WashPost: Virgina GOP Pushing 'Slew of Conservative Bills' in State Legislature

January 23rd, 2012 6:39 PM

"Virginia Republicans push slew of conservative bills," shrieks the WashingtonPost.com headline for staff writer Laura Vozzella's January 23 article. Print edition editors opted for the decidedly more neutral-toned headline, "Virginia GOP pushes ambitious agenda," for the January 23 Metro section front-page article.

Vozzella kicked off her article by painting the GOP state legislators are rabble-rousing troublemakers disregarding the sage counsel of the state's Republican governor to tone it down:

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell warned his Republican brethren to take it slow this month as they took control of the state Senate.

“Don’t be arrogant, don’t overreach, don’t fight,” he told them.

If the flurry of legislation they’ve introduced is any indication, Virginia’s most conservative Republicans aren’t holding back.

They are pushing legislation to: wipe out corporate income taxes; mandate drug testing of welfare recipients; crack down on illegal immigrants; beef up gun rights, property rights, parental rights and fetal rights; roll back gay rights; and free the commonwealth from federal laws it doesn’t like.

Those are the highlights of an 80-bill agenda that the Virginia Conservative Caucus unveiled last week in Richmond. It’s an ambitious lineup, with twice the number of bills the group backed last year.

Many of those bills have come and gone before, sailing through the Republican-dominated House but dying in the Senate, where Democrats ruled for the past four years and moderate Republicans held sway before that. With the GOP now in control of the evenly split Senate, there’s hope among conservatives — and dread among liberals — that some of those measures will become law.

To her credit, however, Vozzella did quote a Republican legislator explaining why the GOP is seeking to push the legislative advantage the state's voters gave them:

“Legislation’s a lot like a football game; you move the ball down the field,” said Del. James P. Massie III (R-Henrico), who has a bill this year to provide tax credits to corporations that provide scholarships for poor students to attend private schools. “And I think we’re inside the five-yard line this year. And with the help of a couple more good Republicans like Dick Black over in the Senate. . . we’ll punch this thing across the goal.”

And while Republicans are assertively pushing their agenda, Vozzella noted they are also fighting against in-state tuition for illegals and a proposed 20-cent bag tax:

The caucus has vowed to fight a number of bills, including those that would prohibit public employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation; provide in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants; and impose a 20-cent plastic bag tax.

You'll notice, of course that those liberal policy proposals are not described as Democratic liberal priorities that may be arrogant overreaches to the left of the Old Dominion's electorate.