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Northam vetoes 8 bills, including 2 related to voter information

Photo: Gov. Ralph Northam / Twitter
Photo: Gov. Ralph Northam / Twitter(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 10, 2018 at 1:50 PM EDT
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Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed a flurry of bills Monday, including one to prohibit local governments from requiring contractors to pay their employees more than minimum wage.

House Bill 375, introduced by Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, passed the House and Senate on party-line votes during the General Assembly’s 2018 regular session. Northam said he rejected the bill because he believes employee wage and benefit decisions are best left to individual localities, pointing to differences in the cost of living and workforce factors.

“The ability of local governments to make this choice should be supported, not limited,” the Democratic governor said. “Decisions regarding municipal contacts should be made by local leaders who fully understand local needs and the needs of their workforce.”

HB 375 was one of eight bills Northam vetoed Monday. He also rejected:

, which would require local voter registrars to investigate the list of registered voters whenever it exceeds the estimated number of people age 18 or older in a county or city. The sponsor, Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain of Rockingham County, called the measure “a critical election integrity bill.” But Northam said it would unduly burden election officials and that Virginia already has a process to ensure accurate voter registration rolls.

• HB 1167, which would require jury commissioners to collect information from people who are not qualified to serve on juries and present that information to voter registrars for list maintenance purposes. “There is no evidence or data that jury information is a reliable source for voter list maintenance,” Northam said. He said using this information “could endanger the registrations of eligible voters and prevent them from successfully casting a ballot.”

• HB 158, which would allow the General Assembly to alter legislative districts outside the constitutional process so they correspond with local voting precinct boundaries. Northam said this would allow members of the General Assembly to adjust districts at their own discretion, threatening Virginians’ rights to equal apportionment.

• HB 1568, which would assign certain functions of the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority. Northam said he believes this is an unnecessary move.

• HB 1257 (

), which states, “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” Northam said the legislation “would force local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies. It also sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety.”

• HB 1270, which would forbid state participation in adopting regulations on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs. Northam said the bill would limit Virginia’s ability to tackle climate change and provide additional clean energy jobs.

, which would require Arlington County to assess two private country clubs there as land dedicated to open space rather than its current method of highest and best use. “This is a local dispute over a local government’s method of assessing land for property taxation,” Northam said. “As such, the solution to this dispute should be reached on the local level without the involvement of the state.”

The General Assembly will reconvene for a one-day session on April 18 to consider the vetoes and recommendations issues by Northam. It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a veto. Democrats hold enough seats in each chamber to prevent an override.

Statements about SB 521 from both Northam and Obenshain can be found in the 'Related Info' section.

 Northam Vetoes Election Integrity Bill

 SB521 Would Strengthen Voter Integrity
RICHMOND—Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) expressed his disappointment on the announcement from Governor Northam today on the veto of his election integrity legislation. SB 521 would have required local electoral boards to direct general registrars to investigate the list of registered voters whenever the number of registered voters in that locality exceeds the voting age population, based on the most recent population estimate of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia.
Obenshain said, “I am disappointed that the Governor would veto a critical election integrity bill.  There is nothing in this bill that is an onerous burden on localities.  It only requires a report.  Through an investigation and report, we may actually learn something.  Perhaps the census figures are incorrect; or the locality is growing extremely fast, or maybe the voting rolls are a mess and need to be cleaned up.”
According to census data in June 2016, there were eight localities where the total number of registered voters is actually greater than the voting age population.  Moreover, in fifteen other localities, the number of registered voters exceeds 95% of the voting age population of those jurisdictions.
Obenshain continued, “The integrity of our election system should be unquestioned. How can there be more registered voters in a locality than voting age adults?  Our system works only if voters have confidence that it is free, open and fair.  How can they have confidence if the voting rolls are so hopelessly out of date or clearly inaccurate?  They cannot.   I will continue to look for ways to strengthen the integrity of our electoral system here in the Commonwealth.”
 
Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate.  The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part). He is Chair of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and is Vice-Chair of the Virginia State Crime Commission.
 
 
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Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation that Would Threaten Reliability of Elections Information
RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 1167, which would require jury commissioners to collect information from people who are not qualified to serve on juries and present that information to local registrars for list maintenance purposes. Governor Northam’s full veto statement is below:
April 9, 2018
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1167, which would require jury commissioners to collect information from persons not qualified to serve as jurors for specific reasons and subsequently make that information available to the general registrar of that locality. The bill would also require the general registrars who receive this information to initiate list maintenance procedures.
My Administration is committed to protecting the right to vote and ensuring that Virginia elections are conducted with integrity. There is no evidence or data that jury information is a reliable source for voter list maintenance. Relying on jury information to maintain our lists could weaken the veracity of our voter rolls and thus our elections. Furthermore, this unreliable information could endanger the registrations of eligible voters and prevent them from successfully casting a ballot.
House Bill 1167 could harm qualified voters and undermine the democratic process in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Sincerely,
 
Ralph S. Northam

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