By Delegate Rob Bloxom
We officially end the 2020 session this Thursday, with a vote on the two year budget. We should have finished our work by the deadline of last Saturday night at midnight, and I will report on the finished budget in next week’s report. The session was extended an extra day in order to finish work on new legislation, and extended until Thursday, March 12 to finish the budget. This is the first time that anyone can remember the legislative session being extended for any other reason than the budget. It took a two-thirds vote to extend, and the Republicans agreed to this because we wanted to make sure the constitutional amendment would be on the ballot this fall.
The constitutional amendment that will be voted on this fall will institute a commission to control redistricting. Redistricting is the process of redrawing the district lines after the census is completed. My district will be redrawn so that it gives me one percent of the population of Virginia. In the past, whomever was in control of the legislature drew the lines, and if the Governor was of the same political party, the line could be gerrymandered for the party in control. This would enable their voters to be chosen. This has happened over the years but now with the assistance of computers, districts are able to be carved so that one party can be heavily favored over the other. The commission will not be non-partisan, as I am unsure how members of a commission can be selected without one party being more favorable than another. The vote this fall will be for an equal partisan commission. Each political party will have the same number of senators and delegates representing them, along with citizen members, with each party having the same number represented.
The real battle in the House of Delegates was not between Republicans and Democrats, but between the Democrats themselves. The House did not pass the House’s version of the constitutional amendment. The rules to get one on the ballot must be passed by both chambers two consecutive years, with an election in between. It passed last year with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. This year brought a change of heart to the Democrats in the House of Delegates. We were given a second chance due to the fact that the Senate’s version passed relatively easy with bipartisan support. The pressure was then on the House of Delegates to bring the measure to a floor vote. The Democrats in the House had many hours of closed door meetings, attempting to force members to change their vote. Many delegates had run for years on redistricting reform and some were coerced into changing their vote. In the end, however, enough Democrats joined the Republicans, and it passed with a slim margin. To say that these Democrat delegates showed a strong resolve is an understatement, and the Commonwealth of Virginia will be a better place because of this vote.
As always, I am truly honored to represent the 100th District. You may reach me at my home office in Mappsville at 757-824-3456, email me at [email protected] and on Facebook @electbloxomfordelegate if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you.