The war in Virginia continues on, and this time the battles over women rights and the budget have collided.
Over the weekend nearly 800 people protested in Richmond over a number of abortion-related bills that they say curb women’s rights. The protestors said that police in riot gear used excessive force to break up their peaceful protest.
On Monday, some angry Democrat senators decounced the treatment and arrest of protestors, according to the RTD.
In response, Gov. Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said the Democrats owe law enforcement an apology.
"Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, raised the issue first Monday saying the heavy police presence during the rally, attended mostly by females, was a "completely over the top response" that was "more appropriate for a bar fight than a protest."
"This is a public place," Petersen said, addressing his colleagues. "We as men take exception when we see our womenfolk treated this way."
Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, the Republican Senate leader, took exception to the remarks in a speech that defended the police and reflected the growing tension between Democrats and Republicans in the chamber over the budget impasse.
"To say (police) have a disgraceful presence is exceedingly disingenuous," he said, growing angry over the extent to which damage to the state's reputation on the national stage has been affected by issues that have nothing to do with the Senate's responsibility to pass a budget."
Abortion-related legislation has been a highly-talked about focus this legislative session, and Virginia legislators are now under a time crunch to pass a two-year, $85 billion budget before March 10.
If the budget is not passed, Virginia risks facing a government shutdown. Amid talks of abortion protests Monday, one senator reminded the chamber that public safety officials depend on state financing to do their jobs.
Bearing Drift used today's Senate discussions as an example to refute crticism that Republicans harp too much on social issues:
It’s Democrats that are holding social issues rallies. It’s Democrats who spend interminably long amounts of time on the floors of the General Assembly debating social issues. It’s the Democrats holding press conferences on social issues.
Republicans are talking about the budget. Democrats are talking about social issues.
* If politics ever fails, it looks like Gov. Martin O’Malley has a pretty solid back-up plan as a musician.
O’Malley’s Celtic rock band has been booked for a gig on St. Patrick’s Day in a Baltimore venue, The Creative Alliance at The Patterson.
The Washington Post reports that O’Malley’s semi-retired, seven piece band—O’Malley’s March—will be playing two shows at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 17.
The venue promises “a wild nite of traditional and original music, mad piping, championship fiddling and general misrule.”
* Maryland Financier John Delaney got a major endorsement Monday for his congressional run.
Former President Bill Clinton announced his support for Delaney, who is in a heated race with state Sen. Rob Garagiola for the Democrat nomination.
They are running to win Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s seat.
President Clinton released the following statement:
“John Delaney is a lifelong Democrat who has real life job creation experience, he’s a progressive business leader with a long record of civic activism and charitable causes. His commitment to equality, economic growth and fairness will make him an effective advocate for the middle class, a strong advocate for job creation, and a trusted ally for reform.”
The Virginia General Assembly tried to make right on the state’s past wrong today by agreeing to award Thomas Haynesworth almost $800,000 for serving 27 years behind bars for rapes he did not commit.
The Senate already passed a similar bill.
The Washington Post reported that in December, a Virginia’s Court of Appeals declared Haynesworth an innocent man, acknowledging he served years for a crime he did not commit.
Backed by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II and a pair of state prosecutors, it was determined that Haynesworth was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for groceries one afternoon in 1984.
* Loose Lips has a good primer on federal agents' raid of the home and office of big D.C. political backer Jeffrey Thompson.