Richmond Times Dispatch Supports Keam-LeMunyon Legislation
GENERAL ASSEMBLY: On the Record
By Staff Reports | Times-Dispatch
Published: November 11, 2010
Last year Dels. Mark Keam and Jim LeMunyon introduced legislation that would make legislative voting histories available online. The measure passed the House but died in Senate committee.Keam and LeMunyon say they are bringing the measure back next year. That's good news for Virginia and the cause of open government.
One can understand why some members of the General Assembly don't necessarily love the idea.They cast a lot of votes that can easily be misrepresented. A lawmaker might vote against one good-government measure sponsored by the other political party, for instance, because there's another just like it in the pipeline sponsored by a member of his own party. But a single nay vote can enable a challenger to run half-true ads that bellow, "Senator Storpingoiter Voted AGAINST motherhood and apple pie!"
Still, the worth to the public of being able to see how a lawmaker voted vastly outweighs the concerns above: The voters can't judge the merit of a political candidate's pretty words if they can't see whether he voted according to his promises.
For the measure to provide optimum value, however, it will have to include not only floor votes and committee votes, but also the heretofore unrecorded subcommittee votes. While we're at it, we'll make another pitch for greater budget transparency, too. It shouldn't take an advanced degree in accounting to find out where your tax money goes.