- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has to make many decisions between now and Monday the deadline for him to veto, sign or amend legislation passed during this year's General Assembly.
The legislation includes outlawing "partial-birth" abortion, requiring minors to receive parental consent before getting an abortion, prohibiting illegal aliens from obtaining new driver's licenses and requiring illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the state's public universities.
Mr. Warner's spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said yesterday that the governor could begin making announcements on some key legislation today. Mr. Warner is expected to decide on the high-profile issues such as abortion and driver's licenses later this week.
During his first session last year, Mr. Warner, a Democrat, vetoed one bill, which outlawed partial-birth abortion. Lawmakers were not able to override the veto. A similar bill passed the General Assembly this year, but supporters say they hope they will have the votes to override a veto.
If Mr. Warner vetoes a bill, a two-thirds majority is necessary to override. In the 100-member House, it takes 67 votes to override. In the 40-member Senate, 27 votes are needed. If he amends a bill, lawmakers will consider the changes during a reconvened session April 2. They can reject his changes with a simple majority.
As a result of two special elections in the Senate, state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli Jr. and state Sen. Jay O'Brien, both Fairfax County Republicans, hold the seats of lawmakers who voted last year to uphold Mr. Warner's veto. Both lawmakers ran on a pro-life platform and have vowed to vote to override a veto.
The partial-birth abortion bill was sponsored by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Manassas Republican. It passed the House 76-20 and the Senate 29-11.
At the end of the session last month, Mr. Warner told reporters that he expects to use his veto power more this time around. Likely targets of a veto would be some of the abortion-related measures such as the parental-consent bill.
The parental-consent measure passed the House 74-24 and the Senate 30-9. Mr. Warner has said the bill is not necessary.
Others disagree. "This important piece of legislation will save the lives of 6,000 boys and girls in the state each year," said Delegate Richard H. Black, Sterling Republican, who sponsored the bill.
State law requires minors to tell a parent or guardian if they want to obtain an abortion, but it doesn't require them to obtain permission. Proponents of the measure argue that the parental-notification provision is rarely enforced.
Another bill before Mr. Warner would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to sell license plates with a "choose life" slogan on them. The measure passed the House 57-37 and the Senate 25-14, falling short in both chambers of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
The measure would allow proceeds to benefit programs that promote adoption. Any agency that simultaneously promotes and advises on abortion would not be eligible for funds.
Opponents of the measure say the bill is one-sided and unconstitutional. Other slogans, such as "pro-family, pro-choice" and "support adoption" failed in committee.
Miss Qualls said Mr. Warner is reviewing the legislation. She said he is concerned about using license plates for political purposes but recognizes that the program is popular with drivers who want special plates.
The Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has promised a court challenge if Mr. Warner signs the bill.
"The government has a right to its own opinion, but in a public forum whether it is a demonstration in a park or a message on a license plate the government must allow all viewpoints, neither excluding those they oppose nor preferring those they support," said Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia ACLU.
State Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, said he would defend any court challenge. Similar plates are available in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing a challenge to the South Carolina plates.
Mr. Warner will also have to determine the rights of illegal aliens.
Lawmakers in both chambers passed two bills one requiring illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the state's public colleges and universities, and the other denying them new driver's licenses. Both bills were passed by vetoproof margins.
The tuition bill passed the House 88-10 and the Senate 27-13. The driver's license legislation passed the House 86-12 and the Senate 30-8.
Mr. O'Brien and Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax Republican, sponsored legislation that would require foreign nationals to prove they are here legally before they can obtain driver's licenses. The bill affects new licenses, not renewals.
Peter Gadiel, whose son was killed in the World Trade Center attack, testified several times in Richmond in support of the measure, saying it is necessary to prevent tragedies such as September 11.
"The terrorists who flew those planes had fake Virginia and Florida licenses. We need to make sure that no more of our loved ones are killed this way," said Mr. Gadiel, a board member with the Survivors of 9/11 Coalition. His son James was a 2000 graduate from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.
"It goes beyond my ability to comprehend why the governor would veto such legislation," he said yesterday.
If Mr. Warner approves it, a foreign national applying for a new license after Jan. 1 would have to present a document such as a visa or green card. The license would be valid for the length of time the person is in the country legally.

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