Transparency Virginia Issues Report
Monday, April 20th, 2015
A report released this week by Transparency Virginia, a coalition we joined during the General Assembly Session, shows that the legislative process in the Commonwealth lacks transparency and the average citizen is often kept in the dark about things like committee meetings, how legislators voted on certain bills and the process as a whole.
Transparency Virginia’s goal is to promote discussion about how to improve transparency in government, keep residents better informed and make participation easier. VPLC, along with 28 other nonprofit groups and associations, joined the coalition and spent many hours during the Session monitoring its proceedings.
Some key observations in the report:
- The House of Delegates either did not take a recorded vote, or any vote at all, on 76 percent of the bills that were killed in subcommittee or committee;
- 825 of the 1,892 House bills died in subcommittee or committee. But only 104 died with a recorded vote, while 513 died without a recorded voice vote and 117 died without any vote at all.
- 388 of 1,652 of Senate bills died in subcommittee or committee. Senate rules state that votes must be recorded, and the group found that 7 percent of bills died without a recorded vote or any vote at all.
- In terms of notice for committee meetings, the report stated, “too little notice will affect the debate when those who want to observe or participate in the discussion are not afforded enough time to attend.”
- Recording votes, according to the report, is “so fundamental that it is incredible it is not done consistently.”
Transparency Virginia did not name any specific legislators in its report because, “we would much rather work with legislators to make things better than to point fingers and have everybody pointing fingers at each other, said Anne Sterling, president of the League of Women Voters in Virginia.
VPLC will continue to work as part of this coalition to make the legislative process more transparent in Virginia. Since much of our work in the General Assembly centers around advocating for the rights of low-income Virginians, we do not want to be silenced by practices that make it harder for our voices to be heard.
Read our previous blog posts about Transparency Virginia: