Republicans Push Back against Critics of Their Legislative Agenda; Rally Supports 'Personhood' Bill

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sherfinski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

RICHMOND -- Virginia Republicans insisted at a Wednesday press conference that their legislative agenda has focused on jobs, education, government reform and public safety.

But the event at the General Assembly building was set against the backdrop of a nearby rally a short time later attended by several prominent conservative lawmakers supporting a divisive bill that defines life as beginning at conception.

At the earlier event, House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, told reporters that 42 percent of the 603 bills that passed the House of Delegates during the first half of the 2012 General Assembly session dealt with broad-based issues.

And contrary to the narrative of our friends across the aisle - what they would have you believe, he said, less than 2.5 percent of the bills that have passed the House dealt with socially conservative issues.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo said one clear contrast between Democrats and the GOP came in their attitudes on taxhikes. He said 11 Democrat-introduced bills that would increase taxes to the tune of $2.2 billion were killed this year in the House Finance Committee.

If you did not have Republicans in control, you would have had $2.2 billion worth of tax increases that would have come through, said Mr. Hugo, Fairfax Republican.

But Sen. Yvonne Miller, Virginia Beach Democrat, said such an attitude was misleading.

We are a wealthy state, she said. We have a philosophy in Virginia that has been perpetuated on the public - I call it a hoax. Because we've said to the electorate, 'You can have everything you want and not increase the taxes.' That is not true. We are making some very difficult decisions about the things that we want to put money into.

Delegate Charniele L. Herring, Alexandria Democrat, said she saw a pie chart breaking down the percentage of bills Republicans say they've passed by category. She called it cute. But she added that 90 percent of the emails she's gotten from constituents are about voter identification measures, the personhood bill, and another measure that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before they have an abortion. …