Agus Tornabene ’19
Students in Dr. Jordan’s Government classes traveled Wednesday to the Virginia State Capitol to see the State legislature at work. They arrived early enough in the morning to
see the legislative committees at work on matters ranging from Agriculture to Appropriations.
Some of them were also able to catch some press briefings, including one on the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Virginia Senate. It was the sixth time the Senate passed the ratification, and although the House of Delegates has never reciprocated, Senate Democrats expressed their hopes that this time would be different.
After a lunch in the State Capitol Cafeteria, the groups split up to watch either the House of Delegates or the Senate. There was very little voting being done that afternoon, as most of what legislators did was introduce visitors who were in the Visitors Gallery. Most of those introduced were interest-group representatives advocating for causes one would expect to see in a State legislature barring the one legislator who introduced a representative for “We Love Bees Virginia” whose love for bees was apparently infectious.
The House of Delegates entered into a recess mid-session, so everybody went to the Senate. The House of Delegate’s recess was not all that bad because, fortunately, the Senate was just about to debate a bill that would amend the Constitution of Virginia to allow governors to run for two terms instead of the single non-renewable one they are allowed today. After several minutes of debate between the Senators during which topics as varied as the balance of power and campaign finance reform came up, the bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 22-19.
After the vote, students gathered in the old room where the House of Delegates used to meet to listen to Jeff E. Schapiro, a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch who had been a colleague of Mr. Geiger – whose Journalism class traveled with the Government classes. Mr. Schapiro briefly lectured a bit on the changing nature of Virginia State politics before answering a couple questions by students. He mentioned that students were fortunate to have seen the debate in the Senate, because, “you saw Virginia do what it does best: say no to progress!”