The legislative session is still in its infancy and already some of the worthies have gone round the bend. How else to explain Sen. Mamie Locke's weird diatribe against issues like the repeal amendment? Here's what the gentle lady from Hampton had to say:
"’When you talk about nullification, that was pretty much the language of the 1850s, preceding the Civil War, of the relationship between the states and the federal government...’"
I hate to break it to the Senator, but no one is talking about nullification. Rather, the issue at hand is one of repeal, and not on a state-by-state basis, but through a super-majority vote of state legislatures. It is a strongly federalist idea.
However, the process is both cumbersome and fraught with difficulties -- as it should be. Getting both houses of two thirds of the states' legislatures to agree on repealing anything Congress or a federal agency does guarantee that such efforts will be rare. But it would be an interesting check on the depth of federal power.
Even so, Virginia’s Democrats are doing what they can to prevent what they see a return to the very bad old days. Earlier this week, a Senate version of the repeal amendment came before the Privileges and Elections and was defeated on a party line vote. A House version was approved earlier Friday by a 14-7 margin and, because it enjoys House Speaker Bill Howell’s backing, is likely to pass the full House…which means Senate Democrats will have another chance to confront their antebellum nightmares.
But this isn’t the only bill that takes a bit of a swipe at the federal government. Delegate Mark Cole’s bill to exempt Virginia-made goods that stay within the state from federal regulation passed through committee and is now on the floor. A bill from Del. Bob Marshall that would exempt Virginia homes from any sort of federal cap and trade regulation is also headed to the House floor. There are resolutions urging the Federal Communications Commission to back-off on net neutrality and for the Federal Trade Commission to pull in its regulatory claws.
Does all of this add up to a Virginia that’s marching steadily back into the past? Not really.
Some wags would say Virginia is only now catching-up to where the rest of the nation was over a century ago, so these bills represent a kind of great leap forward.
But for others, any attempt to block, trump or criticize federal authority is seen through the prism of racism, and Virginia’s unmistakably shameful past. I strongly suspect that view has far more to do with stopping debate in its tracks than much else. But as the session advances, look for more of these criticisms to appear.
And there’s still time for those jibes to get more pointed– because no General Assembly session is complete until someone compares an attempt to limit government or expand personal freedom to Massive Resistance.