Afternoon Read: Sunday Hunting Bills Die in Virginia General Assembly

Bill fails in House committee

The bill to lift the Sunday hunting ban in Virginia—which overwhelmingly passed in the Senate with much excitement—quietly and unexpectedly got spiked in the House.

According to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot,   

a subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources first voted 4-3 to turn down an amendment that would have limited Sunday hunting to military bases and, for young hunters, to wildlife management areas.

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Committee Chairman Lee Ware, R-Powhatan County, called for a vote on the entire bill. That also went 4-3 against, effectively killing it for the year.

From the Pilot:

"Sunday hunting in Virginia exists - just not with guns. This is nothing more than a slap in the face of the rights of property owners," said Joe Ficarra, a Virginia Beach hunter who two decades ago had himself arrested for hunting on Sunday in an act of civil disobedience designed to bring attention to the law. "Tell me how 40-some other states allow hunting on Sunday and they don't have any problems with this." 

Lee Tolliver, of the Virginian-Pilot, put the bill’s failure in perspective, saying  the bill likely stands a better chance of passing next year.

Proponents no doubt are upset that their efforts ended today.
But their Sunday hunting movement is like a cat with nine lives - it keeps coming back. The effort to open Sunday to hunting - only on private land with owner written permission, mind you - gained more momentum this year than in its history, sailing through the Senate before dying in the House.
That momentum will continue into future General Assembly sessions.

A Senate committee also rejected a bill Wednesday that would have would have prohibited court clerks from disclosing information contained in permit applications or in permits that had been issued.

That same bill easily passed through the House last week.

Despite the failure of these bills, gun activists had a legislative win this year with the repeal of the one-handgun-per-month ban.

The Washington Post reports that Grover Norquist—the nation’s leading anti-tax crusader—wrote a letter to Virginia senators accusing them of violating their pledge to not raise taxes when they voted on a pair of bills to increase the gas tax.

Norquist wrote:

“Increasing the gas tax by indexing it to inflation is bad business practice for Virginia. The transportation woes Virginia faces are not beacuse of the gas tax. Richmond has spent too much money; in other words, it’s a spending problems not a revenue problem.”

The senators, according to The Post, responded with a statement that didn’t really say much.

“As transportation proposals of the House and Senate will be negotiated in the coming weeks, our members are always appreciative of constructive input on the various proposals,’’ Jeff Ryer, a spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus, told the Post.

* District House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton walked out of a House contraception hearing Thursday after a judge rejected a request to let a female student testify.

After leaving, Norton told MSNBC that it was a “total rump, one-sided hearing.”

Rep. Carol Maloney (D-NY) also walked out of the meeting.

* United Medical Center is requesting an additional $15 million from District taxpayers to help with financing after the previous owner defaulted on its obligations to the city.

United Medical Center, which is owned by the District, wrote Mayor Grey Thursday requesting $9 million in direct funding and to forgive a $6 million loan, The Post reports.

* The Maryland House was set to reconvene at 5:30 p.m. to start the debate on legislation to legalize same-sex marriages in the state. It is still unclear to tell the governor has enough votes to get the bill passed. 

As of Thursday, two Republicans were reportedly planning to vote in favor of the bill. Read more here.

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