By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
WEEK IN REVIEW: Virignia is starting to look more like Washington and welfare recipients can spend their monthly stipends on lap dances and booze.
Virignia is starting to look more like Washington, D.C. after a game-changing power grab in the state Senate.
Welfare recipients in the Old Dominion can bypass restrictions and spend their monthly stipends on lap dances and booze.
And a delegate’s plan will arm land-owners against land-use restrictions. The governor, meanwhile, remains silent on whether he will automatically restore rights to non-violent felons.
This is your week in review.
There are a few things any Virginian who signs up for welfare benefits can’t legally buy with the assistance money — lottery tickets, alcohol, tobacco and sexually explicit materials.
Purchases at places like ABC liquor stores, tattoo shops, strip clubs and casinos are off limits, too.
But it’s all an honor system when it comes to spending those tax dollars.
A welfare recipient can illegally spend his $257 monthly stipend on his pre-paid MasterCard debit card on lap dances and booze at a local strip club, with zero accountability.
From Lynchburg to Norfolk to Rappahannock, local officials are heaping dirt on a bill that would expose them to costly citizen litigation in zoning and land-use disputes.
Most radically, HB1219, by House Delegate Bob Marshall, would strip city and county ordinances of the presumption of constitutionality.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe remains silent on whether he will automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons.
Despite campaign promises, McAuliffe has made no formal announcement about whether he will continue the automated process that former Gov. Bob McDonnell set up in the final months of his administration.
In what Republicans called “a Virginia version of Harry Reid‘s nuclear option,” Democrats invoked new rules giving them control of all state Senate committees.
With Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam casting the tie-breaker Tuesday, the evenly split Senate was reorganized on a 21-20 vote.
Republicans branded it “a day of outrageous power grabs.”
The political landscape is changing, and not just because the makeup of Virginia’s governing bodies now reflects Washington, D.C., with Democrats controlling the executive branch and Senate, and Republicans controlling the House.
“The likely result will really be something like we see in Washington,” said Geoff Skelley, a political analyst with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics in Charlottesville.
In a nutshell, expect more gridlock. And expect more policy plays from the executive branch.
A list of 2,261 “duplicate voters” in Chesterfield County boiled down to 468 names eligible for cancellation.
Registrar Larry Haake came under fire for refusing to purge ineligible voters before the November election.
Two groups, True the Vote and the American Civil Rights Union, threatened to sue Haake if he did not act.
Haake defended his delay, saying an initial perusal of the state-generated list found at least 17 percent of the voters were, in fact, eligible to cast ballots in the Richmond suburb.
Contact Bre Payton at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Bre_payton.