Virginia

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.

Will Session End On Time?

When the House of Delegates and Senate passed their respective budgets several days ago, the most glaring difference between the two, as anticipated, was the two chambers' approaches to Medicaid expansion. To wit, Obamacare in Virginia. The Senate included expanding Obamacare in its budget despite agreement last year with the House that the issue would be kept separate from the budget so it wouldn't become a stumbling block to passing a future budget. The agreement consisted of the creation of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, which has the authority to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning expansion. Its charter is to formulate necessary reforms for the abuse- and fraud-ridden program that state and federal governments must accept before Medicaid expansion gets anywhere near a floor vote for approval.

MIRC has yet, after almost a year's work, to draft its recommendations for reform. Instead, it continued its efforts for another year. Despite last year's agreement and MIRC's continuation, three Senate Republicans — John WatkinsWalter Stosch and Emmett Hanger — joined all 20 Democrats to passing the Senate budget with Medicaid expansion in it. The Senate and Governor Terry McAuliffe want to backtrack on last year's arrangement and want Obamacare expanded immediately.

To emphasize its position, House Republicans offered a budget floor amendment, modeled after the Senate expansion plan. It promptly went down 67-32. House Republicans have maintained that it would be irresponsible to expand Obamacare because future costs would be so great that it could cripple the state budget.

They also argue that the program is wrought with inefficiency and fraud and have proposed a first-ever outside audit before any expansion can take place. By example, former Governor Tim Kaine refused a VDOT audit for his four years and closed rest stops and other unnecessary cuts. After he left office, the audit House Republicans sought finally took place and revealed more than $1 billion in waste. There's no telling how much waste an audit of Medicaid would uncover since it is much larger than VDOT — about 21 percent of Virginia's budget and growing fast.

Most insiders in Richmond believe that the battle over Obamacare expansion will leave the state without a budget well into spring, if not longer. A new budget must be adopted by June 30 or state government could theoretically "shut down" July 1. Governor McAuliffe has stated that he intends to veto any budget sent to him that does not include Obamcare expansion and willingly shut down state government in order to get his way — not this session's much referenced, bipartisan-and-honor-your-agreements buzz phrase, "Virginia Way." That means police and fire departments without funding, teachers without pay and roads unpaved, among other disruptions.

A few days after the House passed its budget, reports surfaced that that Governor McAuliffe threatened vetoes of legislators' unrelated bills if they didn't go along with expansion,  something his office quickly denied. But delegates took to the floor later to recount the governor's bullying tactics and threats.

The House and Senate remain in conference in an attempt to settle their budget differences. But if conferees cannot come up with a solution before March 8, the General Assembly will have to adjourn without a budget — an unprecedented scenario that is growing more likely by the hour during this last week of session. Also, should a budget not pass, or a budget pass without the continuation of the MIRC, some believe that the governor will unilaterally expand Obamacare. That action could result in litigation, leaving it up to Attorney General Mark Herring to choose sides on the issue.

If it all sounds like Washington style politics and not "The Virginia Way," you're right. It's what many predicted during the campaign if Governor McAuliffe was elected. Be prepared to watch this battle go on well into the spring, and beyond.

Virginia, and "The Virginia Way," isn't for shutdowns. But it may come to that. 

House Budget Advances Life; Senate Version, Not So Much

The budget (HB 30) advanced by the House Appropriations Committee Sunday included several limitations on taxpayer funding of abortion, abortion providers and, maybe most importantly, on the governor's office. For good reason. When he campaigned for governor, Terry McAuliffe infamously proclaimed that he would issue a "guidance opinion" to stop the enforcement and implementation of Virginia's abortion center health and safety standards (see video here). Never mind that no one has ever heard of a "guidance opinion" (another rookie mistake) and the fact that a Virginia governor cannot unilaterally overturn a regulatory board's decisions, McAuliffe's statement revealed his desire to undermine the abortion center safety standards.

No wonder. He received nearly $2 million in reported campaign contributions from the abortion industry, which has fought against basic health standards for its $1 billion industry for years.

The House Appropriations committee, in an effort to ensure that the governor cannot circumvent the law, has introduced a budget amendment that would prevent . . .

funding in this budget or any matching funds . . . provided to implement any Executive order, Executive directive, guidance opinion or other direction from the Office of the Governor to suspend the regulations surrounding the operation of abortion clinics.

Essentially, if the House gets its way, any efforts by the Governor McAuliffe to undermine the law that could cost taxpayers money will be unfunded.

The House appropriators also included budget language that would bring Virginia in line with the federal "Hyde Amendment," which prohibits Virginia from funding abortion beyond rape, incest and life of the mother. Virginia currently funds abortion beyond those cases to include abortions for the severely disabled.

The Appropriations Committee included another amendment to prohibit taxpayer subsidizing of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest and wealthiest abortion provider. Nearly half of Planned Parenthood's funding comes from the taxpayers. Unfortunately, as expected, the Senate, controlled by pro-abortion legislators, included no amendments restricting abortion funding.

This week, the House and Senate will debate and amend their respective budgets, and vote on them Thursday. Later, each chamber will reject the other's budget, and a conference committee of select members of the House and Senate will work to create a final budget.

The battle over the budget is likely to last well into spring, but one thing is for sure: Thanks to the House Appropriations Committee, protecting unborn human life won't be missing from the discussion. We very much appreciate that it made protecting human life an important part of its budget.

Important House Vote On Virtual School Expansion Tomorrow!

Early this week, the House of Delegates will vote on HB 324, a bill to expand virtual school options in Virginia. The Family Foundation is supportive of efforts to increase the ability of parents to determine the best educational opportunity for their child, be it public school, public charter school, virtual school, private school or home school. HB 324 moves Virginia one more step in the right direction which is why The Family Foundation supports this initiative.

E-mail your delegate and ask him or her to support HB 324 to increase educational opportunities for Virginia's children.

HB 324, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton), creates full-time virtual public education. HB 324 requires the Virginia Virtual School to be open to any school-age child in the commonwealth and provide an educational program meeting the Standards of Quality for grades K-12.

As drafted, HB 324 retains excellence in education, reduces the cost on a per student basis and should not require additional state funds over what the state spends on education in traditional brick and mortar schools. Additionally, localities actually will save money with HB 324. The funding structure is set up so that the child's local school division of residence (rather than the division where the virtual school is based) pays for the local share of the child's virtual education. The local share sent to the Virginia Virtual School to educate a child is capped at no more than 76 percent of the local cost of educating a child at a brick and mortar school, so the locality is guaranteed to save money.

HB 324 is fiscally responsible and increases educational opportunities. For these reasons, we urge you to contact your delegate and urge him or her to vote in support of HB 324.

Judging By The Score

In sports, it's often said, "The game was closer than the final score indicates," or, "It wasn't as close as the score indicates." It reveals that the final score is not always indicative of how close, or not, a game may have been. Often, there’s more to the story. The most popular document created by The Family Foundation Action is our semi-annual General Assembly Report Card. In it you’ll find the "score" of every member of the General Assembly based on their legislative votes on Family Foundation priorities over a two-session period. The snap-shot of votes taken by their elected representatives gives citizens a good idea of where their legislators stand on key issues.

The Report Card also serves as a reminder to legislators that they can’t hide from the public. Every session our legislative team is asked over and over again by legislators, "Will this be a score card vote?" The message is: the Report Card matters. Legislators, at least those who are in more conservative districts, want to be able to prove their pro-family "credentials" with a good score. On the flip side, more liberal legislators often trumpet their low scores as proof of their "progressive" values. All in all, everybody wins!

Well, except that no document, or score, is a perfect reflection of the whole game. We make clear on the Report Card that it isn't meant to be used as a measure of one's personal faith. It is a great measure, as close as we've been able to come up with, of one's commitment to conservative, pro-family, pro-life principles, but it really is just part of the story. It's based only on votes and can't measure one's motives or reasoning behind a vote. That's for the legislators to explain to their constituents.

Some of the "100 percenters" on the Report Card are tried and true heroes of our values. They lead, they vocalize our values, they carry our legislation, and they work behind the scenes to advance our agenda.  Some "100 percenters," however, simply vote right when the time comes, but either offer no help or actually work behind the scenes in some instances to derail our agenda. At the same time, legislators who vote against our position in some situations may lead more than some "100 percenters." An example of that would be Delegate Todd Gilbert, who was our Legislator of the Year for 2013 with a score of 95 percent on the Report Card. But Delegate Gilbert leads on, fights for and carries our legislation.

And sometimes, there are issues that are just very complicated, though our position is very clear, that makes a vote more difficult to understand. For example, at last year's veto session, an amendment to a "Healthcare Exchange" bill relating to ObamaCare that prohibited the insurance companies in the exchange from offering abortion coverage was a high priority for The Family Foundation. The amendment passed and is now part of the law. But a couple of House of Delegates members, Barbara Comstock and Rick Morris, voted against the amendment. Was it a vote against life?  Well, no. They made it clear to us that they will not vote in favor of anything having to do with ObamaCare. It wasn't about the amendment; it was about the overall policy. Of course, we also made it clear that if we're going to have an exchange, we had the responsibility to make sure it included pro-life language. Also, last year, Delegate Bob Marshall voted incorrectly on a floor amendment granting special protections based on sexual behavior, but he did so out of an objection to how the House was operating on amendments, and not the underlying policy. Again, something that is impossible to explain in the Report Card.

The best answer to the problem is t make sure you know your legislators. The Report Card is the absolute best document in Virginia to get a picture of how dedicated to pro-family, pro-life values our legislators are during a two-year period. But if you see a vote that you don't understand, call them, or call us. Ask. Dig deeper and learn more. Stay involved during session so you know what’s happening and how your delegate and senator are voting. We don't want the Report Card to be the final authority, we want it to be a document that doesn't just educate, but motivates you to learn more and get more involved.

Don't just read the final score. Watch the whole game.

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!

 

 

 

Updated Statement By TFF President Victoria Cobb Regarding AG Herring's Decision Not To Defend Marriage Amendment

STATEMENT FROM VICTORIA COBB, PRESIDENT OF THE FAMILY FOUNDATION OF VIRGINIA, REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL'S DECISION TO NOT DEFEND CONSTITUTION

The decision by the Attorney General is not surprising, but it is disappointing and frightening. It's disappointing that he wouldn't be clear about his intentions on this issue while campaigning for the office. More importantly, it's frightening that politicians like the Attorney General feel that they can pick and choose which aspects of the constitution they deem worthy to defend and apply. Whether one agrees with the marriage amendment or not, the idea that over a million Virginia citizens can be left defenseless by the Attorney General after legally voting for an amendment that he himself supported is chilling.

It is well settled that laws of the commonwealth are presumed constitutional. The burden is on the party challenging the law to demonstrate that it is unconstitutional. In Virginia, the Attorney General is responsible to defend all the laws of the Commonwealth, whether he personally agrees with them or not. This has been the standard for decades and has separated Virginia from other states where the Attorney General is more of a political activist. Attorney General Herring is pursuing his personal political views rather than defending the constitution of the commonwealth.

It is unprecedented for an Attorney General not only to refuse to defend a state law or Constitution, at least by hiring outside counsel, but is actually taking a position against his client, the people of Virginia. This is the action of an activist Attorney General, not someone dedicated to the rule of law.

The Attorney General claims he is making his decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions from last year, but neither of those decisions struck down or in any way invalidated state marriage amendments. One had nothing to do with a state amendment. The other involved the Attorney General of California not defending that state’s marriage amendment, and the Supreme Court dismissed the case saying that the citizens didn't have standing before the court.

 

Special Message From Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News Channel's Mike Huckabee has a special message that he recorded for Virginia's values voters concerning the importance of voting in this year's gubernatorial election this coming Tuesday, November 5. Virginians will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the entire House of Delegates. There is much at stake (see this short video), including maintaining Virginia's new abortion center safety standards, religious freedom to allow church affiliated adoption agencies to place babies with married couples who adhere to their religious beliefs, the hard won school choice law, the defense of Virginia's Marriage Amendment, defunding Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funding of abortion, the expansion of Medicaid and Obamacare in the Commonwealth — not to mention job creation, responsible tax and budget policies — and so much more. Please take one minute to hear Governor Huckabee and make plans to vote on November 5, or by absentee before then if necessary, and be sure to share this and encourage others to vote, too.

[audio mp3="http://familyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Family-Foundation-of-VA-.mp3"][/audio]

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Democrat Ticket Runs Smear Campaign, But GOP Seen As "Mean" . . . Cue Twilight Zone Theme

With unprecedented millions coming in from out of state left-wing groups and billionaires plowed into a non-stop, constant onslaught of vicious television attack ads, Terry McAuliffe has outdone any of the mischief he engineered for the Clintons as Bill's money man and Hillary's campaign chairman; more than any reputation he ruined directing Democrat campaigns as the DNC chairman; and even more than he's ever done in so many of his unethical business practices. Now his protege, Ralph Northam, the Democrat candidate for lieutenant governor is following in his lead. But unlike T-Mac, who at least dodges questions and avoids saying anything for fear of his unserious candidacy being found out, Northam actually brags about being brutish. Celebrating a huge influx of cash from the Democrat National Committee and other sources to put his negativity on the air across VIrginia, he telegraphed his upcoming television blitzkrieg with this comment:

Next week is going to be the worst week of E.W. Jackson's life.

Classy! Just what we like from our left wing friends. Meanwhile, the Mainstream Media has soured much of the public into labeling the Republicans as the party of mean. Go figure . . . .the whole world is turned upside down . . . I can hear the Twilight Zone music now.

Photo: We knew it was going to get nasty, but Northam declaring that next week would be "the worst week" of my life goes too far. Ethics in government starts by electing ethical people, and rejecting the politics of personal destruction. Help fight back with a contribution of just $5 today! http://bit.ly/17RvGYU

If you have nothing to say about yourself . . .

But would the state's troopers, police, deputies and first responders, who belong to the Fraternal Order of Police, back someone as bad as Northam is making him out to be? Not likely. Both candidates had to be interviewed by the organization and the brave professionals who are entrusted with the duty to protect us don't suffer fools gladly. They don't suffer them at all. They're conclusion, at the same time Northam was giddy about his impending destruction of a man's reputation, was to endorse his Republican opponent, E.W. Jackson.

Photo: I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police. It's humbling to have the support of so many who sacrifice so much to keep Virginia safe and I look forward to being their champion as Lieutenant Governor.

While Northam brags about destroying Jackson't reputation, the state's law enforcement community saw things in a much more serious light and endorsed the Republican.

 

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

 

 

 

 

Big Labor, Big Corporations, CONGRESS: Obamacare Exemptions For Everyone But US! Five Ways Obamacare Could Impact You Immediately

The ticking time bomb known as Obamacare — complete with exploding federal deficits, obliterated state budgets and collateral damage to jobs, businesses, the economy in general and, oh yeah, the thing it was supposed to fix, your health coverage — is nigh. Perhaps no one has brought more attention to the peril than U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, our 2013 Gala Speaker on October 5 (see information about for tickets). As the clock counts down to its October implementation, and Congressional conservatives such as Senator Cruz and several stalwarts in the House of Representatives press on now that the Senate returned the government funding bill back to the House without the Obamacare defunding language — not to mention the impending decision Virginia must make as to whether to expand Medicaid under Obamacare — its impact will create some very real negative changes. Kelsey Harris at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry Blog lists five:

1. Will young adults, whose premiums will skyrocket, ever go to a doctor if it's cheaper to pay the tax than to buy insurance?

The absolute insanity of this never ceases to amaze me: Make it so expensive for young people to buy insurance, but then offer them a taxpayer subsidy to enter the Obamacare exchange. This saves money how? It gets even more expensive if a person who is driven out of his or her insurance seeks medical attention at an emergency room, the exact scenario the leftist authors of the law say they're trying to prevent.

2. When will people have time to find a new doctor?

Despite promises by the president, people will not be able to keep their doctors.

3. Premiums for young families will rise dramatically.

Rising costs will make it more difficult to buy necessary supplies for children.

4. Lost jobs or reduced hours and revoked coverage.

Because of the costs to employers, many companies are reducing full-time jobs to part-time jobs or laying off people because enormous and burdensome regulations on businesses that employ a certain threshold of full-time workers. Additionally, it has forced many to cease offering insurance plans that cover spouses. Since, even today, that means cutting off the wife form the insurance plan, one might conclude that this is a real War on Women.

5.  Another striker against women, especially single moms.

Since moms typically have custody of children in broken marriages, who will provide health insurance for the children when and if the mom is laid off?

Don't believe the lost jobs argument? Think it's hyperbole and a scare tactic? You don't have to wait until Obamacare is in full force. It's been happening for sometime now, as Rusty Weiss documents here at the FreedomWorks Blog. Here's a list of only some companies that have, or will lay off employees or eliminate jobs:

1. Welch Allyn: 275 employees this year and planned on dropping roughly 10 percent of its workforce over the next three years.

2. Orlando Health: 400 jobs.

3. Stryker: 1,000 jobs.

4. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: 950 jobs.

5. Boston Scientific: Between 1,200 and 1,400 jobs in 2011; up to 1,000 employees this year.

6. Smith & Nephew: 100 employees.

7. A Blue Cross/Blue Shield: 100 employees.

8. Medtronic: 1,000 jobs by the end of the fourth quarter.

9. Reading Hospital: 391 jobs.

10. Abbott Laboratories: 1,900 jobs.

All cited specific new regulations and/or new taxes in Obamacare that have made it untenable for them to maintain their present staffing levels. In the meantime, big corporations, big labor and  Congress all have received Obamacare exemptions granted by . . . Congress itself and President Obama! Everyone but the average American citizen. In a few short days we'll know it and feel it for sure.

Photo

Everyone but us! (H/T FreedomWorks via Doc Thompson)

Yawning Our Way To Victory In The Culture War?

Incrementalism. It's a common cause for disunity among conservatives. Some just can't wait. Big and oppressive government, high taxes, picking winners and losers, failing education, decreasing prosperity, rights ceded to government, and bureaucrats running our lives and enabling the coarseness of the culture are among the many ills wrought by liberalism. But they didn't occur overnight. The Left patiently plotted, worked and plodded and, over several decades, got us into our current predicament. Get the people hooked on a little bit here and a little more later and before you know it, no one wants to, or can muster the courage, to disengage from government dependency or the status quo. Why go back? It makes the job of conservatism that much tougher.

It has also made for divisions within the conservative movement. How fast can we go? When should we go? What should our program look like? Some, want it all repealed yesterday. Some realize that we didn't get here in one day or year or even decade. It takes time to build support for deconstructing government. Unfortunately, to the former, if you take the approach of the latter, you're not all in and not a real conservative. Alec Thomas at Bearingdrift.com kind of gets at the idea here.

Coincidentally, Matt Archbold at the National Catholic Register today writes about incrementalism as it pertains to the pro-life movement. Ironically, it's the pro-abortion forces who are bitterly upset at the progress (setbacks in their world) that has been made by pro-lifers in state after state by remaining patient and getting it done piece by piece. He quotes Vicki Saporta, head of the National Abortion Federation as saying:

The anti-choice folks have gotten smarter. They’re no longer talking about overturning Roe, because there would be a huge backlash. But if you make abortion inaccessible in state after state, they are in fact achieving their goal while seeming reasonable, when they’re anything but.

He then drops this gem from Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast:

The anti-abortion movement has been making epochal advances using regulations that are as tedious to read about as they are to describe. In the abortion wars, boredom has become a powerful weapon.

This division of patience or eagerness often is portrayed as difference in philosophy, creating "right wing" and "moderate" camps within conservatism. Usually, the policy aims are pretty on par. It's the approach that differs. Many of the legislative wins in Virginia in recent years on abortion and education choice, for example, have come by tie-breaking votes in the Senate. The bills were as packed as tightly as possible given what could be stomached by the players involved. Change the players? Sure, but that's for campaigns, not policy. We must always strive to get what we can when we can or we lose ground. Every opportunity is an opportunity — to get something, to set the stage to come back for more. (Once you get legislators in the habit of voting the right way, it gets easier each time.)

As Archbold himself writes:

You see, pro-aborts are very used to having the deck stacked against pro-lifers. Along with their friends in the media, they've (with little effort) attacked and demonized pro-life leaders as kooks for years. But now the pro-life cause is being pushed in so many places and from so many faces that the smear machine can't fix its slimy gaze.

Incrementalism may not be sexy and it may seem boring. It's not glamorous but it's effective. Archbold affectionately refers to it as a yawn. The Secular Left sees us taking a page out of their operation manual. Perhaps some of our conservative allies now can see clearly what the Left sees because we do need to row in the same direction — now that the Left is onto us it will only get more difficult. But with all conservatives working together, the blocks removed from the government fortress will become larger and larger and the yawns will turn to shouts of joy.

Yawning for joy. These days, it's pro-lifers who are happily gaining victory after victory, even in unglamorous fashion. (H/T National Catholic Register.)

The Poll That Matters In The End

This morning at a press conference, the Human Rights Campaign released a poll it commissioned on Virginians' attitudes towards same-sex marriage. In sweeping statements, the HRC lauded Virginians for "support[ing] marriage equality" evidenced by its 55 percent-41 percent poll. However, after Virginians affirmed traditional marriage 57 percent to 43 percent on the ballot in 2006, Virginians have continued in subsequent elections to select candidates who oppose marriage redefinition. Despite biased HRC polling, elections have proved that the tide has not changed to the degree the ACLU and the HRC would like the public to believe.

Social issues like homosexuality have dynamics at play that cannot be measured with simple polling. Asking 600 people (as this poll did) a simple question doesn't get to the core of complex issues. It makes for interesting editorial page fodder, but it's doubtful that many people will take it seriously.

Polling on social issues is finicky, particularly on the issue of homosexuality. A lot of people will tell the pollster what they think the pollster wants to hear. For example, look at same-sex marriage polling. Polls have indicated that people support same-sex marriage, but when it goes to the ballot, we have seen the overwhelming majority of states reject marriage redefinition.

And I haven't even mentioned the structural errors contained in this poll:

Timing

It's hard not to be dismissive of a poll that begins the day the high court holds that those that support traditional marriage do so out of hostile animosity rather than caring for the best outcomes for children. How honest do you suppose responders will be when their beliefs risk being labeled "motivated by animus"?

Margin of Error

The HRC poll had a margin of error of ±4.9 percent. In my statistics class in college, I was taught that 3 percent was a good margin of error and that 4 percent was pushing the line of accuracy. However, ~5 percent? My professor would not have let me publish a 5 percent margin of error poll . . . not even if it was buried beneath the fold in the school newspaper and labeled "not for scientific use."

Survey Size and Constituency

The poll surveyed 600 Virginia adults, not likely voters. In regards to Virginia law, it doesn’t matter what 600 Virginia adults think if they aren't registered to vote or don't plan to vote if the issue were to be placed on the ballot!

But most importantly, the element of the HRC press release that bothers me most is their discussion of the faith community. While some prefer apathy, it is impossible to not notice the winner-takes-all conflict between sexual freedom and religious liberty. Here is a direct quote from HRC's press release under the category of "Cultural challenges still emerge in Virginia":

These homophobic messages creep out . . . religion also plays a role . . . fifteen percent of the state report hearing anti-gay messages from the pulpit and, when asked about directly, 17 percent of the state heard their pastor, rabbit [sic], priest or other religious figure deliver an anti-gay sermon.

How much longer will a pastor have the freedom to preach an expository sermon on Romans 1? Religious liberty is an impediment to sexual freedom's triumph. We cannot claim ignorance when we see these attacks.

Sue To Cover Up

The Falls Church Healthcare Center has a lot of reasons not to want public health officials inspecting its abortion center. In initial inspections last year, inspections that were announced so the owners had time to clean up, the facility had some of the worst deficiencies of any abortion center in the state — and that's saying something. Blood was found on equipment, on patient exam tables, on walls; sponges used to wipe up blood were simply washed under water and reused, drugs were expired, and on and on. All this after the abortion industry said it was safe.

This week, the Falls Church abortion center filed a legal challenge (see AP article) to prevent public health officials from inspecting its facility and holding it accountable to common sense health and safety standards, such as sterilized medical equipment and adequately trained staff.

In the coming days, you'll continue to hear — unchallenged by the media — that abortion center health and safety standards will eliminate "access" to "health care." You will be told that the Falls Church abortion center "passed inspection" and received its license, so how could things be bad? The truth is that the initial inspection report uncovered an abortion center that was not anything near a facility that you would want anyone you care about to visit, and only after two follow up inspections did the facility clean up its act — at least for now. Without the ability for public health officials to continue to hold this abortion center and others like it accountable to decent health standards there is no doubt it will go back to its old practices of failing to sterilize equipment, using bloody equipment and hiring untrained staff.

Oh, and please don't be fooled when the media calls these facilities "women’s health centers." They are in the business of abortion, plain and simple.

Let's face it: the abortion industry and its apologists will not stop at one legal challenge. After recent months where the true colors of the abortion industry were revealed through the horror of the Gosnell trial, the closing of abortion centers in multiple states — including our neighbors Delaware and Maryland — because of horrific conditions (including some revealed by former Planned Parenthood employees who could no longer work under such conditions), the industry is losing credibility with the American people every day — except with the media and abortion-driven politicians who crave abortion industry campaign cash.

This week's announcement of a legal challenge comes as no surprise. Going to court to reverse the act of a duly elected legislature is a staple of the secular left. Perhaps it is beginning to worry that it won't see an elected governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general, let alone a legislature, that will work to repeal abortion center safety standards anytime soon. Consequently, it hopes a legal challenge will accomplish its goal.

For the sake of women in Virginia, let's pray that common sense and reason prevail, and that the abortion center health and safety standards will be upheld to protect women from an abortion industry far more driven by profit than health care.

Medicaid Expansion In Virginia: Impact And Cost To Taxpayers

Why do we, as conservatives, oppose Medicaid expansion in Virginia (speaking generally, not for any TFF position)? This chart from Drew Gonshorowski at the Heritage Foundation's Foundry Blog (via John Taylor of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy) demonstrates why, in very stark terms. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, in a desperate attempt to get governors to adopt the Obamacare state health insurance exchanges, has peddled the fallacy of "free money" (direct funding from the federal government) for Medicaid in the short term (thus the net savings through 2016). In essence, it's a bribe with taxpayer money at the cost of massive debt her administration won't have to pay back. After that, though, the states face the obligations of the expanded government-run health program on their own, which sticks them with unconscionable costs and burdens for years to come — not to mention the crowding out of traditional services state and local governments provide, such as police, fire, rescue, transportation and education. get-attachment-4

 

There's no such thing as free money. There is something called unsustainable debt. But try telling that to proponents of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.

Gosnell: Exception Or Rule?

Twelve Philadelphians are now meeting to determine the fate of America’s most notorious abortion "provider," Kermit Gosnell, after weeks of hearing evidence alleging he murdered hundreds of born-alive babies and at least one woman. As we await the verdict, the conversation surrounding his "house of horrors" has centered around the question of whether or not Gosnell is an anomaly in an otherwise safe and health care-focused industry, or if the abortion industry has more Gosnells that simply have yet to be discovered. Obviously, the abortion industry and most in the mainstream media would have us believe that Gosnell is an aberration caused more by the lack of government (taxpayer) funding than unmitigated inhumanity and evil (what, you thought they'd actually admit the guy is evil?).

But facts surrounding that case, and the pattern that is developing in many states regarding the abortion industry's lack of concern for health and safety, not to mention its utter lack of recognition of human dignity and worth, have to lead any reasonable, thoughtful American to wonder just what the truth might be. Given that representatives of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation knew what was happening inside Gosnell's clinic, knew of the despicable conditions and rumors of the murders, and did absolutely nothing about it, reasonable people should be questioning the abortion industry's claims.

We certainly know the media isn't going to do it for us.

Yesterday, the pro-life group Live Action released videos from two abortion centers, one in Washington, D.C., and one in New York City, that show doctors at those facilities admitting that they would do nothing to save the lives of born-alive babies, babies who are living, breathing human beings. This comes on the heels of disturbing testimony by a Planned Parenthood representative in Florida who, before a legislative committee, essentially defended euthanasia on the basis that the decision to keep a new born baby alive is "between a woman and her doctor."

Do these incidents represent the true philosophy of the entire abortion industry? Are they so callous to all human life that even those babies already born are viewed as disposable waste, nothing more than "products of conception" that can be flushed down a toilet or run through a garbage disposal? Do they care so little about the women that enter their facilities that they will keep quiet even when they know about horrifically unsanitary conditions that put lives at risk?

And perhaps worse, how can these incidents not elicit any kind of outrage from the public, let alone politicians? Or is it that the reality of what the abortion industry is really about forcing people to ask questions about their own "pro-choice" attitudes that they really never wanted to have to ask? Uncomfortable yet?

In Virginia, the abortion industry has been quick to dismiss Gosnell. Mind you, we have yet to hear anyone within the Virginia abortion industry, its defenders in the General Assembly, candidates for statewide office, or editorial pages utter a single word of criticism. Hysterical in all other ways, the Virginia abortion industry's silence on Gosnell is deafening. But maybe they know something we don't. After all, abortion operators like Steven Brigham and Diane Derzis — both of whom operate facilities in Virginia — have long records of health and safety violations in other states, and have had abortion centers closed by public health officials and their medical license revoked or suspended. Their abortion centers here, under inspections that were part of the emergency safety standards under the 2011 abortion center legislation, were found to have dozens of health and safety violations.

Are there Gosnells in Virginia? No one outside the abortion industry really knows. Virginia's facilities had weeks to clean up their act before announced inspections last year, after going two decades with no oversight at all. Despite the warning, nearly 300 deficiencies were found. And while the media continues to whine about construction standards, it remains silent on the blood stained patient tables, unsterilized equipment, expired drugs and untrained staffs. What was happening in those places before health inspectors gained access is anyone's guess.

Earlier this week the editorial writers at the Washington Post put to ink their tears over the closing of one abortion center in Virginia, allegedly because its owners don't have the money to upgrade the facility to meet Virginia's new health and safety standards. They were horrified at the thought that one out of 20 abortion centers is closing. Incredibly, the Post labeled the clinic a "victim," while the same newspaper for weeks did all it could to intentionally ignore the hundreds of true, human victims of Kermit Gosnell. The disconnect from basic humanity rendered in that dichotomy tells us all we need to know about how incapable too many in the media are at recognizing evil, at seeing human victims in the faces of tiny babies murdered at the hands of a profiteer.

God help us if the public feels the same way.

Parents Rights Bill Clear Both Chambers, Goes To Governor To Be Signed Into Law

Yesterday, after weeks of numerous twists and turns and more edits and amendments than the Declaration of Independence, a simple two sentence bill guaranteeing parental rights cleared both chambers of the General Assembly by large majorities and are on their way to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign into law. Starting July 1, Virginia law will recognize that parents have a "fundamental right" to make "decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care" of their children. Short, simple and powerful.

The legislation, HB 1642 and SB 908, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City County) and Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Spotsylvania), respectively, elevates the common law understanding of parental rights in place in Virginia for 400 years to that of a fundamental right. What’s in a word? Plenty. While no rights are absolute, courts give special deference to fundamental rights, requiring the state’s "compelling interest" to intervene.

These bills also codify the essence of the L.F. v. Breit Virginia Supreme Court decision in January that upheld parental rights. That’s especially important since 24 other state courts have reduced parental rights to "ordinary" — a standard more easily trumped by government authorities that attempt to interpose themselves in family decisions.

Even as the bills were being debated in recent days, evidence of the need for protecting parental rights came to light when we learned that the Obama administration is arguing in a federal court that parents do not have a fundamental right to home school their children (see TheGospelCoalition.org)!

We thank Delegate Pogge and Senator Reeves for their patience and skillful navigation through the often Byzantine legislative process, while negotiating over several amendments but not giving ground on the goal of reasserting the foundational principle parents by nature have to raise their children. We also appreciate the effort of the Home School Legal Defense Association who brought this bill to the General Assembly and worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to see it to completion.

Thank you for contacting your senators and delegates each time when called upon these last six weeks. In the end, many delegates and senators responded to the common sense of these bills as reflected in their constituents' beliefs.

Click here to thank Delegate Pogge and click here to thank Senator Reeves.

Inside The Tax Increase Numbers: The Laundry List Of What Will Be Taxed And By How Much

Here's the list of what will be taxed and by how much in the proposed "transportation tax increase" now before both chambers of the General Assembly. Not angry yet? Read on:

» A 3.5  percent wholesale sales tax paid by distributors would replace the current 17.5 cents per gallon flat tax on gasoline. The new tax, though, will be passed on to consumers, along with a 6 percent wholesale sales tax on diesel fuel.

» The 5 percent retail sales and use tax paid statewide on most purchases will increase to 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and to 5.3 percent in the rest of the state.

» A $100 annual fee will be levied on alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrids.

» The sales tax on the purchase of cars (new or used) will increase from 3 percent to 4 percent.

» In Northern Virginia, the tax on house sales will increase by 40 cents per hundred dollars. That's an extra $1,600 on the sale of a $400,000 home.

» Also in Northern Virginia, the occupancy tax for hotels will increase 2 percent.

» If Congress passes the Marketplace Equity Act (which requires online businesses to collect sales taxes) the proceeds will be distributed as follows: 55.55 percent for schools; 22.2 percent for local governments with no restrictions; and 22.2 percent for roads and transit.

» If Congress does not pass the Internet sales tax collections act, an additional 1.6  percent tax will be added to the wholesale gas tax.

» There is no guarantee that these new revenues will be spent entirely on transportation since the Senate, twice this session (including today) defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to lock away transportation funds from general fund spending. The Senate has defeated this needed reform for years.

» There is no guarantee that the General Assembly or a future governor won't come back for more tax increases.

» All of these tax increases are on top of the newly increased "fiscal cliff" tax increases by Congress and President Obama and pending local tax increases many Virginia jurisdictions are looking into, such as meals and property tax increases.

If all this isn't enough, there has not been a good faith effort to cut spending in other areas and reapportion it to transportation. Now are you angry?

Please immediately contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) and urge them to vote against this massive tax hike scheme!

Urge Defeat Of Massive Tax Increase!

Yesterday, ten members of the General Assembly presented a "compromise" tax and spending proposal that includes a substantial increase in taxes and fees for a large portion of Virginia, particularly residents of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Facts about the plan reveal that not all the new revenue is even going to transportation.

Please immediately contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) and urge them to vote against this massive tax hike scheme!

Among the taxes that will increase are the state's sales tax, the sales tax on car purchases, and local taxes in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Worse, not all the new revenue will be spent on transportation. According to today's Richmond Times Dispatch:

Not all of the 0.3 percent increase in sales tax goes to transportation. Part of the overall revenue generated by the increased tax would go toward an increase in education funding and other general fund priorities.

The fact is that outside of a constitutional amendment, how Virginia spends our tax dollars can be changed every year through the budget and budget amendments. This plan is no different. In fact, the Senate today again killed, for the second time this session (as it has for years), a proposed constitutional amendment to keep transportation funding off limits to future non-transportation spending whims. So while the fiscal needs for transportation are obvious, those who argue that this plan is going to "solve the problem" of transportation in Virginia are fooling themselves.

This plan is not just a tax increase, but new across the board spending. Make no mistake, if you live in the urban crescent or plan to or need to purchase a new or used car in the future, you are going to pay higher taxes. The idea that our gas prices are going down as a result of replacing the antiquated gas tax with a wholesale gas tax are, honestly, foolish. The plan calls for the elimination of the gas tax (17.5 cents per gallon) with a wholesale gas tax increase, which proponents of the plan indicate will be the equivalent of a 10 cent per gallon tax. The consensus, however, is that the "savings" will not be passed on to the consumer, so we will continue to pay higher prices at the pump.

It's disappointing that those involved in the negotiations of this plan couldn't come up with a solution to our transportation needs that didn't include placing even more financial burden on already struggling families and small businesses in the face of even more national fiscal uncertainty. Unfortunately, there is a lack of political will in Richmond to fix one of the biggest problems we face (outside of federal mandates that continue to destroy our state economy) — an antiquated and irresponsible public school funding formula that costs billions of dollars for more and more administration and fewer teachers. There's no doubt that the issues faced are complex and difficult, but this plan is simply not the best solution for Virginia's families.

Please contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) immediately and urge them to vote against the tax increase!

Student Rights Bill Goes To Governor!

The House of Delegates yesterday passed a priority for The Family Foundation, legislation that protects the free association rights of students on public college campuses. SB 1074, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), ensures that religious and political organizations will not be discriminated against because of their beliefs and values. The bill passed 73-27. The bill already passed the Senate, so it is now on its way to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature, along with its House companion, HB 1617. Participating in groups and organizations with missions that match their religious or political beliefs is a longstanding tradition for college students. Unfortunately, in the name of "tolerance," a few universities in Virginia have begun enacting so-called "all-comers" policies, which prevent these groups from being able to set criteria for members and leaders. Under these policies, student groups recognized by the university, receiving funding or using the facilities are prohibited from having any kind of requirement that members or leaders actually share the beliefs or believe in the mission of the group! Never mind that the funding comes from and facilities paid for their tuition, taxes and student fees.

Opponents to the legislation claimed that the bills allow student groups to "discriminate" using "taxpayer funding." Such a position implies that simply choosing to freely associate with people of similar ideas and beliefs is inherently discriminatory. Free association is a foundational constitutional principle but, as with other freedoms in recent years, have been reduced.

The House yesterday rejected an attempt on the floor to amend the bill with unnecessary language. Upon the governor's signature, Virginia will become only the second state in the nation to provide these protections for student groups.

Please e-mail Senator Obenshain to thank him for his leadership on this bill this year! His official Senate e-mail address is district26@senate.virginia.gov

Planned Parenthood Targets Ken Cuccinelli

A Politico article today revealed that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest and richest abortion business, is coordinating with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe to target Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in the article that

Cuccinelli's ongoing attacks on women's health and economic security should be a warning to us all: women's health will be on the Virginia ballot in 2013.

A website created by the coordinated campaign targets the Attorney General's positions on abortion, forced taxpayer subsidizing of contraception, abortion-causing drugs and President Obama's taxpayer-funded health insurance scheme. According to Politico, the website includes "a disclaimer at the bottom of the site [that] says it was authorized by the campaign of Terry McAuliffe."

Of course, it should come as no surprise that Planned Parenthood would coordinate with a liberal Democrat campaign. Its political entities have spent tens of millions of dollars on partisan activities while whining consistently that it doesn't have enough money to bring its abortion centers up to basic health and safety standards. It is, however, committed to forcing you, the taxpayer, to fund its operations to the tune of more than half a billion dollars annually!

I guess it's all about priorities.

The partisan political activity of Planned Parenthood and its targeting of Virginia should come as no surprise. But it should serve as a reminder of just how important this year's elections in Virginia are going to be. Because only Virginia has a potentially competitive statewide race, national interest groups are going to spend millions of dollars to influence the outcome.

It's also notice to pro-life Virginians that we have to communicate with everyone that we know the truth about the Attorney General's record, the truth about the fact that Virginia's abortion centers are the real threat to women's health and, speaking of threats to women, that the current federal administration's debt-ridden agenda is a horrendous threat to women's "economic security."

We are not going to have the resources of a billion dollar industry such as Planned Parenthood and we certainly aren't going to be able to rely on the "mainstream" media. But we will have the truth.