- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

A two-term Virginia delegate who voted Wednesday against a budget amendment that gives pay raises to sheriff’s deputies said yesterday he made a mistake.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, a Prince William County Republican who is seeking re-election, sent reporters copies of a form on which he logged his intended vote. He handed the same form to the House clerk immediately after the amendment passed by a vote of 95-1.

Mr. Lingamfelter’s vote was the only one recorded against the measure. “I accidentally hit the ‘no’ button,” he said. “This was an honest mistake on my part.”

Mr. Lingamfelter, who is staunchly anti-tax, voted against all the tax increases that passed during the 2004 session. He also cast one of 30 votes against the state’s $60 billion budget, which included more money for law enforcement, citing his opposition to the taxes that funded the budget last year.

In his statement yesterday, Mr. Lingamfelter, 54, said: “I have and will continue to support pay increases for our law enforcement agencies.”

The amendment was the subject of a lengthy debate on the House floor Wednesday, when lawmakers reconvened to consider Gov. Mark Warner’s recommendations and budget amendments.

Mr. Lingamfelter’s “no” vote will remain on the permanent record, but his statement of intent to vote “yes” will be reflected in the House journal.

The journal, which details statements of intent from delegates who might have been absent for votes or didn’t vote for other reasons, is published each fall as a multivolume document.

“It doesn’t actually change their vote,” said Penny Cabaniss, journal clerk for the House of Delegates. “We don’t actually change their vote anywhere.”

Last year, a similar flap occurred when a Democratic delegate accidentally voted against a tax increase that the rest of his party supported.

Delegate Lionell Spruill Sr. of Chesapeake accidentally voted against the tax increase and later filed a statement of intent.

The “yes” vote for the tax increase is noted in the journal for last year.

Wednesday’s vote on the budget amendments had one major point of contention.

Mr. Warner, a Democrat, offered the $19.6 million amendment that included 15 separate spending items, including $3 million to give veteran sheriffs a raise. The amendment also increases the base salary of sheriffs, sheriff’s deputies and regional jail officers by 4.4 percent starting Dec. 1.

Lawmakers said they were irritated that Mr. Warner had included so many items in the amendment, which they had to vote up or down.

The amendment included $5.1 million for Mr. Warner’s economic development and tourism program, $1.2 million for the governor’s plan to subsidize a portion of school breakfasts and $3.2 million to help Philip Morris open a new research facility.

Delegate Johnny S. Joannou, Portsmouth Democrat, said Wednesday he was in a hard position because the amendment included items “I don’t like and a lot I do like.”

Delegate Ward L. Armstrong, Henry County Democrat, called it a “high-stakes game of chicken.”

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