City of Richmond

Quote Of The Day: Games Lawmakers Do And Don't Admit To Playing

We end the second month of the fourth year of the decade with a humorous, but candid admission from Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico), who continues an amazing run of QODs won by Democrats this session. We don't agree with Senator McEachin on almost anything, but it was good to hear him honestly admit his legislative tactics. The House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Compensation and Retirement met early this afternoon and had only one bill on its agenda: Senator McEachin's SB 252, a bill that started out as a domestic partnership benefits bill for state government employees, but was "amended down" to an almost harmless bill. But as much as it was watered down, passing it would represent an however-small-incremental move toward domestic partner benefits.

In introducing the bill he made a point of the fact that as amended, the bill only allows access to purchasing health insurance and that no non-family member could be added to a policy. That was meant to allay fears of these purse string watchdogs that Virginia's budget wouldn't take a hit in extra human resource costs. When sub-committee Chairman Charles Poindexter (R-9, Glade Hill) asked for those who supported the bill to come forward, a representative of the City of Richmond approached the lectern to admit the bill was put in at the city's request. He assured the delegates that it was optional, not mandatory for localities many of which share expenses with the state), but that Richmond needed it so that it could compete for workers in an area with several Fortune 500 companies. With that, Senator McEachin jumped back into place and said:

I didn't mean to leave out local government, Mr. Chairman. I wasn't trying to pull a fast one on the committee. It doesn't mean I wouldn't try, but it's not this time.

Not that he's the only lawmaker out of the 100 delegates and 40 senators who harbors such machinations, although he was probably behind this one earlier in session, and not that there are tricks of the trade that can benefit and bereft either side of any issue. But he it was a frank admission despite the chuckles it elicited — perhaps because his fellow lawmakers recognized the truth of it.

By the way: the bill was tabled by unanimous voice vote, effectively killing it for the year. Senator McEachin may need to try that fast one next year. But we'll be watching.

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Big Don put appropriators on notice today. He needs to be watched.

Governor McDonnell And First Lady Put "Easter" Back In Egg Hunt

On Wednesday, I noted how the City of Richmond, whose mayor, Dwight Jones, is a pastor, by the way, is doing its part to "rebrand" the Easter season into another generic secular happenstance by sponsoring more than a dozen "egg hunts" on "Monday, April 9" — known the world over as Easter Monday except to all but those in the city's Department of Recreation, Parks and Community Facilities. Thankfully, there's someone in the city who knows what the season is about. On Wednesday evening, April 4, from 5:00-7:00 in Capitol Square.Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell will host the the first annual "Governor's Easter Egg Hunt." The event is free and open to the public and will include several activities, including music, face painting, eggs with great prizes and appearances by several mascots and a Thomas Jefferson re-enactor. Sounds like good family fun. Though free, reservations are required. Click here to make them. For more information about the event, click here.

Governor and Mrs. McDonnell are not afraid to call it what it is, despite how some cultural elites are trying to whitewash Easter as they have tried to do with Christmas.

It's important for people, especially the young, to recognize why it is we celebrate what we do. For the City of Richmond to play its part and take sides in an attempt to whitewash the meaning of this time of year is inexcusable. No one is asking the city to offer a sermon, lead a prayer or hand out Bibles, but simply to leave in the name of the reason and the tradition of the event it is sponsoring — and not pretend Easter never happened or was celebrated the day before.  I, for one, am happy Governor and Mrs. McDonnell are not afraid of the culture vultures who would devour all references to our Judeo-Christian culture and recognize it is not government's role to whitewash history and faith. While I am sure it is not in any way a response to the city's events, I am sure the Capitol's event will be much more fun and better attended.

Regional Transportation Authorities: They're Still Alive!

Every year, a bill sneaks up on us and everybody else, that really takes the General Assembly by surprise. This year, perhaps more than others: There have been bills trying to expand the definition of blight (that we slowed down and got amended) and one still alive that would dismantle welfare reform (HB 1714). But one idea no one would have imagined would surface, espeially after the HB 3202 fiasco, was the idea of regional transportation authorities. There was talk of it in the greater Richmond area, but when suburban kingpin Henrico Country said it wasn't interested in joining, no one gave it a second thought. Nobody but Senator John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), that is. 

(The admin's note: Contrary to what you may think after three successive posts mentioning his name, this is not pick on Senator Watkins Day. Pure coincidence that he has been at least partially involved in the previous two posts.)

Senator Watkins, it seems, still wants the City of Richmond and Chesterfield County to get together without Henrico, with the possibility the latter and other jurisdictions can join the party later. It's all in SB 1534, which passed the Senate yesterday 21-19. The two sides were as odd a mix as you'll ever see, with liberals such as Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) voting against (probably in the vein of, "If Northern Virginia can't get that extra taxing power, no one is.")

This new authority would, according to the senator's own newsletter, include:

". . . the authorization of a regional congestion relief fee, which is, in essence, a grantor's tax that can be authorized by the respective Board of Supervisors or City Council. The primary reason for this is to give the authority, if formed, a mechanism to pay for its initial development and planning."

That is to say, more taxes, especially on an industry (real estate that is in depression and making refinancing and new mortgages more expensive) and more bureaucracy, regulation and half-baked and costly transportation projects. So, keep your eyes open. If this can sneak up on Richmond-area citizens, it can sneak up on every region. As we all know, bad ideas in the General Assembly never go away. They just get repackaged into worse ones.