Remember To Vote In Important Virginia Senate Election Tomorrow In Fairfax!

Here's a reminder to our readers in Fairfax County: There is a special election tomorrow, in the 37th Senate district, which is made up of precincts in the Braddock, Sully and Springfield supervisor districts. The election is to fill the seat of Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli, who resigned from the Virginia Senate after his election victory in November.

Polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. and voting is at your normal polling place. Click here to see if your precinct is in the district. Bring your voter registration card or a picture ID.

Voting is a sacred responsibility that we need to exercise every time we have the opportunity. People of faith turned out in record percentages for November’s election and we elected three pro-life, pro-family candidates to the three top offices in the state. This election could be nearly as important since the Virginia Senate is so closely divided (a 21-19 Democrat majority). The last election for this seat was decided by only 92 votes, so your vote does make a difference.

To see where the candidates stand on issues important to the family and to people of faith, click here, to visit tffaction.org. We have prepared voter guides especially for this election in English, Spanish and Korean. You can also watch footage, by clicking here, from a candidate forum hosted last week by the Fairfax Family Forum. Be an informed voter, and support the candidate that stands for the values that you believe in. (Click here the to read about the role of the tax issue as well as how one candidate's "home" is a room in a friend's house, and click here to read the role of social issues.)

Thank you for making the commitment to go out and vote tomorrow. Please pass this link to your like-minded friends and family members in the 37th district.

Following The Leader Off The Cliff

It's beyond lame, now . . . the automatic, reflexive response by Virginia's liberals that not only do we need more taxes but that we can afford them. Regarding the former, it's that the "government doesn't have enough money," as if the people it is sucking it from does. That's the problem we're facing now, right? People have less money. Too bad. Government elites want whatever it is you have left. Regarding the latter, whether it's Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) pitching higher gas taxes or now Governor Tim Kaine pleading  for higher unemployment insurance taxes on businesses, it's always something about Virginia's taxes aren't as high as a neighboring state's or the national average or states that begin with letters never chosen in the final round on Wheel of Fortune, therefore we can afford them. As if the fact that Virginia may happen to have a particular tax lower than North Carolina, Maryland or Utah makes a difference as to whether it's justifiable on the merits to raise it .

The latest in this nonsense is the aforementioned tax on businesses that funds unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Last week, during its veto session, the General Assembly rejected the governor's attempt to accept federal "stimulus" money for extended unemployment insurance payments. The main argument against accepting the money was that, after the two year federal funding period, Virginia would have been obligated to continue the expenditures at a level necessitating a large tax increase on the people that create the jobs to begin with — businesses, including small businesses (often family owned) which create most jobs.

According to Governor Kaine, as reported in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Virginia employers pays the second lowest annual amount of unemployment taxes in the nation." By that logic, let's raise every tax in Virginia in which we are in the bottom 10 percentile. Or 20 percentile . . . or heck, make it the 50 percentile. Don't want to feel too fortunate, here, do we?

In effect, they're saying let's give up our advantage in order to tax more people because other states are doing it. But isn't the idea to create an economic environment to recruit new business to Virginia and to encourage start-ups? But these liberals are saying, "We're not taxing our residents enough. If other states can do it, so can we!" Worse, they believe it!

Turns out though, Virginia isn't such a low tax state after all, the perception perhaps perpetuated as a ready excuse to raise taxes (we're under taxed, so ante up more). According to Scott Hodge of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Virginia's overall tax burden is one of the nation's worst, rivaling notoriously high-taxing New York, New Jersey, California and, even, "Taxachussetts." (So much for our low-tax advantage.) Hodges spoke recently on Freedom & Prosperity Radio and you can hear the interview here with other interesting statistics.

Either way — whether they believe there is "room" to raise taxes compared to other states or they selectively pick and choose taxes that are lower here by comparison in order to raise a sense that an increase won't hurt — Virginia's tax-and-spenders insist on following other states rather than leading. Never mind that it's following them right off the economic cliff.

Pastors For Family Values To Hold Northern Virginia Luncheon

On April 21, Pastors For Family Values, the pastoral component of The Family Foundation, will hold a Pastors Fellowship Lunch at 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 111, in Springfield. It will last from 12:00-2:00 p.m. There is no charge for the event, which includes lunch, but a reservation is required. All pastors are invited.

To RSVP, call Kathi Haley at 703-752-1624 or e-mail her at khaley@bible.edu.

The event is hosted by Capital Bible Seminary and among those who will speak are Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb and the Rev. John Smith, interim director of pastoral ministry for PFFV.

Speaking as one voice on the issues of the day, Pastors for Family Values assists pastors in performing their Biblical duty of being salt and light in our culture through civic activism.

Legislative Abstinence

Year after year, school choice bills are introduced in the General Assembly, only to die in the Senate Finance Committee. Earlier this year, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) lost a Pennsylvania-style school choice bill in the committee's typical fashion, for lack of a motion. The reason the bill never gets a motion is because, if no one makes a motion, no one is held accountable for a vote.  This morning, Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton) had his school choice bill, HB 1965, defeated, but the story of defeat is a bit different this year.

After much debate, for only the third time in the last decade of our educational freedom efforts, a bill of this nature received motions to report (pass)! However, Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), seldom one to miss a chance at killing a Family Foundation bill, offered a substitute motion to PBI the bill (pass by indefinitely/kill). The substitute motion was seconded and the bill eventually died a slow and painful death. There were 10 votes to PBI, 4 votes against the PBI, 1 abstention, and 1 no vote. 

You may ask — what's the difference between an "abstention" and a "no" vote. A "no" vote usually applies when a legislator is not present to vote on the bill or, in the case of the Senate, does not leave a proxy (or a note on how he wishes to vote). An abstention may be used when there is a conflict of interest (for example, some legislators abstain on voting on certain issues because their spouse is a lobbyist, thus creating a conflict of interest), but is most often used when a legislator does not want to be held accountable for his or her vote. 

Most significantly, an abstention is a fabulous way of avoiding a lower rating on The Family Foundation Action's Report Card. Knowing that school choice is a top priority for TFF, it is a reasonable guess to think that this vote might affect one's score on that document. Since The Family Foundation Action must rate legislators objectively and strictly according to public record, it can not dock a legislator for an abstention because one's reasons may be a legitimate conflict of interest. 

Given the inability of The Family Foundation Action's Report Card to capture this game in print, The Family Foundation has sought new ways to hold legislators accountable. The Family Foundation has begun an initiative to get committee hearings of interest on tape.

Today for whatever reason, Senator Emmett Hanger (R-24, Augusta) didn't feel compelled to vote for educational freedom, or vote at all for that matter.  Watch the video below and see for yourself!


I wonder how the 74 percent of people in Senator Hanger's region who, according to a Mason Dixon poll, support this legislation, will feel about his decision to hide abstention?

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.

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.

When Do Liberals Love Big Oil?

If it's not the liberal enemy number one, "Big Oil" certainly must be in the Left's top five. But yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) played not only played "Big Oil" cheerleader, but also Secretary of State in the Senate Finance Committee. Which leads to another question: When do liberals advocate military intervention? Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) introduced SB 1545, which would force the Virginia Retirement System to divest of holdings in foreign companies that do business with Iran until it disarms it nuclear capabilities. Under U.S. law, American companies are barred from doing business with Iran, so there is no conflict there.

Senator Blevins had an expert foreign policy witness, who has advised the previous five presidents, and top pentagon officials and officers who clearly showed Senator Saslaw out of his depth. Saslaw kept asking how can lil' ol' Virginny, with $20 million worth of said investments, have any affect on Iran.

The expert said repeatedly, it isn't Virginia alone. It's 14 other states undertaking this measure, and about 30 other points in a comprehensive plan, almost all that the federal government must undertake. This was Virginia's piece, he said. Cumulatively, all 30-plus points would have an affect. Undaunted, the majority leader pressed him and deduced two points on his own, which he must think are brilliant:

1. We cannot divest of foreign companies doing business with Iran because about the only foreign companies that do business with Iran are oil companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and oil stocks are one of the few that are doing well. (Translation: Money over principle, always.)

2. The only way Iran will disarm its nuclear program is when Israel does it for them, citing its action against Iraq's nuclear plant in 1981 and a Syrian facility several months ago. (Translation: Better to put an ally's future at risk than for us to do the moral thing now.)

So, there you have it. Big oil bad, except when it's in the VRS investment fund; and military action good, but only if it's Israel doing the work we won't do. An interesting take, to say the least.