RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe told fellow Democrats this week that he intends to veto about 20 bills, including one that would have allowed home-schooled students to play sports on public high school teams, according to two people familiar with his plans.
McAuliffe (D) spoke with Democratic legislators by conference call this week to share plans to veto the Tebow bill and a number of other Republican-sponsored measures, according to the two, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share the governor’s plans.
McAuliffe also plans to veto bills meant to tighten restrictions on voting and loosen them on guns, buck Common Core educational standards, undermine local “living wage” rules, and adjust House and Senate district lines.
McAuliffe seemed interested in hearing whether General Assembly Democrats, who are all up for reelection this year, had any concerns about his intended vetoes, the two said. With no pushback voiced during the call, it appeared that he would move ahead with the vetoes.
The package of expected vetoes will send a clear signal about McAuliffe’s agenda and his ideology as a liberal governor. And they will give McAuliffe and other Democrats a chance to flex their muscle for a change in Richmond, where Republicans have long dominated the House — and took narrow control of the Senate last summer.
Republicans have the numbers to override any vetoes in the House but not in the Senate. So after a session in which Democratic priorities including expanding gay rights and restricting access to guns died swift deaths at the hands of the GOP, Democrats will have some sway.
McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy declined to comment on the conference call, which was first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Coy also declined to discuss the governor’s plans, except to say that he will “act on a great number of them” on Thursday and Friday.
One of the bills McAuliffe seems prepared to veto is the Tebow bill, named for Tim Tebow, the former Denver Broncos quarterback who was home-schooled in Florida and allowed to play football at his local high school. Similar legislation has passed the House since 2005, only to die in the Senate.
In previous years, opponents have said it would be wrong to let children compete in sports without requiring them to meet the same academic and disciplinary standards required of students in public schools.
Rep. Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle), who sponsored the bill this year and in the past, sought to address some of those concerns this time around. Under his bill, students would have to demonstrate academic progress over two consecutive school years immediately prior to playing on a school team, comply with school immunization requirements and observe codes of conduct governing public school athletes.
McAuliffe is also expected to veto bills that require voters who apply for absentee ballots to provide a copy of photo identification, just as they must do when voting in person under a law passed last year.
Voter ID has been a highly partisan issue in Richmond and around the country in recent years, with Republicans arguing that tighter standards are needed to ensure the legitimacy of elections, and Democrats accusing the GOP of trying to suppress votes.
Also on the chopping block are bills intended to prevent local governments from requiring contractors to pay their employees a wage above the minimum required by state or federal law.
McAuliffe is also expected to strike bills that would prohibit the state Board of Education from replacing its own statewide educational standards, known as Standards of Learning, with federal Common Core standards. The Common Core standards have become a lightning rod for conservatives opposed to perceived federal “overreach.”
McAuliffe is also expected to veto several bills intended to expand gun rights, including one that would allow anyone who holds a concealed handgun permit to transport a loaded shotgun or rifle in a car on any public roadway.