NEWS FROM KAYE
Voice Votes Keep the Public Silent
It may seem obvious that democracy needs transparency to function. Voters can't hold their elected representatives accountable if they don't know what their representatives are doing. Unfortunately, the Virginia General Assembly needs a reminder of this basic civic principle.
In 2015 in Virginia, 1,221 pieces of legislation failed to pass. The vast majority of them failed in committee or subcommittee. Only 30 out of those 1,221 bills made it to the floor of the legislature for a full debate and vote.
Perhaps most troubling is that 834 pieces of legislation (over 68%) were killed in voice votes – votes that are not recorded and, therefore, essentially secret.
The same thing happened in this year's legislative session.
Proposals such as:
- requiring localities to post signs warning of water pollution (my bill HB 479),
- increasing fines for texting while driving (HB 73),
- removing the penalty of driver's license suspension for simple possession of marijuana (SB 327), and
- Medicaid expansion (HB 797)
were killed, and the only record you'll find in the Legislative Information System is a statement such as "Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote." Nothing on who voted "Yea" or "Nay" – which leaves no public record and no way to hold legislators accountable.
If, like me, you find these unrecorded votes troubling, there's something you can do: SIGN THE PETITION sponsored by the Virginia House Democrats.
And you can help me stand up for open government TODAY. Your contribution of $15, $25, $50, or $100 will help me be your voice for public accountability!
As always, thank you for the privilege of representing you in Richmond.
Delegate, 38th District
PS. Yesterday, April 12th, was Equal Pay Day, a day for national focus upon equal pay for equal work. See my press statement on the need for state action to make "Equal Pay Day" history.