As you can see, I’ve had my disputes with Governor McDonnell already this session, namely the baffling details of his transportation plan.
Having said that, I am giving him props today for his endorsement of the civil rights restoration measure, which is being carried on the Senate side by me and Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth). Passage of this constitutional amendment will automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons who have served their sentences.
The Governor’s statement on restoration of voting rights was an unexpected highlight in last night’s State of the Commonwealth speech and led to a rare burst of Democratic applause.
Hearing the “State of the Commonwealth” speech on the opening day of session is an annual rite for me dating back to January 2002, when I was first in the House of Delegates. Last night, I was sitting in my usual spot, in the back of the House chamber, to watch the Governor’s speech.
The Governor wrapped up at 7:55 pm, which gave me time to do a quick radio interview and be at the historic Governor’s mansion by 8:00 p.m. for the post-speech reception. Riley Ingram (R-Hopewell) and I were the first ones there to open up the people’s bar. (Gin and tonic with a lime, please). Most everyone, Republican and Democrat, stopped by the mansion to kick off the 2013 session.
Thanks to the Governor and Mrs. McDonnell for being great hosts last night.