The Rules committee of the Virginia House of Delegates refused today to vote on a proposed rules change that would give House members five days to review state budgets before voting on them.
Del. Raymond E. Vickery (D-Fairfax) said he sponsored the proposal because the House approved last year the 1976-78 budget the same day it was presented to members after approval by the House Appropriations Committee. A miscalculation in the budget resulted in a projected $220 million revenue deficit (since reduced to $102.6 million. Legislators are now trying to correct the error.
"It becomes very difficult to defend a budget process where (the budget) is voted on the Esame afternoon it is introduced," Vickery told? the seven committee members.
But the committee said it objected to the bill because under the state Constitution the legislature is supposed to meet only 30 days in odd-numbered years and Vickery's rule change would possibly force an extended session, which is likely to happen even without the change. A tity of the full legislature can extend the length of the annual session.
The rules change had been endorsed last night by the House Democratic Caucus.
The Rules Committee defeated another Vickery measure that would allow any House member to attend all legislative committee meetings.
Rules Committee members said the change would eventually force committees to open their meetings to the public, would restrict their power to eject unruly House members and would prevent open discussion of confidential matters such as personnel and salaries. Rules panel members who opposed the measure were all committee chairmen.
Vickery said he will introduce both rule changes in the full House on Thursday.
Earlier today, Del. Ira M. Lechner (D-Arlington), a candidate for lieutenant governor in June's Democratic Primary, ended the first leg of his 280-mile hike across Virginia to publicize his bill proposing mandatory sentences for repeat felony offenders.
Lechner said he traveled about 160 miles from the North Carolina border since his walk began Jan. 3. Lechner told reporters his bill was praised by people he talked to along his route, many of them crime victims.
"When tye (police) catch 'em (criminals), they don't seem to nothing to 'em," Lechner said people told him.