, legislation that would enact former Governor Tim Kaine's proposed income tax increase (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee, which alone has the authority to report bills to the floor without recommendation. Thus it did with HB 1155 in order to put Democrats on the spot — vote against their friend and national party chairman or be on record for higher taxes in a recession. Delegate Brink requested that the bill be pulled, normally a pro forma request that's granted at the will of the patron. Not yesterday!

Instead, it was put to a vote while Democrats vehemently protested. As if they couldn't have anticipated it. Remember, last year Republicans did the same thing on a bill that would have repealed Virginia's Right To Work Law (see post here and video here). They forced a vote by bringing that equally controversial bill through a no recommendation vote on the Rules Committee. The Democrats reacted by abstaining, but through a parliamentary procedure that says if a member is in his seat but not voting, and another member points that out, the vote must be recorded in the negative. Thus, Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-8, Salem) forcibly recorded no votes against the bill which put Democrats at odds with their Big Labor allies.

With this as background, certainly they knew something was coming with a monstrous tax increase bill, and they knew they couldn't abstain. On the first day of session, when the rules package is adopted, Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville) said as much when he objected to the Rules Committee exception. As it turned out, it was a unanimous blowout, with the House voting 97-0 (with Delegate Brink abstaining) to reject one last Tim Kaine tax increase, sending it down with all his others, this one posthumously, in the political sense.

So, the question is, why file the tax increase bill to begin with? Only Delegate Brink knows for sure, but we suspect some members of the General Assembly like to give a peek of their colors to satisfy certain constituencies, but seek to conceal them altogether from the greater electorate. Increasingly, however, these lawmakers get found out.