CERTAINTY IN THE HOUSE – AT LEAST FOR NOW

January 10, 2018

Since the historic election in November, a host of subsequent recounts and several judicial rulings, questions regarding how the House would operate and who would be in control were largely answered last week, with Republicans holding a slim 51-49 edge to maintain control of the chamber and pave the way for Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) to be elected Speaker of the House.

Republican David Yancey was declared the winner over Democrat Shelly Simonds for the Newport News based 94th District seat after State Board of Elections drew lots to determine the winner of the contest that was tied at 11,608 votes each after a recount.  While Del. Yancey has been declared the victor, Ms. Simonds has the option to request another recount, which could extend this political drama several more days.

Also last week, a federal judge dismissed a motion from House Democrats to block the seating of Delegate-elect Bob Thomas (R-Stafford County) and order a new election in the 28th House District (Democrats argued that since some voters were given the wrong ballots, the election should be invalidated).  The federal court ruling could be appealed, but any such appeal is unlikely to stop the seating of Delegate-elect Thomas on the first day of the General Assembly Session.

While the Republicans continue to maintain their majority, the Democrats’ 15 seat pick-up as a result of the November elections ensures that the chamber and the standing committee structure will be radically different when the Session begins today, January 10th.  Republicans had enjoyed a 15-7 majority on standing committees.  It is likely that that the partisan division will move to a 12-10 split.  Below is analysis of each House committee, and the changes that have occurred as a result of the election:

Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
Delegate Danny Marshall (R-Danville) will continue as chairman with Delegate Charles Poindexter (R-Patrick) serving as Vice-Chair. The Committee lost one member (former House Majority Whip, Delegate Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) was defeated). Two additional Republicans will likely be removed from the committee, and three Democrats will be added.

Appropriations
The Appropriations Committee lost seven members (six of them Republicans) and three of the Committees’ six budget conferees.  The Republican losses included one to retirement (Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico), four to defeat during the election (Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico), Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun), Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), and Delegate Richard Anderson (R-Prince William), and one to a new role in the body (Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) will no longer serve on the Committee as a result of his ascension to the Speakership). The lone Democrat that will leave the Committee, Delegate Daun Hester (D-Norfolk), retired and will become the Treasurer for the City of Norfolk.  Three Republicans and four Democrats are expected to be added to the Committee.

Commerce and Labor
The Commerce and Labor Committee lost four Republican delegates: Delegates Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond), and Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) were defeated, and Delegate Peter Farrell (R-Henrico) retired. One Republican and three Democrats will be added to the Committee.

Counties, Cities, and Town
Republicans lost  Delegates Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) and Rocky Holcomb (R-Virginia Beach) to defeat, and Delegate Rick Morris (R-Isle of Wight) retired, which means the Republicans will not need to add or subtract members from the Committee, but it is entirely possible that the Committees’ Republican membership will change as the Committees get reshuffled.  Three new Democrats will be added to the Committee.

Courts of Justice
The Courts of Justice Committee will go through a major reshuffling with the loss of five members.  Chairman Dave Albo (R- Fairfax) retired as did Delegate Rick Morris (R-Isle of Wight).  Delegates Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond), and Randy Minchew (R-Loudoun), all November casualties. Current Vice-Chairman, Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle), will likely be the new Chairman.  Delegate Bell’s rise to the chairmanship leaves Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge County) as the likely chair of the Criminal Law Subcommittee. Two new Republicans and three new Democrats will be added to Committee.

Education
The Education Committee lost seven members, six Republicans – Delegates Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico), Tag Greason (R-Loudoun), Jim LeMunyon (R-Loudoun), Joseph Yost (R-Giles) and Mark Dudenhefer (R-Prince William) – and one Democrat, Delegate Hester (D-Norfolk). Republicans will need to add three members and Democrats will need four.

Finance
Three Democrats are expected to be added to the Finance Committee, while Republican membership currently sits at twelve with Delegates Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), Peter Farrell (R-Henrico), and Rocky Holcomb (R-Virginia Beach) not returning.  We believe it is likely that the current members of the Finance Committee, particularly on the Republican side, will change.

General Laws
The General Laws Committee lost seven members and its Committee Chairman, Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah County), will relinquish that position (and perhaps his seat on the committee) due to his new position as Majority Leader (the Majority Leader traditionally maintains only two committee assignments).  It is likely that Vice-Chair, Chris Peace (R-Hanover), will be named by the new Speaker as chairman.  Six other Republicans, Delegates Dave Albo (R-Fairfax), Rich Anderson (R-Prince William), Tag Greason (R-Loudoun), Jim LeMunyon (R-Loudoun), Joseph Yost (R-Giles), and Randy Minchew (R-Loudoun) and one Democrat, Daun Hester (D-Norfolk) are gone.  Four Republicans and four Democrats will be added to the committee.

Health, Welfare, and Institutions
Health, Welfare, and Institutions lost three Republicans, Delegates John O’Bannon (R-Henrico, who was also the Committee’s Vice Chair and a powerful voice on healthcare issues in general), Joseph Yost (R-Giles), and Peter Farrell (R-Henrico).   The Republican membership on the Committee stands at twelve. Three additional Democrats will be added to the Committee.

Militia, Police, and Public Safety
Militia, Police, and Public Safety lost two members – Committee Chairman Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) and Delegate Rick Morris (R-Isle of Wight). Current Vice-Chair, Delegate Tommy Wright (R-Amelia), is in line to assume the Chairmanship, but he has passed on the opportunity to be a chairman before, so it is unclear at this point what will happen.  As is the case with General Laws, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah County) may relinquish his seat on this committee as the new Majority Leader.   If he does not, one Republican will need to be removed from the committee, and three Democrats will be added.

Privileges and Elections
The Privileges and Elections Committee lost four Republican members – Delegates Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), Dave Albo (R-Fairfax), John O’Bannon (R-Henrico), and Randy Minchew (R-Loudoun).  As a result, Republicans will add one new member, and the Democrats should see a gain of three members to the Committee.

Rules
The Rules Committee is comprised of 15 members (11 Republicans and 4 Democrats). Rules is chaired by the Speaker of the House, with the Majority Leader serving as the Vice Chair.  If the Committee holds to that leadership structure, Delegates Cox would lead the Committee, and Delegate Gilbert would be added to the Committee to serve as Vice Chair.  There is one opening on the Committee due to Delegate Jimmie Massie’s (R-Henrico) retirement.  It is unclear as of now what the partisan split might be, but it is fair to surmise that the Democrats will have at least two and perhaps three new seats on the Committee.

Science and Technology
Science and Technology lost four Republican members, including Chair Richard Anderson (R-Prince William), and Delegates Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), Mark Dudenhefer (R-Prince William), and Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach).  The Chairmanship of the Committee is in doubt, but it is possible Vice Chair Roxanne Robinson could be named as the new chair.  One Republican and three Democrats will need to be added to the committee.

Transportation
Transportation lost five Republican members including chairman Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) and Delegates Richard Anderson (R-Prince William), Randy Minchew (R-Loudoun), Jim LeMunyon (R-Loudoun), and Mark Dudenhefer (R-Prince William).  At this point, it seems that Delegate Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg) will serve as the Chairman of the Committee, with Delegate Tim Hugo continuing as Vice-Chair.  We expect two Republicans and three Democrats to be added to the Committee.

A full list of the 2017 General Assembly Committee membership is attached. Highlighted members will not be returning to 2018 General Assembly.

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