Virginia General Assembly gears up for the new year

Loony legislation looms. File photo. Loony legislation looms. File photo.

We don’t know about you, but here at Odd Dominion headquarters we are currently mourning the all-too-sudden end of summer, and remain deeply in denial about the rapidly shifting season. Unfortunately, unlike normal people, we live life on a political clock, which means that while most intelligent beings are out galavanting in the sunshine, we are hunched over a computer screen, analyzing convention bounces and looking forward to the fall elections. And while most folks gauge the changing seasons by watching the leaves turn, we follow a more depressing indicator of winter’s approach: the gradual accumulation of new legislation awaiting action by the General Assembly.

Yes, believe it or not, there are already hundreds of House and Senate bills and resolutions (not to mention constitutional amendments) just waiting to be introduced in the GA’s next session, which doesn’t kick off until January 9, 2013.

But the early bird gets the worm, as they say, which would explain why Prince William Delegate Bob Marshall—surely the most bird-brained member of the Assembly—has managed to secure the much-coveted “HB1” designation for his “personhood” bill. In case you’ve forgotten, this is a bill that would confer upon a human embryo “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth.” Although it was shot down in the Senate last time around, Marshall is bound and determined to insure that every zygote in the Commonwealth is recognized as a legal citizen, and thus the Assembly will once again begin its next session by debating how, exactly, a poll worker might insure that a 3-month-old fetus-person has proper ID before allowing it to vote.

In the other chamber, the bill that’s been getting the most attention is a proposal to eliminate Virginia’s corporate income tax authored by Senator Steve Martin (a Chesterfield Republican whose name, we imagine, necessitates him writing “this is not a joke!” on all proposed legislation). Although Virginia’s 6 percent corporate rate is the lowest in the region (and its economy continues to outperform), Martin pinky swears that  his bill zeroing out taxes on corporations (along with a related bill that would eliminate the sales tax on gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion) “will more than pay for itself.”

And these wacky proposals are just the tip of the legislative iceberg. As usual, there are at least a half-dozen pro-gun proposals that would, among other things, loosen criminal history check requirements for anyone with a concealed handgun permit, and encode the so-called “Castle Doctrine” (which allows the use of deadly force against intruders in the home) in Virginia law. There are also a few head-scratchers, such as SB 333, which would ban mopeds on any highway with a speed limit higher than 35 MPH, and HB 158, which would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to perform “a surgical devocalization on a cat or dog when such procedure is not necessary to treat or relieve an illness, disease, or injury.”

All in all, it looks to be a bumper crop of loony legislation, and one that promises a very happy new year—at least for those of us who make a living lampooning this stuff.