Discrimination Policy, Attorney General Suit Against EPA, and Clifford Visits the General Assembly
A House Subcommittee has effectively killed a bill that would prohibit state agencies from discriminatory hiring practices based on sexual orientation. State Democrats are asking Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to withdraw his suit filed against the EPA, and the General Assembly received a special visitor who came to promote public broadcasting.
The House General Laws Subcommittee on Professions/Occupations and Administrative Process effectively killed a bill yesterday that would have added sexual orientation to the list of prohibited discriminatory criteria in hiring practices for state agencies.
Governors Warner and Kaine had both included sexual orientation in their non discrimination executive orders, Governor McDonnell decided not to, saying the issue was best left to the legislature.
Democratic Senator Don McEachin of Richmond, who patroned the bill, said he was disappointed by the committee’s actions, but not surprised.
McEachin: We had a version of this carried by Delegate Ebbin, earlier this year and the result was the same. Delegate Ebbin even tried to get some language in the budget bill and was unable to do that and he’s certainly been a warrior on this issue.
McEachin says that despite the bill’s failure to pass this year, the debate on this issue is not over.
McEachin: I think that if we’re going to be true to the cause of being an inclusive society and if we’re going to be true to the cause of non-discrimination, I don’t know how differently we can write the bill, but we can continue to have this discussion both legislator to legislator and more importantly have the public come out as it has done today and prayerfully will continue to do to continue to have this discussion.
In other news, Senator McEachin and other Democratic lawmakers held a press conference earlier in the day, asking Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to reconsider the petition he filed challenging the EPA’s position on global warming and their recent proposed emission regulations.
McEachin says that Cuccinelli’s efforts in this area are a waste of valuable tax dollars in an already strained budget.
McEachin: It costs about 200,000 to 500,000 to take a case all the way to the Supreme Court and in doing that, he’s wasting man-hours and he’s wasting money, money that could be used for other things, money that could be used for consumer protection issues that the Attorney General’s office is tasked with, so we question his priorities and we question the wisdom going after such an important issue such as climate change that is well settled.
Democratic Delegate Al Pollard of Lancaster spoke about this later on the floor.
Pollard: It is an established fact that the earth is warming, that our climate is changing. If you go back and look at the records of the Virginia Department of Health, you can see that water temperatures over the past 30 years in the Chesapeake Bay, the water temperatures have been rising. If you look at the average bloom time for forsythia or daffodils or for any native plant, you can see that they are getting earlier. If you look at migration times for birds, you can see that they are getting later in the fall. Despite the fact that some scientists have said some very stupid things, it’s all but an established fact that man’s activities have contributed to such warming. Quite simply, as we release carbon that was sequestered over hundreds of millions of years, we are returning the earth to its previous, earlier, higher temperature. For the Attorney General to argue anything else is simply taking a knife to an intellectual gun fight and a waste of the taxpayer money.
And finally yesterday, legislators were paid a visit by Clifford the Big Red Dog and other representatives of Virginia’s public broadcasters.
Charlie Judd is a spokesman for Public Broadcasting of Virginia.
Judd: We’ve spent the day with Clifford the Big Red Dog who was very well received and we were here to say thank you to the members of the General Assembly for continuing the funding which is so vitally important. For the last ten years, each year there has been a little bit of a reduction in the funding, in the state part of funding Public Broadcasting, so that between 2000 and 2010 the funding has been reduced 42 percent. It’s down to bare bones, no pun intended, and we’re here to just try to encourage them to at least keep it at its current level. Governor Kaine in the presented budget here had another five percent cut, which would have brought it to 42 percent over the last ten years. The Senate basically reported out or planned on passing the Governor’s presented budget, that part of it, so those cuts stayed in place, the House on the other hand zeroed out one of the two funding streams. There are two funding streams. One is Community Service Grants and the other is educational technology, which is the part of public television that supports a lot of the education k-12 in Virginia. Community service grants over the last ten years have had to be used to supplement the reduced funding in the educational technology so when you zero that out it puts us in a very, very serious position.
Judd says Virginia’s Public Broadcasters are anxiously watching the House and Senate budget conferees and are hopeful that some portion of the community service grants will be restored.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.