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Virginia lawmakers managed to put together a budget, but not much else.
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So in the end, the only referendum that passed is one for transportation issues in Hampton Roads. Other referendum plans will have to wait for the assembly to reconvene in April.
But at least there's a budget.
Of course there were other items on the assembly's agenda this year, such as a bill to post the Ten Commandments in the public schools, and not one, not two, but three bills to post "In God We Trust" on various public buildings. The commandments bill was rejected as probably unconstitutional, while the three "trust" bills await Warner's signature. The governor questions their constitutionality as well.
Virginia lawmakers spend much of their valuable time deciding how to pay homage to God, but ignore one of the Bible's most oft-told stories. In Genesis 41, Joseph explains Pharaoh's dream:
"They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine."
I can hear the lawmakers now: "Famine? Virginia's got plenty of hams for everybody! And why should the cities get all the food? What about the rural areas?"
They might not get the allegory, but at least there's a budget.
The assembly rejected a bill to abolish the death penalty, and another to prohibit the execution of mentally retarded inmates--which, conveniently, would prevent the state from having to pay for their care.
The legislature did, however, pass a bill to pay $750,000 to Jeffrey D. Cox, who served 11 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. How much do you suppose he would've gotten if he'd been executed?
As if the state's 21-day rule doesn't do enough to keep inmates from clogging up the courts with new and possibly key evidence, the assembly passed a bill to limit civil suits filed by inmates.
And just to make sure local government workers don't feel secure on the job, the assembly acted to prevent those governments from prohibiting citizens from entering their offices while armed.
Let's see if I've got this straight: Public school funding is a local issue, but guns in municipal offices is a state issue?
Don't think that the assembly wasted its time only on what it views as "important" legislation. It killed a bill to eliminate the requirement that school buses be yellow. But it passed a bill to allow golf carts on the streets of Colonial Beach, and anyone who drives a golf cart on streets crowded with pickup trucks and SUVs certainly isn't yellow.
So all things considered, there isn't a whole lot to consider.
But at least there's a budget. Too bad there's not much to that, either.