Home Ralph Northam Gov. Northam Vetoes Bills on Zoning Authority of Local Governments, Electoral Board...

Gov. Northam Vetoes Bills on Zoning Authority of Local Governments, Electoral Board Membership, Fair Electoral Maps

0
Advertisement

The following press releases are from Gov. Northam’s office; his veto pen was clearly busy today!

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation Reducing Number of Votes Required for Local Board of Zoning Appeals 

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 2686, which would make it easier to circumvent the zoning authority of local governments. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2686. This bill reduces the number of votes required for a local Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to approve a variance or reverse a zoning determination made by a locality. The practical result of House Bill 2686 would be to make it easier to circumvent the zoning authority of local governments.

The Code of Virginia authorizes any locality to enact a zoning ordinance to regulate the use of land, buildings, structures, and other premises under the locality’s jurisdiction for the general purpose of promoting the health, safety, or general welfare of the public. The General Assembly requires any locality that enacts a zoning ordinance to establish a BZA to hear and decide appeals of zoning decisions.

Under current law, a majority vote of the membership of the BZA is required to reverse a decision or determination, or to approve a variance. This legislation would make it easier for the BZA to overturn a decision of the professional local zoning administrator by lowering the required vote from a majority of the full BZA membership to a majority of those present and voting. Zoning appeals issues are involved and complex and there should be a higher threshold to reverse the decisions and determinations made by a locality.

In my recommended amendment to House Bill 2686, I proposed a compromise that would have allowed a locality to reduce, by ordinance, the number of votes required for a BZA to approve a variance or reverse a zoning determination. The General Assembly rejected the compromise amendment.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

************************

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation Hindering Steady Leadership for Department of Elections 

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 1620 and Senate Bill 1455, which would create a structure that sets up the Department of Elections for potential challenges. The Governor’s full veto statements are below.

House Bill 1620

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1620. House Bill 1620 would increase the membership of the Board of Elections (Board) from three to five members and gives the Board, rather than the Governor, the power to appoint the Commissioner of Elections.

This legislation creates a structure that sets up the Board and the Department of Elections for potential challenges. This legislation seeks to adopt a board structure similar to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), an entity faced with dysfunction in recent years. The FEC appointees’ inability to come to a consensus has meant failure to fill key leadership positions. This legislation would also hinder the Governor’s ability to appoint the leadership of an executive branch agency by requiring that four out of five Board members agree on a Commissioner of Elections. This could lead to delays or a lack of appointment all together. In a state that has an election every few months, it is imperative that Virginia’s electoral system have steady leadership.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

Senate Bill 1455

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1455. Senate Bill 1455 would increase the membership of the Board of Elections (Board) from three to five members and gives the Board, rather than the Governor, the power to appoint the Commissioner of Elections.

This legislation creates a structure that sets up the Board and the Department of Elections for potential challenges. This legislation seeks to adopt a board structure similar to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), an entity faced with dysfunction in recent years. The FEC appointees’ inability to come to a consensus has meant failure to fill key leadership positions. This legislation would also hinder the Governor’s ability to appoint the leadership of an executive branch agency by requiring that four out of five Board members agree on a Commissioner of Elections. This could lead to delays or a lack of appointment all together. In a state that has an election every few months, it is imperative that Virginia’s electoral system have steady leadership.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

*********************

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation Jeopardizing Virginians’ Constitutional Right to Equal Apportionment

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed Senate Bill 1087, which would authorize the General Assembly to change legislative district boundaries outside of the decennial redistricting process. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1087. This legislation authorizes the General Assembly to change legislative district boundaries outside of the decennial redistricting process, in order to conform boundaries of legislative districts to the boundaries of local voting precincts.

This bill violates Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia, which states: “The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.” This bill would allow the General Assembly to reapportion at any time of its choosing, regardless of the Constitutional mandate. This would jeopardize Virginians’ constitutional right to equal apportionment.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

***************

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation That Excludes Criteria Essential to Ensuring Fair Electoral Maps

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed Senate Bill 1579, which falls short of establishing sufficient criteria to ensure that electoral maps are drawn fairly. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1579, which would establish criteria in the Code of Virginia by which congressional and state legislative districts must be drawn.

While I support codifying criteria that would be followed when drawing legislative districts, this legislation excludes criteria that are essential to fair electoral maps. Any criteria for redistricting must prohibit districts from being drawn to restrict or deny the ability of any racial or ethnic minority to participate in the political process and elect a preferred candidate. The criteria should also prohibit districts that favor or disfavor any political party, incumbent legislator, member of Congress, or individual or entity.

This legislation does not go far enough in establishing criteria that would ensure a fair electoral process for Virginia citizens.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam