Thursday, December 30, 2004

Virginia Delegate Marian Van Landingham will not return to Richmond for the upcoming legislative session, leaving state Democrats with one less voting member in the House.

Miss Van Landingham, Alexandria Democrat, will be undergoing treatment for cancer.

House of Delegates Clerk Bruce F. Jamerson said yesterday that delegates must be present to have their votes counted, but Miss Van Landingham may submit in person or through the mail statements on her voting intent after a vote is held on the floor.

Mr. Jamerson’s office will provide her with a listing of the roll call for every recorded vote in the House. Miss Van Landingham then will mark how she would have voted on each legislative bill. Her intentions will be reflected in the House journal but will not be counted toward floor-vote totals.

“She’s not able to cast votes,” Mr. Jamerson said.

Miss Van Landingham sits on the powerful budget-writing House Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Militia, Police and Public Safety, and Privileges and Elections committees.

House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford County Republican who makes committee assignments, said Miss Van Landingham will keep her assignments even though she will not be present for committee meetings.

Miss Van Landingham, 67, has served in the House since 1982. She is the most senior of the House’s 12 female members and has long been one of the most liberal voices in the legislature.

An artist who helped found the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Miss Van Landingham is well-liked by her colleagues, who sent their best wishes for her health. She is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Miss Van Landingham also received chemotherapy during the legislative session two years ago.

“We just hope and pray for her recovery,” said Delegate Brian J. Moran, Alexandria Democrat.Mr. Howell said he is “terribly concerned” for Miss Van Landingham.

“She’s a wonderful person with a tremendous amount of integrity and character,” he said.

Mr. Moran, chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Democratic delegates will help Miss Van Landingham by carrying some of her bills on budget amendments.

He said he hopes her absence does not hurt the party, and noted that in most cases bills are not decided by one vote.

However, the House in May passed by a narrow vote a tax-reform package that increased the sales, cigarette and real estate taxes by $1.38 billion.

Including Miss Van Landingham, the Democrats hold 38 seats in the House, Republicans control 60 seats and there are two independents.

House Democrats gained a seat earlier this month when Paula Miller won a special election to fill a vacant seat that had been held by a Republican. Mrs. Miller will be sworn in next month.

Miss Van Landingham will not seek re-election in November, when all 100 delegates are up for election.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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