Things couldn’t be stranger than fiction anywhere outside of Hollywood than on Shockoe Hill, where Mr. Jefferson’s capitol sits. Today, in the House Privileges and Elections Committee, members debated for about 20 minutes if the word “that” should be amended to “which” in HJ 615, a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit tax increases and fees in the budget bill, thus honoring Virginia’s “single object” rule. After several minutes of back and forth between committee staff and Delegate Dave Albo (R-42, Fairfax) — who continued to remind the committee they were discussing amendments to a bill that still was not the committee —and various others who chimed in, Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) recommended “where.” A brief silence fell over the committee as it realized that, hey, a magic bullet has been found.
Delegate Bell was at the center of another oddity. After much negotiation with interested parties — local governments and utilities — a compromise on a constitutional amendment to safeguard property rights was reach. Peace in the valley? Not quite. Delegate Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth), with whom Delegate Bell has been working, had the exact same bill and amendments with opponents. All that was left was to decide which bill went forward. When the committee refused to adopt the Senate procedure of passing multiple bills with exact same language, there was no consensus as to which resolution should go forward. After several minutes, a frustrated committee ordered the resolutions held over to next week. … Only at the Western Hemisphere’s longest continually serving representative body.
On a scary note, Senator Toddy Puller was taken to the hospital by ambulance after choking on her lunch on the Senate floor (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Senator Ralph Northam, a physician, rushed to her desk and assisted her. She is reported to be fine from this incident. However, Senator Puller, a stroke victim, needs special help to get around Capitol Square and the General Assembly Building. The Senate already is missing one member: Senator Yvonne Miller is recovering from heart surgery and may not return before February 1. Both women are Democrats. Without Senator Miller, there are 21 Democrats and 18 Republicans.