BREAKING: Speaker Howell Rules Massive Redraw of Districts Not Germane


    Regarding House Bill 259, the massive voting district redraw bill crossing over from the Virginia Senate, Del Mark Cole moved to accept the Senate amendment.

    Speaker Howell invoked the single object rule (no law shall embrace more than one object), but said it doesn’t apply. This amendment is to the same purpose.  So it doesn’t violate the single object rule.  Senate districts were added that were not in the title, but we have done that many times before, he said.

    But the germaneness issue is much more problematic. It means that the issue is in close relationship, appropriate, and relative.  It’s a parliamentary principle used since 1789 and in the Va House for centuries to produce orderly legislation. It prevents legislation not reasonably anticipated and for which legislators were not properly prepared, he said.

    House Bill 259 was introduced to make certain technical amendments, but not to completely re-do, the redistricting plan.  It strays dramatically.  This vast rewrite goes well beyond the usual precinct tweaks and the usual purpose of 259.  Some think germaneness is in the eyes of the beholder.  I think it is much more important for the integrity of the speaker’s chair.  And with that, Speaker Howell declared the vast, expansive redraw not germane.

    • KathyinBlacksburg

      This is despite such articles as this glowing just a little too much. For

      Speaker Howell took the sorta, kinda route to maybe democracy.  But really he was very interested in how history would treat him.  Speaker Howell included in his remarks the subject of his own reputation.  So, as Ben at NLS says elsewhere, this wasn’t a great victory for democracy it seems. So, Yah! Let’s be happy.  But let’s not get carried away thinking Howell is some kind of hero.  He did the right think for partly the wrong reasons.  I’ll take it anyway.  But what would really help was if there were any leadership at all in the Senate in the first place.    

    • KathyinBlacksburg


      RICHMOND- Today, Speaker of the House Delegate William Howell (R- Stafford) ruled that the Senate’s redistricting plan was not germane.

      Several members of the House of Delegate’s responded to the Speaker’s ruling.

      “The ruling was totally consistent with House rules.  The Senate Republican redistricting plan clearly violated the Virginia Constitution and was passed with minimal debate or public discussion.  It distracted us from focusing on improving our schools, fixing our transportation gridlock, and creating jobs,” said House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano.

      “The Republican Senate surprise, out of cycle, redistricting plan was an unnecessary distraction from the work that we need to do to move the Commonwealth forward.  It is time for the House to focus on creating jobs, finding a reliable, dedicated source of revenue for Virginia’s transportation needs, and strengthening our education system,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Mark Sickles.

      “The people of Commonwealth expect an open and deliberate process.  That is the Virginia way.  Not only did the Republican redistricting bill fail to meet a basic level of constitutionality, it fell far short of the what the public expects in terms of a thorough, transparent debate.  Now that the plan has been ruled not germane, it is time for us to get back to work on improving Virginia’s transportation infrastructure, growing the middle class, and investing in our schools,” commented Delegate Mamye BaCote (D- Cities of Hampton and Newport News).



    • KathyinBlacksburg

      Senate Democrats Praise Speaker Howell For

      Statesmanlike Decision on Redistricting

      RICHMOND, VA – Today, Speaker Howell ruled Senate Republicans’ off-year redistricting plan not germane to the underlying bill. The Speaker’s ruling ends Senate Republicans’ hopes of defying the will of the voters with an unconstitutional, partisan gerrymander.

      Democrats praised the Speaker’s statesmanlike decision, noting that the composition of the Senate will continue to reflect the will of the voters, and not the will of politicians eager to expand their grip on power. Two weeks ago, Senate Republicans rammed through a blatantly unconstitutional off-year redistricting measure on a day when civil rights icon Senator Henry Marsh was away from the Capitol, attending President Obama’s second inauguration.

      Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, “I told people from day one, when they asked me what I thought Bill Howell would do with it, that the Speaker would do what’s right. He made a fair judgment and called it as he saw it. And this time he saw it the same direction as us, but there have been times when he’s made rulings that were not what we wanted. He’s going to do what he thinks the traditions of the General Assembly and the House of Delegates require.”

      Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, “I appreciate the Speaker ruling in the spirit of the honor, integrity, and history of the General Assembly. He rose above petty partisanship to act in the best interest of the Commonwealth. I look forward working with the Speaker to address the important issues facing Virginia.”

      Senator Henry L. Marsh (D-Richmond) said, “I am pleased the Speaker upheld the integrity of the House and the Constitution.”

      Authorized and paid for by Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus.

    • KathyinBlacksburg

      MT @ryanobles Sen GOP leader Norment: “The entire Senate GOP Caucus is deeply disappointed by Speaker Howell’s unilateral ruling today”

      Having taken unprecedented liberties with redistricting, Norment is not exactly the right person to talk here.  BUT, none of this exactly hurt Howell’s power.  And that, dear reader, is a double-edged sword, which we have long been on the losing side of. Just not today.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      The Commonwealth has dodged two bullets meant to destroy the concept of representative democracy this session: electoral vote by gerrymandered congressional district and gerrymandering of State Senate districts. Temporary reprieve. The crazies will be back next session. We better elect a Democratic  governor in 2013.

    • Another Scott
    • Quizzical

      Is this the end of it?  Or will the issue of germaneness be taken to court?

    • glennbear

      Despite his ideology Howell is not stupid and can see what is happening nationwide with the voter displeasure of GOP power grabs on the national and state levels. It took a while but the GOP is finally catching on that voters are not going to stand for being marginalized for unfair advantage of one party over the other.