RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia House Democratic Caucus today called for a full floor vote on a bill that would amend the state’s constitution to create a nonpartisan re-districting commission.
According to House Rules, the Rules Committee can send a bill directly to the floor for a full vote “without specific recommendation.” The procedure has been used several times in the past on matters deemed by the Speaker to be of great public importance.
In a letter sent to Speaker of the House William J. Howell on Friday, House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano noted that after the last election cycle, Americans increasingly “believe our system is ‘rigged’ in favor of the powerful.” He requested that Howell send two proposed Constitutional Amendments, one sponsored by Del. Ken Plum of Reston and one sponsored by Del. Rip Sullivan of McLean, to the Rules Committee so that they could come directly to the floor for a full vote.
“Constituents want to know where we stand on re-districting reform and the only way they can find out is if we have a floor vote,” said Toscano. “A system that gives incumbent politicians the power to pick their own voters and draw political opponents out of districts is undemocratic and unacceptable. Voters should choose their elected leaders – but in Virginia, the opposite is true. Since both parties have been guilty of gerrymandering, both parties must fix it. I call upon Republican leadership to send these two amendments directly to the floor.”
“The system for electing our leaders forms the very core of government,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “Seventy-four percent of Virginians support giving control of re-districting to an independent board, and they deserve to know where their leaders stand on this fundamental issue of the franchise. We look forward to the Speaker’s response.”