Action Alert

Voice Your Support for Abortion Center Regulations

Yesterday, the public comment period opens for the Virginia State Board of Health’s review of the previously passed abortion regulations. Visit here and then click “Enter a Comment” to voice your opinion.

The public comment period on these regulations will be open for 45 days, ending on July 30, and then in its December meeting, the Board of Health will decide whether or not it will rewrite these much needed regulations. It is imperative that the Board leaves these regulations as they are.

Prior to the implementation of regulations in 2012, the Virginia abortion industry had gone unregulated for too long. Department of Health inspections revealed widespread health and safety violations, including blood splattered exam tables and equipment, unsterilized equipment, poorly or untrained staff, violations of state parental consent laws, and the lack of reporting of possible cases of child sexual abuse, along with over 300 other violations. These violations reveal a serious need for regulations of these facilities in order to protect women who seek out abortions.

While focusing on the construction standards included in the regulations, the media has almost completely ignored the blood stained and unsterilized equipment, along with all the other health and safety violations. The construction standards are necessary to improve access for emergency personnel and equipment when medical emergencies take place, but the rest of the standards are basic to any medical facility that puts its patients ahead of its profits.

Recent information that has come to light about Virginia abortion center owner, Dr. Steven Brigham, exemplifies the need for regulations. Brigham’s license to practice medicine has been revoked in five states because of his complete disregard for the safety of women. The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Brigham’s license declaring, “Dr. Brigham’s continued practice would present clear and imminent danger to the public health, safety, and welfare.” Virginia inspections found gaping holes in the ceiling of his abortion center, unsterilized needles, outrageously high complication rates, and incomplete lifesaving equipment. If an abortion doctor like Steven Brigham can continue to operate two abortion centers here in Virginia, it is clear that the regulations must remain in place to protect the women of Virginia from Brigham’s harmful practices.

It is vital that the Board of Health understands how important health and safety regulations on abortion centers are to the people of Virginia. This can only be done by your participation in the public comment period. Leave your comment encouraging the Board to maintain the regulations as they are and ensure that the voices of pro-woman, pro-life Virginians are heard loud and clear!

40 Days Of Prayer, Fasting And Repentance For Marriage

 . . . remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses. - Nehemiah 4:14

The Family Foundation is asking that you join us for 40 Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance for Marriage from August 27 until October 5, 2014. Our state and nation are mired in a morass of confusion and post-modern thinking that does not believe in absolutes nor that any truth can even be known. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current debate raging about what constitutes marriage. Pagan philosophies, a secular humanist education establishment and an entertainment industry that is absolutely determined in pushing the envelope on decency and morality have all combined to turn this great land into a country that our forefathers could not even begin to recognize.

How did we get here? We must look within and ask, "Have we as believers been the salt and light that Jesus commanded us to be?" So many churches in America have become lukewarm and have lost the ability to impact culture in the way they once did. Our nation, built on a Judeo-Christian foundation, has been greatly blessed by the Lord, but instead of being thankful, we have turned our back on the Lord and His teachings and have and followed after other gods. That is why we are asking you to join us zealously in humility and fasting in repentance before God and implore Him to heal our land.

The Virginia Marriage Amendment, which affirms God's design for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is being challenged in federal court. Our recently elected Attorney General, Mark Herring, has not only refused to defend Virginia in court, he has joined the plaintiffs in attacking our Marriage Amendment. The issue of marriage is out of the hands of the legislators and the people they represent, and is now in the hands of unelected, unaccountable judges.

The Supreme Court begins its session on October 6. We fully expect it to take a marriage case sometime in the next year. In the natural, it looks like a David vs. Goliath battle. The federal government, the news media, Hollywood, the public education system and big business all are arrayed on the side of same-sex "marriage." Only the church stands in support of God's design for marriage. Our 40 Days will culminate on October 5 just before the court begins its session. We don't know what the Lord will do. We do know that He is sovereign. Whatever happens, we must adopt the attitude of the three Hebrew children who refused to bow before the golden image in Babylon:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. - Daniel 3:17-18

If you are a pastor, please consider having your church join with us in this effort. The Family Foundation is partnering with other nationally known organizations to provide talking points, sermon outlines, bulletin inserts, video clips and other resources to help you lead your congregation through the 40 Days. We will also send a daily prayer journal to everyone to help guide our prayers and devotions during that time. Click here to be directed to a page where you can sign up as a partnering church in this effort. You also can indicate on that page that you will prayerfully consider partnering with us.

If you would like a representative from The Family Foundation to come and speak to your congregation about the 40 Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance please contact us 804-343-0010. If you are not a pastor, click here to sign up and then forward this link to your pastor to encourage your church's involvement with us.

Urge Override Of Governor McAuliffe’s Vetoes!

Recently, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed two bills that would protect religious liberty: SB 236, a bill that would protect the free speech rights of public school students; and SB 555, a bill that would have prohibited government censorship of military chaplain sermons. Both passed with large bipartisan majorities, including a unanimous vote in the Senate for SB 555! The General Assembly will hold its annual "veto session," where it reviews vetoes and amendments to bills, on Wednesday, April 23:

Please urge your senators and delegates to vote to override the governor's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 (click the links to find their contact information). If you don't know who your legislators are, click here.

SB 236, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), would create "limited public forums" at certain public school events. Limited public forums restrict the schools from censoring speech simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still "limit" the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech still has to be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith. The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings and wear clothing with religious expressions.

Students in our public schools shouldn't be treated as a second-class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. It is tragic that in Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom, Governor McAuliffe has chosen to listen to the ACLU and has trampled on the right of Virginia's students to simply express their beliefs.

SB 555, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), prohibited state government from censoring sermons given by chaplains in the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force. This reasonable, common sense measure passed the Senate in January 37-0! The governor's explanation for vetoing the bill is a remarkable misunderstanding of the actual definition of a chaplain.

Overriding a governor's veto requires two-thirds support from both chambers, meaning that 27 members of the Senate and 67 members of the House of Delegates have to vote for an override.

At what point do we finally say, enough is enough? Our God-given, inalienable right to exercise our faith, live according to our conscience, and speak truth to culture is in serious jeopardy if we allow people like Terry McAuliffe to dictate what we can and cannot do in the public square.

Your legislators, regardless of party, need to hear from you. They need to know that you are not going to stand for this type of discrimination any longer! Please act today:

Contact your senators and delegates today and ask them to override Governor McAuliffe's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 at the upcoming April 23 Veto Session.

Budget Games End Tuesday

Tomorrow, lawmakers will be back in Richmond to hold a public hearing on Obamacare expansion. Your presence and voice will make the difference. The Senate Finance Committee — controlled by the same senators who have held the commonwealth's budget hostage to force Obamacare on Virginians, at the expense of funding schools, public safety and everything else — will hear public comments on whether or not to pass a clean budget without expansion. The Family Foundation will join a large coalition of conservative organizations offering testimony tomorrow to oppose the expansion. We need to deliver a clear message to these lawmakers that our emergency service personnel and schools are not pawns for their political games.

While the hearing begins at 2:00, sign-up for those interested in speaking starts at 1:00. Please arrive early enough to help us stop the Obama OFA group and other leftist organizations, such as Moveon.org, from blocking our voice by taking all the speaking slots. It wouldn't surprise us if those groups were given a heads up on this maneuver precisely so it can pack the room with left wing activists.

We cannot stress enough how important it is that conservatives take a public stand in support of a clean budget. Trying to force Obamacare expansion into the budget is wrong for many reasons, not to mention that is highly questionable whether or not it belongs in the budget: It is not an appropriation of state tax dollars, it wasn't passed as stand alone legislation that needs to be funded and it would contravene a law last year that mandated the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission do its work and recommend the commonwealth's next move. Furthermore, a program notoriously rife with abuse and never subject to an independent audit should most certainly not be included in the Virginia budget.

There will be free bus rides available for those in Southwest Virginia (as far as Bristol) and Northern Virginia. Sign-up here for a ride from a bus stop near you.

If you cannot make it to the event (and even if you are attending), please take two  convenient actions: Contact members of the Senate Finance Committee by phone or e-mail. Click here for committee members and their contact information. Then, if you haven't done so already, please sign the Pass A Clean Budget Terry Petition to make your voice heard to Governor McAuliffe to pass a clean budget.

McAuliffe Bows to ACLU, Censors Chaplains

National Guard

Bowing yet again to last-minute, unrealistic demands from the ACLU, last night, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed Senator Dick Black's (R-13, Leesburg) bill to protect the free speech rights of National Guard chaplains.

The Governor doesn't have to have the last word on this.  Contact your legislators today and ask them to protect religious liberty and override the Governor's veto of SB 555.

SB 555 simply ensures that the religious content of sermons by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia Defense Force can't be censored or restricted by any state government official or agency.  Due to the fact that it essentially repeats federal policy on this issue, the Senate passed SB 555 unanimously and the House voted to pass it 69-29.  Bills that pass unanimously out of the Senate are few and far between, so it's hard to understand why the Governor would feel the need to veto such a commonsense, uncontroversial bill.

But entering late upon the scene … the ACLU.  Again a latecomer to the party (similar to their last-minute attempt to destroy a genetic counselor conscience clause a few weeks prior), the ACLU complained to Governor McAuliffe that this bill was in violation of the separation of church and state.  And yet again, the Governor, denying good sense and the General Assembly's voting record, acquiesced to the ACLU's wishes.

In his letter explaining his veto, Governor McAuliffe unbelievably states that his veto is to protect religious liberty.  Caring not a bit about the religious liberty of the person delivering the sermon, McAuliffe states that guardsmen hearing the sermon might be offended and thus the bill should be vetoed.  McAuliffe further states that a chaplain's right to “religious expression in [] private” is sufficient and thus their public speech can be pre-determined, restricted, and censored.  It's amazing how seemingly only liberals can get away with denying religious liberty with the rationale that they're protecting religious liberty.

Speaking to the Governor's veto, champion of religious liberty, Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) told reporter Julian Walker of The Virginian-Pilot that McAuliffe is standing “against any bills protecting individuals' rights to conscience” and says that McAuliffe owes Virginians a reason as to why he believes the government should determine “what they say and what they believe.”

Given SB 555's unanimous passage in the Senate and it's over-two-thirds passage in the House, The Family Foundation is hopeful that legislators will put aside the ACLU's bogus claims and vote as they did previously to protect religious liberty.  The General Assembly will vote on the Governor's veto on April 23rd and a two-thirds majority is required to override a veto.  Contact your legislators now and ask them to protect religious liberty and override the Governor's veto of SB 555.

Help Stop Obamacare Expansion

A week from today the General Assembly will be back in Richmond for a special session to try to pass a state budget.  This year's regular session ended with Governor Terry McAuliffe and a majority of senators proposing a budget contingent on expanding Obamacare. While conservatives in Richmond are standing firm in opposition to expansion, all legislators must hear from you!

Please click here to contact your senator and delegate to urge them to pass a budget without expanding Obamacare!

Without a state budget, thousands of teachers, health care workers and public safety workers are at risk. Local governments cannot budget for next year and neither can local school boards. Liberals in Richmond are endangering all public services because they want to expand Obamacare no matter the cost, but they know the only leverage they have is hijacking the state budget because the majority of Virginians recognize that Obamacare is a complete failure.  Last year, lawmakers agreed to keep the budget and expansion issues separate, creating the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission to study expansion. But due to a new governor and Democrat takeover of the Senate, the two issues are now combined.

Each day, we hear more news about Americans losing health insurance for a variety of related reasons: Obamacare itself, more unconstitutional, unilateral actions by the president to delay a failing law without approval of Congress, higher health care costs and a damaged economy. Late last week, we learned that doctors involved with Medicare (not Medicaid) are facing a 24 percent reduction in payments for their services to patients because Congress can't figure out a way to pay. It's more evidence of what every day citizens recognize — the federal government is broke and cannot be trusted to fulfill its future fiscal commitments — including its share of expanding Medicaid. We also recognize that government entanglement with health care is a disaster.

Unfortunately, rhetoric from expansion supporters is making it clear that they are more than willing to bankrupt not only the nation, but they are happy to shut down state and local government to get what they want. The battle in Richmond is a microcosm of the national battle American's must have — when does the spending stop? When do we admit that too many federal programs are not just bankrupting us — they are failing to do what they were theoretically designed to do in the first place.

This is an opportunity for us to draw the line!

Please click the link below to contact your senator and delegate, and share this link with others so that they can make their voice heard as well. Moveon.org, big labor unions, big business and the president's campaign machine are all spending millions to force expansion on Virginians. We have to fight back with the one thing we have — our voice!

Please click here to contact your senator and delegate to urge them to pass a budget without expanding Obamacare!

Pass A Clean Budget! Sign The Petition.

As was predicted for weeks, the General Assembly was not be able to come to an agreement on a state budget prior to leaving Richmond on Saturday. Governor Terry McAuliffe and a majority of senators have made adopting a budget contingent on expanding Obamacare, putting Virginia's economic well-being at risk. Already, far-left organizations like moveon.org are spending millions of dollars to rhetorically assault legislators taking a stand against Obamacare. We need to counter the Left's efforts by doing all we can to stand with those lawmakers who are standing for us!

One simple way you can make your voice heard is by signing the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/.

Even many of those who support the expansion of Obamacare, such as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have urged the governor and senate to decouple the budget from that debate. Holding state government, local governments, schools and, more importantly, the taxpayers of Virginia hostage because they know they don't have the votes to expand the failure that is Obamacare places an already fragile economy in peril.

Sixty-four members of the House of Delegates and 17 members of the Virginia Senate rejected the expansion of Obamacare. They need to know that we stand with them! Please sign the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/ so that they know you want a clean budget with no expansion of Obamacare.

It's unfortunate, but we are seeing more and more of Washington, D.C. style politics coming to Virginia. If the Left can't win the debate with facts and reason — which aren't on its side — it resorts to politically motivated scare tactics and rhetorical bludgeoning. Those who understand the dire straits our Republic is in because of our ever growing $17 trillion debt are painted as "uncaring" and not in favor of health care for those who are disadvantaged! The truth is that Medicaid is the least effective way of providing care to those in need and Obamacare has prevented us from having a real debate over how to fix our health care system.

The first step is to sign the petition. We are currently planning other ways by which you'll be able to make your voice heard regarding this important issue. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!

Urge Governor To Protect Student Free Speech Rights!

The General Assembly recently passed SB 236, a priority for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. The House of Delegates passed the bill by a vote of 64-34.  Earlier this session the bill passed the Virginia Senate 20-18. The bill is now awaiting action by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Unfortunately, the governor has indicated that he is likely to veto this reasonable legislation that simply ensures that religious speech is treated by our public schools exactly like any other type of speech.

Please contact Governor McAuliffe and urge him to sign SB 236, protecting the free speech rights of public school students!

Hostility to simply expressing one’s faith in the public square is becoming more and more prevalent. A student in our public schools shouldn’t be treated as a second class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. And while some opponents to the bill argue that such speech is already protected, they also argue that allowing students to express their faith could be seen as "coercive" and "offensive" to those who don’t share that faith. In such cases, the government is supposed to be "neutral," but those who oppose bills like SB 236 desire no such neutrality. They desire silencing of faith perspectives and adherence to secular dogma.

Recently, my piece explaining why SB 236 is necessary and what it actually does appeared in The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

The bill, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), is based on federal court precedent and existing law in at least two other states. Opposition comes primarily from the ACLU and the education establishment.

Please contact Governor McAuliffe and urge him to sign SB 236, protecting the free speech rights of public school students!

Senate Votes Today On Conscience Protection

On Tuesday, bowing to pressure from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, Governor Terry McAuliffe amended SB 330, a genetic counseling bill, to weaken its excellent conscience protection language. Early today, the Senate will take up this amendment on the floor and vote on it.

Contact your senator now and ask him or her to vote NO on the governor's amendment to SB 330.

The story behind this amendment goes back a few months. This past summer, the lobbyists for the genetic counselors approached The Family Foundation with a draft of a bill to license genetic counselors in Virginia. We appreciated them coming to us prior to session to discern our impression of the bill and to see if we had any concerns. We decided to remain neutral on the topic of licensing genetic counselors, but we strongly encouraged the addition of a conscience clause to protect them from being forced to participate in counseling against their deeply held moral or religious beliefs.

The genetic counselors agreed to the conscience language and a bill was drafted that all parties agreed upon. In fact, the language was so universally-accepted, both the identical House and Senate versions passed unanimously in the evenly-divided Senate and with sweeping margins in the House.

Governor McAuliffe signed HB 612, patroned by Delegate Roxann Robinson (R-27, Chesterfield), with the strong conscience protection language and it became law. But before SB 330, patroned by Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), got to Governor McAuliffe's desk, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood woke up from their slumber, decided the conscience clause was unacceptable, and urged the governor to amend the language. Bowing to the pressure of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, he added an amendment to SB 330 which guts the conscience clause. This is particularly frustrating because the bills as drafted have the overwhelming support of both chambers, the genetic counselors didn't ask for the amendment and, not to mention, Governor McAuliffe already signed HB 612! The only holdup is the ACLU and Planned Parenthood who were late to the party.

 Please contact your senator now and urge a vote for conscience and reject the governor's amendment to SB 330).

Please Consider Joining The Spring 40 Days For Life Campaign

The 40 Days For Life Pray To End Abortion Spring Campaign starts tomorrow, March 5 (Ash Wednesday) and runs through April 13 (Palm Sunday). 40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God's power to end abortion. It brings together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God's favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion. 40 Days For Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program:

» Prayer and Fasting: Prayer is at the center of 40 Days for Life. Prayer must be the first thing we do if we want to end abortion.

» Peaceful Vigil: The visible, public centerpiece of 40 Days for Life is a focused, 40-day, non-stop, round-the-clock prayer vigil outside a single Planned Parenthood center or other abortion facility in your community.

» Community Outreach: During 40 Days for Life, the pro-life message is taken proactively to every corner of your community. Media outreach is conducted through carefully targeted news stories, talk shows, editorials and opinion pieces.

 

Please consider joining our 40 Days For Life friends in this campaign to end abortion in our nation. Since its modest beginning several years ago in Texas, it has grown exponentially across the country and internationally, saving thousands of infants' lives because of the modest commitment of every day people. Follow this link to  see a video about the campaign and link to more information about its history.

Below is a list of localities in Virginia that are participating in 40 Day For Life this spring. Click on the link closest to where you live and it will lead you to a local webpage where you can sign up with your name and e-mail address to get involved. For more information, visit the main 40 Days For Life website by clicking here or the image above.

Alexandria

Falls Church

Manassas

Newport News

Richmond

Roanoke

Virginia Beach

Will Senate Approve Bills To Ensure Proper Instruction Of Founding Documents, Free Speech On Campus?

The Senate Education and Health Committee will consider two excellent education-related bills tomorrow morning. One regards students’ rights on college campuses and the other, the proper instruction on the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other key foundational documents.

We need you to contact your senator and urge him or her to vote for HB 258 and HB 197!

HB 258, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), would prevent Virginia’s public colleges from restricting free speech by limiting the areas on campus where students and their clubs can hold rallies, events and forums. These so-called "free speech zones" are anything but and, unfortunately, a growing trend around the country. One Virginia college adopted this policy, but retracted it when this bill was introduced. The bill is based on federal court case law and has proper safeguards for administrators.

It used to be that all but a few places on college campuses were for free speech; now, the trend is that nothing but a few places on campuses are for free speech. The bill received a favorable recommendation in sub-committee, but nothing is ever assured at the committee level and your help is needed today!

HB 197, patroned by Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona), updates and reinforces current law that instruction “increase knowledge of citizens' rights and responsibilities and to enhance the understanding of Virginia's unique role in the history of the United States” and our founding documents. It ensures that all supplementary materials used to teach the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other important documents contain accurate restatements of the principles they espouse. HB 197 was not heard in a sub-committee and all bets are off as to its fate.

Please encourage members of the Senate Education and Health Committee to vote in favor of these two important education bills. 

Student Religious Liberty On The Line In House Vote Tomorrow!

Monday morning, the House Education Committee narrowly voted 12-10 to report SB 236 to the House floor, as three Republicans joined all seven Democrats in opposition. The bill, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), a longtime defender of religious liberty, is a priority bill for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. The bill was debated today on the floor and will be voted on tomorrow. Opposition in the committee continued to mislead and claim a parade of horrors that would occur if the bill became law. Coming from the ACLU and other groups, the opposition voiced concern that the bill would confuse school boards and cause a litany of lawsuits. But that assertion is baseless. The law has existed in two states for several years but has not elicited lawsuits. They also allege that it will "coerce" people into hearing a viewpoint that might cause them to feel bad about themselves. Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge) made it clear that the First Amendment does not protect someone from being offended.

Attorneys Rita Dunaway of Virginia Christian Alliance and Jordan Lorence of Alliance Defending Freedom testified in favor of the bill and debunked the opposition's claims. They clarified the case law surrounding religious speech in schools and explained the need to protect students who want to express their religious viewpoint. Too many school teachers and administrators follow a "folk understanding" of the law and discriminate anytime religious speech is uttered in schools. Such actions make religious students second class citizens. Not surprisingly, no one who opposed the bill expressed concern for those students' feelings.

The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings, wear clothing with religious expression, and the like. The bill is based on federal court precedent and case law.

Please click here to contact your Delegate and urge their support of SB 236 when it is voted on by the full House tomorrow!

Floor Vote Tomorrow On Bill To Ensure Chaplain Free Speech!

A bill protecting the free speech rights of Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force chaplains (SB 555) that to this point has been completely non-controversial — in in the Virginia Senate! — suddenly became so Friday when Democrats began to raise a ruckus in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. The committee still voted to report the bill to the floor of the House of Delegates, but on a mainly party line vote, with only one Democrat joining all committee Republicans in favor. Patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), SB 555 unanimously passed the Senate and a House sub-committee. But Friday, several members of the sub-committee who previously voted in favor of the bill urged its defeat and voted against it in full committee. The bill simply ensures that the religious content of sermons made by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard or of the Virginia Defense Force can't be censored or restricted by any state government official or agency.

Even Democrats in the  Senate unanimously voted in favor of the provision because it essentially repeats federal policy. But there are members of the House of Delegates that are so hostile to religious liberty that even ensuring that chaplains can simply do their job is not worthy of protection. The bill will be debated on the House floor today and voted on tomorrow.

Please contact your delegate and urge him or her to vote for SB 555 on the House floor Tuesday!

Student Religious Liberty Bill In House Committee Monday Morning!

On Monday morning, the House Education Committee will vote on SB 236, a priority for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. Its patron is Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), a longtime defender of religious liberty in the General Assembly. Curiously, the bill has caught the attention of Governor Terry McAuliffe. Based on existing law in two states that has not been challenged in the courts, Senator Carrico's bill would create what the law calls "limited public forums" at certain public school events, which restrict schools from censoring subject matter simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still "limit" the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech must be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith, etc.

The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings, wear clothing with religious expression, and he like. The bill is based on federal court precedent.

Opposition to a similar House bill earlier this session was fierce and misleading. Coming from the ACLU and other groups, the opposition claimed that the bill was an attempt to circumvent Supreme Court rulings concerning school prayer, but the bill isn't really about school prayer — it's about freedom of speech and association. Opponents also expressed concern that the bill could be "dangerous" and that it is certain to cause lawsuits. But that assertion is baseless. The law has existed in two states for several years but has not elicited lawsuits.

ACTION: Please click here for members of the House Education Committee and urge their support of SB 236 on Monday! 

 

Support Defunding The Attorney General's Attack On Marriage!

Ever since Attorney General Mark Herring disenfranchised more than a million Virginia voters and turned his back on his oath to uphold Virginia's constitution, citizens across the commonwealth have been asking, "What can be done?" Every option is being explored, but tomorrow, the House of Delegates likely will try to hit Herring where it can — in his budget. Multiple budget amendments will be introduced tomorrow, when the House debates and amends its budget bill, by Delegates Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) that would prohibit the Office of Attorney General from using taxpayer dollars to challenge Virginia's Marriage Amendment.

Please click here to contact your Delegate and urge him or her to support any effort to defund Attorney General Herring's attack on the Virginia Constitution!

Regardless of one's position on the Marriage Amendment, the decision of Attorney General Herring to not only abandon the state constitution — and the voters — but actually attack it by joining in a case in to overturn one of its amendments, is both unprecedented and dangerous. It bases the defense of every law and constitutional amendment in Virginia on the whims of one individual.

So outrageous is the arrogance of the attorney general, that he has added a statement to his website proclaiming:

The Attorney General is the sole person empowered to present the Commonwealth's position in legal matters and it is up to him or her to determine that position through rigorous legal analysis.

Until Attorney General Herring took office, laws in the commonwealth were assumed to be constitutional until a court ruled otherwise. Now, this attorney general has placed himself above the law, the constitution, and above the courts as the final arbiter of what is constitutional.

The House of Delegates is fighting back. Tomorrow, it will vote on its budget. Please encourage your delegate to stand up for your vote and the rule of law, and adopt budget amendments that defund the attorney general's attack on the Virginia Constitution!

Please click here to contact your Delegate and urge him or her to support any effort to defund Attorney General Herring's attack on the Virginia Constitution!

 

Oppose Obamacare Expansion In Virginia!

On Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee released their respective budgets (see them here). Each chamber will debate the details of those budgets this week, with votes coming on Thursday. Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two budgets is just what was expected — the Senate budget includes an expansion of Obamacare — Medicaid expansion — and the House budget does not.

Please click here to contact your senator and delegate and urge them to reject any budget that includes expanding Obamacare in any way!

While supporters of expansion in the Senate claim their program isn't really expansion, the consequences of its proposal are the same. Couching it as a "private market" plan, advocates of the Senate budget hope to gain support. But regardless of the rhetoric, the plan expands Obamacare.

The glaring failures of Obamacare, including the millions who have lost health care coverage or are having to pay substantially higher premiums, the loss of work hours, the loss of jobs, the constant implementation delays because the law is unworkable, and the growing fears the federal government will not be able to hold up its financial commitment in future years, are just some of the reasons Virginia should avoid expanding the program.

Obama changes Obamacare

Beyond that, the arguments for expansion of Medicaid are disingenuous at best and dangerous at worst. For example, some argue that Virginia will "lose money to other states" if we don't expand. That is fundamentally false. Medicaid money is based on a federal formula. If we don't receive the money, it doesn't go to other states because other states just get what the formula prescribes for those states and no more.

Proponents also argue that hospitals will lose millions of dollars in funding for indigent care without expansion because the money the federal government has been sending to hospitals was to be cut off in exchange for Medicaid dollars. But that cut in funding has been delayed a year (big surprise), and most hospitals are running well in the black. It is up to the federal government, which botched this entire program, to fix the problem and not simply dump it on the states to figure out.

Even worse, perhaps, than the failures of the Obamacare rollout are the failures of Medicaid itself. Studies have shown that care within Medicaid sometimes leaves a lot to be desired (see Avik Roy at Forbes). It is a fundamentally flawed program that bleeds fraud and provides inadequate care for those who desperately need it. Nearly doubling the program's size in Virginia without massive changes is foolish.

Frankly, one of the main problems with the battle over Obamacare is that we no longer are having a serious conversation about how to fix our health care system, deliver high quality care to all Americans (especially those who are in need of assistance) and do so in a financially responsible way. We are fighting over failed programs and a failed law, instead of figuring out real, 21st century solutions to our health care needs.

For all of these reasons, we strongly oppose expanding Obamacare in Virginia, and urge you to contact your legislators to urge them to oppose a budget that includes Medicaid/Obamacare expansion. This battle likely will force the General Assembly into overtime, but for what's at stake, the battle is worth the time.

ACTION: Please click here to contact your Senator and Delegate and urge them to reject any budget that includes expanding Obamacare in any way!

Vital Vote Tomorrow To Prevent VDOT Abuse Of Virginia’s Property Rights Amendment!

Your urgent action is needed! Yet another amendment to our state constitution is under threat!

In 2012, after eight long years of inaction, the General Assembly passed, and 75 percent of Virginians ratified, an amendment to the Virginia Constitution to prevent eminent domain abuse. Now, VDOT has found a way around the fundamental right of property ownership enshrined in constitutional law!

A key House sub-committee tomorrow afternoon will consider SB 194, a bill to prevent VDOT from practicing in certain cases a process called inverse condemnation, which it has found to be a back door way to take property without just compensation to the owners. Doing so amounts to a backdoor subsidization for VDOT from already stressed Virginians whose taxes were raised last year to pay for new roads.

The bill is patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg). For more information on how VDOT practices this shameful tactic to cheat people out of their land, see a blog post I wrote here. To understand the long train of abuses by VDOT on Virginia taxpayers and property owners, and to see a video of a VDOT official lobbying the General Assembly against your rights while being paid by your tax dollars, please click here.

Please click here to contact members of the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Sub-Committee and urge them to vote YES on SB 194 Monday!

Hands Off My Home-Church-Business

As Big Vote On Property Rights Looms, VDOT Continues To Subvert Property Rights Amendment

On Monday afternoon, the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Sub-Committee will consider SB 194, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), a bill to put at least a partial stop on the practice of inverse condemnation, a back door method of eminent domain without just compensation prohibited by the Property Rights Amendment to the Virginia Constitution ratified by 75 percent of Virginians in 2012. (Click here for a previous posts explaining this devious process.) But it doesn't stop there. VDOT has practiced a long line of abuses to prevent the people of Virginia from enjoying what our constitution calls a "fundamental right," which is the most basic of God given rights. Property ownership is cherished as a fundamental right along with all those enumerated in the Bill of Rights, for without property, one has no protection from the government to practice free speech or worship, or even to own a home or make a living to support one's family.

For example, this op-ed by Roger Chesley in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, appropriately titled, "VDOT takes the low road on bait and switch tactics on land grabs," plainly explains the horrors of VDOT on the Ramsey family in Virginia Beach and why actions such as this sour voters on all government. VDOT bought the Ramsey’s property in an eminent domain case but now, because VDOT’s own actions have devalued the property, it is suing the Ramsey’s for a refund!

VDOT’s tactics in the Ramsey case are one of several it is using to sully government and hammer families into submission. VDOT fought for eight years against eminent domain reform after the deplorable Kelo decision. Now, despite the massive mandate of the Property Rights Amendment less than two years ago, VDOT continues to subvert it and torment hard working Virginia families by taking their property and not paying just compensation. Here's a list of VDOT's other actions, and below, see a video of a VDOT official lobbying against your rights while being paid by your hard earned tax dollars.

* VDOT is using the practice of inverse condemnation to devalue property, not act on it for lengthy periods during which period nothing can be done to the land, effectively taking it off the market, so that it can then buy the land for a fraction of its original worth. This not only rips off the families who often have owned the land for decades, but also is a backdoor subsidization of the project, hitting the family twice — once for its annual taxes to the Commonwealth and taking its property on the cheap.

* VDOT has attached Fiscal Impact Statements to eminent domain bills for years, a clear conflict of interest! This has unfairly condemned bills to failure. Furthermore, each FIS is nothing more than speculation. More than that, the cost of land acquisitions is the cost of doing business, just as are costs radio advertising or gas. Does VDOT file an FIS on its fuel vendors?

* By its own admission, through its Fiscal Impact Statements, VDOT admits it has ripped off the Virginia taxpayers for years by refusing to pay fair value. If there is a fiscal impact on purchasing property, the General Assembly could not have passed the eminent domain reform law in 2007, much less the Property Rights Amendment to the Constitution. VDOT’s actions equate to an attitude that property owners only rent their property until VDOT needs it.

* VDOT has a budget of land acquisitions. If it needs more money, it needs to seek it – not take people’s property cheaply.

* VDOT employees lobby the General Assembly at taxpayer expense to hold down just compensation for families’ lands — a double blow against the citizens of Virginia who effectively are compelled to pay government employees to lobby against their fundamental rights!

VDOT is a menace to Virginians in every region of the Commonwealth, urban or suburban, of all socio-economic means. It is up to the General Assembly to reign in VDOT! Click here to ask members of the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Sub-committee to vote for SB 194 tomorrow!

Forward the video to about the 25:30 mark to hear a VDOT official lobby this Senate committee against SB 194, trying to deny your rights while being paid by the hard earned tax dollars you send to Richmond!

Federal Judge Decision To Redefine Marriage In Virginia More Of Political Show Than Legal Decision

As we're sure that you are aware by now, a federal judge in Norfolk, assisted by our newly-elected Attorney General, has ruled that Virginia's Marriage Amendment, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. This judge ignored the will of more than a million Virginia voters who ratified the Marriage Amendment by more than 57 percent in 2006, as well as ignoring the state's interest in protecting a timeless institution designed for the well-being of children. The timing of Judge Arenda Wright-Allen's decision, rushed for release last night just prior to Valentine's Day, reeks of political show, making her ruling less a legal argument and more a press release. It's disappointing that a federal judge would so blatantly expose her personal political agenda at the expense of not just marriage, but our entire social fabric.

The question is, what can you do to help?

Please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. It is imperative that the voices of those who believe in natural marriage are heard above the din of talking heads and commentators who will revel in this judge's decision.

Our e-mail system allows you to write a letter online and then it will send it to the editor of your local paper with the click of a button. You don't need to look up e-mail addresses or editors' names . . . it couldn't be much easier.

We have included some talking points that you can use when crafting your letter below. For more background, here is a link to an op-ed TFF President Victoria Cobb wrote in last Sunday's Richmond Times-Dispatch. Please put these into your own words and send your letter off right away. It is too easy to think, "I will do it later" and never get around to it. Thank you for taking action and standing for marriage!

» One federal judge should not disenfranchise the votes of more than one million Virginians.

» The state's only primary interest in marriage has always been the well-being of children, not the love-lives of adults.

» Social science proves that children do best in a home with a mom and a dad.

» Judge Wright-Allen has politicized her decision by rushing it out the night before Valentine's Day.

» The decision by the judge on the issue of marriage is not based on any of the facts of the case, any of the evidence presented in hearings, or any of the truth surrounding the state's interest in marriage.

» This decision will open the door for polygamy and other forms of "marriage" which will continue to degrade the God-ordained institution of marriage.

» Freedom of religion and speech are already being threatened in states that have recognized same-sex "marriage."

» Attorney General Mark Herring took the unprecedented step of siding with the plaintiffs in this case against the Virginia Constitution he took an oath to uphold.

Important House Vote On Virtual School Expansion Tomorrow!

Early this week, the House of Delegates will vote on HB 324, a bill to expand virtual school options in Virginia. The Family Foundation is supportive of efforts to increase the ability of parents to determine the best educational opportunity for their child, be it public school, public charter school, virtual school, private school or home school. HB 324 moves Virginia one more step in the right direction which is why The Family Foundation supports this initiative.

E-mail your delegate and ask him or her to support HB 324 to increase educational opportunities for Virginia's children.

HB 324, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton), creates full-time virtual public education. HB 324 requires the Virginia Virtual School to be open to any school-age child in the commonwealth and provide an educational program meeting the Standards of Quality for grades K-12.

As drafted, HB 324 retains excellence in education, reduces the cost on a per student basis and should not require additional state funds over what the state spends on education in traditional brick and mortar schools. Additionally, localities actually will save money with HB 324. The funding structure is set up so that the child's local school division of residence (rather than the division where the virtual school is based) pays for the local share of the child's virtual education. The local share sent to the Virginia Virtual School to educate a child is capped at no more than 76 percent of the local cost of educating a child at a brick and mortar school, so the locality is guaranteed to save money.

HB 324 is fiscally responsible and increases educational opportunities. For these reasons, we urge you to contact your delegate and urge him or her to vote in support of HB 324.