The Washington Post

Bolling sides with GOP in tie-breaking spree

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling seemed to come back to the Republican fold Tuesday with a flurry of tie-breaking votes in favor of stricter voter ID requirements and education reform.

A Republican, Bolling has broken with his party frequently since he quit the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in November and began exploring an independent bid for governor against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.

But Bolling was more in step with fellow Republicans on Tuesday, when the Senate plowed through dozens of bills ahead of a midnight deadline to get legislation out of the chamber in order to cross over to the House.

By mid-afternoon, Bolling had broken six ties, siding with Republicans every time.

Bolling broke a 20-20 tie to pass a bill requiring the state Board of Education to develop a letter grading system for individual school performance, advancing a key part of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s education reform package.

Bolling broke a tie on another McDonnell (R) education priority, helping to pass a bill that creates a state entity to take over failing schools.

Bolling also sided with Republicans to break a tie vote on a bill to make children living on military bases eligible to play interscholastic sports immediately upon enrollment in the local school district.

On Monday , Bolling had raised Republican ire by supporting a Democratic amendment intended to delay implementation of stricter voter identification rules.

But Bolling later made it clear that he supported the underlying bill, which would remove utility bills, bank statements, government checks and paychecks from the list of identification accepted at the polls. Bolling said he merely wanted to delay implementation of the stricter standard until from this July until July 2014 to give voters more time to adjust to the new rules.

On Tuesday, when the amended voter ID bill came up for a final vote, Bolling broke another tie — this time giving Republicans the vote they needed to pass it.

Bolling broke two more tie votes to pass an even stricter measure, calling for voters to present photo ID at the polls. Only a U.S. passport, student or work ID with photos, driver’s license or a newly created photo-bearing voter ID card would be accepted at the polls. The state would provide voter ID cards with photos free under the bill.

Since dropping his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nod, Bolling has come out against uranium mining in south-central Virginia, arming teachers, and the GOP’s surprise Senate redistricting plan. Last week, he came out in favor of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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