Video: Virginia Del. Mark Levine Announces Bipartisan "Transparency Caucus"

Saturday, January 16, 2016

by Lowell

See after the "flip" for the press release explaining what the "Virginia Transparency Caucus" - put together by Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria, Arlington) and State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield)" - is all about. I particularly like their commitment to "make public all subcommittee and committee proceedings in which their bills are debated," and would hope that other Senators and Delegates would do the same! Also check out the video of Del. Levine announcing it from the Speaker's chair, minutes after taking the ceremonial oath of office. Good stuff, and badly needed, given the "legalized corruption" (as Mark Levine has called it) that's rampant in the Virginia General Assembly, with big corporations like Dominion Power essentially purchasing our legislature (and regulatory bodies) to their own, often not-in-the-public-interest ends.

Freshmen Legislators Announce Virginia Transparency Caucus
Delegate Mark Levine and Senator Amanda Chase to Spearhead Bipartisan Effort

RICHMOND - Today, two Freshman Legislators in the Virginia General Assembly formed the Virginia Transparency Caucus to make proceedings in the Virginia Legislature more open to the public.

In-coming Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) and in-coming Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) could not be more different ideologically. Democrat Delegate Levine hails from liberal Alexandria Virginia, while Republican Senator Chase represents conservative Chesterfield County. Both won contested multi-party primaries that neither was expected to win. Yet despite their differences in party, ideology, and geography, both share a passionate concern for openness in Government.

Levine and Chase do not believe the public recording of proceedings on the Floor of the House of Delegates and Senate suffice. Woodrow Wilson famously wrote in 1885, “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.” The same could be said about the Virginia General Assembly. The most important work in debating, amending, approving, and rejecting proposed legislation occurs in committee and subcommittee rooms. Yet much of this vital work is never recorded. Although the hearings are public and some records are kept, the vast majority of the press and public do not get essential details as to why legislation is approved or discarded by their elected representatives.

Chase and Levine seek to change this pattern by bringing a ray of sunlight into committee proceedings. They are making a commitment to make public all subcommittee and committee proceedings in which their bills are debated so as to fully inform their respective constituents as to exactly what happened on each piece of legislation they have proposed.

Chase and Levine call on their colleagues, Republican and Democratic, in both the Senate and House of Delegates, to join them in their efforts. The default standard should always be openness. The public has a right to know what their elected representatives are doing.