Repeal amendment dies in subcommittee
A State Senate subcommittee has killed a proposal that would allow a majority of state legislatures to repeal a federal law ... and some Democratic lawmakers are trying to strip power from the Virginia Attorney General.
The Repeal Amendment, a wildly popular proposal among the Tea Party, would petition the U.S. Congress to call a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of an Amendment that would allow two-thirds of the state legislatures to repeal a federal law.
Yesterday, a subcommittee of the Senate’s Privileges and Election Committee voted to pass the bill by indefinitely, effectively killing it for the year.
Democratic Senator Don McEachin of Richmond was one of the votes against the bill.
McEachin: A constitutional convention cannot be controlled; it could go beyond the parameters of what the call might be. Second of all, there was no limitation as to how far back one could go in terms of nullifying a previous federal act or a previous federal regulation. We felt that created a great deal of uncertainty and all sorts of problems for our federal system. Another problem that we saw was whether the number is 33 states or 34 states, a minority in terms of population could end up invalidating what the congress had done and we think that is antithetical to our system of federal government.
Republican Senator Ryan McDougle of Hanover is the bill’s patron.
McDougle: Unfortunately, it was a straight party-line vote. The bill was defeated in subcommittee 4-3. The repeal amendment that we had drafted was very specific to Virginia calling for an amendment convention, we laid out what the amendment was and gave the specific revocation of our authority if the convention was past that level, so it was very narrowly tailored and I think that this amendment would have taken a big step to restoring the state’s balance of power as envisioned by the 10th amendment.
McDougle says he is optimistic that there may be procedural measures to revive the bill.
McDougle: I do not sit on the committee that hears this bill, but I don’t think this is the last bit of discussion that we will have on it in the Senate. It’s important, we ought to discuss it. It should be discussed in the full committee.
In the unlikely event that the bill passes through committee, it will likely quickly be killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Some Democratic lawmakers are trying to limit the powers of the Office of the Attorney General after what they say are abuses by current A.G. Ken Cuccinelli. They are troubled by Cuccinelli’s subpoena of documents, e-mails and grant applications relating to the research of Dr. Michael Mann, a former climate change scientist at the University of Virginia.
Cuccinelli has argued that Dr. Mann knowingly committed fraud by manipulating data in order to obtain public funded grants.
The A.G. used a Civil Investigative Demand or CID to investigate Mann’s work. Now Democrats want to curb the A.G.’s office from making such demands in the future.
Democratic Delegate David Toscano of Charlottesville is sponsoring the legislation in the House.
Toscano: Jefferson would be turning in his grave to see what was going on from Richmond because of Attorney General Cuccinelli's efforts to capture, really, private correspondence within faculty and staff at the University of Virginia, and remember, these emails that he's asking for are not just about getting the emails of faculty, but they have to do with staff, personnel administrators, lots of people at the University of Virginia, and if people are concerned about government intrusion into your private life, you ought to be very concerned about what the attorney general is attempting to do in this case.
Attorney General Cuccinelli’s office issued a statement defending the use of CID’s, saying they are an important investigative tool that allow him to decide whether to proceed with a lawsuit and that without them, he would have to file suit without relevant information.
The bills are likely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate but fail in the Republican-led House.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square