House Republican majority

Twisted Sisters: NARAL Celebrates Abortion Providers Appreciation Day During Lent

It's a safe assumption that most of you knew that last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and Sunday morning marked the start of Daylight Savings Time. But are you aware there was another day last week that some consider noteworthy and worth celebrating? Don't feel bad if you are not. No one here was either until we were appalled to learn, thanks to the NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia blog, that Friday was the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

We wish this was a joke. Sadly it's not. The pro-abortion group Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice even produced a video to to promote this "holiday:" 

What? You didn't know? Friday was thank your abortion provider day! What's next, abortion gift certificates during Christmas? Wait, Planned Parenthood has that covered, too.

This is a twisted "celebration" — the sacrifice of innocent life — especially during the 40 Day Season of Lent, when people of faith are reminded of our Savior's sacrifice. Instead, NARAL is urging its supporters to send a note of thanks to those who staff these life-depriving centers and perform abortions. (It's not the first time a pro-abortion group has mocked a holy season. Remember this from Planned Parenthood?)

This reminder of our culture's disrespect for Life makes us especially grateful for your stand for Life in the face of such depravity. So, during Lent, we encourage you to consider a more appropriate note of thanks — a note of thanks to those who are on the front lines of protecting innocent life —Virginia's Pregnancy Resource Centers. Here's a testimonial from a couple of years ago by U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on his local PRC, but it could apply to any PRC in the country. Hensarling is the fourth ranking member of the House Republican majority

 

Rep. Hensarling paints the life affirming contrast between PRCs and pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood.

Or, participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign

Stand up for life and the real ideals of the season. 

The General Assembly's recent passage of a bill requiring the Board of Health to create regulations for Virginia's abortion centers is a great first step in our attempt to return a respect for Life to Virginia. While others uplift a celebration of abortion in the name of "freedom" and "choice," we hope you will be encouraged by this recent win and remain committed to the cause of Life.

Selective Justice From President Obama And His Justice Department

Last week, President Barack Obama directed the U.S. Department of Justice to relinquish defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed by Congress in 1996 defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  The positive I find in this announcement is that finally the Obama administration is being honest about its hostility toward DOMA — no more halfhearted statements. The negatives, however, are overwhelming.   As I told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last week, the president is responsible for defending the laws duly enacted by Congress. It's disappointing that President Obama would unilaterally make a decision to abdicate that duty. The job of the executive branch is to enforce and defend the nation's laws, not to selectively pick and choose. Thirty-one states have marriage amendments on the books defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Clearly, voters believe that the content of DOMA is a reasonable measure. This administration has been clear on its position on homosexual rights, but they stand outside the majority of Americans.   President Obama's directive could have far reaching consequences. This decision could potentially impact every yet-to-be-decided case related to marriage (including California's Proposition 8 appeal). Essentially, the fully compensated defense attorney is failing to show up for his defendant's court date, an action where the judge would sanction the attorney. In what other area of the law would this be tolerated?    With the president ordering the Justice Department to abandon its duties, the only course of action to defend DOMA is for Congress to intervene. According to Politico, House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican majority on Friday will announce a course of legal action to defend DOMA, perhaps directing the House's legal counsel to defend DOMA in court. (On a side note, this situation perfectly illustrates the importance of elections. Had Nancy Pelosi retained her position as House Speaker, it is highly unlikely that she would even consider defending DOMA in the Justice Department's stead and the fate of marriage would be doomed.)   A breakdown of DOMA ties to a breakdown of American families. There is a litany of statistics showing that a one-man, one-woman marriage is the best institution in which to raise children and to lower the potential for poverty, illiteracy and crime. Even if the president refuses to order the defense of the laws of the land, we must continue to push for the defense of a law that is good for our families, our churches and our communities.

Exclusive: Interview With House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith

Below is our interview with House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-8, Salem). We submitted the questions to him via e-mail and he replied and returned them to us. Here it is in its entirety — as the questions were submitted and as his answers were written. Familyfoundationblog: Mr. Majority Leader, thank you for agreeing to do this interview! You are the first member of the leadership of either party or chamber to agree to an interview at familyfoundation.org.

The House, for years, has passed, often with huge bipartisan majorities, many of our priority pro-life, pro-family bills. Thank you for your leadership and the caucus' resolve in those matters. With that ground covered, so to speak, we thought we'd ask you about some other issues. We, and our readers, are looking forward to your answers and greatly appreciate your participation. Hope we haven't built up expectations and the pressure. ...

Familyfoundationblog: What big issue or reform would you like to see the caucus embrace and lead the General Assembly in passing? For example, SOQ reform? A taxpayer bill of rights?  Budget reform?  Real estate tax reform? Or something else entirely?

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: In the long-term, it is the budget that poses the greatest challenge for us. Simply put, some key core services are growing at an unsustainable rate. With its budget doubling over the last decade, Virginia is among the top five states for spending growth.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a strong Republican governor, one committed to thoroughly reexamining the role, size, and scope of state government before this can be successfully addressed.

Familyfoundationblog: The House Republican majority has decreased over the last few cycles. Why is the GOP losing seats and how does the caucus plan to reverse the trend?

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: Explaining why we've lost seats is complex, but the short answer is a combination of changing demographics in some parts of the state, the national political climate, and an inconsistent campaign operation overall.

We are preparing for an aggressive campaign to reclaim seats, and I have been concentrating my efforts on lining up strong candidates in Republican-leaning seats we do not currently hold. I am encouraged by our early work on this, and I think we're going to have some very exciting contests this year as a result.

Familyfoundationblog: Last session Delegate Ben Cline's (R-24, Amherst) online spending transparency bill, which would have put the budget online in a Google-like, user-friendly format, so an average Joe could look up any state expenditure, did not make it out of sub-committee. Several states have adopted such an online budget. We think budget transparency is important in general to generate public trust of government, but also to shine the sun on some nefarious groups that get state contracts, such as Planned Parenthood. What do you think the chances of passing such a bill are this session? Will it be a priority of the leadership? Most Virginians favor this and some think the GOP has ceded the issue for the Governor to carry out on his own.

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: This year, the House approved Delegate Cline's Budget Transparency Bill (HB 2285) by a vote of 99 to 0. We have passed budget transparency measures previously (the issue has long been a priority of Senator (Walter) Stosch (R-12, Henrico), and former Delegate (Michelle) McQuigg spearheaded this effort in the House). As Chairman of the FOIA Commission, I know all-too-well that Virginia's government needs to improve the user-friendliness of its reforms and transparency measures.

Familyfoundationblog: The Standards of Quality formula is a big concern for many Virginians because it is antiquated and either needs massive reform or needs to be scrapped and re-fashioned from scratch for a student-based, more efficient education funding system. This would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars that could be re-prioritized. Do you see an opportunity to address this at some point in the near future?

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: No. I don't believe the prospects for any substantive government reform in any area are promising under the current administration.

Familyfoundationblog: Everyone is curious now about the leadership's reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the regional transportation authorities. Did you agree with the decision and did you think it is a good one?

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: The Court's decision was well-reasoned, and there were some aspects of it that did not come entirely as a surprise. For legislators, though, the decision was frustrating. The bill that left the General Assembly would have complied with the Court's requirement that an elected body would have to impose the taxes. The Governor's amendments changed that aspect, and it was those amendments the Court struck down.

This was not the first time that a portion of HB 3202 fell into disfavor because of the Kaine Administration's amendments. The controversy over abusive driver fees was largely fueled by the public's rejection that the fees applied only to Virginia drivers. This was not the case when the bill left the General Assembly. The Kaine Administration made that alteration. In that case, the change was not disclosed in the Administration's briefing to the General Assembly on its amendments to HB 3202.

Familyfoundationblog: Are tax and fee increases the only things lawmakers are looking at? Why not make real cuts and/or prioritize tax dollars out of the General Fund toward transportation funding if it's that much of a crisis?

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: Actually, the House passed a bill during last year's Special Session that would do just that, dedicating the growth of current revenue stream — income from Virginia's ports — directly to transportation. The Administration and the new Democrat Senate majority would not consider any measure that would increase the revenue flow to transportation without increasing taxes. This year, Delegates (Glenn) Oder (R-94, Newport News) and (Dave) Albo (R-42, Fairfax) have made significant improvements to that bill (HB 1579), and the House approved it by a vote of 67 to 31. But as long as the Democrat Senate majority and Governor Kaine insist on tax increases, the prospects for real progress on transportation are seriously diminished.

Familyfoundationblog: Perhaps one of the most talked about moments — and certainly one conservatives relished — of last session was on January 24, when you forced the vote on a couple dozen Democrats who refused to vote on one of their own member's bills, a bill that would have allowed public employees to bargain collectively (see video here). You made our blog's Quote of the Day for that! So, please take us through that:

Were you expecting the Democrats not to vote and prepared to force their vote? Or was this a spontaneous reaction? All they had to do was vote present to avoid this, right? Also, many have asked us why did you not record their vote in the affirmative to put them on record for public employee collective bargaining? What other insights can you provide our readers on this rare parliamentary event?

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: The House Rules are very specific on this. If a member is in their seat but not voting and another member points that out, their vote must be recorded in the negative. This same motion was the first rules motion I made as a second-year delegate in 1995. We were in the minority then and I wanted to learn the rules thoroughly. Now every time there is a tough vote to take, I'm on the lookout for members hiding form the vote. An abstention would have prevented the challenge.

Curiously, the Democrats got over their shyness about expressing their support for collective bargaining later in the session. We ultimately got a vote on this issue, as the Democrat majority in the Senate passed a similar measure. At that point, they went on the record, with an overwhelming number of their caucus voting for an expansion of collective bargaining.

Familyfoundationblog: Mr. Majority Leader, thank you very much for your time during this especially busy period during the General Assembly. We greatly appreciate it and hope you enjoyed answering these questions, and hope you will join us again in the future.

Majority Leader Morgan Griffith: Thank you. The Family Foundation plays a vital role during each General Assembly session, providing members with much-needed information and a well-grounded perspective on the issues that are vital to Virginia's families. I know our members greatly appreciate the hard work you do on behalf of the families of Virginia.