Voters in Virginia yesterday largely rejected Republican calls for tougher state immigration laws as the Democrats won the State Senate by focusing on bread and butter issues such as managing residential growth and infrastructure funding.

By picking up four Senate seats, the Democrats are guaranteed at least a 21-19 majority in the State Senate, a move that was seen as a boon to Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, who advocates smart growth policies and has butted heads with home builders the past two years.

Despite their past differences with Gov. Kaine, home builder trade groups were cautiously optimistic.

"The Democrats taking the Senate will remove the 'no tax' agenda of the conservative Republicans," said Jim Williams, executive vice president of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association.

"I think we'll see fairer, more balanced legislation coming out of Richmond," he added, saying that the conservatives generally oppose taxes for infrastructure and are anti-growth.

On the immigration front, Michael Toalson, executive vice president of the Virginia HBA, said immigration is a national issue that needs a federal solution.

"It's clear that immigration may not have been the winner of an issue some were hoping for," Toalson said.

"Immigration policy has to start with securing our borders and be complemented by an accurate documentation confirmation system," he said, adding that what's needed is for builders and other businesspeople to be able to get on the computer or call an 800 number and confirm if a person is here legally.