There may have to be a new contender for “Sandy’s Favorite Democrat: Del. Sam Rasoul
Here is what (according to this report in the Roanoke Times – I actually owe a hat tip to Blue Virginia – it’s where I found it) Del. Rasoul has come up with and let me encourage him a bit to go a bit further:
Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, announced plans Monday for a slate of bills he described as good government proposals.
Rasoul said he’ll carry legislation in the new year to impose term limits on General Assembly members, adopt a “top-two” primary system and continue the pursuit of an independent redistricting commission.
Now I am not sure I am for the top-two primary system in that it can hinder small parties and independents and may weaken party strength. But it would open up a local political system like Hanover County where the GOP primary is tantamount to election and many like African-Americans and Democrats might feel disenfranchised due to their party affinity.
Still: It’s a great point to debate.
I also am intrigued by the independent redistricting commission. But I had a discussion with Senator McDougle and he persuaded me that redistricting must be done by those elected to do so. If you set up an “independent” commission, you have to see who sits on the commission and it moves the politics to the commission and that would be even less transparent (if that is possible!) than it is now! Again, good point to debate.
But the cream of the cream is the term limits – twelve years in each house and 24 years over all. (I would even consider eight years but any limit is better than none.
Now my fellow Republicans: Time to say YES to term limits. It has been a tea party favorite for years.
Del. Rasoul wants to open up the political system:
“We must give more power back to the voters and restore trust in politics,” Rasoul said in a statement. “The current system often results in little competition and choice for citizens, which does not give people the best representation and transparency.”
I agree 100% with Del. Rasoul’s intent.
Finally we have this juvenile sentencing bill that I am not sure about:
He previously filed HB 53, which would create a path to early release for certain juvenile offenders serving long-term prison sentences.
The bill would apply to juveniles who committed a crime other than homicide after parole was abolished in 1995 and who were sentenced to life in prison or to a term that would keep them incarcerated until after they were 60.
Those inmates would be allowed to petition a panel of judges for a change in sentence at age 35 or after serving 20 years, whichever comes later. Inmates convicted of homicide wouldn’t be eligible for consideration.
This is to forestall a potential change in constitutional law based on the case of Graham v. Florida, where the US Supreme Court said in non-homicide cases involving juveniles there cannot be life without parole but must be a “reasonable possibility” of release. The Virginia Supreme Court limited Graham by saying that the geriatric parole possibility in statutory law meets Graham’s constitutional muster.
Now I did not agree with the original Graham decision. Juveniles can and do commit heinous crimes. But studies do show that juveniles are more likely to take risky decisions and do not always understand the ramifications of their actions. And with European law trying to now say a life sentence is a human rights violation, I am not crazy about liberal sentencing laws. BUT, I can see perhaps a opportunity to show repentance but I would place it at 45 years of age or 30 years behind bars.
Sam Rasoul is a legislator of vision. Let me encourage him to at least introduce my political party defining bill that I called for recently in the Style Weekly (I just got the check for the article – yes I got paid – $125! Advocacy can pay!) and make it easier for ballot access.
Can thank Del. Rasoul for his advocacy at DelSRasoul [at] house.virginia.gov. Ask him NICELY to adopt the Sanders ballot access bill, too.
And urge your delegate and senator to sign on to this term limits bill. We can have term limits on the ballot by 2017 or 2018.
Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders