BREAKING: Republican Virginia House Speaker Kills GOP Senate Gerrymander Scheme

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell (R)

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell (R)

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell (R) killed the Inauguration Day sneak attack by Senate Republicans who hoped to pass a massive mid-decade gerrymander. Howell ruled that the Senate’s amendment to a House bill making minor technical corrections to the House legislative maps were not germane, as it was a “vast rewrite” and would “stray dramatically” from the legislation’s original purpose.

When a Republican colleague requested a ruling on the amendment’s germaneness, Howell told his colleagues:

[Germaneness] prevents the presentation to the House of propositions that may not be reasonably anticipated, and for which they may not be properly prepared. A proposition of a narrow or limited scope may not be amended by a proposition of a more general nature… even though they might be related… I am going to rule that Senate amendments are not germane and out of order.

The Senate passed the controversial maps on January 21 on a party-lines vote. The measure passed 20-19 because Senator Henry Marsh (D), a legendary civil rights leader, was absent attending President Obama’s inauguration.


Virginia Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment blasted Howell’s ruling Wednesday, saying: “The entire Senate Republican Caucus is deeply disappointed by Speaker Howell’s unilateral ruling today.” Norment added: “The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus remains committed to correcting the egregious hyperpartisan [2011] gerrymander that has resulted in the current tortuously drawn Senate districts.” The “hyperpartisan” maps passed on a 32-5 bipartisan vote in 2011, with Norment voting for the maps.

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