Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Ounce of Convention is Worth a Pound of Cure edition

Virginia politics enjoyed a big weekend as the state GOP's nominating convention produced some surprising results. Virtual unknown E.W. Jackson emerged from repeated rounds of balloting as the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor. The party's nominee for Attorney General, on the other hand, was almost a foregone conclusion after Cuccinelli endorsed state Sen. Mark Obenshain before balloting began. Jackson's inflammatory statements have been generating headlines, and since the outcome of the LG race will determine which party has effective majority control of the state Senate for the next two years, this candidate and this contest deserve a great deal of scrutiny. 

But let's not neglect the Republican AG nominee. From Jim Gilmore to Mark Earley to Jerry Kilgore to Bob McDonnell to Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia Attorneys General have a tendency to run for Governor. As the son of a U.S. Senate candidate, there's no reason to think Sen. Obenshain's ambition is any less lofty. 

So who is this Obenshain guy? Since state legislators are kind of my thing, I thought I'd take a look at some of the bills he's sponsored over the course of his Senate tenure. His legislation that would require women to report miscarriages to the police has received some scrutiny, but there's so much more to Sen. Obenshain than that. 
  • Sen. Obenshain attempted to force political parties to bear the costs of primary elections, a move which would place great pressure on Virginia's parties to select candidates through the kind of conventions that led to his AG nomination. (He introduced this bill long before the Virginia GOP announced it would ditch the primary and nominate its 2013 candidates via convention.)
Obenshain and Cuccinelli are cut from the same cloth. It's a good bet that four years of Obenshain would look a lot like a continuation of Cuccinelli's tenure as AG.

In Sine Die news, 
  • Arkansas lawmakers formally wrapped up their legislative session last week. The newly-minted Republican majorities had quite a busy few months, during which they took every opportunity to flex their conservative muscles. Right-wing agenda items that met with success this session included voter ID and extreme abortion bans. They also managed to expand Medicaid, if in a sorta weird way. Next year's fiscal session may be a tad more tame, but a good bit of havoc can be wreaked with purse strings, too, so we shall see. 
And in other news, 
  • Minnesota lawmakers went ahead and passed that bill that opens absentee voting to all those eligible.
  • Vermont has become the first state to legalize so-called "assisted suicide" through legislative action. The bill makes it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal doses of a medication to a terminally ill patient (who must request and administer it themselves). 
  • Utah state Senator is messing with Texas (by competing with them for Beretta, which is threatening to bolt Maryland because of its new gun control laws).
Bill of the Week: Honors go to an especially bold Utah law that was just blocked by a federal court. The law, passed and signed earlier this year, prevents some federal officials (specifically, Bureau of Land Management rangers and Forest Service officers) from enforcing state, local, or federally assimilated laws anywhere in Utah. Nullification is alive and well in the states; more on that to come in future editions.

Other, less sexy stuff below.

For the Week of May 22, 2013


The Democratic Governors Association will hold its Spring Policy Conference May 22-23 in National Harbor, Maryland.

The United States Conference of Mayors will hold its Mayors Innovation Summit May 22-24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die May 20. 


The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die May 23.

The Air Resources Board will hold a public workshop May 20 to discuss amendments to the zero emission vehicle rules and the plug-in hybrid test procedures. Comments will also be accepted. 

The Senate Committee on Appropriations will hold a meeting May 22 to discuss S.B. 622, which levies a tax on bottled sweetened beverages. 


Youth Voting bill HB 226 was sent to the governor. This bill allows a citizen who is 17 years of age and who will be 18 years of age on the date of the general election to be deemed competent to execute and attest to any voter registration forms. 


The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die May 20. 


The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die May 20. 


Conduct of Elections bill AB 48 was read a second time in the Senate. This bill makes several changes to election law in Nevada. Among other provision, this bill makes it a category B felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years for knowingly voting under another person's name or voting when not qualified to vote. 


The Senate Transportation Committee will meet May 20 to hear testimony on S.B. 2531, which replaces the motor fuels tax with a vehicle miles traveled tax for passenger vehicles. 


The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will meet May 21 to discuss S.B. 1987, which prohibits smoking on the grounds of general hospitals and residential health care facilities.

Omnibus bill SB 5446 was referred to the Senate Elections Committee. This bill relates to voting rights expansion, voter registration on election day, expansion of the use of and requirements for absentee voting, creation of a real-time state-wide voter registration database, special ballots for election employees, etc.


Conduct of Elections bill HB 311 was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. This bill would repeal the literacy test for voters.

The Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education will hold a public hearing May 20 to discuss S.B. 666, which allows a virtual public charter school to receive funding for supplemental online courses. 

The House Business and Transportation Committee will hold a work session May 21 to vote on H.B. 2950, which allows employees to take family leave in the event of the death of a family member. 

Voter Registration bill HB 3521 is scheduled to be heard May 22 by the House Rules Committee at 3:00 p.m. This bill directs the secretary to register to vote each non-registered person who is qualified to vote and to notify such individuals how to cancel registration and how to adopt or change political party affiliation. This bill directs qualified voter registration agencies to provide the secretary of state with age, residence, and citizenship data and digital signature of each person who meets qualifications set by the secretary of state. This bill increases the maximum number of electors in a precinct from 5,000 to 10,000. 


The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee will hold a hearing May 23 to discuss S.B. 148, which allows authorities to place a preemptive security freeze on protected consumers' credit reports.

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