Friday, March 5, 2010

Senate buries bill to make it easier for Virginians to see how they voted

Virginia State Senator John Edwards

In a phone call with Senator John Edwards Friday he said that, “there are only three other states in the whole country that actually do this.”

This morning the Senate continued HB 778 to 2011. The House passed HB 778 on a 86 to 13 vote. The bill would have require the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate to post on the legislative electronic information system (LIS) the recorded committee, subcommittee, and floor votes of each member of the General Assembly on legislation acted upon in each house.

A citizen could look up by representative to see how they voted rather than having to look at each individual bill either in the House or Senate.

Edwards did not second Phillip Puckett’s (D-Tazewell) motion to report the bill from the Rules sub-committee to the full committee. Puckett has “changed his position” since he made the motion said Edwards.

According to Edwards the Clerk of the Senate, Susan Schaar said this would take substantial staff time to comply with such a bill. In any case Edwards said the House could do this on their own administratively saying “you don’t need a bill … it sounded like the House was trying to tell the Senate how to run its own affairs.”

The Senate has its own website internally explained Edwards that is not available to the public. Edwards wondered why anyone would “want to look at the whole list” of bills and “aren’t people just interested in looking at one bill at a time.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, State Politics


Comments (2)

Megan Rhyne

March 5th, 2010 at 4:51 PM    

This was not a House vs. Senate matter. This proposal had to do with the Legislative Information System’s Web site (, which is run by a division of the General Assembly.

Their offices are on the 6th Floor of the General Assembly Building, and they just take the raw data fed to them by subcommittee and committee clerks, as well as the Clerks of the House & Senate, and feed it into an existing system.

In other words, the data already exists. This bill simply would have given LIS the authority to organize it in a different way so that citizens another way to sort, organize, research and study their representatives and their votes.

As it is now, only the political consultants have the time and money to parse the data….and then to spin it to fit their own agendas.


March 5th, 2010 at 5:42 PM    

A computer program written against existing data could present it on the website. I don’t think they understand that and I got the impression they just don’t like the idea.

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