Legislative leaders

Published 10:42 pm Friday, April 10, 2015

Suffolk’s representatives have success in Richmond

By Janeal Downs

Capital News Service


As baseball season gets under way, here’s a question worth pondering: During the General Assembly’s recent session, who were the heavy hitters among state legislators from Hampton Roads?

Suffolk’s legislative team is well-represented on this all-star lineup.

At the top of the list, your fantasy team definitely should include Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg. He had a batting average of 0.833. Of the 24 bills Norment filed, 20 passed — more than any other legislator.

Delegate Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, also hit 0.833 but didn’t have as many at-bats. Jones sponsored 12 bills, and 10 passed.

Another consistent hitter was Sen. John Cosgrove Jr., R-Chesapeake. He had a batting average of 0.727 (16 of his 22 bills passed).

Norment, Jones and Cosgrove all represent portions of Suffolk.

Not far behind was Delegate Christopher Stolle, R-Virginia Beach. He hit 0.692 (that is, nine of his 13 bills passed). Then came Sen. Ken Alexander, D-Norfolk, with a batting average of 0.667 (10 of his 15 bills passed).

Capital News Service calculated the batting averages for every Virginia legislator using data from the General Assembly’s Legislative Information Service. CNS tabulated how many bills each lawmaker filed for the 2015 session and then computed what percentage of those bills passed.

Overall, the Senate had a batting average of 0.434: Of the 793 Senate bills introduced, 344 (or 43.4 percent) were approved by both the Senate and the House.

Hampton Roads’ senators were among the standouts. As a group, they hit 0.544 — passing 86 of their 158 bills.

Overall, the House of Delegates had a batting average of 0.404. At the start of the session, delegates filed 1,125; by the end of the session, 455 (or 40.4 percent) of them passed.

The House members from Hampton Roads didn’t fare so well. They introduced a total of 213 bills, and 77 passed — for a batting average of 0.362.

CNS looked only at bills, not resolutions, which are often ceremonial. The comparisons are admittedly simplistic. For example, some bills technically failed, but their ideas were incorporated into other legislation that got passed by the General Assembly.

Moreover, the analysis did not distinguish between bills that tackled controversial issues and bills that addressed mundane topics. Certainly, it’s easier to pass some bills than others.

Even so, the analysis revealed large disparities among lawmakers.

On the one hand were legislators like Delegates Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, and Matthew James, D-Portsmouth, and Sens. Mamie E. Locke, D-Hampton, and Frank W. Wagner, R-Virginia Beach. More than half of their bills passed. James represents a portion of Suffolk.

At the other extreme were legislators like Delegate Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg. He introduced 14 bills this session, and none of them passed.

Not all of the bills passed by the General Assembly have been signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The governor vetoed 17 bills and recommended amendments to 68 others. Legislators will reconvene in Richmond on Wednesday for their “veto session” to consider whether to overturn or uphold the governor’s actions.