Wednesday, on the first day of the 2018 General Assembly Session, the Virginia House of Delegates passed their rules governing the legislative body. In an effort led by the Virginia Transparency Caucus (VTC), which was founded by then-Freshmen Delegate Mark Levine and Senator Amanda Chase in January 2016, the House of Delegates will for the first time in 2018 require all votes in subcommittees be recorded. “This is a victory for transparency and open government for the people of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Chase.
Prior to 2018, when votes in subcommittee were not recorded, residents were unable to see how their elected representatives voted on bills that failed to move forward in the legislative process. “By having these votes recorded, members will now be responsible for all legislative actions they take. No more will bills be killed in secret without any accountability,” said Delegate Levine.
This is the second major victory brought to the General Assembly by the Virginia Transparency Caucus for the 2018 Session. The other will be the full live streaming and archiving of House and Senate committee hearings for the first time in Virginia history. The VTC achieved this milestone last year by circulating among Senators and Delegates a letter that was signed by more than 60% of the 140 members, a majority in both chambers.
Starting this year, anyone with access to the internet can watch proceedings of full committees both as they happen live and after the fact. Citizens will no longer have to come to Richmond to follow legislation as it goes through the process or wait with a delay as a bill’s status is updated online.
There is still work to do to increase transparency in our legislature, and the VTC will continue to be a champion of these causes. The next step will be to insist that all subcommittee meetings be live streamed and archived. VTC supports full transparency for subcommittees as well as full committees.