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Morning Read: Pressure Mounts For VA Dems To Pass Budget

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With no signs of the partisan showdown in the Virginia Senate coming to an amicable ending anytime soon,  pressure is mounting for at least one Democrat to vote yes for Gov. McDonnell’s proposed 2 year, $85 billion budget.

    The Democrats are said to be using their leverage in the evenly split Senate in the hopes of exchanging their “yes” votes with Republicans for a restructuring of certain Senate committees to give them more power.

    With two failed budget votes, the parties are at a stalemate, and neither side is budging. The Senate has until March 10 to pass a budget.

    Ten days away from the deadline to avert a government shutdown, the ramifications of a budget-less government are starting to sink in.

    The Washington Post reported that Virginia’s police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors sent letters to legislators urging them to pass a state budget so they can receive the funding needed to protect residents.

    A state shutdown because we do not have a budget will not allow public safety in Virginia regardless of the color of uniform to provide for the protection and security of the people we have sworn to serve,’’ writes Galax Chief R.C. Clark, Jr., who serves as president of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

    "Any delay in actual funding could severely limit our ability to perform our core functions investigating and prosecuting criminals and serving crime victims,’’ said David Grimes, president of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.

    On Wednesday Gov. McDonnell issued a statement urging the Democrats to pass the bill, calling their moves “unprecedented” and “unacceptable.”

    "For seven weeks I have repeatedly asked Senate Democrats publicly and privately for their input and ideas on the biennial budget. I have held numerous meetings with them. The response has been near silence. Instead, Senate Democrats have repeatedly made clear that their objections to the budget are not based on policy, but politics. They want more seats on committees and more power. They appear willing to jeopardize the timely payment of the salaries of our teachers and police officers, the services our senior citizens depend upon, the resources our universities need to operate, the budgets of local governments, the funding for our prisons and hospitals, and the entire state budget to gain more power. They have put political goals of 20 individuals ahead of the collective policy needs of 8 million Virginians.

    There is a time and a place for politics, but the elections are now over. When we gather in session on Capitol Square, Virginians expect us to put politics aside and do what is right for the Commonwealth as a whole. Today, Senate Democrats owe an explanation to all Virginians as to why they are willing to risk an entire budget because of their own partisan desires."

    The Democrats response, Via the RTD:

    "The voters elected 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats, but the Republicans have chosen to dominate all positions of power, all committees save one and even all subcommittees, and we've seen the result," said Sen. Janet. D. Howell, D-Fairfax.

    Bearing Drift had this to say about the budget:

    So there you have it, Virginia: there is no two-year state budget.

    And all because Senate Democrats want power.

    Not because they think the commonwealth’s spending priorities should be different, or even because taxes may not be high enough to meet some of those demands.

    But because they want, more than anything else, to have more committee seats and chairman’s gavels.

    * The District Council voted to get rid of hurdles that make it unusually difficult for citizens to legally obtain guns in D.C.

    The legislation eliminates the five-hour training requirement for gun ownership and gets rid of ammunition restrictions for registered gun owners.

    According to The Washington Times, under current law residents face up to a year in jail for possession of any ammunition that is not in the same caliber or gauge as the registered gun.

    And in a seemingly bizarre aspect of the proposal, the bill will allow the mayor to act as a gun dealer in the event that the District’s only licensed broker goes out of business.

    Via The Washington Times

    The liberal council is overwhelmingly anti-gun, but it is feeling the heat from pending court cases and a newly Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

    With violent crime up 40 percent this year so far, more D.C. residents are likely to want a pistol to protect themselves. The good news is that it should be easier to get one by summer. If the full council passes the final bill in April, it would take effect after a 60-day congressional review period.

    * Gov. McDonnell signed a bill that would require Virginia radiologists to provide information abut bone density to patients after mammograms.

    The legislation comes after legislators learned that mammograms miss about 40 percent of cancers in women with dense breast tissue.

    The bill goes into effect in July.

    *Maryland legislators in the Senate Judicial Proceedings are considering a bill that would prohibit discrimination against transgender people.

    Talk of the bill comes just weeks after the General Assembly passed a bill to legalize same sex marriages.

    Via The Washington Post:

    At a lengthy hearing on Tuesday, transgender residents of Maryland told senators of being fired, harassed or denied promotions because of their gender identity. Baltimore resident Jenna Fischetti said she lost her job at a luxury car dealership a few days after a co-worker, who knew Fischetti as a male, saw her dressed as a woman. “There’s no excuse for that. Absolutely none,” Fischetti said.