RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Senate Republicans gave GOP minded bills a clearer path toward approval Wednesday. As expected, a proposal to share power in the equally divided chamber was ruled out.
Republicans and Democrats have 20 members each in the Senate. But the Republicans have the tiebreaker vote of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and on the very first issue today...he used it.
The House came to order quickly. The mace, as always, signified the beginning of the 2012 session.
It was smooth sailing, here. New delegates were sworn in. Family members posed for pictures. But on the other side, a different story. With 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats, senators debated who really had the power.
Democrat Donald McEachin proposed sharing it evenly, and then a vote.
It led to a 20-20 tie, the first of the day. Republican Bill Bolling, the lieutenant governor, broke it...effectively killing the idea of sharing power in the Senate. Democrats were predictably displeased.
"The step we're taking today is very seriously, in my view, institutionalizing a sort of partisanship that has never been present in the activities of this gentile body," said Sen. Creigh Deeds, (D) Bath.
"And when it becomes about who's won and who's lost...really neither side wins. But the people, Mr. President, most assuredly lose," added Sen. Mark Herring, (D) Fairfax, addressing the Lt. Governor.
The vote gives Republicans an edge when it comes to organizing committees, making it easier for GOP bills to make it to the floor for a vote.
"I am very sorry if anybody in this body feels that this is a quote power grab. It is not," said Sen. Tommy Norment, (R) James City.
Democrats threaten legal action. A busy first day at the capitol…59 more to go.
The outcome Wednesday eventually gives Gov. Bob McDonnell a better chance of success on bills that tighten limits on abortion and immigrants and loosen restrictions on guns. But the sense here is the fight over power in the Senate isn't over yet.