Skip to main content

I'm Just a Bill

What fell through the cracks in the Statehouse floor

Well, here we are again: stumbling to the end of yet another incoherent legislative session, with little to show for it but a busted deadline and a budget deficit the size of Eliot Spitzer’s "travel" expenses. This is certainly one for the Richmond record books: No agreement on fixing Virginia’s massively underfunded transportation system (that’ll be handled in a special session later this year, promise!), incentives for colleges to cap tuition increases at the expense of expanded pre-K programs for low-income kids, a whopping two-percent pay raise for teachers and state employees, and a parsimonious promise to cut $50 million in aid to local governments and hack $18 million out of various state agency budgets (yeah, right — we’ll believe that when we see it).

Even better, the two-year, $77 billion spending plan had to be completely torn down and rebuilt after the state Supreme Court threw a stink bomb into the middle of the proceedings, declaring the Assembly’s 2007 transportation bill grossly unconstitutional (seems the too-clever-by-half legislature had "delegate[d] its taxing power to a non-elected body" by creating several regional taxing authorities — a blatant constitutional no-no).

But you know what? You can read about all of that boring crap in The Washington Post. Here at the Odd Dominion, we’re far more interested in the crazy stuff that didn’t make it — the bills and proposals that were so far out there, even the den of lunatics that we fondly call our General Assembly didn’t have the stomach to pass them into law. Let’s take a quick peek, shall we?

Before we begin, however, we must give a hearty shout-out to the ever-vigilant Waldo Jaquith and the Virginia Interfaith Center, who run the Richmond Sunlight website, a meticulously updated compendium of every single bill winding its way through the Assembly’s sausage factory. Without their hard work, we might never know what laws our diligent elected officials tried and failed to foist upon us this session.

Now, the biggest loser in this year’s loony legislation race has to be our old pal Del. Dave Albo, who had a trifecta of idiotic, unnecessary laws killed in committee. First up was an attempt to add box-cutters to the Commonwealth’s list of concealed weapons. (Whoops! There goes the carpet-layers union vote.) He followed that up with a bill to allow towns to regulate fireplaces "where such use may constitute a nuisance to adjacent residences." (He was, however, kind enough to exempt "any dwelling that does not have an adequate source of heat without burning wood.") Finally, mistakenly assuming that the third time would be the charm, Albo attempted to make it a felony to use an emergency exit after committing larceny, thereby magically transforming some shoplifters into felons based on their choice of egress.

Pretty ridiculous stuff. But Albo had plenty of competition in the boneheaded bill department. Take Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, for instance, who wanted to make it impossible for married couples with minor children to get divorced if one spouse doesn’t want to. (What a great way to create healthy, unconflicted offspring!) And don’t forget about Del. Dave Marsden, who wanted to make it a Class 3 misdemeanor for someone to willingly submit to a gang hazing (because, you know, getting beat up by a bunch of wannabe Crips isn’t punishment enough), or Del. Mark Cole, who tried to make it legal for two motorcycles to ride side-by-side in one lane. (Gee, we wonder who has a hog or two parked in his garage?)

But our favorite recent pair of unpassed laws, without a doubt, were both submitted (without irony, we presume) on the very same day. The first was offered by the aptly named Del. Dave Nutter, who yearned to make Virginia’s state song "Virginia: Where Heaven Touches Earth," a bit of doggerel presumably written by his 8-year-old niece. (Sample lyric: "Mountain laurel fills the air/Dogwood blossoms everywhere/Autumns painted red and gold/So much beauty to behold!") The second was submitted by our very own Del. Rob Bell, who was keen to amend the official definition of prostitution to include "manipulation of the genitals of another by hand resulting in ejaculation." Ah, Virginia: So hopeful and maudlin, and yet so very, very dirty.

Great work, guys! But, you know, maybe next time you can spend a little less time on the box-cutters and hand jobs, and a little more time on fixing Virginia’s budget mess. Just a thought.

Cross-posted from C-VILLE Weekly.

Originally posted to Hard Left on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 11:57 AM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  just for kicks (0+ / 0-)

    Adopt a Shelter Dog!
    "No one worked harder to re-elect George Bush in 2004 than John McCain"

    by psycho liberal on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:17:16 PM PDT

    •  Ah, memories (0+ / 0-)

      Still holds up, after all these years. Now I need to go find the great Simpson's parody (which, I believe, was sung by the great Bob Donough himself).

      I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, and reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it.

      by Hard Left on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That Cuccinelli bill re: divorce (0+ / 0-)

    gives me chills.  That is the type of thing to look forward to if the religious wingnuts keep expanding their power.  
    Basically it reminds me of the religious "counselors" who tell battered women that it is their own fault.

    Adopt a Shelter Dog!
    "No one worked harder to re-elect George Bush in 2004 than John McCain"

    by psycho liberal on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:20:32 PM PDT

    •  Tell me about it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psycho liberal

      And I didn't even touch on the incredibly anti-woman legislation that is currently winding its way through the Assembly (not only slashing funding to Planned Parenthood, but seeking to have law enforcement investigate women who have had miscarriages to make sure they didn't terminate the pregnancy on purpose). Truly disgusting stuff.

      I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, and reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it.

      by Hard Left on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:28:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site