The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Thursday, April 20, 2006

All Seven Kaine Vetoes Upheld

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

RICHMOND — Governor 7, General Assembly 0.

Virginia legislators failed to override any of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s seven vetoes during the legislature’s annual veto override session on Wednesday.

The one-day meeting was the final chapter in the 2006 regular session. Legislators continue to meet in a special session to hammer out a state budget and a fix for the state’s ailing road system.

One of the more controversial override votes concerned House Bill 1106, put forward by Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal.

As approved, the bill would have allowed drivers to keep a loaded gun in a locked glove box or other compartment of their car and still not violate the state’s concealed weapons law.

Kaine vetoed the bill, citing concerns it would allow for more weapons to be concealed and thus be a danger to law enforcement.

“When law enforcement groups say ‘We don’t think this is going to be the right thing for our troopers and deputies and police officers who are going to be stopping people on the road,’ I take that very seriously,” he said at a press conference outside the Executive Mansion.

Drivers can carry a gun without a permit, but the weapon must be kept in the open or out of the immediate reach of occupants.

Athey argued on the House floor that his bill was a common-sense expansion of gun rights — and would keep his family and other families safe.

The bill grew out of his personal experience, he said. When the delegate and his wife, who is also his legislative aide, come to Richmond, they’re packing heat.

“There are many areas of Richmond [that] are safe,” he said. “[The Capitol and its legislators] happen to reside in one of the unsafe areas of Richmond.”

It’s also a safety issue for drivers who might be involved in accidents.

“Arguably, it would be safer [to keep a gun] in that automobile under lock and key,” he said. “[The bill] protects my children, and your children.”

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said Kaine’s opposition may be because the governor misread the bill.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he said before the vote. “This is not going to affect your ability to keep guns in” the reach of a car’s occupants.

But some members of the Richmond delegation reacted strongly to Athey’s stated fears of downtown Richmond.

“I cannot listen to the argument for this bill again without standing up for my city,” said Del. Dwight C. Jones, D-Richmond.

“Richmond is not Dodge City, it is not the OK Corral,” he said, drawing some applause. “Richmond is a great city. Crime is a scourge that is universal. Crime does not just exist in the city of Richmond.”

A total of 61 delegates voted to override the veto, but the Virginia Constitution requires 66 of the 99 current members, along with two-thirds of the Senate, to force the bill to become law over Kaine’s objection.

Other vetoes sustained in the House on Wednesday would have shifted a number of appointments from the governor to the assembly.

Kaine said in his veto message that he would be willing to talk about shifting power in Capitol Square, but only as part of a deal that gives governors the chance to serve two consecutive terms.

Griffith said he had expected an amendment from Kaine — that would have tied the shift to a two-term constitutional amendment — to start the process.

“If you truly want to move to two terms, you’ve got to put this in place first,” he said.
Del. Leo Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach, expressed consternation that the legislature will continue to have no input to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The whole point of the bill was “to give this body some input into the operation of the [board], which … has been ignoring us for years,” he said.