Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli preferred to sit rather then stand at an 8 a.m. coffee with members of the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce this past Tuesday. With one eyebrow raised, he illustrated sarcastically that “it’s been kind of a boring two and a half months.”
Now that the session is over, his office has to review every bill passed by the Senate and General Assembly for both constitutionality and conflicts with other state laws.
His office also took a hit from the budget ax, but Cuccinelli was prepared. However, he said he is still hiring because the Governor “keeps stealing people from me … he is a little too familiar with the Attorney General’s office.”
Prior to being sworn in he had to deal with the Jens Soering issue. Governor Tim Kaine attempted to transfer Soering back to Germany and “They were told it was a done deal,” said Cuccinelli. They dug deep and successfully stopped the transfer only to be surprised by the Department of Justice a few weeks ago.
Republican Senator Steve Newman of Lynchburg received a letter from the DOJ saying they may not honor the transfer revocation by now Governor Bob McDonnell. This could result in a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thinking about it for a second, Cuccinelli smiled, saying “it seems fair though since we’re suing them.”
Soering is serving two life terms at the Brunswick Correctional Center for the 1985 murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom in their Bedford County home.
Concerning environmental issues, Cuccinelli explained that Virginia, along with 13 other states, is suing the Environmental Protection Agency to “essentially redo the science.” He defined redo – “As if they did any science.” As an engineer he has very strong views on “what they did or rather what they didn’t do. The implications on jobs and cost of goods sold are enormous,” he concluded.
Cuccinelli called it an “accelerated version of cap and trade.” There’s no demonstrable gain to be had in environmental improvement.
He has petitioned the EPA to reopen the process denoting proof of “new information.” “Not answering is a common practice by the EPA,” observed Cuccinelli. He is now filing a notice of appeal as he took the newly released rules as a rejection of his petition.
On the healthcare lawsuit against mandated insurance coverage, Cuccinelli referenced the USA Today column by Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University. He said Turley pointed out that if Virginia loses the case it could be the end of federalism as we know it.
He expects the lawsuit to take several years but Cuccinelli says we’re in the “rocket docket” – the fastest court in the country but it will feel glacial to most people.
Cuccinelli said not to listen to those saying that “it is a slam dunk and we don’t have a prayer.”
Other issues the Governor and Cuccinelli’s office plans to address are improvement in veterans’ care and helping universities commercialize their intellectual property.
Cuccinelli will also pursue adding stronger property rights protection to Virginia’s Constitution. “There is no consistency on the application of eminent domain throughout Virginia,” exclaimed Cuccinelli.
He and the Governor “plan to rectify that” in the next legislative session. Growth is a good thing but there is a wide variety of aggressiveness by local governments and housing authorities. Cuccinelli said he’s observed that Southwest Virginia is the most aggressive in that regard.
Cuccinelli was not looking forward to the redistricting process. “It will be the first time that redistricting has taken place with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House,” according to Cuccinelli. In a voting rights state “it is actually a lot harder to get through redistricting.” He said, “You must gerrymander” in that the voting rights act requires racially sensitized districts.
In defense of the many lawsuits Cuccinelli has initiated, he reminded everyone of his campaign promise “to challenge any overreaching of the federal government.”