Friday, June 27, 2008

Valley grist

No surprise that the House of Delegates Rules Committee, on a mostly party line 11-4 vote, killed Governor Kaine's transportation bill. The same committee did advance the the Senate bill increasing the gas tax to the floor where it will likely die by a party line vote. Playing politics, the GOP is hoping to back the Democrats into a politically difficult vote. Watch out Repubs, sometimes a cornered rooster fights back.
The General Assembly will recess for a couple weeks to cool off in the summer heat. Maybe when constituents get hold of them, the legislators will want to get back to the Capitol!
(Cartoon from The News Leader)
The Supreme Court ruling in the D.C. gun case is, of course, front page news in the Shenandoah Valley where hunting and gun ownership are taken for granted. It is a landmark case because, for the first time, the court has found (5-4) an individual right to keep and bear guns. But a close reading of the decision makes clear the justices were not endorsing an absolute right for anyone to own/possess any gun at any time or place. In the majority opinion, Justice Scalia wrote that the U.S. Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home." In typical fashion, the court's decision is pretty narrow and left open the power of state and local governments to enact reasonable regulations such as gun-free school zones, registration, and laws about concealed weapons. We'll see future cases that will spell out the meaning of reasonable. With some of the least restrictive laws in the nation, the ruling will have little impact in Virginia. 
Augusta Republicans elected Bill Shirley chair during a Thursday night meeting. Not to dig through all that litter again, but you'll recall the dispute between the reactionary right wingers (the Kurt Michael/Scott Sayre faction) and the conservatives (Larry Roller/Emmett Hanger faction) that led to disputed meetings, appeals to the district and state committees and threats of law suits. Some say Shirley was a compromise candidate, but that hardly seems likely as only the reactionary right wing faction (44 of them) was seated at Thursday's meeting and their loudest cheerleader is crowing. Mr. Shirley is a nice guy whose style will be dramatically different from the abrasive Michael's leadership. But, he's pretty far to the right so the ideological bent of the local GOP will change little. Senator Hanger, how do you spell O U T C A S T in your own county committee? I do agree with Mr. Shirley's observation that the hen fight  in the Augusta GOP is "stranger than fiction."
One final kernel, the Staunton city manager will not recommend a 4-day workweek for city offices. Steve Owen said the estimated annual savings of $21,000 would not justify the change and would create hardships for citizens and some offices.

1 comment:

Belle Rose said...

Putting the accent on my post about the local GOP fight and him being an outcast, Emmett Hanger has referred to the Augusta Republican Committee as a "club" and further stated “I won’t work with that committee. They disenfranchised the majority of people who came to that meeting.”

Read more in The News Virginian.

From my perch, Hanger is pretty much the same mountain-valley conservative he's always been but the local committee has taken a hard right turn leaving him without a home.