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  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.