A Virginia House of Delegates committee approved a bill today that would permit political candidates to be identified by party on general election ballots.
Del. Richard R.G. Hobson (D-Alexandria), patron of the bill, said he hopes the 9-to-5 approval by the House Privileges and Elections Committee will lead to early approval by the entire assembly.
The party designation bill passed both House and Senate last year by wide margins, but was vetoed by Republican Gov. John N. Dalton. If the assembly approves the bill more than seven days before the end of its session, it will have an opportunity to override a Dalton veto.
There is no provision in the Virginia Constitution for overriding vetoes after an assembly session ends.
Party labels on ballots were prohibited by the old conservative organization headed by the late Harry F. Byrd Sr. to weaken partisan political influence in state elections.
Virginia law also does not provide for registration of voters by party, a situation that allows Republicans, Democrats and independents to vote in the primaries of either party.
Another Hobson bill would have required voters to state their party affiliation if challenged at a polling place in a primary, but it was defeated by the same committee, that killed his other bill.
A constitutional amendment proposed by Del. Raymond E. Vickery Jr. (D-Fiarfax) to give greater powers to local governments also was rejected by the committee.
Virginia courts follow a rule of law that allows local governments only those powers expressly granted by the assembly. All other powers are reserved for the state government, a point that irritates many local government leaders.
In a recent application of this rule, the Virginia Supreme Court overturned collective bargaining agreements between local governments and public employe unions because the General Assembly has never specifically authorized collective barganing for public employes.