Midlothian

Voter Guides For November Elections Ready This Weekend!

The Family Foundation of Virginia's 2009 Voter Guides, non-partisan bulletin inserts that compare the positions of candidates on important issues such as life, marriage, parental rights and religious liberty, now are available. These Guides do not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party and are legal for distribution in churches. We were busy all summer encouraging pastors to engage in the civic process. Many have committed to distributing our Voter Guides in their churches. However, Virginia is a very large state and we have areas that have not yet been reached. We need your help in getting our Voter Guides into every church that is concerned about the direction in which our state and nation are heading. Please ask your pastor if your church will take The Family Foundation Voter Guides.

Each year, people contact several pastors and ask them to take the guides. This year, we are offering a small prize for your participation: Win a framed Virginia Capitol photo by submitting the largest number of churches with which you coordinated and delivered Family Foundation Voter Guides before midnight, November 3. Voter guide distribution at targeted events also will be considered.

Plus, we have another incentive: Start by entering just one church you know you can help with Voter Guides and you will be entered into the drawing to receive an autographed copy of our Gala speaker and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's latest book. Click here to enter.

On Saturday, October 17 (unless otherwise noted), we will have distribution sites across Virginia to pick up the Voter Guides. See the list below for the one closest to you. If there are none in your area, please volunteer to set up a distribution point for two hours that Saturday. To help in any way with this effort, e-mail john@familyfoundation.org or call 1-804-343-0010. Whether you want to take Voter Guides to your church, set up a distribution point in your area or be the contact person for your city or county, we need your help.

The distribution points are:

Richmond (Contact: Mark Earley, Jr., at 804-405-2129)

Grove Avenue Baptist Church, 8701 Ridge Road, 9:30-noon.

Clover Hill Baptist Church, 3100 Old Courthouse Road (Midlothian), 9:30-noon.

Gethsemane Church of Christ, 5146 Mechanicsville Turnpike (Mechanicsville) 9:30-noon.

Loudoun (Contact: Ryan Rogge at 703-674-6948)

Near Panera Bread, 215 Fort Evans Road, NE (Leesburg), 10:00-1:00 p.m.

Tidewater (Contact: Hector Falcon at 757-288-2382)

Kempsville Presbyterian Church, 805 Kempsville Road (Virginia Beach) 8:30-1:00 p.m.

Peninsula (For more information, call 757-592-0312)

World Outreach Worship Center, 1233 Shields Road (Newport News), 10:00-1:00 p.m.

Lynchburg (For more information, call 434-401-0726)

Thomas Road Baptist Church Parking Lot, 1 Mountain View Road, 10:00–noon.

Henry County (Contact: Jeff Evans at 276-233-9407)

Victory Baptist of Fieldale, 1300 Dillons Fork Road, 11:00-1:00 p.m.

Patrick County (Contact: Mildred Layman at 276-340-0549)

Stuart Festival, Patriots of Patrick County Booth, Between 410 and 402 Patrick Avenue in Stuart, 10:00-4:30 p.m.

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Available at the "Values" debate between incumbent Republican Delegate Matt Lohr and Democratic challenger Gene Hart, Cornerstone Church at the Lake, 3591 Isaak Walton Drive, Sunday, October 18

Roanoke (Contact: Mickey Mixon at 540-798-8621)

Tanglewood Mall, under the mall sign, 4420 A-Electric Road, Sunday, October 18, 3:00– 6:00 p.m.

Shenandoah County (Contact: Brad Huddleston at 540-820-0810)

Family Fun Day Festival for Christ, Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, 300 Fairgrounds Road, Woodstock, Sunday, October 18, 10:00-4:00 p.m.

Staunton and Surrounding Area (Contact: Brad Huddleston at 540-820-0810)

Free lunch for pastors! Shoney's Restaurant, 30 Sangers Lane, Staunton (I-81, Exit 222), 11:30–1:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 20. The Family Foundation of Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge are sponsoring a free lunch for pastors. Voter guides will be available there. In order to attend, register by calling Brad Huddleston or e-mailing him at brad.huddleston@tffaction.org.

Tea Parties Continued: Make Your Voice Heard On Government Takeover Of Your Health Care!

Tomorrow at High Noon, the Tea Party movement in Virginia continues into another phase as people from all walks of life and all political persuasions will gather at the offices of Virginia's two U.S. senators to let them know socialized medicine, nationalized health care or whatever one wants to call it, is not acceptable. The monstrosity under consideration in Washington will destroy the world's greatest health care system through diminished quality, rationed services, exploding government debt, government bureaucrats picking who gets treated for what and when, and an increase in abortion services. It is nothing less than a complete government takeover of health care, which accounts for one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Since this is July, the month when the revolutionary ideals of American freedom from oppressive government were so eloquently and dramatically expressed, it is an appropriate a time to rekindle those ideals and let our senators know in very adamant terms that we want to remain true to our Founders' vision.

We won't be alone in Virginia. Americans in every state will visit senators'  district offices in a coordinated effort to demand that they protect our health care  freedoms to choose our doctors and to keep the government out of our health decisions.

If you are not able to make it, please take the time to call, e-mail or fax Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner so your voice is still heard. You may mail them by simply addressing envelopes with their names and the following: United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; or you may call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for their offices. To e-mail the senators, click on their names below. Also see below for district office locations and contact information.

Senator Jim Webb's District Offices (click to e-mail him)

Southside 308 Craghead Street Suite 102A Danville, VA 24541 Phone: 434-792-0976 Fax: 434-972-0960

Hampton Roads 222 Central Park Ave. Suite 120 Virginia Beach, VA 23462 Phone: 757-518-1674 Fax: 757-518-1679

Northern Virginia 1501 Lee Highway Suite 130 Arlington, VA 22209 Phone:703-807-0581 Fax:703-807-5198

Southwest 756 Park Avenue, N.W. Norton, VA 24273 Mail to: 756 Park Avenue, N.W. P.O. Box 1300 Norton, VA 24273 Phone: 276-679-4925 Fax: 276-679-4929

Central Virginia 507 East Franklin Street Richmond, VA 23219 Phone: 804-771-2221 Fax: 804-771-8313

Roanoke Valley 3140 Chaparral Drive Building C, Suite 101 Roanoke, VA 24018 Phone: 540-772-4236 Fax: 540-772-6870

Senator Mark Warner's District Offices (click to e-mail him)

Southwest  180 West Main Street Abingdon, VA 24210 Phone Number: 276-628-8158 Fax Number: 276-628-1036

Hampton Roads 101 W. Main Street Suite 4900 Norfolk, VA 23510 Phone Number: 757-441-3079 Fax Number: 757-441-6250

Central Virginia 5309 Commonwealth Centre Parkway Suite 401 Midlothian, VA 23112 Phone Number: 804-739-0247 Fax Number: 804-739-3478

Roanoke Valley 129B Salem Avenue, SW Roanoke, VA 24011 Phone Number: 540-857-2676 Fax Number: 540-857-2800

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.

Transparency: Good For The Private Sector, Not Good For State Government?

A fellow blogger gave me these lines to use in committee testimony in favor of the spending transparency bills (SB 936 and HB 2285). Thus far, the way they have travelled the legislative ladder, testimony hasn't been needed. For the record, the borrowed lines are:

"Financial institutions and publicly traded stocks, by regulation, must make readily available to the public its investments and corporate spending. If it's required of Charles Schwab, it should be required of state government."

The point being that the regulators (government) have a different standard for themselves than those on whom they impose rules. Here's a glaring and fun example. In his constituent newsletter today, Senator John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) touts his commending resolution (SJ 394) to the crew and company of the summer 2008 HBO massive hit special event series John Adams (see our review here), much of which was filmed in central Virginia and Colonial Williamsburg. Among the reasons Senator Watkins wants to thank the crew is for the amount of money it spent in the Commonwealth:

"I previously mentioned my commending resolution to the crew of the John Adams HBO production. ... Filming a movie in Virginia is good for Virginia. For example, the John Adams mini-series spent $81,775,102 in Virginia. A few examples of how this money was spent: 

Technicians, Productions Assistants, Hired in Virginia: $9,025,750

Equipment Rental: $2,412,814

Wardrobe: $1,903,678

Car and Truck Rental: $1,141,053

Construction Supplies: $3,634,900."

Which is just great for everyone involved. But it begs the question: If we can get this kind of info out of a company doing temporary business in Virginia, why can't we get our own state government's expenditures? Stay vigilant. Improved transparency is on the way, but anything can happen. I'm keeping my testimony at the ready.

Choose Life Plates Amendment Vote: Analysis Of The Yeas And Neas

Here's how they voted on the Cuccinelli floor amendment, which added Choose Life license plates to SB 817, the sale proceeds of which will benefit pregnancy resource centers:

YEAS — Colgan, Cuccinelli, Hanger, Hurt, Martin, McDougle, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, Puckett, Quayle, Ruff, Smith, Stolle, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins (20).

NAYS — Barker, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Northam, Petersen, Puller, Reynolds, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple (19).

NOT VOTING — Blevins (1).

That's 18 of the 19 Republicans in the affirmative, with Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), abstaining as is his want (he, apparently is not a fan of specialized plates and does not vote on any such legislation, just as he abstained in committee). Two Democrats, Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell), joined the 18, while the remaining 18 Dems voted en bloc against. This is a perfect illustration of exactly how difficult it is to get even modest, middle ground life legislation through the House of Lords, err, Senate.

Interestingly, here is the vote on the bill itself, in its amended form (and where Senator John Watkins (R-10 Midlothian) earned the Trifecta Award for voting every which way possible: abstained in commitee, yes on the amendment — for which we are grateful — and no on the bill):

YEAS —Barker, Colgan, Cuccinelli, Deeds, Edwards, Hanger, Herring, Houck, Hurt, Lucas, Marsh, Martin, McDougle, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Newman, Norment, Northam, Obenshain, Petersen, Puckett, Quayle, Reynolds, Ruff, Smith, Stolle, Stosch, Stuart, Ticer, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Whipple (33).

NAYS —Howell, Locke, McEachin, Puller, Watkins (5).

NOT VOTING —Blevins, Saslaw (2).

This is where we get a sense of the true extreme, abortion-at-all-costs senators: Saslaw, Howell, Locke, McEachin and Puller. Not a vote between them for the amendment, nor the bill — which included a number of special plates designed to encourage tourism in different localities. They'd rather vote against the localities that would benefit than help avert abortions. For this gang of five, anything to do with life, even such a minuscule nod to helping crisis pregnancy centers, is an abomination. 

Questions for these senators: Do you agree abortion is a problem? If yes, then do you or do you not agree pregnancy resource centers contribute to solving the problem? If not, why not?

What Happened And How: "Choose Life" License Plates Pass Senate!

Here are the details of the shocking development on the Senate floor within the last hour which is bound to have the knickers of Planned Parenthood types in a twist and assorted liberals in an extended spot of bother, especially when cars with "Choose Life" license plates zip past them along the streets and byways of their tony precincts. Background: SB 801 was a bill patroned by Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) that would have not only created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of its proceeds to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. Unfortunately, the bill died on a 6-6 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee a couple of days ago when two Republican senators, Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), abstained from voting.

Opposition: This was a simple commonsense bill. Even to people who claim abortion is a last resort and who claim to be for "choice" it should have been an innocent piece of legislation. But the pro-abortion opposition —which cannot tolerate even anything optional that promotes life —denounced the plates as political in nature, and thus not allowable by law. Further, a family practitioner attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. 

On the floor: When another license plate bill came up on the Senate floor a little while ago, SB 817, its patron, Senator Richard Stuart (R-28, Montross), asked the body to accept the bill's committee substitute (a pro forma procedure), and was so moved by the Senate. Then Senator Cuccinelli rose and offered an amendment to include the Choose Life plates.

Reaction: Immediately, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) asked the chair, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, to rule the amendment non-germane. However, the LG quickly replied that while he may have had an argument in the original bill, now that Senator Saslaw and the rest of the Senate had adopted the committee amendments — which expanded the bill to include a panoply of plates that the LG gladly rattled off — he had no case. Just like that, there was a vote on agreeing to the amendment and it squeaked by 20-19. One pro forma procedural vote later, the new bill passed 33-5.

Victory: We're still waiting for the LIS site to post the yeas and neas, but the parliamentary maneuvering here was spectacular and dramatic, not to mention the glee we had in seeing Senator Saslaw tied in knots by Senate rules! This also shows, at least as far as some legislation, the Senate GOP is more effective as a one-seat minority then they were as a majority, mostly because it forces them to stick together (at least sometimes) and they want to prove they deserve to return to majority status by flashing some conservative credentials. What would actually happen if they recaptured control is a question for another day. Right now, it's time to enjoy this and work for SB 817's passage in the House.

As Crossover Approaches, It's All To Play For

Tuesday is "crossover" day in the General Assembly, the day when work on bills from their respective chambers must be complete. The past two weeks have been long and intense, as you have been able to tell by reading this blog and by the number of e-mail alerts you've received. (If you don't receive our e-mail alerts, you should. They are informative, fun, fast and have received critical acclaim. People tell us that when they read them, they feel as if they were in the committee room. Click here to sign up.)   Several bills in The Family Foundation's bill profile were acted on recently. Here's an update:

SB 1270: Abortion Center Licensing Requirement (Support)

This legislation, introduced by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), would have required abortion centers to become licensed, have life-saving equipment in their facilities and submit to one yearly inspection. It was drafted to make abortion centers safer for the women who visit them. In fact, the original bill had numerous regulations, many of which pro-abortion activists claim are onerous and designed put these centers out of business. Anticipating this argument, Senator Vogel stripped down the bill to the three simple requirements listed above.

The fact is that there are several types of medical facilities that are much less invassive, such as podiatry centers; and altogether different types of facilities, such as puppy mills, that have much tougher regulations. Furthermore, all medical disciplines and specialities have oversight by peer review boards, with the notable exception of abortionists.

Finally, the pro-abortion side traditionally argues that the Board of Medicine regulates Virginia's abortion clinics. Fine. Senator Vogel presented SJ 276, which the Senate passed unanimously last year, that slams the Board of Medicine, citing a 1999 JLARC report, that discovered "the Board of Medicine  took too long to resolve cases, did not adequately protect the public from substandard practice by doctors, and did not handle medical malpractice cases adequately," among other charges. When confronted with its hypocrisy and the truth, the pro-abortion side did the only thing it could do — ignore it.

So, this bill, which seemed like a logical and bipartisan issue, failed in the Senate Education and Health Committee by a party line vote of 10-5. So much for "safe, legal and rare." Instead, in Virginia, abortion centers remain an exempted class, untouchable and protected by their overlords in the Senate. Read more about this issue here and see video of the Ed and Health hearing here.

SB 801: "Choose Life" License Plates (Support)

This legislation, from Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), not only would have created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of the proceeds from the plates to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. The bill was debated in the Senate Transportation Committee. Of course, the opposition denounced the plates, claiming they are political in nature and out of the purview for recognition.

Even more infuriating, a family practitioner unashamedly attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. The bill died in committee by a vote of 6-6 with Senators Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) abstaining. Senator Blevins was in the room up until just before the vote and then walked out — leaving a "proxy" vote of "abstain" behind.

HB 2579: Informed Consent, Ultrasound Requirement (Support)

Delegate Kathy Bryon's (R-22, Lynchburg) bill would require abortionists to take an ultrasound and allow the woman to view it if she desires before having an abortion. The Family Foundation supports this bill not only because it would give women medically accurate information to aid their decision making, but also with hopes that more women would choose life after clearly seeing that life inside them. The House Courts of Justice Committee reported this bill 15-6. It now goes to the House floor.   

HB 2634: Providing Information on Fetal Pain

Another informed consent bill, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), would require that a woman be told that her unborn child could feel pain during the abortion process and provide her with information on anesthesia for the child. Again, the House Courts of Justice Committee passed this bill 17-5, and the House will vote on it this week. See some of the sub-committee debate here.  

HB 1624, HB 1625, HB 1726, HB 2385, SB 945, SB 1247:  Legislation on "Sexual Orientation" (Oppose)

With homosexual rights advocates feeling emboldened by recent election victories, every effort has been made this legislative season to make sure that the term "sexual orientation" finds its way into Virginia code. It has been attempted in every form from group life insurance and housing discrimination, to making sure that it becomes a protected class under Virginia's human rights laws. Any incremental step they believe they can take, they will. Thankfully, we can report that all efforts to expand the homosexual agenda have failed thus far, with the exception of SB 945 (life insurance). 

These battles are far from over and other skirmishes over other issues undoubtedly will materialize. If ever it was all to play for, this year's second half is it.