The subject of today’s lesson is your legislature and the object is HB582 – collective bargaining for public employees.
This policy change is significant that could impact every locality and taxpayer.
Ready? (If you need a primer on the legislative process, read this first)
Yesterday. during Second Reading in the House of Delegates HB582, a significant policy change for the Commonwealth, was being considered.
The patron of HB582 is Delegate Elizabeth Guzman of Prince William (ranked #96 out of 100 House members in 2019 in Virginia FREE’s Performance Rankings ).
If you go to the streaming of the floor action on the bill, you will see several things:
1) the House adopts floor amendments to EXEMPT local constitutional officers because “we (they) have been receiving a lot of phone calls from back home” and the stakeholders working on the bill had agreed to this.
Every locality in Virginia is required by the Constitution of Virginia to have a Treasurer, Commissioner of the Revenue, Sheriff, and Clerk of the Court.
The General Assembly’s employees are also exempted from public employee collective bargaining.
2) then a senior member of the House, Delegate Terry Kilgore (#8 in our rankings) offers serious concerns about the bill, but is resigned to its likely outcome which is the bill will be engrossed and moved to Third Reading. Today, it will be voted on, approved, and then over to the Senate.
HB582 has a LOT going on in it and is not just approving collective bargaining for public employees but also codifies all the procedures for that.
Kilgore notes at the end, Virginia’s new law, should it pass, will be more favorable to public unions that the state of New York’s law.
3) Then Delegate Nick Freitas (#82 in our rankings) and announced candidate for U.S. Congress asks the patron of the bill, Guzman, if she will yield to answer questions about her legislation.
4) Delegate Guzman refuses to answer his questions!
A significant policy and political shift in this state and the patron of the bill says she will not explain what it does to her fellow House members who then have to go back and explain it to their constituents.
5) Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn(ranked #51), sensing vulnerability for Guzman and/or HB582, quickly calls on Delegate Delores McQuinn for a motion knowing that McQuinn will Move the Pending Question to end debate on HB582.
The motion is made, approved of by voice vote, and the debate is over before it could begin. And just like that the House moves onto the next bill on Second Reading.
Big policy change.
The patron won’t even explain what is actually in the bill!
Here are some observations:
1) this is a Jam Session. There are very few people actually paying attention to what is happening and there is so much noise to give the new majority cover to quickly pass or jam through anything they want. The Democrats are emboldened by their recent victories and are not wasting their new advantage. It’s smart, but short term thinking. The aggregation of all the changes being forwarded are going to surprise many when the laws actually start on July 1st.
2) the Richmond press corps and the editorial boards around the state are diminished due to declining readership. There was NOT ONE article or op-ed about this in the popular VPAP news aggregator morning email .
Even if people were able to pay attention, there is so much information overload in our culture that it’s hard to get something to stick given the speed with which the General Assembly moves.
3) the GOP is exhausted and resigned to defeat. They think few are paying attention and they seem to be running through the motions. Literally.
4) the new majority Democrats seem very willing and open to amending their bills.
5) Constitutional Officers still have serious political weight. They are always seen as a potential political rival back home since they have a base of support usually within the same party as GA members.
6) Ironically, the Democrats accepted amendments to the collective bargaining bill HB582 that exempted Constitutional Officers while they claim, falsely, that Right To Work is a racist policy.
You see, Virginia’s Constitutional Officers were the backbone of the Byrd Machine and…well…Click here for a quick refresher on the Byrd Machine.
We’ll see if this trend continues through the end of Session.