"It looks like we are going to be able to go home and tell people we didn't raise their taxes," state Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25th), said during a Senate floor debate over House Bill 1349 at the close of the assembly's legislative session in March. "But with this bill, we are going to tell some people they are going to have to pay more to file their taxes." from the Richmond Times DispatchLast session, almost unnoticed, the General Assembly in its collective wisdom decided that the cost of a service that is only required as a result of a state function should be borne twice by the taxpayers. Not only is it disappointing that so many legislators were hornswoggled by the cute initiative (messaging is everything these days), it is also alarming that they didn't understand the business case at all. The honor roll of members voting for Virginians is short enough that it is included below the fold. Not a Republican among the 16.
As 2011 and 2013 approach we ought to measure who we support a bit more judiciously. Democrat does not reliably equate to progressive. And some Democrats just plain fail to measure up. Though rarely does a single issue serve as a reliable litmus test, this one provides an appropriate reference point because it embodies a broader social aspect: the role of government and the relationship of wealth and its influence to governance. That Senator Saslaw (D-35th) ends up the patron of SB 606 allowing effective 250%+ interest rates and enlists Delegate Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) to do his bidding in the House is curious. No Republican to hang this one on, though it is informative that Governor McDonnell's new Commonwealth Chief Information Officer didn't eschew a little gratitude.
The industry generously reaches out to both sides of the aisle. These bills generally originate in the Commerce and Labor committees of our general assembly. The three largest payday loan industry contributors have managed to grease the palms of 12 of the 15 current committee members in the Senate (including the recent Democratic nominee for governor) and 16 of the 21 in the House. Only one Republican and seven Democrats have failed to score. The three largest contributors have spread $125,000 to the 36 members who accepted these donations. But the two committee chairmen, Saslaw [$25,437] and Delegate Kilgore (R- Lee, Scott, and parts of Washington, and Wise) [$14,075] were most highly regarded amongst peers. Senator Norment (R-3rd) [$21,869] rounds out the top three overall. By the way, Delegate Cline has received $750; a real bargain for the kind of advocacy he delivers.