Tuesday, February 1, 2011

McEachin gives up on Civil Investigative Demands

On January 16 I discussed Sen. Don McEachin’s (D - Richmond) blunt overreaction to the perceived problem of an Attorney General being able to investigate fraud in government contracting.  SB1314 would have completely eliminated the investigatory power of the Virginia Attorney General (regardless of the nature of the fraud, or the political party of the Attorney General) prior to the filing of a lawsuit.  

On January 31, 2011 this bill was “incorporated” into Sen. Chap Petersen’s (D - Fairfax) SB831SB831 prohibits Civil Investigative Demands [CIDs] in the limited instance in which a CID is issued against an academic institution and the subject matter is “a matter of academic inquiry or research.”  In a cursory manner, I criticized the merits of Sen. Petersen’s narrower bill in an update to the January 16 post.  At Least Sen. Petersen’s bill targets directly the behavior he finds objectionable, the investigation of Climategate through the use of CIDs.

Since SB1314 and SB831 had somewhat common goals it makes some since for one to be the primary bill, and the other to be incorporated.  Since SB831 is now the primary bill and it has passed out of committee we should look at what the combined bill looks like compared to the original.  See the current version here, and the original here.

So what parts of SB1314 were incorporated in SB831?
 ANSWER after the jump:

Nothing.  The preincorporated version of SB831 and the postincorporated version of SB831 are identical.

The committee vote to incorporate SB1314 in SB831 was unanimous.  Nobody cared, because the vote did not mean anything.  In fact the vote is little more than a feel good measure to make it appear Sen. McEachin’s bill was not defeated in committee.  Voting for SB1314 would have been a difficult vote for many legislators as SB1314 would have eliminated a vital power for the government under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.  In all honesty SB1314 was defeated by capitulation, but the defeat has been glossed over with a procedural mechanism.

So all we have now is the narrowly focused SB831, which, until January 2014, will probably only have an effect on Climategate CIDs.

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