First let me just state the obvious: I have had a LOT of “issues” with Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen over the past few years on a wide variety not just of issues, but of the way he’s expressed his contempt for those who don’t agree with him.
But let’s give credit where credit is due; this is a superb piece of legislation (“Prohibits any candidate to the General Assembly or statewide office from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions from a public service corporation.”) and one that should be enacted into law ASAP! It’s also something that should be an absolute no-brainer, given that what Sen. Petersen describes below is basically the definition of corruption (also “capture” of the government by ostensibly regulated corporations) (note: of course this bill will NOT pass ASAP, or ever, because many of the members – such as House Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell – who will be voting are themselves bought and paid for by Dominion Power, etc.)
Press Release: Petersen Bill Will Ban Political Contributions From Regulated Monopolies in Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. – Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) has introduced last-minute legislation to ban political contributions from regulated monopolies.
In the code of Virginia, regulated monopolies are called public service corporations. A list of public service corporations can be found in § 56-1 of the Code of Virginia.
“Monopolies like Dominion or Appalachian Power have an undue influence on the political process,” Petersen said from his office in the General Assembly Building. “That leads to legislation which has a direct cost to Virginia consumers, both residents and small businesses.”
“There’s also a public health benefit to this bill. This is saving the lobbyists for these companies from arm and shoulder maladies due to constantly signing checks to Virginia politicians. That alone justifies the bill,” Petersen said.
Petersen introduced his bill, SB 1593, after the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, a 2015 bill that froze the State Corporation Commission rate review of Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power from 2015 to 2020. According to a review by Petersen’s office, the two major electric utilities that benefited from the 2015 legislation contributed over a million dollars to members of the Senate and associated PACs from 2010 to 2017.
Earlier in the 2017 session, Petersen introduced a bill (SB 1095) to re-regulate electric utilities when the Trump administration eliminates the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The prospect of increased regulation from the plan was used by electric utilities to justify the 2015 rate review freeze. The proposal was rejected by the Senate Finance Committee on January 16th.
Petersen’s campaign finance reform bill will be heard in the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee. Senators on that committee are Vogel (Chairman), Howell, Deeds, Edwards, Reeves, Ebbin, Chafin, DeSteph, Chase, Ruff, Cosgrove, Dance, Spruill, and Peake. The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, January 31st at 4:00 p.m.