Mr- Jefferson's capitol

Unprecedented Action: McAuliffe Rejects Day Of Prayer Permit In Capitol Square

For as far back as anyone can remember, well over a decade at least, many of us who work in downtown Richmond have taken part in the National Day of Prayer service on the grounds of the Mr. Jefferson's Capitol. It is always held at noon, as are the overwhelming majority of services nationwide, so that office workers can participate during the lunch hour. That was the case anyway, until this year. We've just learned that for the first time ever, a governor's administration has declined Day of Prayer organizers the noon hour for the service, saying that it is a time when people eat their lunch on capitol grounds.

No, really, that's what they said. Not only is that a remarkable statement in and of itself, but the part of Capitol Square used for the service — the Bell Tower — is not in the area brown baggers use for lunch as the park benches are on the main walk way through the middle of the square.

A photo earlier today shows that, despite the pleasant weather, lunch eaters in Capitol Square aren't all that numerous.

While the administration has been nice enough to offer the grounds for a service at 1:00, the decision sends the clear message that religious Virginians are going to continue to be treated as second class citizens by this administration. This should come as no surprise in the aftermath of Governor McAuliffe's vetoes of two common sense bills concerning religious liberty passed overwhelmingly by the General Assembly. Surely, in only four short months, no governor in Virginia history has displayed such disdain for religious expression.

As for the administration's concern for people who eat their lunch at noon on the capitol's grounds, they certainly can do so while a relatively small group of folks gather for a Day of Prayer service. The grounds are, after all, not very small. There's not been a problem in the past, so why the sudden change? Day of Prayer organizers were told that the policy regarding the noon hour has been in place for some time but that they had been "grandfathered in" in recent years, but not anymore. We are sending a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of General Services to find out just when this policy was put in effect, by whom, and why.

Regardless of this administration's hostility toward faith, we will continue to fight for our religious liberty. It is foolish if it believes its childish antics are going to stop prayer.

A Perspective That Spans The Tiber To The James

It's about time! Finally, after years of encouragement to do so, today our friends at the Virginia Catholic Conference added a blog to its social media mix. (See its first post, by Associate Director Michael Lewis, on the adoption by the General Assembly of Governor Bob McDonnell's "Veto Session" "Hyde amendment" that bans taxpayer funded abortions in the Obamacare insurance exhchange). It's a good thing, too. There are few more passionately dedicated to the causes of Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty  than our colleagues at the VCC. They are an invaluable ally in the culture wars not only inside Mr. Jefferson's Capitol, but well beyond the gates of Capitol Square. It's an intelligent bunch, as well, and we look forward to their perspective on the crucial issues of the day. According to its announcement of the blog's launch:

Our goal for "From the Tiber to the James" is to provide engaging, thought-provoking posts — respectful of our reader’s busy lives — about why and how we do the work we do, and how our readers can become more involved in advocacy on behalf of the common good.

Attuned readers will not miss the symbolism of the blog’s name: our Faith traces its past, present and future to the Vatican on the banks of the Tiber River. Our daily work — living in the public square — takes us to Virginia’s capital, on the shores of the James.

We look forward to what From the Tiber to the James will add to the public policy debate in the already thriving Virginia Blogosphere. Another culturally conservative voice can always be useful but, in this case, we're confident it will far exceed that basic standard.

The fight to win souls precedes any legislative victory. In this new age of instant digital media, where information is spread at the speed of a few thumb presses, it's important for advocacy organizations to arm themselves with as many assets as possible — and our side has been behind. It's about more than "spreading the word" on Facebook and Twitter (as important as that is). After all, there must be compelling content to spread on Facebook and Twitter. So, it's really about thoughtful, grounded, rational perspective based in something considerably larger than human vanity that resonates even with hearts of stone well before the yeas and nays consistently affirm our foundational principles. 

Congratulations to the Virginia Catholic Conference. We hope you visit From The Tiber To The James as often as we will.

Miraculous Success: Life And Conscience Protected

It was nothing short of a miracle yesterday afternoon: The General Assembly passed Governor Bob McDonnell's pro-life amendment to HB 1900. The amendment prohibits health insurance plans that are part of federal health insurance exchanges required by Obamacare from covering abortion services except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. With the passage of this amendment, pro-life Virginians will no longer be required to violate their consciences and fund the unethical destruction of human life. To put it precisely, as one legislator who voted for the amendment said:

I truly believe that this amendment will save more lives than perhaps anything we've ever done.

The amendment's passage was a tale more convoluted than the typical legislative labyrynth, complete with procedural moves unfamiliar to most, dramatic back room conversations and mistakes that turned into miracles. Suffice it to say, God was at work — mightily. He alone deserves the credit for this success. We'll tell the complete and detailed insider story in a later post.

Regardless of how legislators may feel about Obamacare health insurance exchanges, the vote on this amendment was solely about the taxpayer funding of abortion. Many who voted for this amendment oppose the concept of exchanges overall. Please note when checking how your legislator voted, that a vote for this pro-life amendment cannot be considered a vote against health care freedom. Some type of exchange must be created, by law, so this was to make the best of a bad situation.

Although many deserve thanks for this important victory, we would like to specifically thank Governor McDonnell for introducing the amendment, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling for ruling the amendment germane (click links for contact information), the 20 senators and 55 delegates who voted for the amendment (click links for names), national pro-life organizations for their assistance, such as the Susan B. Anthony List, and local pro-life groups — especially the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Virginia Society for Human Life, and the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists — for joining us in our advocacy on this amendment at Mr. Jefferson's capitol yesterday.

Conscience and life were protected today. Please thank God first, but secondly those above who deserve our gratitude for their principled stand for life. The complete details and inside story tomorrow.


Breaking News: Governor McDonnell Releases Statement On Senate Democrats Blocking Budget For Third Time

Following Senate Democrats unprecedented partisan rejection of the Virginia state budget, again, Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement:

Today, Senate Democrats cast the most fiscally reckless vote I have witnessed in my 21 years in office. They have killed an $85 billion state budget that benefits all Virginians, for one earmark regarding an 11.4 mile rail project in one district of the Commonwealth. That is extremely irresponsible. Senate Democrats, again, put partisan politics ahead of the needs of 8 million Virginians. They brought their political agendas to the Senate floor, and in the process have put at risk a Bristol teacher’s paycheck, a Chesterfield sheriff’s salary, healthcare for a senior citizen in Hampton, road projects in Richmond, and the fiscal soundness of the entire Commonwealth. Unfortunately, this is not the first time they have done so.

When the General Assembly convened in January, Senate Democrats were clear that they wished to use the state budget as a means to gain more committee assignments. As one Senate Democrat wrote at the time, “the real reason the Senate Budget must lose — at this point — is so the power balance in Richmond can be adjusted.” For the 60 days of the regular session, they refused to pass any budget, despite multiple individual meetings, letters and conversations with them. They voted down two budgets.

Last month, Senate Democrats gave a few policy reasons to explain their obstruction. They were met with broad accommodation by Senate Republicans. They sought more funding for healthcare and education. They gained it. In fact they gained nearly $170 million in reallocated funding for the issues they identified as priorities for their caucus. Throughout budget negotiations, Republican legislators and this office worked strenuously to ensure that Senate Democrats were heard in the budget process. Only after these compromises were achieved did Senate Democrats turn, in the last days of session, to a third reason for opposing a budget: toll abatement on the Dulles Toll Road.

Since 2009, when Governor Tim Kaine signed the deal on the tolls and the rates were publicized, and no state funding was provided, Senate Democrats were silent. They offered no objections to the tolls for nearly three years. Then, at the very end of this session, after killing two budgets on the floor, Senate Democrats decided that they would make that their next issue. This will have serious consequences for all Virginians.

Budgets are a tapestry of compromises. No legislator ever gets everything he or she wants in a governing fiscal document. Nonetheless, all involved can get much of what they seek if there is cooperation and civility in the process. The budget killed by Senate Democrats today was a positive document. This budget made historic investments in our higher education system so more Virginia students can access and afford our great colleges and universities. It reduced unfunded liabilities in our retirement system by nearly $9 billion by 2031, an historic achievement that ensures our dedicated state employees will receive the retirements they have been counting on. The budget combined accountability and innovation with over half a billion dollars in new funding for our K-12 system. It improved public education in the Commonwealth. And this budget provided fiscal liquidity and stability for Virginia as we continue to navigate a very uncertain economy. Now, Senate Democrats, continuing a trend, have killed a budget for a third time. They will have to answer to every single Virginian. This vote will have real consequences in creating uncertainty and chaos for local governments, school boards and countless agencies and individuals.

I encourage all Virginians to contact the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus today to let them know that this vote is unacceptable. First, the members killed the state budget to make a point about committee assignments. Then, they demanded more funding for healthcare and education, which they received. Then, they brought up an entirely new reason for voting against the budget, an earmark for am 11.4 mile rail project in one area of the state. Teacher and sheriff salaries are now at risk. Local governments and school boards do not know what level of state funding they will receive. Road and other state projects will have to be stopped in every single region in the near future. All because Senate Democrats continue to obstruct the passage of the state budget. They even killed the ‘caboose’ budget for the remainder of FY 2012, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Dulles tolls. This is an incredibly disappointing development. This is the kind of conduct we’ve come to expect out of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, where no budget has passed for over 1000 days. It is not the conduct we would expect from Democrats who serve in Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol. Senate Democrats need to hear from all Virginians about the direct and immediate impact their partisan posturing will have on the citizens of this Commonwealth.

Tomorrow Is Primary Day!

Tomorrow is primary day in Virginia.  There are only a few, but these elections will determine several of the nominees from both parties to run for the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate in November. Primaries normally are held in June in Virginia, but because this is a redistricting year, primary day was pushed back to give the General Assembly time to draw new districts (and for Governor Bob McDonnell to sign into law after he vetoed a blatantly partisan Democrat Senate plan first sent to him), as well as wait on Justice Department approval as per The Voting Rights Act. We encourage all Virginians who live in a district with a primary to make an informed decision and vote tomorrow. With more and more decisions made at the state level to combat the increasing encroachment of the federal government, as well as the perennially important issues such as life, marriage, school choice, parental authority, property rights, religious liberty, transparency and government reforms, having principled conservative leadership at Mr. Jefferson's capitol is more important than ever. Turnout is expected to be very light — less than 10 percent — so each vote will carry more weight and be more decisive.

There are several hotly contested primaries, especially for various Senate seats around the commonwealth, particularly on the Republican side — most likely due to the perceived momentum it has after the last two elections cycles where it cleaned up statewide offices and congressional seats. The political atmosphere is not unlike four years ago when Democrats came out of the woodwork to seek nominations to run against a wounded Republican brand, itself having been manhandled in the 2005 and 2006 elections. Democrats subsequently won the Virginia Senate from the Republicans as well as the state for Barack Obama and a U.S. Senate Seat in 2008. 

Are we in for  symmetrical reversal? It all starts tomorrow. 

If you are not yet aware if you have been redistricted into a new House or Senate district and if there is a primary where you live, below are links to today's primaries.  If you are unsure of which district you live in, click here and fill out the required information or call your local registrar. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Voting is at your regular precinct polling station.

Democrat Primaries – House and Senate

Democrat Primaries – Local

Republican Primaries – House and Senate

Republican Primaries - Local

We make no predictions about tomorrow or even November, except for this: If the Democrats retain control of the Virginia Senate, it will mean, according to the Mainstream Media, that President Obama is well on his way to reelection. If the Republicans win, it won't gain a headline outside the Commonwealth's borders.

Delegate At Work: Dave Albo With An Out-Of-Session Quote Of The Day

We normally reserve the Quote of the Day as a feature of our General Assembly coverage, but after reading Anita Kumar's Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog report on Democrat Jack Dobbyn's challenge to Delegate Dave Albo (R-42, Fairfax), we couldn't resist. After the obligatory bio on Dobbyn and a cursory summation of his prospects — the newly redrawn 42nd district is more Republican — Delegate Albo chimes in. After asserting that defeating him will be a "pretty big longshot," he said this of his work ethic and representation at Mr. Jefferson's Capitol:

I am not one of these delegates who doesn’t do any work. I’m not one of these guys who people don’t see.

We don't doubt Delegate Albo's hard work. Anyone who's sat through a Friday Courts of Justice Committee docket can attest to that. But he did leave us wondering . . . just who is it he implies doesn't work?


Our Success Together = Growth. Can You Help Us With Our Exciting Move?

Our organization's growth in recent years has been so rapid that we are excited to say we have outgrown our limited space. This summer, The Family Foundation, the oldest and largest pro-family advocacy organization in Virginia, will leave our offices at 830 East Main Street in downtown Richmond and will move into the SunTrust building — mere blocks from Mr. Jefferson's Capitol. Our proximity to Capitol Square is unique among other pro-family advocacy organizations and allows us to continue to fight day in and day out, at a moment’s notice, for your values. As our moving date approaches, we anticipate several needs that we hope you, our faithful supporters, may be able to help us address. Please contact our administrative assistant, Marie Edwards, at 804-343-0010 or, if you are able to help in any of the following ways:

» Volunteer Hours. We have a need for volunteers to help us transition from paper to electronic files. Can you volunteer your time and help us scan and electronically catalog our files?

» Furniture. The furniture we are currently using is a mismatched collection of hand-me-downs from other businesses. Do you or does your business have any new or gently used furniture you would be willing to donate?

» Cubicles. The new office space allows us the ability to increase our student internship opportunities in order to train a generation of young people on fire to promote values and make a difference in Virginia. Additionally, we hope to increase the size of our lobbying presence at the capitol. In order to accomplish these dreams, we need three cubicles (5 to 6 feet long on each side). Do you or does your business have any new or gently used cubicles you would be willing to donate or make available for a reasonable rate?

» Corporate Moving. In an effort to be the best stewards of the financial resources we have been blessed with, we are looking for a discounted rate from a corporate moving company. Are you connected with a corporate moving company that would be willing to give us a discounted rate?

» Help us finance our move. The cost of transition is significant, but necessary. Click here to help us underwrite these costs so that we can grow our organization and more effectively defend your values at the capitol. Will you partner with us to enable this exciting transition?

Thank you again for your partnership in our mission and for enabling the awareness and acceptance of our shared values in Virginia to grow and thus necessitate our move!

Intrigue Inside The Senate Parlor: Countdown To Property Rights Showdown

Just beginning to explain the twists and turns of what is happening in the Virginia Senate over property rights would rival War and Peace. Forget about the whole story. So much to say, so much to keep confidential. Maybe a book, one day, is in the offing, or a screenplay. Okay, maybe an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. You have to have goals. Suffice it to say, the situation is fluid. I would hazard a guess that no one will know the outcome until Lt. Governor Bill Bolling announces the words, "The clerk will open the rolls. The senators will vote. ..." I think some will hesitate and see what it going to happen, who is voting which way and what the count is. On the other hand, maybe a deal will be struck ahead of time. I've learned, when dealing with issues like this, as much of a cliche as it is, anything can — and usually — does happen. Nothing will surprise me. It is, after all, an election year.

Right now it's close. By the vote, maybe not — in either direction. (In 2007, the eminent domain reform statute barely escaped the House and Senate, but the conference report blasted through!) One thing that's not good: A tie vote kills the resolution. A constitutional amendment must receive at least 21 votes of senators. The LG cannot break the tie. Another note: There's a good chance the vote will be put off until Friday. But leave nothing to chance: Contact your senator now!

Here's the breakdown: There's slightly less than the 21 needed for the tougher language. There is probably enough for less strong, but very good language. Here's the problem: There may be a few, who don't get the version they want, who may scuttle the other, leaving us with neither version! Then, there are the out-and-out liberals who don't believe in property right and are going to aid and abet which ever side it needs to accomodate that scuttle.

Does the extra day help or hurt one side or the other? It may slow down the momentum from yesterday's dramatic doubleheader sub- and committee sweep (see Disrupt The Narrative). Yet, it may give the grassroots more time to pound senators' offices. The utilities don't need that kind of time. They just need the army of lobbyists they can deploy to cajole and, shall we say, persuade. It doesn't take a lot of time to do that with the personnel and money they have at their disposal.

We, the people, the grassroots, the ones whose rights are affected by these special-interest laden decisions, have a say. It's not too late by any stretch. Things change on a dime here at Mr. Jefferson's capitol. Do your part!

Contact your senator and urge him or her to vote for HJ 693, (Delegate Johnny Joannou, D-Portsmouth) to support your property protections from big government and big corporations: by e-mail; by General Assemby office phone. Limiting government's power of eminent domain limits government growth and intrusiveness, and secures our liberties. Don't know your senator? Look him or her up here.

Family Foundation Day At The Capitol Is Thursday!

The Family Foundation's Annual Day at the Capitol is this Thursday, with an emphasis 0n education freedom — particularly legislation that provides tax credits for private school scholarships. We need to send a loud message to our legislators that, after years of dragging their feet while public education deteriorates (especially for the underprivileged who are trapped in failing schools by an education establishment unwilling to embrace reforms) and options and competition few, educational opportunity for all children is the right choice for Virginia.    Registration for the event, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, begins at 8:30. The program begins at 9:00 with a briefing  from lawmakers and policy makers, includes a visit with your legislators, and ends with a rally on the Capitol Square grounds. Some of our special speakers include Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson and Family Foundation Chaplain, Bishop E. W. Jackson, Sr.   You will have an opportunity to meet with your legislators, get updates from The Family Foundation staff and enjoy optional tours of Mr. Jefferson's Capitol, the Governor's Mansion and the Virginia Supreme Court during the afternoon. Tours are available on a first come, first serve basis the morning of the event, so if you are interested get to Richmond early.   While our format is a bit different this year, it will be an extremely exciting Lobby Day at the Capitol. Christian and private schools from across the Commonwealth will participate with us. If you are affiliated with a Christian or private school, please share this information with the school and fellow parents and students, and encourage them to send a delegation to support this effort.

If you would like more information about arranging at special tour for your school or about the event, please e-mail or call 804-343-0010. To register online, click here.

"Which" Or "That"? How About "Where"? And Other Strange Things Today At The Capitol

Things couldn't be stranger than fiction anywhere outside of Hollywood than on Shockoe Hill, where Mr. Jefferson's capitol sits. Today, in the House Privileges and Elections Committee, members debated for about 20 minutes if the word "that" should be amended to "which" in HJ 615, a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit tax increases and fees in the budget bill, thus honoring Virginia's "single object" rule. After several minutes of back and forth between committee staff and Delegate Dave Albo (R-42, Fairfax) — who continued to remind the committee they were discussing amendments to a bill that still was not the committee —and various others who chimed in, Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) recommended "where." A brief silence fell over the committee as it realized that, hey, a magic bullet has been found. Delegate Bell was at the center of another oddity. After much negotiation with interested parties — local governments and utilities — a compromise on a constitutional amendment to safeguard property rights was reach. Peace in the valley? Not quite. Delegate Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth), with whom Delegate Bell has been working, had the exact same bill and amendments with opponents. All that was left was to decide which bill went forward. When the committee refused to adopt the Senate procedure of passing multiple bills with exact same language, there was no consensus as to which resolution should go forward. After several minutes, a frustrated committee ordered the resolutions held over to next week. ... Only at the Western Hemisphere's longest continually serving representative body.

On a scary note, Senator Toddy Puller was taken to the hospital by ambulance after choking on her lunch on the Senate floor (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Senator Ralph Northam, a physician, rushed to her desk and assisted her. She is reported to be fine from this incident. However, Senator Puller, a stroke victim, needs special help to get around Capitol Square and the General Assembly Building. The Senate already is missing one member: Senator Yvonne Miller is recovering from heart surgery and may not return before February 1. Both women are Democrats. Without Senator Miller, there are 21 Democrats and 18 Republicans.

Capitol Office Questions Answered: Looks Like Cox Will Have Three!

When news broke Monday that Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights), not unexpectedly, was elected by his House GOP colleagues to Majority Leader, we offered that the real suspense of General Assembly insiders is where his new office will be. As majority whip, he had a basic corner office in the General Assembly Building. But last session, when he ascended to vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he gained one of only two prestigious ninth floor perches. As the Majority Leader, would he move to the sixth floor where the leadership of each party and chamber has a suite of high profile space? Who would get the newly vacated space he would not use? These are the questions that buzz around Capitol Square. Now, we are the first to report the answers.

According to reliable sources, Delegate Cox will keep both! As one observer said, the sixth floor office has no windows, so it makes sense to keep the ninth floor space as well. Another said the windowless Majority Leader's office was perfect for its most recent inhabitant, newly elected Congressman Morgan Griffith, because of his nose-to-the-grindstone persona. Besides, the sixth floor office is right at the entrance to the GAB stairwell, which, for all practical purposes, is a fire lobbyist escape. 

But not only will the new Majority Leader have the two GAB offices, he'll also have, we forgot to mention last time, an office in Mr. Jefferson's Capitol — as do the Speaker and the Minority Leader. He's accumulating more real estate than Donald Trump, but he will need it. With so much on his plate, the offices will serve as hideouts to secure himself from and misdirect the special interests who are sure to hound him. As well as we know Delegate Cox, we're confident he'll handle all of his new responsibilities with great grace, equanimity and humility.

Fox Business Network Foils McDonnell Appearance With West Virginia Video!

You can't turn on the television these days without seeing a Virginia politician. Perhaps, just perhaps, the political world revolves around the Old Dominion again, as it did 230 years ago? Whether it's Governor Bob McDonnell talking about turning budget deficits into accounting surpluses (and then larger surpluses), Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli updating viewers on the law suit he filed against the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the health care law, Delegate Bob Marshall warning about illegal aliens, Representative (and House Republican Whip) Eric Cantor denouncing the massive unemployment and trillions in debt rung up by the Obama-Pelosi-Reid regime, former Governor Tim Kaine calling Republicans "extreme" or another former governor, Doug Wilder, preaching to Dems that Joe Biden should be dropped as vice president (, Virginia pols are everywhere. Mostly, they are able to get in their talking points. But as good a job as they do, they can't overcome matters out of their control. Such was the case a few days ago when Governor McDonnell appeared on The Willis Report on the Fox Business Network. He was able to stick in the now familiar story of turning around the inherited budget deficit and Mr. Kaine's disastrous prescription — an unprecedented and massive income tax increase — into an accounting surplus without a general tax increase by cutting spending to 2006 levels. He even fended off a few pointed questions by Ms. Willis.

But when the director cut to the b-roll, not even the most skilled, 58-percent-landslide-winning pol could salvage a positive: Instead of the beautiful Mr. Jefferson's capitol, instead of the lush Capitol Square, instead of the burgeoning Richmond skyline and nation-defining-historic landmarks, instead of the James River's world class urban rapids, we got . . .

Charleston, West Virginia? Instead of the stately Commonwealth, the regal Old Dominion, the tradition of Virginia, we got mountainy West Virginny, with luxurious shots of overpasses and highways leading into Charleston. Sigh. A shock to the Virginia Tourism Corporation's system, for sure. Oh, well. At least the road they show leads to the airport named for one of my heroes: the original man with The Right Stuff — General Chuck Yeager . . . made famous in pop culture, of course, by a Virginian, Richmonder Tom Wolfe!

The Fox Business Network video won't post to the blog for some reason, but click here to be to be taken to it on its Web page.

Virginia Health Care Freedom Act Gains More National Attention

The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization of state legislators that  promotes conservative and free market legislation throughout the 50 state legislatures. Its immediate past national chairman is Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksbug). Its Virginia Chairmen are Delegate Chris Jones (R-76, Suffolk) and Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield). As a driving force for free market solutions to remedy health care, it provides model legislation to its state legislator membership, research and other tools, and tracks the progress of bills across the country. This year, health care freedom is one of ALEC's  priorities as 30-plus states have introduced such legislation. It's had a busy time in Virginia this session of the General Assembly as five bills protecting the health care freedom of Virginians have advanced rapidly through Mr. Jefferson's capitol and Virginia races to become the first state to stand up to the federal government's over reach into the health care decisions of individuals.

Recently, Christie Herrera, director of ALEC's health and human services task force, spoke with World Net Daily Radio about the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, as the national media continues to pay attention to Virginia's lead as the first state to define the limits of the federal government's powers.

To hear the seven minute interview, click here.

Start 2010 By Making An Impact: Register For Family Fondation Day At The Capitol

In 2009, we achieved some of the biggest accomplishments since our inception. Winning Matters was a very successful voter education campaign, and we enjoyed the largest Gala attendance in Family Foundation history with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as our keynote speaker. But with a new year, a new administration and a new General Assembly — it starts tomorrow! — making 2009 a halcyon memory in the always fast paced world of politics, conservatives across the Old Dominion are focused on the now, motivated and active with the optimism new opportunities afford. We certainly are at The Family Foundation. That it is to say, previous success should never slow future achievement. Instead, we want to build off of 2009's momentum rather than reminisce, and make a bigger difference this year than ever before.

To do that, you have to strike fast and hard by capitalizing on your newfound gains and hold lawmakers' feet to the fire. So, we are hosting our annual Family Foundation Day at the Capitol, Monday, January 18 — commonly known as "lobby day." This is the way civic advocates and grassroots activists, like you, learn about what legislation, good and bad, will impact the lives of Virginia families in the 2010 General Assembly. Not only will you be educated on the issues by hearing great speakers, but you also will have the opportunity to speak directly to those delegates and senators that represent you in Richmond, and let them know of your desire to keep Virginia a great place to raise a family.

We've made it easier than ever to join us for lobby day with our first ever online registration. Simply click here.

On that site, please be sure to register each individual attending with you. We will then make appointments for you with your legislators. We have made room for greater attendance than we have ever experienced in past lobby days and we are already ahead of where we were with registrations last year at this time. So, don't miss out — or get squeezed out. Reserve places for yourself, your family and your friends at this important event. You may also register by e-mailing John Smith at or by calling (804) 343-0010.

Family Foundation Day at the Capitol is Monday, January 18, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (registration begins at 9 :00) at the newly restored Hilton Garden Inn, 501 East Broad Street, a few blocks from Mr. Jefferson's Capitol and General Assembly Building. The whole family is invited. In fact, one of the reasons we schedule Family Foundation Day at the Capitol on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday is to give parents the opportunity to conduct their own field trip by bringing their children to Richmond to experience their commonwealth’s government at work. Now, there's an education!

NOVA-Envy: Richmond-Area "Planners" Show Tone Deafness, Approve NOVA-Style Transportation Tax Authority!

For the nearly 1 million people who live in the city of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover, the alarm has sounded. Apparently, the business elites and their politician and government bureaucrat proxies have a bit of NOVA-envy. A panel of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission has approved the Central Virginia Regional Transportation Authority. However, given the scope of taxes it would be empowered to levy, it is grossly misnamed. We'll call it the Tax Authority. It would be able, according to today's Richmond Times-Dispatch, to raise in taxes "more than $108 million . . . annually to finance road-building and other projects." (Not to mention the inevitable staff, offices, travel to conferences and other government extravagance.) It will have the power to take your money

"from seven new or increased taxes or fees, including a 2 percent increase in the gas tax, a 40-cent increase in the grantor's tax on real-estate transactions and a 1 percent first-time vehicle registration fee." (Emphasis added.) 

The Richmond area is a growing, dynamic area for sure, home to about 13 Fortune 1000 corporate headquarters, seven universities and colleges, and Mr. Jefferson's capitol, among many other notable institutions that help it thrive. But who here is complaining about traffic? Metro Richmond is not NOVA, nor is it a wannabe. It isn't even Hampton Roads (hold your jokes until after class). At least not its citizens. Maybe the politicians have NOVA-envy. However, there's no clamor to emulate the megapolitan Northern Virginia's failed idea of burdening hard-working families, with already stretched budgets, with another layer of government and another layer of taxers and spenders waiting to dip their hands into our bank accounts. Not when local spending is as wasteful as state spending (read this and this and this and this — and that's just for starters and only for Richmond City). (Don't laugh if you live in Goochland, New Kent, Powhatan or any of the other 16 localities in the planning district — you may be next. Your politicians will be allowed to petition their way into this Tax Authority, too.)

How tone deaf can these bureaucrats and politicians be? Are they that beholden to big business to do their bidding even now, when these authorities have been voted down in other regions? When these same fees are so unpopular, even Governor Tim Kaine couldn't bully them through this summer's Special Tax Session? When the Supreme Court ruled another version of them unconstitutional — unanimously? Especially in such slow economic times? Do they not know the three taxes listed above are extra burdens on the three most troubling sectors of the economy? Is big business that desperate to make us taxpayers subsidize roads for their malls, office parks and residential areas?

As of now, this scheme isn't close to finalization. First, each governing body of the member jurisdictions must approve it, although some of the geniuses who created it are on those bodies. Then the General Assembly must approve it and the governor sign it.

The typical RINO suspects are behind the deal. One is Hanover County Supervisor John Gordon. Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett has about as much patience for your money as Dracula has for blood — he drafted the plan. (He also pushed a referendum for a $20 million meals tax in 2005 that was defeated.) What remains to be seen is whether Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) and Delegate Frank Hall (D-69, Richmond) will bring back their bills in the 2009 General Assembly session allowing the creation of the Tax Authority. They were tabled last session because the local governments had not studied them enough. Look what a little time has done.

You can contact Delegate Hall or Senator Watkins by clicking on their names at the links above. In the meantime, if you live in Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico or Hanover, click on the link to look-up your councilman or supervisor and tell them despite their inferiority complex, you have no NOVA-envy.