Senate Courts of Justice Committee

Despite 75 Percent Approval Of 2012 Property Rights Amendment, Government Still Engaged In Eminent Domain Abuse

On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee will consider SB 194, a bill to protect property owners from inverse condemnation, a technique that subverts the Property Rights Amendment Virginians passed with 75 percent of the vote in 2012, after government bureaucrats prevented it from reaching the ballot for years. It is a shame that after such a massive victory for families and for liberty from big government, we still must fight eminent domain abuse. Here’s what VDOT and other government agencies now do: When it needs land, it publicly announces its intention to take land for "development rights" or for "conservation easements." However, the agencies don’t make an offer for the land. Meanwhile, the property, often in the same family for decades, or invested in for retirement or for family needs, such as paying for children’s college education, instantly loses massive value.

The property owner can’t sell it to anyone, because nothing can be done to the land. The government agency can take its time — often years — until the property is so cheap, it’s compensation to the owners for the taking is a fraction of what it once was worth. This is a backdoor method of making taxpayers subsidize government!

The perfect example of this is the Tri-County Parkway in Prince William and Loudon Counties. There, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the federal government teamed up to "grant" conservation easements to land in a historic district so as to build a road near a historic battlefield. Yet, it asked no property owners if they wanted the easements and, in fact, every property owner wrote asking for their land to be removed from the easements. But, the government is sticking to its position.

Please contact members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, especially if your senator is a member. Ask them to support Senator Dick Black's SB 194 this Wednesday. The bill will protect property values by allowing the owner to get compensated for what the land was worth at the beginning of the process.

The bill also dovetails with the Property Rights Amendment’s language that allows property owners to receive just legal expenses in these indirect takings, just as owners do who have their land taken by conventional eminent domain. Currently, property owners, especially older ones, are intimidated from going to court for fear of expensive court costs.

ACTION: Please contact members if the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and urge them or her to vote yes Wednesday on SB 194, to prevent this shameless method of government taking families’ lands on the cheap and circumventing the Property Rights Amendment!

 

 

 

Property Rights: Your Rights? Or The Government's Right To Take It From You?

Yesterday, HB 652, the property rights reform bill, was referred by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to the Senate Finance Committee because of an alleged "fiscal impact" to the state. The bill will be heard tomorrow morning in Finance. The impact simply is hypothetical, conjecture and/or assumption. Take your pick. Fiscal Impact Statements are supposed to identify the cost of bills that require certain new expenses, not something VDOT says "might happen." This is nothing more than big government bureaucracy trying to kill a bill that would have them rightly compensate people whose property they take. Yesterday, in Courts of Justice, when committee Chairman Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond) said he was bringing up a motion to refer the bill to Finance, Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath) was rightly surprised. He asked if the bill had a Fiscal Impact Statement. The reply from a senator opposed to the bill was, "Yes, a big one. One that will affect future budgets." Oh, how the big government lobby has them fooled. There was some discussion, but the bill had its course set — not much anyone could do at that point. The vote was taken and it was sent to Finance unanimously.

But facts won't die. When the House Appropriations Committee thoroughly vetted this bill, it found no fiscal impact! There is no more of a fine tooth comb in the General Assembly than the House Appropriations Committee. But the forces of big government, such as lobbyists for the counties and cities, as well as VDOT, will do everything they can to prevent liberty and scuttle property rights that affect families, small businesses and farms.

Were HB 652 to become law, it would go a long way toward making whole families whose businesses, homes and farms are horribly affected by eminent domain. The bill, patroned by Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville) and co-patroned by several Republicans, passed the House 98-1. It would allow property owners a chance to present evidence that a government property taking has rendered other property useless, and therefore receive adequate compensation. It is a fairness bill — it guarantees nothing — only that such evidence can be presented to a jury in eminent domain cases. The government can still make its case and if it has a good argument it will win. Fair is fair.

But the big government types — who use your tax money to lobby against you — are trying hard to kill this bill. They say it is "too expensive" even though all alleged "costs" are speculative. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford) said it best: "I don’t know how VDOT can arrive at an impact. It’s like they’re predicting juries!" We agree and if VDOT and other agencies say they’ll have to pay more money, it’s an admission that they have been ripping off landowners in Virginia for decades. Enough of that! Let them take only the land they need and pay a fair price for it or don’t take it at all — then they won’t have to worry about a "fiscal impact."

According to our property rights expert witnesses, this is the biggest eminent domain reform law in Virginia in decades, apart from the 2007 law that defines public use. It would be a shame for it to get this far only for a Senate committee to rule against the people in favor of big government interests whose appetite for your tax money never abates.

The Finance Committee meets at 9:00 tomorrow morning. It has a short docket, so a lot of attention will be focused on this bill. Do you part to ensure constitutional protections of property rights. Please contact members (click here) of the Senate Finance Committee now and ask them to pass HB 652.

Property Rights Heads To Senate Finance And Who's Behind The Mystery Memo Opposing It?

Another major bill had a less thrilling outcome today, setting the stage for a showdown in Senate Finance Wednesday. The Senate Courts of Justice Committee referred HB 652, the property rights bill, to the Senate Finance Committee on a 15-0 vote. It will be heard there Wednesday morning. Ever since the middle of last week when COJ yanked the bill from its Civil sub-committee for a full hearing committee hearing, rumors have bounced off every wall and ceiling on every floor of the GAB: It's going to pass because of this. It's going to die, because of that. These guys are for it. Those guys are against it. Who's to know what's true? Oh, if I could say what I know.

Here's what we do know: Big government forces continue to lobby against it and pressure senators (see video here). Their lobbyists have been in every committee room HB 652 has been heard in, waiting to ounce. In fact, the lobbyist for the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League, begged Committee Chairman Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond) to let him and other opponents to speak today. Senator marsh told him to save it for Finance.

Think this is all stuff of a conspiracy? Check out the case of the mystery memo posted on Tertium Quids: A set of unattributed talking points opposed to the bill was found, apparently being dropped off at certain senators' offices. Lobbying information is supposed to be identified, sort of like campaign mailers. Hmmmmmmm.

On the other hand, the good guys have an expanding coalition for the bill and three major editorial pages, of different political philosophies, have endorsed it since Thursday: The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star and the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

In the meantime, do your part to protect property rights. Contact members of the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to pass HB 652 Wednesday morning.

The Intrigue In Senate Courts Of Justice Never Stops

The intrigue this session in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee continues. Remember the saga of SB 504? It was in COJ, and passed out of a sub-committee, only to be abruptly referred to the Committee on Education and Health. Today, for some unexplained reason (and it may be on the up and up) HB 652, a property rights/just compensation bill, which was supposed to be heard in the COJ Civil Sub-committee was (with selected other bills) singled out to be carried over straight to the full committee on Monday morning. If HB 652 passes there, it likely will be referred to the Finance Committee because of an alleged "fiscal impact." Oh, the things I wish I could tell. But can't. But hope to once the coast is clear!

Back to matter at hand: HB 652 is a great bill that will go a long way to making whole families whose businesses, homes and farms are horribly affected in eminent domain cases. The bill, patroned by Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville) and co-patroned by several Republicans, passed the House 98-1, and the Appropriations Committee said it caused no fiscal impact to the Commonwealth. However, we think there may be some skeptics in the Senate, so please act (see below). The bill would allow property owners a chance to present evidence that a government taking has rendered other property useless, and therefore receive adequate compensation. It is a fairness bill — it guarantees nothing — only that a farmer, small business owner or family can present the evidence to a jury in eminent domain cases. The government can still make its case and if it has a good argument it will win. Fair is fair.

But the big government types — counties, cities and VDOT, who use your tax money to lobby against you — are trying hard to kill this bill. They say it is "too expensive" even though all alleged "costs" are speculative. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford) said it best: "I don’t know how VDOT can arrive at an impact. It’s like they’re predicting juries!" We agree, and if VDOT and other agencies say they’ll have to pay more money, it’s an admission that it has been ripping off landowners in Virginia for decades already! Enough of that! (See refutation of FIS.) Let them take only the land they need and pay a fair price for it or don’t take it at all — then they won’t have to worry about a "fiscal impact."

According to our property rights expert witnesses, this is the biggest eminent domain reform law in Virginia in decades, apart from the 2007 law that defines public use. It would be a shame for it to get this far only for a Senate committee to rule against the people in favor of big government interests whose appetite for your tax money never abates.

So, please contact members of the Senate Courts of Justice (here) and Finance Committees now and ask them to pass HB 652.

Senate Committee: Public Prayer Censored!

Monday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee killed SB 56, legislation that would have restored the right of citizens invited to pray according to the dictates of their faith at government meetings. The legislation, patroned by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), was defeated 9-6 on a near party line vote (see committee vote). Last year, similar legislation was debated at length — in fact over two days, in the same committee. The proposal did not receive similar scrutiny this year as it was the final bill on the committee’s docket and was debated for only about 10 minutes as the meeting drew to a close. Despite evidence presented by The Family Foundation that no federal court case anywhere requires so-called "non-sectarian" prayers at government meetings, the majority of the committee chose to listen to the ACLU and other organizations that oppose the right of citizens to pray according to their conscience at public meetings. Similar legislation introduced this year in the House of Delegates was never debated in committee.

Questions And Answers Regarding The Virginia Senate

After all the reporting we've done this week on SB 504, Senator Ralph Smith's (R-22, Roanoke) coerced abortion bill, and the Senate's mischief with it, the in-box has been flooded and the phone lines burned up with questions. We are grateful for your interest and for your desire to get involved. With all the interest, we decided to compile a FAQ list, of sorts. Here goes:   Who hires the Clerk of the Senate?

Mrs. Susan Schaar is the Clerk of the Senate and has held that office since 1990. According to Senate Rule 8a:

A Clerk of the Senate shall be elected by the Senate for a term of four years and shall thereafter continue in office until another is chosen.

Among the Clerk’s duties are the maintenance of all Senate records and the referral of bills to committees. In different circumstances, we would provide you with Mrs. Schaar’s contact information and ask for you to contact her to encourage judicious bill referrals. However, since Mrs. Schaar is not elected by the populace and instead is elected by the Senate — and instructed to strictly follow its rules — contacting her to encourage changes to bill referrals is not the most appropriate course of action.

When can "the rule" be changed?

According to Rule 54 of the Senate, the Senate rules are adopted at the beginning of the first General Assembly session upon the election of the Senate. The Rules were last adopted in January 2008. Amendments can be made any year; however, January 2012 is the next year rules will be adopted.

What can I do?

Contacting legislators really does make a difference. In the past, we’ve seen that even as few as two or three e-mails or calls from constituents can cause a legislator to reconsider his or her vote. Concerning this bill, there are two things you can do:

1. Contact the Senate Courts of Justice Committee members (see below). Thank those who supported SB 504 for their principled stand for life. For those who opposed SB 504, let them know that you were monitoring this bill and that you were disappointed with their vote.

2. Contact the Senate Education and Health Committee members (click here) and encourage them to support SB 504.

How can I express thanks/disappointment to senators on their SB 504 vote?

Below are the names and contact information for the Senators on the full Senate Courts of Justice committee. E-mailing or calling is the best way to contact these senators to express your thanks or disappointment.

Senators to thank for voting to add penalties for coerced abortion:

Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), district13@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7513

Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg), district03@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7503

Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), district20@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7520

Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), district26@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7526

Ryan McDougle (R-4, Mechanicsville), district04@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7504

Robert Hurt (R-19, Chatham), district19@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7519

Senators voting against adding penalties for coerced abortion:

Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond), district16@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7516

Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), district25@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7535

Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), district32@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7532

Louise Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth), district18@senate.virginia.gov, 804-98-7518

John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke), district21@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7521

Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon), district36@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7536

Creigh Deeds (D-25, Charlottesville), district25@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7525

Don McEachin (D-9, Richmond), district09@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7509

Chap Petersen (D-34, Fairfax) , district34@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7526

UPDATE: SB 504 Will Be Heard In Full Courts Of Justice Committee This Afternoon Today!

We finally have some answers as to why there was an unexpected and incorrect change in committee referrals to SB 504, a bill patroned by Senator Ralph Smith (R-22, Roanoke) that would criminalize coerced or forced abortions. It was assigned to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, where it was heard in sub-committee earlier this week. Last night, all of a sudden, its legislative services Web page listed it as in the Committee on Education and Health. Cutting to the quick: SB 504 will, in fact, be heard in the full Courts of Justice Committee this afternoon. (Click here to see the committee docket.) So, while you're here, click to see the committee members and ask them to support it!

The question The Family Foundation asked was this: Is this a clerical error or an attempt to tamper with a pro-life bill that has seen unexpected success in the Senate? This morning, we did some digging and found an answer to our question.

In the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate (Susan Schaar) is responsible for referring all bills to committees. Mrs. Schaar is in an unelected position, however she holds an almost unparalleled amount of power in the Senate. Because of the way certain Senate committees are proportioned, assigning a bill to certain committees is often a foolproof way to secure the demise of a good bill. We see this often with pro-life bills in the Senate.

When we first received notice that SB504 would be sent to the Senate Courts committee, we were pleased because this was the first time a coerced abortion bill was properly placed. This bill addresses criminal and civil penalties and therefore belonged in the Courts committee, not Senate Education and Health where it had been referred in previous years.

Here’s what we found out from several sources is said to have happened: Mrs. Schaar said that she did not realize that SB504 had had a hearing in the Senate Courts subcommittee and therefore when she made last night’s change, she did so believing that she had changed the original referral back to the “proper” committee – Senate Education and Health. Mrs. Schaar said that since a hearing had taken place in the Courts subcommittee, she would allow SB504 to continue to be heard at the full Courts committee today. A clerical error? That’s for you to decide.

So as of now, SB504 has been returned to the appropriate committee and will be heard today at 2pm. Please keep the full Senate Courts Committee, Senator Ralph Smith and The Family Foundation staff in your prayers as a win in this committee today would be very significant for pro-family advocates. There will likely be efforts today to kill the bill either directly or subtly (re-referral to Senate Education and Health as Senator Don McEachin (D-9, Richmond) wanted in subcommittee). While there would be a few more hurdles left after this, today’s full committee is the most significant challenge and successful passage would be one of the largest accomplishments for pro-life advocates in years.

UPDATE: Case Of The Whitewashed Bill SB 504

We have learned several things about SB 504, the coerced abortion bill patroned by Senator Ralph Smith (R-22, Roanoke), and why its legislative history was whitewashed from its legislative services Web page and why it appears to have been re-referred from the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to the Committee on Education and Health. Some may be plausible, some not. All is murky at this point. We still are looking for clarification from several Senate sources and hope to have complete answers later today. Please check back here as well as your e-mail for further updates.

Great Eye For The Constitution

As we've been researching the legislative voting records of Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds in preparation for media interviews, we came across something rather interesting. In 1998, then Delegate Deeds voted in favor of HB 1154, a ban on partial birth abortion. That law eventually was struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional. Then, in 2003, Senator Deeds voted against SB 1205 and HB 1541, also bans on partial birth abortion. That law was recently upheld by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

So, as a legislator, Deeds voted for a bill that was found unconstitutional and against a bill that was found constitutional. Great legal analysis by a current member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and someone who, should he be elected governor, will be tasked with analyzing the constitutionality of hundreds of bills that land on his desk.

National Day Of Prayer Reminds Us Religious Liberty Still Must Be Protected

Today is the 58th annual National Day of Prayer. The theme for this year's observance is "Prayer: America's Hope" and the Scripture verse is:

"May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You." (Psalm 33:22)

We ask you to join with our nation and with The Family Foundation as we pray for God's grace and His healing of our land.

The National Day of Prayer has a storied history. In 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law a declaration that every president must proclaim a National Day of Prayer on the day of his choosing. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan codified the first Thursday of May as the official National Day of Prayer. Since then, Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have marked this day with a White House observance. All presidents have issued commemorative proclamations. For many years, a special prayer service has been held in the East Room.

Of course, now we are in a era of "change," the "Age of Obama." As this day approached, many pondered what, if anything, new or otherwise, the president might do. After all, he did state that America is "no longer a Christian nation" and his recent address at Georgetown University came with the insistence that it cover Jesus' name.   

It turns out that President Obama, in lockstep with his previous hostile decisions, decided not to schedule a public ceremony in the White House, and may not send a representative to the National Day of Prayer Task Force event on Capitol Hill. Instead, he opted for a private proclamation signing. All are actions that indicate a desire to squelch the public expression of faith.

An Archbishop of Canterbury once said, "Lex orandi, lex credendi," which translates to, "the manner in which we pray shapes the manner in which we believe." President Obama's actions appear to show that he, unlike pro-family Virginians, does not respect the importance of prayer and belief. Given what we see from the White House, now more than ever, it's important that we protect our religious liberty.

However, we at The Family Foundation, continue to lead the battle in Virginia. In the past decade, we have championed several efforts on behalf of preserving religious liberty in the Commonwealth:

» A bill requiring that every school division conduct a moment of silence so each student can pray, meditate, or reflect (passed into law in 2000)

» A bill authorizing the posting of the national motto, "In God We Trust," in public buildings (passed into law in 2002)

» A bill requiring a higher legal standard for government to intrude on an individual's religious liberty (passed into law in 2007)

» A bill further protecting the rights of students in Virginia public schools to express their faith within classroom work (passed into law in 2008)

» A bill to restore the rights of state police chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus (passed the House in 2009, but failed in  Senate Courts of Justice Committee)

At first sight, it seems the last bill is an anomaly. Not necessarily so. It can take one, two or several sessions to get a bill passed and signed into law. Religious liberty is fragile and in danger from intrusion, or neglect, by the state. So, we will continue to fight to protect our religious heritage, even during an era where, to some, not prayer, but the cult of personality is paramount.

(We can always use help in carrying out our mission: To do so, visit our Action Center, sign up for our e-mail alerts here, sign up to volunteer here, or make a donation here.)

You Had To Be There . . .

We've received a few questions about yesterday's vote in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on HB 2314, the chaplain prayer bill. The most asked question is simple: What was the actual vote on the bill? Unfortunately, because of the game played in committee, its not as simple as that. In fact, the final vote on the bill is in no way a reflection of where individual legislators actually stood on issue of chaplain prayer or religious freedom. Essentially, an amendment to the bill (herein referred to as the "Norment Amendment") added by the committee changed the bill from a pro-religious liberty bill to an anti-religious liberty bill. It changed the bill into what is the current state police policy that censors prayers. Because of the Norment Amendment, we wanted the bill to fail (as did the patron, Delegate Bill Carrico). However, some of the members of the committee (who support religious liberty) voted against killing the bill in hopes that they could fix it later.  Thus, the final vote is very mixed and does not reflect the actual positions of legislators.

Because of the confusion over the final vote, we are counting the vote on the Norment Amendment as the actual position of legislators on the bill (shockingly, this vote is not available online). We do, however, have the entire meeting on video so we have record of that vote.

In a true "you had to be there" example, this is a debate and outcome that can be very confusing. Some legislators who voted to keep the bill alive at the end actually had ill intent for the bill, but my guess is they will attempt to hide behind that final vote. We won't let them.

We have a small sampling of yesterday's debate in the video below:

Chaplain Religious Freedom Bill Dies in Senate Courts

This morning the Senate Courts of Justice Committee defeated HB 2314 patroned by Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax). This bill would have restored to the Commonwealth's State Trooper chaplains the religious liberty right to pray according to the dictates of their conscience. This restoration of freedom is necessary after State Police Superintendent Stephen Flaherty issued an administrative order that chaplains can no longer pray "in the name of Jesus." This decision has been strongly supported by Governor Kaine's administration despite the pursuant resignations of six chaplains.  In a long and very contentious meeting, HB 2314 was the final bill to be heard. Testimony was offered on both sides. (Video of the debate will be available here tomorrow.) Joining The Family Foundation in speaking in support of the bill was the state Solicitor General Steve McCullough, the Rev. Sherylann Bragton of City of Love Ministries and Dr. Jack Knapp of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists. In opposition to the bill were the ACLU, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Interfaith Center for Public Policy and a Jewish police chaplain from northern Virginia.  

Opponents used their typical arguments, such as stating that in order to minister to all people one must strip any religious references out of their prayers. The police chaplain stated, "When I don my police uniform I am no longer representing my congregation as a Jewish clergy. Instead I am representing the government." 

While he may choose to leave his particular faith at the door when he ministers to others, to have the state require that one minister in this way is not acceptable. Delegate Carrico continued to remind the committee that the state police policy of censorship was issued not as the result of a single complaint of proselytizing but instead out of an ideological agenda.

Leading the charge to defeat the bill was Senator Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg). Instead of outright voting against the bill, Senator Norment chose to do something even more detrimental to the effort being waged by those who seek to uphold First Amendment freedoms — he offered amendments accepted by a majority of the committee in which he inserted "nonsectarian" before each mention of prayer in the bill. As Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) pointed out to the committee and myriad of reporters following this hearing, a plain reading of this new language indicated that the amended bill would enshrine the state superintendent's policy into perpetuity. It was an amendment intended to kill the entire purpose of the bill.

Even after the killer amendment was accepted, the bill died by a majority vote. If you are interested to know where people really stood on this bill, those who voted against the Norment amendment actually support the religious liberty rights upon which this nation was founded: Senators Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover), Robert Hurt (R-19, Chatham) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville). 

Despite the testimony of opponents to this legislation the facts are clear — neither the Constitution nor the Courts of the United States require or compel a faithless, non-religious, nonsectarian prayer at government events. Sadly, as is often the case for some members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, the facts and the law are but a distasteful distraction. 

Unfortunately, for six state police chaplains, this decision renders meaningless the protection of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which states:

"That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

Virginia News Stand: February 20, 2009

We're glad to bring the News Stand back to you today. (Translation: It's a slow day at the GA.) But looky here — it seems we just can't stay out of the news. Two of our major initiatives lead the News Stand: Pro-life legislation, predictably killed in the "Committee of Death" Thursday, and the ongoing chaplain prayer controversy. That bill now will be heard Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, or so we're led to believe. Abortion bills voted down in Senate committee (Lynchburg News & Advance) 

What Would Jefferson Do? Prayer Bill Roils Richmond (Washington Post

GOP Rift Over Howell Worsens (Washington Post

State funding for public TV, radio on chopping block (Charlottesville Daily Progress

States prepare to combat stimulus strings (Washington Times)

GOP hopefuls debate for top prosecutor (Roanoke Times)   

Republican candidates for Virginia's Attorney General debate in Roanoke (WSLS-TV)