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Editorial: Howell did the right thing

Sunday, February 10, 2013

House Speaker Bill Howell put the integrity of the House of Delegates above partisan politics last week when he ruled against a measure to redraw the state’s Senate districts.

Howell said the amendment to House Bill 259 was outside the bill’s limited original scope, so he ruled it was not germane. That stripped the amendment from the bill.

Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, explained that the commonwealth has a “one-purpose rule,” which means something entirely different from the intent of an original bill cannot be tacked onto it. That was the case with HB 259 and the amendment.

To make matters worse, Senate Republicans approved the amendment when a Democratic senator was absent so the Senate’s 20-20 party-line tie did not apply.

Critics have said the amendment was an effort by the Republicans to redraw the Senate’s districts for the GOP’s benefit. At the same time, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell feared it would create resentment among Democrats that could threaten his legislative initiatives during this General Assembly session.

Howell stood to upset someone no matter what he did. The fact that he followed his chamber’s rules speaks well for his integrity and that of the House of Delegates. He did the right thing.


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