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The Examiner: 1,000 bills await action from McDonnell Print


Created:  Thursday, April 5, 2012  6:51AM

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's signing hand is in for a workout over the next few days.

Nearly 1,000 pieces of legislation still sit on McDonnell's desk and he has until Monday to decide which ones he'll sign, amend or veto -- or allow to become law because he took no action at all. Among them are some of the more controversial bills to pass the Republican-controlled legislature this year.

McDonnell has yet to weigh in on a bill that forces local governments to allow public workers to keep guns in their vehicle while at work, or a measure that toughens the photo identification requirements for voters. Another bill allows faith-based adoption centers and foster care agencies to discriminate against gay parents.

Del. Bob Marshall, a Manassas Republican and candidate for U.S. Senate, has repeatedly called on McDonnell to act on his bill banning state and local agencies from assisting the federal government in detaining indefinitely citizens suspected of terrorist activities.

"Each bill passed by the General Assembly goes through the same review process," McDonnell spokeswoman Taylor Thornley said. "As we are nearing the bill review deadline, the governor is spending each day reviewing the bills that remain to be acted upon."

If history is any indicator, McDonnell is likely to sign most, if not all, of those bills. Of the 1,616 bills to pass the legislature this year, McDonnell has signed 650 and vetoed none. Since taking office, McDonnell has used his veto power sparingly, rejecting just five bills over three years.

Former Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, issued 12 vetoes in 2009 alone.

Some of the bills awaiting action are part of McDonnell's legislative agenda and are expected to be signed by Monday's deadline. That includes a school voucher-like program that provides $25 million in tax credits to businesses that provide scholarships to low-income students to attend private schools, and a bill that bans state funds from being used to build the Dulles Metro rail project if union labor is used to construct it -- an issue that has been holding up budget negotiations.

Del. Patrick Hope, D-Alrington, said he was surprised by the "logjam" of bills that remain in the governor's hands, many of which overwhelmingly passed the legislature.

"I don't know how much political calculation they're taking into signing the bills," he said. "If he's on the short list of people for vice president, maybe that's a factor."