Delegate Lee Carter’s right-to-work repeal died in crossover Friday, much like in the previous two years, but on Wednesday, Carter fought to give it one last chance. On the floor of the virtual House session, Carter raised a motion to discharge the bill from committee, a procedural move that would allow delegates to vote on hearing the bill in the House even though it had not been passed out of committee.
Carter said, “I’ve introduced this bill for the last three years running, and its fate in both previous years has been to die in crossover without a recorded vote on its final disposition.”
Death in crossover occurs when a bill is not voted on in committee by the deadline to send bills from one chamber of the legislature to the other. Carter is running for governor on a socialist platform. Right-to-work makes it illegal to make union membership a condition of employment.
Carter’s motion prompted expressions of surprise from House members. Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) asked a procedural question that allowed Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) to put the House at ease for about ten minutes. Immediately after the session resumed, Filler-Corn called on Democratic Caucus Secretary Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax).
Simon raised a motion to skip Carter’s motion, and Simon framed the vote as a procedural vote, not a vote on right-to-work itself. With that framing, delegates who voted to bypass Carter’s vote wouldn’t have to make a public statement on whether or not they support a right-to-work repeal.
Simon said that discharging a bill from committee was an unusual move that had not been done in recent memory. He told the delegates that the committee process exists for a reason, and that majority caucus leadership delegates authority to the chairs of the committees, allowing them to decide what bills they consider. Simon and House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) asked the delegates to vote to pass by Carter’s motion.
“There’s a way to get things done and there’s a way to make sure that bills get heard,” Simon said. “This is not the way we do business in this General Assembly.”
Carter responded noting that under a previous, Republican-controlled General Assembly session, House Democrats had used a similar procedural strategy to try to force a vote on the Equal Rights Amendment.
He said, “We as Democrats in this chamber treated the motion to pass by the rules change as equivalent to a motion to kill the substance of the resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. So Madam Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, I would encourage all of you to vote on the substance of the issue.”
The House voted with Simon, but 13 Democrats split from the party to support Carter’s motion. Notably, several Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor joined Carter: Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William,) Delegate Mark Levine (D-Arlington,) and Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke.)
Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) told The Virginia Star, “I think you’re seeing some of the most far left-wing candidates the Democratic Party has ever put forward in Virginia running this year.”
He said that Virginia Democrats want to repeal right-to-work. But he said, “They are smart enough to know in an election year it’s a bad idea. And so the Democrats that voted for repealing right-to-work on the floor, they’re just being very, very up front and honest about what they actually want to do.”
“A lot of Democrats are saying it’s a procedural vote,” he said. “They were making a politically expedient vote. They don’t want to have to run on this in an election year, but they want it.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Lee J. Carter” by Lee J. Carter. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Skip Plitt – C’ville Photography. CC BY-SA 3.0.