Richmond, Va, 6 FEBRuary 2013: Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) today issued the following statement regarding the ruling by Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) on the germaneness of the Senate’s amendments to House Bill 259:
“The entire Senate Republican Caucus is deeply disappointed by Speaker Howell’s unilateral ruling today. We considered potential objections related to germaneness prior to acting on House Bill 259, and found previous precedents, including the passage of House Bill 5005 in 2011 and House Bill 1427 in 2004, to be definitive and on point.
“In the two weeks since a germaneness objection was raised, we consulted with constitutional law experts and outside counsels familiar with the legislative process and precedent in the Virginia General Assembly. All have confirmed that our original determination regarding germaneness was correct, and that the Senate substitute to House Bill 259 is indeed germane.
“In this instance, however, it is not our judgment or reading of precedent that determines the fate of House Bill 259. Making this decision is solely the Speaker’s prerogative. And although we may consider this decision to be in error, we have no choice but to respect his authority to make it.
“The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus remains committed to correcting the egregious hyper-partisan gerrymander that has resulted in the current tortuously drawn Senate districts. We remain committed to adhering to the Voting Rights Act and to creating a sixth majority-minority district as required under it. We remain committed to reuniting communities of interest across the Commonwealth by instituting districts that are compact and in keeping with Virginia’s traditional redistricting standards. We remain committed to adhering to the principles of 'one-person, one-vote' and to correcting the inequities of the current district lines. And, we are committed to ending the gratuitous and unnecessary dividing of counties, cities and towns in Senate districts across Virginia.
“While the Speaker’s judgment today means that House Bill 259 will not be promptly enacted, we are confident that the districts approved by the Senate on January 21 will be the districts under which the 2015 elections will be conducted.”