RICHMOND — Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, has filed 74 measures for the 2008 General Assembly session, about twice as many as any other member of the House.
The deadline for submitting a bill was the close of business Friday. Lawmakers filed 2,743 items, according to data posted Saturday by the Legislative Information Service, the assemblys staff. That included 2,338 bills (or proposed laws) and 405 resolutions (usually non-controversial proclamations congratulating local citizens, for example).
Marshall proposed 63 bills and 11 resolutions. In the House, other top bill-filers were Delegates David Albo, R-Springfield, with 33; Mark L. Cole, R-Fredericksburg, and John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, with 31 each; and Vivian E. Watts, D-Annandale, with 30.
In the Senate, Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, put 51 bills in the hopper; Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, 47; Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Mount Solon, 34; and Sens. Janet Howell, D-Reston, and Phillip P. Puckett, D-Tazewell, 32 each.
But of the 139 lawmakers (one seat is vacant), 26 filed fewer than 10 bills. Delegates Algie Howell, D-Norfolk; Joseph Bouchard, D-Virginia Beach; and James P. Massie, R-Richmond, each filed only three bills. Sens. Ralph K. Smith, R-Roanoke, and William C. Wampler Jr., R-Bristol, each submitted eight bills; Sen. Stephen D. Newman, R-Forest , seven; and Sen. Henry L. Marsh, D-Richmond, six.
On the average, delegates submitted 16 bills each and senators more than 19. Republican legislators each filed an average of 18 bills; Democratic legislators, an average of 16.
Bob Roberts, a political science professor at James Madison University, says it isnt unusual for politicians to submit a lot of bills.
The primary reason delegates or senators file a lot of bills is for constituent services: It shows you are doing something, he said.
Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said in a telephone interview that politicians get elected based on what they do for their constituents, and that they need to get noticed to achieve higher office.
Marshall, who this month announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, said in a telephone interview that his legislation mostly comes from constituent concerns. The bills he submitted cover a range of issues, including abortion, immigration and the William and Mary Board of Visitors.
The number of bills lawmakers file has been the subject of discussion, and some controversy. Two weeks ago, the House adopted a rule barring delegates from proposing more than 10 bills each. The limit will apply only to the General Assemblys shorter, 46-day sessions, held during odd-numbered years. The rule will be effective with next years 2009 session. (During even years, the assembly meets for 60 days.)
Marshall strongly opposed the rule change putting a limit on bill filings.
I opposed it, and was disciplined by the leaders of the party, which I expected, he said. My first duty is to my constituents, not any political party.
Marshall believes that duty overrides any concern over the number of bills the General Assembly has to review during the session.
If you dont get to bills, you can carry them over, you know. If members complain about too many bills, they shouldnt be here, he said. We are here for the citizens. If constituents submit something [for possible legislation], I submit it and let my colleagues judge it.
Roberts said that on the whole, it isnt a bad thing to have legislators file a lot of bills, even if they dont pass.
I dont think it is really bad. I think it may send the wrong message to citizens that bills have a chance of getting through, particularly in the House, he said. The major criticism is it takes up a lot of time in the committee.
However, Bob Denton, a political science professor at Virginia Tech, said in a telephone interview that an overload of bills can create issues.
No representative can read, much less understand, 3,000 pieces of legislation, he said. Most rely upon committee work and the strong suggestion by party leaders. In fact, at the end of the day, there is little public or full deliberation.
Roberts said the track record for getting legislation passed is often not good with legislators who submit a lot of bills.
Ninety-nine percent probably wont get passed because they have to go to subcommittees and committees, and most of them die, he said.
During the 2007 session, assembly members filed 2,294 bills. About 950, or 42 percent, were approved by both the House and Senate.
Marshall typically files a lot of bills 52, for example, in 2006. Only eight of them, or 15 percent, passed that year. Marshall doesnt seem concerned about how many of his bills will pass this year.
For years, the Democrats have tried to beat me on this batting average stuff, and it hasnt worked. Ive been elected nine times. And again, Im here for the constituents, and if my colleagues dont like it, I tried.
Roberts and Marshall both expressed concerns about constituents becoming angry with the limited number of bills because the delegates will be forced to favor certain legislation. Farnsworth also said that the limit could push a lot of bills into even-numbered years.
Marshall was brief when speaking about his plans to deal with the bill limit next session.
Hopefully, since Im running for U.S. Senate, I wont have to deal with that, he said.
Note: Here is a list of all legislators and how many bills they filed. (We EXCLUDED resolutions from the totals.) Youre welcome to pull from the table the legislators youre interested in.
Delegates ranked by how many House bills they filed
Delegate Bills filed
Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas 63
David B. Albo, R-Springfield 33
Mark L. Cole, R-Fredericksburg 31
John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake 31
Vivian E. Watts, D-Annandale 30
L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge 29
Terry G. Kilgore, R-Gate City 28
Thomas Davis Rust, R-Herndon 28
William H. Fralin Jr., R-Roanoke 27
David L. Englin, D-Alexandria 26
Phillip A. Hamilton, R-Newport News 25
Timothy D. Hugo, R-Centreville &nbs
John M. O’Bannon, III, R-Richmond 25
Harry R. Purkey, R-Virginia Beach 25
Stephen C. Shannon, D-Vienna 24
Mark D. Sickles, D-Franconia 24
David W. Marsden, D-Burke 23
Christopher B. Saxman, R-Staunton 23
Robert B. Bell, R-Charlottesville 22
C. Charles Caputo, D-Chantilly 22
Jeffrey M. Frederick, R-Woodbridge 22
C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock 22
H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem 22
Joe T. May, R-Leesburg 22
Terrie L. Suit, R-Virginia Beach 22
Christopher Kilian Peace, R-Mechanicsville 21
David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville 21
Adam P. Ebbin, D-Arlington 20
James M. Scott, D-Merrifield 20
William K. Barlow, D-Smithfield 19
William R. Janis, R-Glen Allen 19
Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond 19
Brian J. Moran, D-Alexandria 19
Kenneth R. Plum, D-Reston 19
Clifford L. Athey Jr., R-Front Royal 18
Jackson H. Miller, R-Manassas 18
Paul F. Nichols, D-Woodbridge 18
Kristen J. Amundson, D-Mount Vernon 17
Robert H. Brink, D-Arlington 17
R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave 17
David A. Nutter, R-Christiansburg 17
Robert Tata, R-Virginia Beach 17
Anne B. Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville 16
Harvey B. Morgan, R-Gloucester 16
Robert D. Orrock, Sr., R-Thornburg 16
R. Lee Ware Jr., R-Powhatan 16
G. Glenn Oder, R-Newport News 15
Dan C. Bowling, D-Oakwood 14
Kathy J. Byron, R-Lynchburg 14
Benjamin L. Cline, R-Amherst 14
Albert C. Eisenberg, D-Arlington 14
Matthew J. Lohr, R-Harrisonburg 14
Samuel A. Nixon Jr., R-Richmond 14
David E. Poisson, D-Sterling 14
Beverly J. Sherwood, R-Winchester 14
Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke 14
David L. Bulova, D-Fairfax Station 13
Paula J. Miller, D-Norfolk 13
Clarence E. Phillips, D-Castlewood &nb
Edward T. Scott, R-Culpeper 13
Riley E. Ingram, R-Hopewell 12
Kenneth R. Melvin, D-Portsmouth 12
Lionell Spruill, Sr., D-Chesapeake 12
Kenneth C. Alexander, D-Norfolk 11
Charles W. Carrico, Sr., R-Independence 11
Thomas D. Gear, R-Hampton 11
Clarke N. Hogan, R-South Boston 11
Salvatore R. Iaquinto, R-Virginia Beach 11
G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond 11
Daniel W. Marshall, III, R-Danville 11
Ward L. Armstrong, D-Martinsville 10
Mamye E. BaCote, D-Newport News 10
M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights 10
Robert D. Hull, D-Falls Church 10
Joseph P. Johnson Jr., D-Abingdon 10
Dwight Clinton Jones, D-Richmond 10
S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk 10
Lynwood W. Lewis Jr., D-Accomack 9
Joseph D. Morrissey, D-Highland Springs 9
Brenda L. Pogge, R-Yorktown 9
Shannon R. Valentine, D-Lynchburg 9
Thomas C. Wright Jr., R-Victoria 9
Frank D. Hargrove, Sr., R-Glen Allen 8
Charles D. Poindexter, R-Glade Hill 8
Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford 8
James M. Shuler, D-Blacksburg 8
Margaret G. Vanderhye, D-McLean 8
Watkins M. Abbitt Jr., I-Appomattox 7
Robert W. Mathieson, D-Virginia Beach 7
Donald W. Merricks, R-Danville 7
Johnny S. Joannou, D-Portsmouth 6
Jeion A. Ward, D-Hampton 6
Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg 5
Franklin P. Hall, D-Richmond 5
Roslyn C. Tyler, D-Jarratt 5
Joseph F. Bouchard, D-Virginia Beach 3
Algie T. Howell Jr., D-Norfolk 3
James P. Massie, III, R-Richmond 3
Senators ranked by how many Senate bills they filed
Senator Bills filed
John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke 51
Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax 47
Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Mount Solon 34
Janet D. Howell, D-Reston 32
Phillip P. Puckett, D-Tazewell 32
R. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville
Patricia S. Ticer, D-Alexandria 28
Mary Margaret Whipple, D-Arlington 26
William Roscoe Reynolds, D-Martinsville 24
Kenneth W. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach 24
Mark R. Herring, D-Leesburg 23
Ryan T. McDougle, R-Mechanicsville 23
Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg 21
Linda T. Puller, D-Mount Vernon 21
John Watkins, R-Midlothian 21
J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax 20
R. Edward Houck, D-Spotsylvania 18
Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-Williamsburg 17
Richard H. Stuart, R-Montross 17
L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth 16
Stephen H. Martin, R-Chesterfield 16
Richard L. Saslaw, D-Springfield 16
Frank W. Wagner, R-Virginia Beach 16
Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake 15
Walter A. Stosch, R-Glen Allen 15
Charles J. Colgan, D-Manassas 14
Yvonne B. Miller, D-Norfolk 14
Frederick M. Quayle, R-Suffolk 14
George L. Barker, D-Alexandria 13
Frank M. Ruff Jr., R-Clarksville 13
A. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond 12
Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester 12
Mamie E. Locke, D-Hampton 11
Ralph S. Northam, D-Norfolk 11
Robert Hurt, R-Chatham 10
John C. Miller, D-Newport News 9
Ralph K. Smith, R-Roanoke 8
William C. Wampler Jr., R-Bristol 8
Stephen D. Newman, R-Forest 7
Henry L. Marsh, III, D-Richmond 6