Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shootout at the Richmond Corral?

Governor Tim Kaine vetoed a dozen bills, most expanding the death penalty or allowing concealed weapons in more places. Through the years, the governor has been very consistent on these issues and the vetoes shouldn't have surprised anyone. It is likely the General Assembly will uphold most of the vetoes. Most likely overrides are the bills dealing with the death penalty for a person convicted of killing a fire marshall or auxiliary police officer, allowing retired law-enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons into bars, and one exempting active-duty military from a state law limiting handgun purchases to one a month 
A bigger battle looms over the question of taking about $125 million in federal stimulus money for expanded unemployment benefits. What's the fight about... seems like a no-brainer? To accept the money, Virginia would have to change laws to allow part time workers who get laid off to receive unemployment compensation.
Democrats generally support taking the federal money to help the increasing number of unemployed all across the state. That money won't just sit in their bank accounts - it will be spent in communities for food, clothes, and all sorts of necessities thus helping to stimulate the both the local and national economies.
Republicans are saying whoa... not so fast. Siding with the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, they say it will increase red tape (the second most recited chant of conservatives) and will increase spending by the unemployment trust fund that may lead to higher taxes (guess what their most recited chant is).
But, this issue may not be quite as simple as Democrat v. Republican. Some GOP delegates from areas with rising unemployment are facing constituent pressure to support taking the federal stimulus money. This is an election year for all delegates - both incumbents and challengers will be looking to make political hay on this one.
And there is one other lingering question - will the legislators fill judicial slots left unfilled during the regular session? A failure to do so will leave a smudge on a central premise of democracy - justice.

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