Death penalty, Planned Parenthood funding debated during state ‘veto session’

Posted at 7:57 AM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 07:57:30-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia lawmakers will reconvene at the state Capitol on Wednesday to debate several bills Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed this General Assembly session. The Democratic governor vetoed a total of 32 bills passed by the Republican-led state House and Senate.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers in the Virginia House and Senate passed bills that directed the Department of Corrections to use the electric chair to execute death row inmates when there was a shortage of the drugs used to carry out the lethal injection.

Supporters of HB 815 said it was a necessary move because states across the country have struggled to obtain lethal drugs used in executions.

The governor does not believe the electric chair is a viable options for Virginia.

Under his amendment, if a shortage of the lethal injection drug occurred, Virginia would then contract with pharmacies to create a similar lethal drug to be used in the execution.

"There is no justification for a bill that carries such horrific consequences," Gov. McAuliffe said. "I personally find it reprehensible. We take human beings, we strap them in a chair, and then we flood their bodies with 1,800 volts electricity, subjecting them to unspeakable pain, until they die."

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said Republicans may have a chance to override the governor’s veto.

“Can he keep the Democrats together?” Holsworth asked. “Many Democrats believe that if this drug is used the company that produced it should not remain secret.”

Another hot-button bill is HB 1090 – the Republican-backed defunding of Planned Parenthood that McAuliffe vetoed in March at the organization’s center in Richmond.

Holsworth said there’s a high chance the Governor’s veto will stand.

“It’ll be very difficult for Republicans to overturn that veto largely because the Governor has substantial support among the Democrats in the Senate,” Holsworth explained. “I don’t think the Republicans can get enough votes to overturn that veto.”

Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate. That is unlikely, because Republicans hold just 21 of the 40 seats in the Senate.

Gubernatorial recommendations must be approved by only a simple majority in both chambers. If the General Assembly rejects a recommendation, the governor then can veto the entire bill.