- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

RICHMOND If you listen to state Sen. Thomas Norment and his fellow Republicans, you will hear that the number of resolutions honoring institutions, companies and people living and dead is out of control and had to be stopped.
If you listen to state Sen. Yvonne B. Miller, Democrat and sponsor of 40 of the 69 memorializing or commending resolutions on the Jan. 20 Senate calendar, Mr. Norment's maneuver to sidetrack those bills into a committee was a boorish show of Republican power.
Traditionally, those resolutions breeze through the House of Delegates and Senate in a block with near-unanimous support, unobstructed by the committee and subcommittee hearings that other bills face.
Resolutions formally recognizing notable achievements and milestones are niceties legislators can bestow on constituents. They salute high school sports championships, companies celebrating centennials, long years of public service or leadership in civic groups the list goes on and on.
But for every bill or resolution that comes before House and Senate, writers and editors who work for the division of legislative services have to draft, print and distribute copies to all 40 senators, all 100 delegates and clerks in both chambers.
Mr. Norment this month noted on the Senate floor twice that the number of bills and resolutions submitted to Legislative Services for drafting had already exceeded the 1998 record, and he appealed for his colleagues to scale back.
"I had been offering advice to senators not to be so productive. Then I looked at the calendar … and saw this extraordinary number of commending resolutions," Mr. Norment, James City Republican, said after the session. He showed reporters copies of the resolutions, a stack of papers about 1 and 1/2 inches thick, and said four or five other senators had remarked about the abundance of those resolutions as well.
"There is a cost to these resolutions. You have staff time involved because a staff person has to draft every one of these. You have to print them and you have to give one to every senator, and that has to be done all over again in the House," Mr. Norment said.
Legislative Services officials said they had no firm figures on the exact costs per resolution.
So when the 37 memorializing resolutions (those paying tribute to the dead) and 33 commending resolutions (those honoring the living) came before the Senate, Mr. Norment made a motion that they all be sent in a block to an uncertain future in the Rules Committee. It passed on a mumbled voice vote, largely on party lines.
He allowed only one resolution a commendation to Tazewell County on its bicentennial to come before the Senate, where it was passed on a voice vote.
Mr. Norment walked over to Miss Miller's desk and told her he was about to make his extremely rare motion. Tears welled in Miss Miller's eyes as she sat silently at her desk and wrote out a prayer asking God's help in quelling her anger over the incident.
She was the sole sponsor of 21 memorial resolutions, which generally lamented the passing of people who had been active in churches in her Hampton Roads district. The 19 commending resolutions were as varied as kudos for people who had been promoted to a plaudit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Virginia.
"This was all about the Republicans having power and using it," said Sen. Patricia S. Ticer, Alexandria Democrat and Miss Miller's desk mate.
Miss Miller said some of the resolutions had been requested by constituents or friends and others were her idea.
The maneuver was a conspicuous rift in the relative amity that had prevailed between the parties since the session convened Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of both the Senate and House for the first time.
Mr. Norment said his action was neither partisan nor aimed at Miss Miller. "This isn't a Democrat-Republican issue. This is a process issue," he said.
"We should be commemorating people who have accomplished something for the commonwealth of Virginia, and I don't think all of these people have done that," he said, holding the stack of resolutions.


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