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Howell boots two delegates from commissions
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Date published: 5/29/2004
Two of the maverick Republicans who supported a tax increase this year have been booted off commissions by House Speaker Bill Howell.
Howell, who is in the middle of making appointments to many commissions, has taken Del. Preston Bryant, R-Lynchburg, off the Joint Commission on Health Care, and removed Del. Glenn Oder, R-Newport News, from the Virginia Housing Commission.
Bryant was one of the primary architects of a tax-increase proposal from the House of Delegates that led to the House voting to raise taxes, ending the months-long budget standoff.
Oder had written an op-ed article during the special session in early April, arguing in favor of tax increases.
"I don't know whether it's retribution or not, I just know I was removed," Oder said. "The speaker called me, I was very grateful for that. I was disappointed to be removed from the commission, but it's the speaker's prerogative as to who he removes from commissions."
Bryant declined to comment publicly.
Howell, who voted against the plan, had promised not to retaliate against Republicans who supported the $1.4 billion in tax increases, and said removing Bryant and Oder from those commissions does not violate that promise.
"Retribution's such a strong word. I make hundreds of appointments, maybe thousands of appointments, to commissions and committees. You're always going to have people moving around from one to another," Howell said. "It's not retribution. I told those members of the body that went their own way that there would be no retribution for voting for a tax increase, and there won't be."
But Howell did not promise there would be no retaliation for helping engineer the tax-increase plan.
"I think everybody would realize sometimes there's going to be consequences for your actions," Howell said.
Asked if the commission removals were a consequence of Bryant's and Oder's helping orchestrate the tax plan, Howell said: "Not necessarily.
"I'd just as soon not get into it," he added. "It's between me and the members."
Privately, sources say Howell is under pressure from anti-tax conservatives in his caucus, who fought hard against the tax bill, to punish the renegade Republicans.