Time To Expand Virginia General Assembly's Session?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Virginia's Capitolby The Green Miles

As another General Assembly session flies by with members often seemingly unclear on what they're voting on, the Washington Post's Robert McCartney says it's time to permanently extend the GA session length:
[L]awmakers acknowledge they feel rushed. The House of Delegates has limited the number of bills that an individual member can submit in years with brief sessions. (The maximum length of a session is 60 days in odd years and 90 in even ones.)

"The pressure is tremendous. It's a really difficult task to deal with the volume of legislation that we have, particularly in these short sessions," [Sen. R. Edward] Houck said in an interview.

Moreover, the limits on public hearings and debate make it easier for special interests to wield influence. It often happens that the key decisions on legislation have been made before the hearings take place, in conversations between legislators and lobbyists.
Lowell has also written on the need to extend session. And while we're at it, why don't we also:
  • Allow governors to serve two consecutive terms (Virginia is the only state in the country with a one-term limit) 
  • Raise General Assembly members' annual salary above the absurdly-low $17,640 (you shouldn't get rich of public service, but it shouldn't be a financial burden, either)
  • Ban the embarrassing practice of accepting unlimited gifts from lobbyists (and yes, I'd rather they just take a check than make it look like they can be bought off with Redskins tickets)
If you could change anything about the way Richmond works, what would you do?