Virginia General Assembly

Urge Override Of Governor McAuliffe’s Vetoes!

Recently, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed two bills that would protect religious liberty: SB 236, a bill that would protect the free speech rights of public school students; and SB 555, a bill that would have prohibited government censorship of military chaplain sermons. Both passed with large bipartisan majorities, including a unanimous vote in the Senate for SB 555! The General Assembly will hold its annual "veto session," where it reviews vetoes and amendments to bills, on Wednesday, April 23:

Please urge your senators and delegates to vote to override the governor's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 (click the links to find their contact information). If you don't know who your legislators are, click here.

SB 236, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), would create "limited public forums" at certain public school events. Limited public forums restrict the schools from censoring speech simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still "limit" the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech still has to be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith. The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings and wear clothing with religious expressions.

Students in our public schools shouldn't be treated as a second-class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. It is tragic that in Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom, Governor McAuliffe has chosen to listen to the ACLU and has trampled on the right of Virginia's students to simply express their beliefs.

SB 555, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), prohibited state government from censoring sermons given by chaplains in the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force. This reasonable, common sense measure passed the Senate in January 37-0! The governor's explanation for vetoing the bill is a remarkable misunderstanding of the actual definition of a chaplain.

Overriding a governor's veto requires two-thirds support from both chambers, meaning that 27 members of the Senate and 67 members of the House of Delegates have to vote for an override.

At what point do we finally say, enough is enough? Our God-given, inalienable right to exercise our faith, live according to our conscience, and speak truth to culture is in serious jeopardy if we allow people like Terry McAuliffe to dictate what we can and cannot do in the public square.

Your legislators, regardless of party, need to hear from you. They need to know that you are not going to stand for this type of discrimination any longer! Please act today:

Contact your senators and delegates today and ask them to override Governor McAuliffe's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 at the upcoming April 23 Veto Session.

Quotes Of The Day: Language Matters

Today is budget day at the General Assembly. The House of Delegates Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, after weeks of work, submitted their budgets earlier this week. Today was the day each chamber debated floor amendments for hours before, finally, coming to their respective budget bills proper for yet more debate and a vote on final passage — and that was after amendments and debate on the "Caboose Bill," which cleans up and modifies the current budget. Budget day is one of the longest days on the floor during session. No other bills are discussed, generally. Today, each chamber got under way at noon and each wrapped up business at 6:00 or a little after. The point is, a lot of talkin' went on today.

In fact, as an aside, it was quite a day for words. This morning, Delegate Manoli Loupassi (R-68, Richmond) and Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) got into a frustrating debate in committee over the words "and" and "or" in an amendment to HB 1054, a bill that would allow for computer science courses to be counted toward science credit requirements. The surreal and strange is never in short supply at the Virginia General Assembly.

More substantively, statements during the House budget debate by Minority Leader David Toscano (D-57, Charlottesville) and Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-71, Richmond) are of particular note. On one budget amendment, concerning advanced manufacturing of all things, Delegate Toscano had concerns. The responses to his questions of the amendment's floor manager, he apparently thought, were lacking. Not getting the clarity he sought, Delegate Toscano uttered:

"Language means a lot." 

It sure does!

But only when it's convenient for the Left. The statement was devoid of any recognition the the Left has perverted our language, constantly redefining the meaning of timeless institutions. Marriage and parents quickly come to mind. How about life? It's only a life if it's outside the womb, and even then, in some circumstances, that's debatable. Which takes us to Delegate McClellan's remarks.

While most people consider abortion a tragedy, Delegate McClellan has a knack for making not being able to get an abortion sound tragic. She called for the defeat of budget language that would bring Virginia in line with the federal Hyde Amendment restricting Medicaid funding of abortion in Virginia to the rarest of cases, and eliminating it for unborn children diagnosed with abnormalities, calling it . . .

the cruelest amendment. 

Saving a life is "cruel"? I wonder what Webster would say to that.

But that's not all. Far removed from the Holy City of Richmond, in Sochi, Russia, a 23-year-old, sunshine-faced American by the name of David Wise won our country an Olympic gold medal in halfpipe skiing. It so happens that, according the Olympic network NBC that Wise, who was married at 19 and has a child with his wife, is living an

alternative lifestyle.

That's, like, so different, dude! Mollie Hemingway, at The Federalist.com, expounds here.

According to the NBC article ("David Wise’s alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold") by Skyler Wilder, Wise's is unusual because:

At only twenty-three years old, he has a wife, Alexander, who was waiting patiently in the crowd, and together they have a two-year-old daughter waiting for them to return to their home in Reno, Nevada.

At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult. He wears a Baby Bjorn baby carrier around the house. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road.

How weird! But if he was homosexual, I'm sure his "lifestyle" would be normalized by NBC. Which takes us back to abortion and Delegate McClellan. One has to wonder how pro-abortion she and the Left would be if, as they claim, homosexuals are born homosexual, and that it could be detected in the womb. What would they then call "abortion doctors" in those cases? Redefining the language wouldn't be so convenient, then, would it?

 

Oppose Obamacare Expansion In Virginia!

On Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee released their respective budgets (see them here). Each chamber will debate the details of those budgets this week, with votes coming on Thursday. Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two budgets is just what was expected — the Senate budget includes an expansion of Obamacare — Medicaid expansion — and the House budget does not.

Please click here to contact your senator and delegate and urge them to reject any budget that includes expanding Obamacare in any way!

While supporters of expansion in the Senate claim their program isn't really expansion, the consequences of its proposal are the same. Couching it as a "private market" plan, advocates of the Senate budget hope to gain support. But regardless of the rhetoric, the plan expands Obamacare.

The glaring failures of Obamacare, including the millions who have lost health care coverage or are having to pay substantially higher premiums, the loss of work hours, the loss of jobs, the constant implementation delays because the law is unworkable, and the growing fears the federal government will not be able to hold up its financial commitment in future years, are just some of the reasons Virginia should avoid expanding the program.

Obama changes Obamacare

Beyond that, the arguments for expansion of Medicaid are disingenuous at best and dangerous at worst. For example, some argue that Virginia will "lose money to other states" if we don't expand. That is fundamentally false. Medicaid money is based on a federal formula. If we don't receive the money, it doesn't go to other states because other states just get what the formula prescribes for those states and no more.

Proponents also argue that hospitals will lose millions of dollars in funding for indigent care without expansion because the money the federal government has been sending to hospitals was to be cut off in exchange for Medicaid dollars. But that cut in funding has been delayed a year (big surprise), and most hospitals are running well in the black. It is up to the federal government, which botched this entire program, to fix the problem and not simply dump it on the states to figure out.

Even worse, perhaps, than the failures of the Obamacare rollout are the failures of Medicaid itself. Studies have shown that care within Medicaid sometimes leaves a lot to be desired (see Avik Roy at Forbes). It is a fundamentally flawed program that bleeds fraud and provides inadequate care for those who desperately need it. Nearly doubling the program's size in Virginia without massive changes is foolish.

Frankly, one of the main problems with the battle over Obamacare is that we no longer are having a serious conversation about how to fix our health care system, deliver high quality care to all Americans (especially those who are in need of assistance) and do so in a financially responsible way. We are fighting over failed programs and a failed law, instead of figuring out real, 21st century solutions to our health care needs.

For all of these reasons, we strongly oppose expanding Obamacare in Virginia, and urge you to contact your legislators to urge them to oppose a budget that includes Medicaid/Obamacare expansion. This battle likely will force the General Assembly into overtime, but for what's at stake, the battle is worth the time.

ACTION: Please click here to contact your Senator and Delegate and urge them to reject any budget that includes expanding Obamacare in any way!

As Big Vote On Property Rights Looms, VDOT Continues To Subvert Property Rights Amendment

On Monday afternoon, the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Sub-Committee will consider SB 194, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), a bill to put at least a partial stop on the practice of inverse condemnation, a back door method of eminent domain without just compensation prohibited by the Property Rights Amendment to the Virginia Constitution ratified by 75 percent of Virginians in 2012. (Click here for a previous posts explaining this devious process.) But it doesn't stop there. VDOT has practiced a long line of abuses to prevent the people of Virginia from enjoying what our constitution calls a "fundamental right," which is the most basic of God given rights. Property ownership is cherished as a fundamental right along with all those enumerated in the Bill of Rights, for without property, one has no protection from the government to practice free speech or worship, or even to own a home or make a living to support one's family.

For example, this op-ed by Roger Chesley in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, appropriately titled, "VDOT takes the low road on bait and switch tactics on land grabs," plainly explains the horrors of VDOT on the Ramsey family in Virginia Beach and why actions such as this sour voters on all government. VDOT bought the Ramsey’s property in an eminent domain case but now, because VDOT’s own actions have devalued the property, it is suing the Ramsey’s for a refund!

VDOT’s tactics in the Ramsey case are one of several it is using to sully government and hammer families into submission. VDOT fought for eight years against eminent domain reform after the deplorable Kelo decision. Now, despite the massive mandate of the Property Rights Amendment less than two years ago, VDOT continues to subvert it and torment hard working Virginia families by taking their property and not paying just compensation. Here's a list of VDOT's other actions, and below, see a video of a VDOT official lobbying against your rights while being paid by your hard earned tax dollars.

* VDOT is using the practice of inverse condemnation to devalue property, not act on it for lengthy periods during which period nothing can be done to the land, effectively taking it off the market, so that it can then buy the land for a fraction of its original worth. This not only rips off the families who often have owned the land for decades, but also is a backdoor subsidization of the project, hitting the family twice — once for its annual taxes to the Commonwealth and taking its property on the cheap.

* VDOT has attached Fiscal Impact Statements to eminent domain bills for years, a clear conflict of interest! This has unfairly condemned bills to failure. Furthermore, each FIS is nothing more than speculation. More than that, the cost of land acquisitions is the cost of doing business, just as are costs radio advertising or gas. Does VDOT file an FIS on its fuel vendors?

* By its own admission, through its Fiscal Impact Statements, VDOT admits it has ripped off the Virginia taxpayers for years by refusing to pay fair value. If there is a fiscal impact on purchasing property, the General Assembly could not have passed the eminent domain reform law in 2007, much less the Property Rights Amendment to the Constitution. VDOT’s actions equate to an attitude that property owners only rent their property until VDOT needs it.

* VDOT has a budget of land acquisitions. If it needs more money, it needs to seek it – not take people’s property cheaply.

* VDOT employees lobby the General Assembly at taxpayer expense to hold down just compensation for families’ lands — a double blow against the citizens of Virginia who effectively are compelled to pay government employees to lobby against their fundamental rights!

VDOT is a menace to Virginians in every region of the Commonwealth, urban or suburban, of all socio-economic means. It is up to the General Assembly to reign in VDOT! Click here to ask members of the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Sub-committee to vote for SB 194 tomorrow!

Forward the video to about the 25:30 mark to hear a VDOT official lobby this Senate committee against SB 194, trying to deny your rights while being paid by the hard earned tax dollars you send to Richmond!

Quote Of The Day: 2-7-14

Who says we're one-sided and partisan? Of the four legislators who've made our Quote of the Day this session, today makes three by a Democrat (see Delegates Scott Surovell and Jennifer McClellan). It all started on the House floor when Delegate Mark Keam (D-35, Vienna) went through the pro forma motion of asking that his his bill, HB 837, legislation to make the FOIA process more understandable for citizens and interest groups, and one which we have supported for two years now, be engrossed and passed on to its third reading. But he added his thanks to General Laws Committee counsel for her help in drafting the bill and then thanked The Family Foundation for our support in helping get the bill through.

The bill's soon-to-be passage is a classic case of a "easy approval deception" — despite the unanimous approval from the General Laws Committee, there was tough opposition to beat back well before the final vote. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems at the Virginia General Assembly, and this bill went to sub-committee, full committee, back to sub-committee and finally back to full committee. Not easy at all, but without one dissenting vote in its labyrinth legislative journey, you wouldn't know otherwise. In short, lots of hard behind-the-scenes work by Delegate Keam, to whom we are very grateful. We think we did our part as well.

The most open possible government is a goal we have always fought for and one which we always will. It's an issue that should have no partisan divide, and the bureaucratic opposition to this bill — whom we pay and then turn around and use our tax dollars to lobby against our rights — should be ashamed of keeping Virginians from knowing what its government does. Even the mainstream media, which has its own turf to protect, opposed this bill.

The light moment of Delegate Keam's short floor speech came when he said he thinks his patronage of this bill has put him in the running for our Legislator of the Year Award. Then, as everything else these days, the conversation went virtual, on Twitter.  So, here's the rest of our Quote of the Day . . .

Keam Tweet

We stand ready to work with any legislator whose ideas fit into our five core principles.

General Assembly Blog Pause: Instead, A Look At Today's March For Life

The pace of the Virginia General Assembly session is quickening. It's a grueling pace — full steam for 60 days, akin to the 400 meter sprint. It may be short, but it's an all out sprint with no chance to gasp for air. Still, today, annually, is a bittersweet day for us. We have to be in Richmond bringing all we have to bare on the General Assembly, while hundreds of thousands of loving, caring people from across the country made their voices heard for life in Washington, D.C. on the 41st anniversary of the deplorable Roe v. Wade decision. With that in mind, we taking a blogging break from the sausage making at Mr. Jefferson's Capitol, to commemorate the millions of lost lives in this country alone to the heinous crime against nature, abortion. We also salute our spiritual brothers and sisters who braved the frigid climate to march, hear speakers and energize the pro-life movement.

While many of us could not go to Washington because of work, family or the weather, we at least can bring you a taste of what went on today — a virtual March For Life. The Family Foundation urges you not only to view at least some of these great resources (and to read and view at still more sites), but to share these resources. The Walk For Life is nothing if not an educational vehicle to change hearts and minds. We have the opportunity to continue that in our own, less visible, quiet, yet no less effective way.

1. Share this graphic!

Photo: The reality is really striking, isn't it?</p><br /> <p>Pass it on!

Abortion kills, by the numbers. What say those who think we must care for the least among us, yet think abortion is an acceptable "choice"?

2. Click the image below and watch and share the terrific ProLifeCon conference from FRC about the pro-life movement, held earlier today in conjunction with the March For Life. It features some of the most prominent pro-life speakers, writers and activists, including two who have spoken at Family Foundation events at the capitol during recent General Assemblies: Ryan Bomberger and Jill Stanek.

 Cover Photo

3. Watch and share the video below from EWTN. It is the entire March For Life coverage from today. It features brilliant studio guests as well as full coverage from Washington and the podium speakers at the rally itself.

PolitiFact Or PolitiBiased?

In the summer of 2012, the Republican Party of Virginia issued a scathing 86-page critique of PolitiFact alleging bias against Republicans and conservatives. This critique was made in the summer leading up to the election of Tim Kaine to the U.S. Senate. PolitiFact's legitimacy is directly tied to the perception that it is providing an unbiased fact-check of politicians. As you would expect, PolitiFact swiftly responded to the complaint:

The party takes issue with the fact that 26 of our last 36 rulings have concerned Republican candidates and elected officials. But Virginia is largely controlled by Republican politicians. The governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general belong to the party, as do eight of the 13 members of Virginia's congressional delegation, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Both houses of the General Assembly are run by Republicans. In addition, the GOP fielded four candidates in its primary for the U.S. Senate this spring and sponsored three debates between them. Democrats, in contrast, handed their nomination to an unopposed Tim Kaine.

Well, times are a changing. Virginia now is largely controlled by Democrats. The governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general belong to the Democrats. Pending the outcome of the 6th Senate District special election (currently in recount mode with Democrat Lynwood Lewis holding a 9-vote lead over Republican Wayne Coleman), Republicans may control only the House of Delegates. With the retirement of U.S. Representative Jim Moran, it seems that every Democrat in Northern Virginia has declared for his federal seat. Quite a different political environment from just eighteen months ago. It's time to put PolitiFact to the test and see how fairly they review and critique liberals and Democrats.

On Sunday, PolitiFact launched its "Macker-meter" to track whether Governor Terry McAuliffe keeps his campaign promises. PolitiFact is going to track 17 promises "the Macker" made on the campaign trail. Of course, they tracked 48 promises for former Governor Bob McDonnell. Don't worry, PolitiFact has an explanation for this discrepancy of what they will monitor:

McDonnell — a 17-year veteran of elective office when he ran for governor — put out more than a dozen nuanced policy papers during his campaign. We could not find the same level of detail from McAuliffe, a first-time elective office holder who was criticized during last year's campaign for being light on policy.

In other words,  Governor McAuliffe gets a pass because it is his first-time being elected to office. But he is not the political novice PolitiFact describes. They conveniently leave out his failed run for governor four years earlier and his decades of well publicized political experience.

PolitiFact also released its first promise check. Governor McAuliffe received a "promise kept" for signing an executive order putting restrictions on gifts, but because his executive order is only valid for one year, they will check back to see what happens next year. I may be mistaken, but I recall that promises Governor McDonnell didn't fully complete were given scores of "in the works" and PolitiFact checked back before determining if it was a promise kept. Double standard? Time will tell.

Regardless, this is great news for Governor McAuliffe. By failing to espouse specific, nuanced policy positions during the campaign, he will be lightly judged by PolitiFact. We'll leave the question of why the press corp did not call for the governor to task for failing to provide a detailed policy plan prior to the election for another day.

Quote Of The Day 1-16-14

Our Quotes Of The Day don't always come from the House or Senate floor, or from committee meetings. These days, they come from tweets. Continuing in our bipartisan manner, we found this last night from Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44, Fairfax): Surovell Tweet (1)

Notice TFF's and your my own logos on, ahem, the right.

First it was the rush of NOVA Rs (Senator Dick Black and Delegate Barbara Comstock) to enter the race to win the 10th House District seat opening up due to U.S. Representative Frank Wolf's retirement. Then, yesterday, Jim Moran announced he was retiring from his 8th District seat, prompting reports that several NOVA Ds will jump into the fray. Ah, yes. The General Assembly as the farm system for Congress.

Quote Of The Day, 1-15-14: Feminists Retread '70s "ERA"

There were several candidates for the 2014 Virginia General Assembly's first Quote Of The Day. But the winner doesn't come from a legislator. It comes from a liberal activist. One trade secret in the lobbying business is to keep your mouth shut in the hallways and elevators. If you're talking, you're not listening to what others are saying, and you may be giving away something to the other side no matter how insignificant you think it may be.

This morning, a few stragglers from a feminist briefing lingered not far from me as I sat on a hallway chair in the General Assembly Building and recorded notes on a meeting with a legislator. They were giddy with enthusiasm to lobby lawmakers to vote to ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No, you haven't gone back into a 1970's time warp. For the last three years it has been introduced in the General Assembly despite its decades ago expiration from failure to secure the three-quarters of the states necessary for ratification by its own deadline.

Believe it or not, in 2011, the Virginia Senate mistakenly passed it when they thought they were filming a Spielberg history movie (sic), before a House committee effortlessly punted it through the Twilight Zone and back to the Jimmy Carter-Tip O'Neil era. To hear these feminists, the original resolution's deadline, approved by a liberal dominated Congress at the time, doesn't count.

I am not making this up. Talk about "wasting time on divisive social issues."

The women talked openly about their strategy, as primitive and naive as it was, not realizing who I was. I kept my head down, finished my job and listened with great amusement — and took notes (then provided them to one of the "targeted" legislators — an unflipable conservative — before they could visit his office for a second time that morning). One woman, with colored blond hair and a blaze red stripe of hair across the front, admitted it was hard for her to concentrate solely on the ERA because "I can't prioritize. I love all these bills. I'm even all in on the animal rights bills, too!"

Rights for the animals. None for the unborn. Some definition of feminism.

That's not the QOD, though, and it's not this gem either: "I want to live until I see this passed and I will die happy."

The QOD goes to another woman who said she gave an ERA pin to Dorothy McAuliffe, our new First Lady:

She said she'd give it to Hillary. All I want for Christmas is a picture of Hillary Clinton wearing an ERA pin. That's the money shot for me.

Did I say "naive"? Honey, if you don't have Hillary in your camp by now, you might as well stick with your friend's animal rights bills.

 

#Distraction: Family Foundation Reaction To Today's Pro-Abortion, Homosexual Rights News Conferences

Late this morning, two groups of liberal General Assembly legislators held Capitol Square news conferences heralding their agendas. At the first one, Democrat Senators Donald McEachin and Adam Ebbin, and Democrat Delegate Patrick Hope, promoted the so-called "Equality Agenda" (i.e., homosexual rights). At the second, the so-called Women's Health Care Caucus (i.e., the pro-abortion caucus), led by Democrat Delegates Kaye Kory, Jennifer McClellan and Vivian Watts, and Senators Barbara Favola  and McEachin (he does get around) echoed the abortion industry's taxpayer-funded-abortion-at-any-time-for-any-reason talking points. Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb issued the following statement in reply with an ad lib comment by yours truly:

Fewer Americans are working today than at any point since the Carter administration; but instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, liberals in Virginia have introduced nearly 20 bills dealing with sex and abortion. The Left's attacks on marriage, religious liberty and parental rights won't be distracting enough for Virginians to notice they don’t have jobs (or have lost their health insurance), but they could undermine Governor Terry McAuliffe's claims that he wants to work across party lines and avoid divisive issues.

We've always heard the General Assembly has more important things to do than consider divisive "social issues," especially when there there are so many kitchen table problems to solve. That said . . . can anyone say #distraction?

Hundreds Attend Virginia Stands For Life Rally, Send Huge Message To General Assembly! #VAStands4Life14

Hundreds of pro-life Virginians traveled across the commonwealth and braved cold temperatures to send the General Assembly a clear message: Virginians oppose the abhorrence of abortion and expect lawmakers to uphold the sanctity of life (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Keynote speaker Lila Rose vividly illustrated that message and the particularly heinous nature of abortion from her unique perspective as founder of Live Action, a new media pro-life investigative organization that goes undercover to expose the abortion industry's corruption and abuse. Ms. Rose founded Live Action at age 15 and has had Planned Parenthood on the run ever since. Later, she spoke to dozens of pastors at a Pastors For Family Values luncheon.

Joining her in speaking to the attendees were emcee Olivia Gans Turner of American Victims of Abortion; Susan Null, executive director of the Harrisonburg Pregnancy Center;  and Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb. The Reverend Bob Collins, founding pastor of World Outreach Worship Center, prayed the invocation. Afterward, attendees visited their delegates and senators to encourage them to support pro-life legislation, maintain the gains made the last three years, and oppose actions that would make abortion more available.

Hundreds of pro-life Virginians turned out today at Mr. Jefferson's capitol to support the sanctity of human Life. (Photo courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

Here is the official statement of the 14 partner organizations, including The Family Foundation, that hosted the 2014 Virginia Stands for Life Gathering (#VAStands4Life14):

This morning hundreds of pro-life Virginians came together to stand united in support of the sanctity of human life and to remind elected officials and the public that the pro-life movement in Virginia is thriving. The women and men at the event celebrated the 16 percent drop in Virginia's abortion rate over the past three years (a 22 percent drop among Virginia women), while hoping to encourage Virginia's elected officials to remain steadfast in their support of protective pro-life laws and legislation.

Several national and state pro-life organizations united together for today’s rally, bringing their supporters to Richmond to encourage reasonable and protective measures that seek to protect the lives of unborn children, the elderly and those with disabilities. With a new incoming administration, the organizers of today's peaceful event encouraged our elected officials to stand strong in the face of attempts to erode the significant recent pro-life gains that protect innocent unborn life and women.

All of the organizations and their constituents who were represented in this rally are committed to continuing to defend and advance the cause of unborn life, access to adoption, and the protection of human life. We will continue to voice the truth about the value of human life. As more Americans become pro-life every day, we are optimistic about the future for the unborn and the vulnerable in America and Virginia.   

Embedded image permalink

The Fab Four. Virginia's leading pro-life women, from left: Virginia Podboy of the Virginia Catholic Conference; Lila Rose of Live Action; TFF's Victoria Cobb; and Olivia Gans Turner of National Right To Life's American Victims of Abortion.

That Didn't Take Long: Black Looking Into Congressional Run Hours After Wolf Retirement Announcement

Just hours after U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-10) announced he would not seek re-election in 2014, fellow Republican and Virginia Senator Dick Black announced the creation of an exploratory committee to seek that Congressional seat. In an e-mail he stated the electoral advantages his nomination would provide:

I have formed an exploratory committee to run for the 10th Congressional District seat that is being vacated by Congressman Frank Wolf.

Frank has worked hard for the 10th District during his 34 years of service, and has announced today that he will not run for re-election in 2014. I invite you to join my exploratory committee which is simply a declaration that you intend to support me should I become a candidate for Congress in the 10th District.

The 10th Congressional District includes all of Loudoun County, a large portion of Prince William County, and a small portion of Fairfax County. I currently represent over 200,000 people in the 10th District*, including Loudoun and Prince William Counties.

As a former member of the House of Delegates I represented parts of Sterling, Herndon, and Great Falls as well. Between my eight years in the House of Delegates and my current service in the State Senate, I have represented the majority of the 10th Congressional District.

Speculation among pundits went into overdrive this afternoon upon Rep. Wolf's announcement, with Bob Holsworth telling WRVA-AM in Richmond that VA-10 will be one of the most closely watched races in the country next year as control of the House of Representatives will be up for grabs. Most expect several people to jump into a campaign for what may be gerrymandered Virginia's only remaining House swing district.

If Senator Black does seek the job and wins, it will create yet another intense special election this time next year for control of the currently evenly divided Virginia Senate. Because of last November's results, there will be two special Senate elections before the start of the General Assembly session in January that will determine that chamber's the majority party.

 

Live Action's Lila Rose Will Be Keynote Speaker At Virginia Stands For Life Rally!

We are proud to confirm that Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action, and perhaps the most influential person in the national debate on abortion, will be the keynote speaker at the Virginia Stands For Life Rally on January 8 in Capitol Square. You will not want to miss this event and this most dynamic, intelligent, creative and articulate defender of life and exposer of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. From the age of 15, when she founded Live Action, Ms. Rose has dedicated herself to building a culture of life and ending abortion. By the time she was an undergraduate at UCLA (which wasn't that long ago), it became one of the country's most effective non-profit organizations — a groundbreaking, investigative organization through the use of the then new technologies of digital and social media (see CNN feature). Live Action's game changing techniques forced the mainstream media to report abortion industry abuses that it previously ignored and that began changing the public's view on abortion and Planned Parenthood.

She has led Live Action's numerous undercover investigations, which have exposed corruption and illegal activity at Planned Parenthood. Her work has documented rampant sexual abuse cover up, medical misinformation, racism, willingness to assist sex traffickers, and false statements by Planned Parenthood executives. Live Action videos make national headlines and have generated millions of views online. She is a frequent guest on The O'Reilly Factor, The Glenn Beck Show, The Laura Ingraham Show and many other news and talk programs on radio, television and the Internet.

Lila Rose

Pro-life dynamo: Live Action's Lila Rose.

Between the abortion industry mobilizing in opposition to pro-life bills and its spending nearly $2 million against pro-life candidates this past election, many elected officials fear even to mention their pro-life positions. Last January, however, they got the clear message that life matters when nearly 1,000 people showed up on the first day of session to pray and stand for women and their unborn children at the first ever Virginia Stands For Life Rally. They also visited those elected officials' General Assembly offices! It sent a powerful message to members of the General Assembly and media.

The opportunity to do that again occurs when the General Assembly convenes on January 8. Our goal is to have 1,500 people from across Virginia come to Richmond that morning in Capitol Square and be a voice for those who have no voice. Watch the following video and click here for event specifics and to register to be in RIchmond on January 8:

Combat the War On The Unborn. Virginia's politicians need to know Virginia is pro-life!

Did He Or She Pass Or Fail? The 2012-13 Family Foundation General Assembly Report Card

The Family Foundation Action today released the 12th edition of its non-partisan General Assembly Report Card. The educational document informs citizens on key votes taken by the General Assembly during the 2012 and 2013 sessions. You can view the Report Card by clicking here.

It is our hope that the Report Card, along with Voter Guides TFF Action will distribute in the fall, will motivate citizens to vote, and help them make informed choices when they go to the voting booth. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election this year, as well as the offices of Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. Depending on outcomes of the Republican convention and Democrat primary, as many as four members from the House of Delegates or Virginia Senate with scores on this Report Card could be on the ballot for those statewide offices in November.

2013 Report Card

How well did your delegate and senator vote? Click on the image to access the 2012-13 Family Foundation General Assembly Report Card

As with each Report Card distributed over the years, hundreds of votes taken by the legislature during the past two years were reviewed. The first page of the Report Card explains the criteria used in determining which votes to include. Non-partisan and broad-based, the Report Card seeks not to benefit one party or one candidate over another, but to arm voting Virginians with the information they need to make an informed choice when they go to the ballot box.

This year's Report Card has 13 "100 percenters" in the House o Delegates and nine in the Senate.

The Family Foundation Action distributed 100,000 copies of the last edition, not including those that were downloaded from the Action website. Our goal this year is to distribute more than 120,000.

To order additional copies of the Report Card to distribute in your church, community group and to like-minded friends and neighbors, click here, or contact Roger Pogge at The Family Foundation Action at 804-343-0010 or at roger@tffaction.org. A suggested donation of $.25 per copy is encouraged to help defray costs of printing and distribution. Please also consider sponsoring the distribution of 100, 500 or even 1,000 Report Cards with a donation of $25, $125 or $250. Checks should be written to "TFF Action" and sent to 919 East Main Street, Suite 1110, Richmond, VA 23219;,or you may pay by credit card here. Thank you for your support.

The mission of The Family Foundation Action is to protect families and promote responsible citizenship by giving Virginians the tools they need to hold their elected officials accountable. The Family Foundation Action is not a PAC and cannot endorse candidates.

Paid for by The Family Foundation Action.

Please Plan To Participate In The National Day Of Prayer On May 2

Our nation is in a crucial time and in serious need of prayer. We face grave challenges on every front and most of all, the spiritual front. We're sure you sense the peril that we, as a country, are in as never before. Even as our nation deals with the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Boston, the deep ideological divisions in our nation remain. Faith-based institutions are being forced to fund abortions, our national debt continues to skyrocket while cities are going bankrupt, pornography is running rampant on the Internet and we are potentially one Supreme Court vote away from making same-sex "marriage" the law of the land. But we are not as those who have no hope. Our hope is in the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.

This is a reminder that the National Day of Prayer is coming up on Thursday, May 2. It's a day when Americans will gather together to pray that God will grant us mercy and send us the help we need to turn our nation back to Him. The theme this year is "Pray for America." The Scripture that that the organizers have chosen to highlight this theme is Matthew 12:21:

In His name the nations will put their hope.

While we will continue to work hard to ensure that the Virginia General Assembly passes laws that protect life, marriage and our religious liberty in the commonwealth, we are convinced that only through the Lord will our state and nation be saved. Please consider finding a local gathering and participating this year. For your convenience, click here to visit the National Day of Prayer official website. There, you can find locations of announced events as well as other useful information. Click on the "Events" tab to find a prayer gathering near you.

The National Day of Prayer is an important time for us to stop and recognize our need for the Lord as a nation. We all know what a critical time this is. Let us not neglect the One who can deliver us from the dangers that await us if we fail to act.

Miraculous Success: Life And Conscience Protected

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reconvened Quotes Of The Day

The General Assembly is meeting today in its annual one-day reconvened session, commonly referred to as the “Veto Session,” where it considers the governor’s vetoes and amendments to bills passed during the regular session that met during the winter. Whereas the “Morning Hour” — a fairly open-ended time for members to comment on matters not directly dealing with the legislative calendar — of a regular session consists mainly of welcomes to constituent groups, lifting the profile of a bill or policy position and assertive partisan speeches, Morning Hour during the reconvened session typically plays homage to the members who have announced their retirement. With eight members making the announcement since the end of session in February, there was a lot of talking going on, but none more so than that on behalf of Delegate Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford), the last of the independents and powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, whose first term began in 1962. He is the longest serving member in the 400-year history of the longest continuously meeting legislature in the New World. That meant lots of laud from numerous colleagues — and a great deal of story telling. After the very lengthy praises were over, Delegate Putney, soon to be 85, took the floor and brought down the House (get it?) with this:

It's not often that I’m speechless, but I hardly know what to say today. I feel like the mosquito at the nudist camp. There is so much territory to cover, you don’t know where to start.

It took several minutes for delegates to contain themselves and the chairman proceeded to compliment colleagues of both parties past and present and the demeanor of the chamber, explain what his time there meant to him, and recount humorous anecdotes, history and the accomplishments of the General Assembly over his 50-plus years of service. The last of the retirees to be recognized, and on the other end of the service scale, was Delegate Donald Merricks (R-16, Chatham) retiring after only three terms. Described by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albemarle) as a workhorse and not a show horse, one who rarely took the floor to embellish himself and one, most importantly, who told you where he stood and never held out his vote for something else.

Then the man of few words took the floor to acknowledge his colleagues' ovation. By now it was nearly two hours after session started with a long single-day's worth of business ahead. He recounted his favorite Bible verse from Exodus, where the Israelites were at the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit. Moses prayed to God for a means of escape while others complained that they were better off as slaves in Egypt. Delegate Merricks then relayed how a scholar translated God's answer to Moses:

"Stop praying and start moving the people!" So let's stop talking and get on with the calendar!

To which House Speaker Bill Howell (R-26, Stafford) replied:

If I knew you were going to say that, I'd have recognized you first!

 

Support Governor McDonnell's Pro-Life Amendment!

Last week Governor Bob McDonnell handed down a pro-life amendment that The Family Foundation had been strongly urging. This amendment prohibits health insurance plans that are part of federal health insurance exchanges required by Obamacare from covering abortion services except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. The amendment is to HB 1900 and SB 921, bills regarding state oversight of health exchanges. Without the governor's amendment, pro-life citizens opposed to abortion will be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. The amendment simply continues what has been state law for the proposed exchanges since 2011 when the General Assembly adopted a similar amendment. Because the state has chosen not to create a state exchange but instead force the federal government to do so, the amendment is necessary. Twenty states have already taken this step and more are considering it. Despite the rhetoric of the abortion industry, private insurers can continue to offer elective abortion plans outside the exchanges if they wish.

Now the General Assembly must accept Governor McDonnell's amendment at tomorrow's Reconvened Session (i.e, the "Veto Session") where it considers amendments and vetoes by the governor. While we are confident that the House of Delegates will adopt the amendment, the 20-20 Senate is questionable.

So that is really where the battle lies. Over the last several days we have mobilized citizens across Virginia to contact their legislators — especially key senators — to make sure they know the citizens of Virginia want this amendment passed.

Please contact your delegate and senator and urge them to support Governor McDonnell's amendment to HB 1900 and SB 921. If you are not sure who they are, click here to find out. Then, or if you already know who they are, click here to look up your delegate's contact information and here to look up your senator's contact information.

Then contact the following key senators and urge them to vote YES on this important amendment as well:

Senator Harry Blevins: 757-546-2435 district14@senate.virginia.gov

Senator John Watkins: 804-379-2063 district10@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Charles Colgan: 703-368-0300 district29@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Phil Puckett: 276-979-8181 district38@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Frank Wagner: 757-671-2250 district07@senate.virginia.gov

Notice Those Gas Prices?

If you've filled up at the pump recently, you've noticed that it's costing a lot more. In fact, according to AAA, gas prices have risen 31 consecutive days. Unfortunately, if some members of the General Assembly have their way, the impact on your family is only just beginning. As we enter the final week of the 2013 session, the topic of funding transportation dominates. Currently, ten members of the legislature, five from each chamber, are meeting to work out a plan based on legislation introduced on behalf of Governor Bob McDonnell and several other proposals. If they can come to an agreement, the plan they concoct could be voted on very quickly, with little time for legislators or citizens to look at the details.

Some members of both parties want to hike the gas tax, either directly or through "indexing" it to inflation. The governor's proposal would eliminate the gas tax but replace the revenue with an increase in the sales tax. Other elements being discussed include giving local governments the authority to "raise revenue," i.e. raise your taxes, without having to do it through referenda. The price tag on the competing plans comes in somewhere between $800 and $900 million per year in increased funding for transportation, the majority of which comes from increased revenue.

While there is little doubt that transportation is an issue that needs addressing, we urge the General Assembly to keep in mind the devastating effect increased gas prices have had on Virginia's families and small businesses. Increasing that burden even more during a time where some are predicting $5 a gallon gas prices by the end of the year could have a disastrous effect on Virginians. We recognize that there are serious needs in the area of transportation and are hopeful a plan can be agreed to, but it cannot unduly increase the financial burden on our struggling families.

Please contact your Senator (here) and your Delegate (here) and urge them to not increase your taxes in the transportation plan!

If You Missed The Virginia Stands For Life Gathering, You Missed Ryan Bomberger

One of the great moments of an immensely great day four weeks ago, on the first day of the 2013 Virginia General Assembly, was Ryan Bomberger's speech at the Virginia Stands for Life Gathering. If you missed it, you, unfortunately, missed him. If you ever get the chance to see or hear him, it is a must. His personal story is compelling and his rhetorical defense of the unborn is unparalleled (see the impact his organizations, The Radiance Foundation and TooManyAborted.com, are having on changing the debate toward a pro-life culture in Virginia and nationally). For example, view this interview on msnbc the day after the national Walk For Life in Washington, D.C., last week. The pro-abortion interviewer thought he could stagger him, but he was no match for Bomberger.

msnbc claims to "lean forward" but Ryan Bomberger knocked it back a peg last week.