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This is the least understood and least reported big issue in Virginia. Our state government is an all-powerful disaster zone. The normal checks and balances on a state legislature are:

1. Federal government.
2. State judiciary.
3. Local government.
4. The state constitution.
4. The voters themselves.
5. The executive branch – the governor.

The Virginia General Assembly has steadfastly marginalized the checks and balances of each of these outside entities with the partial exception of the federal government which the GA cannot control (although it tries – from Massive Resistance to Medicaid Expansion).

State judiciary – Virginia is the only state where state judges are directly elected by the legislature with no independent nominating or selection committees. What’s worse, practicing attorneys in the General Assembly elect and re-elect the very judges who decide their cases. Appalling.

Local government – strict Dillon’s Rule construct. Localities in Virginia are not allowed to determine the height of grass and weeds in their counties without General Assembly approval. No, I am not kidding

State constitution – The state constitution is routinely flaunted by the General Assembly. Virginia’s constitution requires that Congressional and state legislative districts be compact and contiguous. Take a look at the district outlines determined by the General Assembly. Do they look compact and contiguous? I guess somebody could appeal the districts to the state judiciary … oh wait, they are in the pockets of the General Assembly.

The voters themselves. Gerrymandering, off year elections, hardest state to get on the ballot as an independent, no term limits for legislators, America’s least competitive state elections, no recall elections, no voter initiated referenda … the voters have been marginalized.

The executive branch. Virginia is the only state in America where the sitting governor cannot run for a second consecutive term. Our governor is a lame duck on the day he or she is inaugurated.

Virginia’s problems stem from an over-powered, corrupt and unaccountable General Assembly.