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Compare the Special Session called by the Governor with marriage. Once a couple has been declared married, neither the husband nor wife can unilaterally declare the marriage is over. They must go before the courts for a judge to declare the marriage has ended. Likewise, once the Special Session is gaveled into order, neither the Senate, the House, nor the Governor can unilaterally end that session without accord between the House and Senate.
Much has been written about the Special Session that began last week, but few seem to understand what really happened. Those that did seemed to have a particular bias in support of one side or the other. What is known is that there were a couple of political skirmishes and one crisis of constitutional proportion.
Senator Donald McEachin, the Democrat Caucus Chairman, led an effort to end the Governor’s special called session by simply making the motion to adjourn the Special Session. The vote resulted in a tie. Then the Lt. Governor voted to end the tie and the Session with his vote. Clearly he had been forewarned that this motion was going to occur because, without hesitation, without review of the rules, he ruled that the motion was in order. When asked to point out where in the rules this was an acceptable motion, he refused to cite any rule that he was following. He only stated “because I said so.” This was hardly a reasonable response considering his role in the Senate and the state. He did, however, understand that there were not sufficient votes to override his action.
I believe his decision was based totally on political expediency, and that he knew it was wrong unless the House of Delegates did likewise. I believe he hoped they would; which they did not.
The Governor can call the General Assembly into special session to deal with particular issues, but the General Assembly is restricted to dealing with only those issues unless the constitution states otherwise.
The first skirmish regarding redistricting was totally political. The Federal Justice Department has always used the rule that once a minority majority district has been created, the percentage of minorities in the district cannot be reduced in subsequent redistricting or take any action that would endanger the chance for that district to elect minority representation. During the 2012 redistricting, the Third Congressional District changed from having a 62% minority to 65%. In turn, the Democrats sued the state for that 3% difference.
The Governor had hoped that he could force the General Assembly into redrawing all or most of the congressional districts to the benefit of the Democrats. As the session approached, he realized that the Republicans would just as soon let the issue play out in the courts than to voluntarily lose any of our good congressional members.
We had the opportunity to elect one of two well-qualified judges to the Supreme Court. Regrettably, we could not. A situation that could have been avoided. Please understand that interim appointments are only temporary until and unless they are elected by the General Assembly.
We love to hear from you! You can contact us at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, 434-374-5129, or Post Office Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.