Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 General Assembly Update: Week 5

The Pogge Post

2014 General Assembly Update: Week 5

96th District, Virginia House of Delegates     February 7, 2014
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During Session:

General Assembly Building

Room 403

Capitol Square

Richmond, VA 23219



Please send mail to:

P.O. Box 196

Norge, VA 23127
Legislative Aide
Amanda Johnston
With 29 days remaining in the 2014 General Assembly session, we have passed the halfway point of this year's 60-day session. By the end of next Tuesday, February 11, the House and Senate members must complete work on all legislation originating in their respective chambers. To paraphrase, the House must finish all work on House bills, and the Senate must finalize all work on Senate bills. With this deadline approaching, the duration of floor sessions grows increasingly lengthy. I am pleased to report, however, that all of my bills have been heard in the House. In fact, my bills are now beginning to move through the Senate.
Attorney General Herring
Earlier this week, I sent an email entitled, "Stand for Marriage," wherein I discussed the historic hearing that occurred in Norfolk on Tuesday. The case is notable not only for the subject matter--same sex marriage--but also for the disturbing precedent set by Attorney General Herring. As I mentioned in my email, the Attorney General's refusal to defend the lawfully enacted Virginia Constitution begs the question of whether the Attorney General will defend other portions of the Constitution and State Code with which he may personally disagree. 

Because I received a large number of inquiries regarding possible recourse in this situation, I would like to share some basic facts about the process by which elected officials are held accountable.  

Many citizens have asked whether impeachment is a reasonable course of action in the case of an elected official who fails to uphold his sworn duty. Simply, the answer is yes. Practically, however, impeachment is not a viable option in the current situation. Impeachment requires a 2/3 vote of the Virginia Senate. Because the Senate is evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, there are not enough votes to impeach. 

In Virginia, the recall process is unique. First, a petition for recall must be signed by a number of registered Virginia voters equal to 10% of the total number of votes cast in the last election for the office that the officer holds. In this case, the number of required signatures is 221,228 (10% of the 2,212,281 votes cast for Attorney General in 2013). Once the signatures are verified, a judge will hear the case and determine whether the elected official should be recalled. Unlike many other states, there is no provision for a recall election; the decision rests solely with the courts. No statewide recall has ever occurred in Virginia, so there is also is no precedent in this case.

Legislative Action
With great foresight, at the beginning of this year's General Assembly session, Del. Todd Gilbert introduced House Bill 706. HB 706 provides that the General Assembly, the House of Delegates, the Senate of Virginia, or a member of the General Assembly has standing to represent the interests of the Commonwealth in a proceeding in which a provision of the Constitution of Virginia is contested or the constitutionality, legality, or application of a law established under legislative authority is at issue and the Governor and Attorney General choose not to defend the law. I was pleased to co-patron this bill, and I believe HB 706 offers the best opportunity to effectively address the Attorney General's refusal to defend the laws of our Commonwealth.

While I think the bill is necessary, I am dismayed that this course of action is required. The failure of our Governor and Attorney General to defend the laws and Constitution of Virginia sets a dangerous precedent and exemplifies a degradation of the rule of law. John Locke, in his
Two Treatises of Government presciently states that
"[w]herever law ends, tyranny begins" and recounts the perils of a ruler who "exceeds the power given him by the law."

Several media outlets have rightfully decried the actions of the Attorney General, and I encourage you to read yesterday's
Richmond Times-Dispatch article entitled "Gay Marriage: McAuliffe, too." Regardless of one's perspective of gay marriage, the underlying issue--adherence to the rule of law--is not a partisan matter. 
February 18: District Day with special guest
Speaker of the House William Howell
Please take this opportunity to watch the General Assembly at work! On Tuesday, February 18, I will host a District Day in Richmond. If you are a resident of the 96th District and desire to learn more about the legislative process, please mark your calendar. The day will run from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.  In addition to touring the capitol and viewing committee meetings and session, attendees will also hear from Speaker Howell. Lunch will be provided, and there is no charge to attend this event.  Attendees are limited to the first twenty respondents from the 96th District, so please reply promptly!  To RSVP, call 804-698-1096 or email  A tentative agenda is available HERE.
Visitors in the General Assembly Building
Following is a partial list of visitors this week. As always, thank you for your time!

Linda Rice
Barbara Worthen
Loretta Hannum
Reverend Charles Swadley
Dr. John Dever, President, Thomas Nelson Community College
Visitors Welcome!
As always, if you are in Richmond during the upcoming weeks, please stop by my office in Room 403 of the General Assembly Building located at the corner of 9th and Broad Streets. 
Delegate Brenda Pogge

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Brenda Pogge for Delegate | P.O. Box 196 | Norge | VA | 23127

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