Virginia Senate

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.

Pass A Clean Budget! Sign The Petition.

As was predicted for weeks, the General Assembly was not be able to come to an agreement on a state budget prior to leaving Richmond on Saturday. Governor Terry McAuliffe and a majority of senators have made adopting a budget contingent on expanding Obamacare, putting Virginia's economic well-being at risk. Already, far-left organizations like moveon.org are spending millions of dollars to rhetorically assault legislators taking a stand against Obamacare. We need to counter the Left's efforts by doing all we can to stand with those lawmakers who are standing for us!

One simple way you can make your voice heard is by signing the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/.

Even many of those who support the expansion of Obamacare, such as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have urged the governor and senate to decouple the budget from that debate. Holding state government, local governments, schools and, more importantly, the taxpayers of Virginia hostage because they know they don't have the votes to expand the failure that is Obamacare places an already fragile economy in peril.

Sixty-four members of the House of Delegates and 17 members of the Virginia Senate rejected the expansion of Obamacare. They need to know that we stand with them! Please sign the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/ so that they know you want a clean budget with no expansion of Obamacare.

It's unfortunate, but we are seeing more and more of Washington, D.C. style politics coming to Virginia. If the Left can't win the debate with facts and reason — which aren't on its side — it resorts to politically motivated scare tactics and rhetorical bludgeoning. Those who understand the dire straits our Republic is in because of our ever growing $17 trillion debt are painted as "uncaring" and not in favor of health care for those who are disadvantaged! The truth is that Medicaid is the least effective way of providing care to those in need and Obamacare has prevented us from having a real debate over how to fix our health care system.

The first step is to sign the petition. We are currently planning other ways by which you'll be able to make your voice heard regarding this important issue. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!

Urge Governor To Protect Student Free Speech Rights!

The General Assembly recently passed SB 236, a priority for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. The House of Delegates passed the bill by a vote of 64-34.  Earlier this session the bill passed the Virginia Senate 20-18. The bill is now awaiting action by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Unfortunately, the governor has indicated that he is likely to veto this reasonable legislation that simply ensures that religious speech is treated by our public schools exactly like any other type of speech.

Please contact Governor McAuliffe and urge him to sign SB 236, protecting the free speech rights of public school students!

Hostility to simply expressing one’s faith in the public square is becoming more and more prevalent. A student 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. And while some opponents to the bill argue that such speech is already protected, they also argue that allowing students to express their faith could be seen as "coercive" and "offensive" to those who don’t share that faith. In such cases, the government is supposed to be "neutral," but those who oppose bills like SB 236 desire no such neutrality. They desire silencing of faith perspectives and adherence to secular dogma.

Recently, my piece explaining why SB 236 is necessary and what it actually does appeared in The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

The bill, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), is based on federal court precedent and existing law in at least two other states. Opposition comes primarily from the ACLU and the education establishment.

Please contact Governor McAuliffe and urge him to sign SB 236, protecting the free speech rights of public school students!

Floor Vote Tomorrow On Bill To Ensure Chaplain Free Speech!

A bill protecting the free speech rights of Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force chaplains (SB 555) that to this point has been completely non-controversial — in in the Virginia Senate! — suddenly became so Friday when Democrats began to raise a ruckus in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. The committee still voted to report the bill to the floor of the House of Delegates, but on a mainly party line vote, with only one Democrat joining all committee Republicans in favor. Patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), SB 555 unanimously passed the Senate and a House sub-committee. But Friday, several members of the sub-committee who previously voted in favor of the bill urged its defeat and voted against it in full committee. The bill simply ensures that the religious content of sermons made by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard or of the Virginia Defense Force can't be censored or restricted by any state government official or agency.

Even Democrats in the  Senate unanimously voted in favor of the provision because it essentially repeats federal policy. But there are members of the House of Delegates that are so hostile to religious liberty that even ensuring that chaplains can simply do their job is not worthy of protection. The bill will be debated on the House floor today and voted on tomorrow.

Please contact your delegate and urge him or her to vote for SB 555 on the House floor Tuesday!

"Close The Window, Pull Down The Shade"

Earlier today, the Virginia Senate voted to pass SB 617, a bill to repeal the 2012 ultrasound update to the abortion informed consent law. The version of the story you'll probably hear is simply that the bill passed on a 20-20 vote with Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam breaking the tie in favor of the bill. What really happened though involves multiple votes, a win and then a loss and then another loss, procedural gymnastics, mistakes and tears. But worst of all, the silencing of one senator's conscience by the strong arm of his caucus. Let me back up though and tell you the whole story. Even before SB 617 passed out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday, The Family Foundation met with lawmakers, lining up votes in favor of life and against SB 617. As today approached, we were cautiously optimistic that we had the necessary votes to defeat SB 617.

When the bill came up on the floor of the Senate, Senator Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton) urged senators to vote on the side of John Stewart and Rachel Maddow and repeal this "shameful" law. Senator Locke quoted Family Foundation testimony given in committee stating that an ultrasound is a powerful "window into the womb" and referencing that testimony, she urged the Senate to "close the window, pull down the shade."

In other words: Do not, under any circumstance, show a woman a picture of the life she is carrying. Make no mistake — despite the opponent's rhetoric to the contrary — this bill is about hiding critical information from women.

After much debate, the vote was called and the bill failed, 18-22. The vote was party-line with the exception of Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) who voted in favor of the repeal and Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon) who voted against the repeal. This vote line up struck us as odd because Senator Puller has never (in our recollection) voted pro-life. Sure enough, a few minutes later, she made a motion to reconsider the vote by which SB 617 failed to pass (this is a fairly common procedure when someone accidentally votes the wrong way). The bill's passage was reconsidered and the vote sudenly was 20-20 (Senators Colgan and Puller switched) and  Lieutenant Governor Northam broke the tie in favor of the repeal.

Senator Colgan confirmed with media (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) and pro-life lobbyists alike that his vote switch was entirely accidental. He even filed a "yellow slip" in which the official record reflects that he intended to vote no (but that cannot change the outcome of a vote).

Because of Senate Rule 48a, a bill can only be reconsidered once. Therefore, Senator Colgan's mistake would stand unless unanimous consent to temporarily suspend the rule was given by the entire chamber to allow Senator Colgan to change his vote. Proving his sincerity, a very emotional Senator Colgan petitioned his Democrat caucus colleagues to give him unanimous consent to vote his conscience and right his incorrect vote. Senator Watkins, who was on the prevailing side, as required, made the motion to reconsider the vote, but it failed 37-1. The sacrificial lamb for the caucus, Senator Locke, voted no. Clearly, among Senate Democrat leaders, orthodoxy to the abortion industry took precedent over the conscience of even one of their own members. Senator Colgan was not allowed to vote his conscience.

But Senate Republicans were determined to allow Senator Colgan his voice. The next bill up for debate was a bill dear to the hearts of the Democrat caucus — a bill to increase the minimum wage. However, the bill needed unanimous consent for it to be moved to "third read" and properly before the Senate for a vote on final passage (a common procedure). Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) took to the floor to make the point that he could vote against the motion requiring unanimous consent and thus defeat the bill singlehandedly. Senator Norment impressed upon the Democratic caucus the inappropriateness of their stifling the conscience of Senator Colgan and reminded them that if the Republican caucus wanted to retaliate, that they had the perfect opportunity by singlehandedly defeating the minimum wage bill. Taking the high road, Senator Norment made his point and then encouraged the Republican caucus to be statesmen and not vote in a retaliatory fashion. However, the point was clear — the Democratic caucus had played dirty today and their shameful actions would not be ignored.

SB 617 will probably be heard next in the House Courts of Justice Committee where it will likely meet its demise (the same fate as a similar House bill, HB 1056). Senate Democrats are already claiming the "win" on the ultrasound repeal bill's Senate passage, conveniently ignoring that there were more members of the Senate today who opposed the ultrasound bill than supported it. It was only by mistake that it passed. Words cannot express the emotional roller coaster of today and the extreme disappointment felt when Senator Colgan was not allowed to vote his conscience. Please thank the 19 Republican Senators, Senator Puckett, and yes, Senator Colgan, for their principled stand for life.

On a positive note, SB 618, a bill to force taxpayers to subsidize abortions in Virginia's federally-mandated health exchange, failed to pass the Senate on a vote of 18-22 (Senators Colgan and Puckett joined the Senate Republican caucus to defeat the bill).

Senator Colgan Dissed By Fellow Dems On Abortion Vote

On a 22-18 bipartisan vote today, the Senate of Virginia defeated a bill that would have removed language protecting taxpayers from funding abortion from Virginia's law regarding Obamacare. The bill, SB 618, was patroned by Senator Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton). At the same time, the Senate passed SB 617, also patroned by Senator Locke, a bill that would repeal the sonogram requirement in Virginia's Informed Consent Law, on a 21-20 vote, with Lt. Governor Ralph Northam casting the tie-breaking vote. Tie votes aren't always that straightforward and this was anything but, with a controversy that may have ramifications well beyond even this session, ripping at the already stressed traditional Senate collegiality due to the unprecedented mid-session power shift. What followed left experienced General Assembly watchers saying they thought they "had seen everything until today."

After lengthy debate the bill initially went down to defeat 22-18, with Republican John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) voting with the pro-abortion side, while the pro-life side picked up three Democrats: Senators Charles Colgan and Phillip Puckett (D-29, Tazewell), both generally pro-life, as well as, surprisingly, Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon) — a reliable pro-abortion vote. 

The Puller vote shocked everyone and, accordingly, observers expected a motion for a reconsideration vote — a procedure that allows someone from the prevailing side to ask for another vote, done as a courtesy for someone who accidentally voted the opposite of his or her intention. It can only be done once per bill unless the chamber gives unanimous consent to suspend the rule. After a few more bills were voted on, Senator Puller made the motion. A one vote flip would preserve the defeat of the bill, so no one expected the vote board to flash what, in fact, shockingly became a 20-20 tie. 

As it turned out, Senator Colgan (D-29, Manassas) the senior member of the chamber, and its President Pro Tempore, accounted for the second flipped vote when he accidentally voted "yes," even though Republican Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) briefly rose prior to the vote to remind senators which bill they were reconsidering. Before long the Senate was in recess with each side plotting its floor tactics. Senator Watkins, being on the prevailing side now, made a motion for the suspension of the rules in order for Senator Colgan — who, by all accounts, was visibly distressed by his mistake and asked for another chance — to vote his conscious.

The vote to suspend the rules was 37-1, with Senator Locke providing the solitary vote necessary to prevent the third vote which would have sunk her bill for good. But make no mistake: The entire pro-abortion Democrat bloc was against the motion, allowing Senator Locke, as the bill's patron, to take the hit in order for the other pro-abortion Democrats to affect the appearance of bipartisanship.

Senator Norment took the floor again. Some anticipated that he would take advantage of Senate rules to kill remaining Democrat bills on the calendar. That is, as today was "Crossover Day" (when all bills originating in the Senate and House must be dealt with by those respective chambers) bills that had not been on the floor for three days needed unanimous consent to get their final up and down votes, or automatically die. He told Democrats that was not the GOP plan, but reminded them in no uncertain terms of the unprecedented nature of their actions. Some took that as an implied threat. We shall see what, if anything, GOP senators have in mind. Some suggested that he should have used that leverage to get a new vote.

TFF President Victoria Cobb issued this statement:

The evidence continues to mount showing that liberals in Richmond are interested only in power and bludgeoning even their own members to deny their consciences. Make no mistake — there were more members of the Virginia Senate today that opposed both abortion bills than supported them. It was only by mistake that one passed. Clearly, among Senate Democrat leaders, orthodoxy to the abortion industry takes precedent over the consciences even of their own members.

SB 617 would remove Virginia's requirement that a woman receive an ultrasound and be offered the opportunity to view it prior to an abortion. SB 618 would have removed the "opt-out" language allowed by Obamacare that protects taxpayers from subsidizing abortion in Virginia's federal health care exchange.

 

 

GA Update: This Week's Abortion Votes

Yesterday morning, the Senate Education and Health Committee, on a party line 9-5 vote (with 1 abstention) reported SB 617 to the Senate floor, a bill that would repeal the ultrasound update to the informed consent law that conservatives fought hard to pass in 2012. The bill's patrons are Senators Mame Locke (D-2, Hampton) and Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico). The full Senate will vote on the ultrasound repeal bill Tuesday. Virginia's ultrasound law allows women the opportunity to see their unborn child prior to making an irreversible, life-altering decision. While ultrasounds were already standard protocol prior to the 2012 legislation, abortion doctors were not showing the picture to their patients. This window into the womb is powerful and no matter the choice of a woman, it allows her a more informed decision and reduces regret. The ultrasound law is about requiring the abortion doctor simply to turn the screen.

Additionally, ultrasounds are medically necessary prior to an abortion. An ultrasound determines not only gestational age, but gestational position (whether the pregnancy is uterine or ectopic), viability, if a woman is actually pregnant (it's not unheard of for an abortion to be performed on a non-pregnant woman), and if there are multiples. All of these factors are critical information for the doctor to have when the abortion is performed if the safety of the woman is a priority.

However, we know that all too often, unfortunately, the safety of the woman is not the first priority of abortion doctors. An owner of two abortion centers in Virginia was found not even to have medical-malpractice insurance despite swearing otherwise under oath (see The New Yorker). Virginia Department of Health inspection reports reveal that the Roanoke Medical Center for Women performed abortions on multiple minors without parental notification or consent, in violation of Virginia law. There are countless other violations we could cite, but suffice it to say the abortion industry has proven that a woman's safety is not its priority. That is precisely why ultrasounds must be required — for a woman's safety because we cannot rely on the abortion industry to take precautions.

The Education and Health Committee also voted to report SB 618 yesterday on another party line vote (9-6). The bill, patroned by Senator Locke, would reinstate abortion funding in Virginia's federally mandated healthcare exchange. It would force taxpayers to subsidize abortions against their conscience. It will be up for final passage in the Senate on Tuesday as well.

The Virginia Senate is not the only chamber taking abortion votes. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates voted on several important measures, as well. The Courts of Justice Constitutional Law Sub-Committee voted to defeat three different attempts to repeal or water down the ultrasound law (HB 546, HB 547 and HB 1056), and a measure that would redefine birth control to include "emergency contraception" or the morning after pill (HB565,). The bills' patrons all were Democrat women: Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn, Jeion Ward and Vivian Watts.

The subcommittee also tabled by voice vote HB 98, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), a bill that would have criminalized sex-selective abortion. The committee cited various enforcement issues that they were unable to easily fix (i.e., is it fair to criminalize the doctor for the discriminatory thoughts of the mother? How do you prove the baby was aborted for sex-selective reasons?), but seemed to resonate with the concept behind the bill.

The battle for the sanctity of life is fierce in Richmond. Please be in prayer over these Senate bills. Pray that pro-life senators are courageous in their stand for life despite political pressure to the contrary. Your prayers are of great value and are much appreciated.

Here Come The Social Issues

Today, Senate Democrats took advantage of their new "majority" by changing Senate rules and committee make up, after having won two recent special elections and holding the lieutenant governor's tie breaking vote. The mid-session shake up is unprecedented. At one point, as the Democrats introduced a new rules package and erased the old ones, the President of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, said there were "no rules" in effect! Literal translation: The rules are what we say they are. Consequently, there is no question that after today's power grab, Senate Democrats will elevate their abortion and sex agenda to their top priority. Though some bills they introduced have already failed to pass committee, we expect, since no rules seem to apply anymore, for those bills to be revived and advanced. There is little doubt that "social issues" will dominate their agenda in the coming days, to the detriment of passing a state budget on time or addressing the dangerous health care issues faced by the implosion of Obamacare.

To ensure they'll be able to defeat any legislation that protects vulnerable human life or advances educational freedom or parental rights, Democrats added an extra abortion apologist to their takeover of the Education and Health committee, while also creating a three seat (9-6)  majority. But in addition to stacking committees out of proportion to their "majority," they did something not only unprecedented, but something beyond imagination.

In a too-late-by-three-years-response to being outsmarted in 2011, when they were an outright majority, and when pro-life advocates outmaneuvered them to add abortion center safety to legislation on a Senate bill amended by the House of Delegates, which forced a full floor vote on that bill, Senate Democrats today created a new rule where they can send bills they passed but amended by the House to the (new) Rules Committee. Normally, a Senate bill amended by the House goes back to the full Senate for a vote, and vice versa. Republicans argued that such a rule violates not only the spirit, but the letter of proper procedure, and indeed the rule of law. But ignoring the rule of law seems to be the normal operating procedure for some liberal politicians these days.

This afternoon's often tense debate over changing Senate rules in the middle of that chamber's four-year term did nothing but add fuel to an ever growing partisan fire here in Richmond. (What's happened to The Virginia Way that so many liberals, trying to appear centrist, have clamored for?)

Regardless of one's perspective on the validity of today's power change, one thing is perfectly clear: elections matter. Democrats in Richmond hold power in the state Senate by just 11 votes; the number by which their 20th member won his recent special election. If there is a better example of why voting for candidates who share our values no matter the circumstance, we don't know what it is. Democrats have power, not because they are winning more people to their views, but because people who share our views are not turning out on election day. In November, more than 70,000 fewer self-identified evangelicals voted in the governor's race than voted in 2009. That decline in turnout made the difference in a close election.

At The Family Foundation, we are committed to reversing that trend. That's why The Family Foundation Action, or political arm, has hired a full time political director to elevate our get-out-the-vote apparatus to levels we've never before reached. Today is a dark day for the Virginia Senate and for our values. But it is only one day.

Better days are coming.

Student Freedom Of Speech Bill Passes Senate!

Tuesday afternoon, the Virginia Senate passed SB 236, legislation that will clarify the free speech and religious liberty protections of public school students. The bill, a high priority for The Family Foundation, passed by a vote of 20-18, largely along party lines. Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), a longtime defender of religious liberty, is the bill's patron. Based on existing law in two states that has not been challenged in the courts, Carrico's bill would create what the law calls "limited public forums" at certain public school events, which restrict schools from censoring subject matter 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, wear clothing which express religious sentiments and the like.

Several senators expressed support for the bill, including Senator Tom Garrett (R-22, Louisa). Senator Garrett's passionate defense of freedom of expression and religious liberty as a whole was topped only by his answers to questions posed by an opponent to the bill, Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Richmond). Senator McEachin, attempting to stump the bill's proponents, asked numerous questions about the supposed need to define various phrases used in the bill. However, he severely underestimated Senator Garrett's knowledge of religious liberty case law. Senator Garrett eagerly and deftly answered McEachin's questions and furthermore challenged him to apply this bill not just to Christian religious speech, but rather to all religious speech. Garrett also argued that students should be allowed to articulate and hear philosophies and beliefs that are unpopular or minority views for the good of their education.

Also defending the bill were Senators Dick Black (R-13, Loudoun) and Richard Stuart (R-4, Fredericksburg). Senator Stuart pointed out that while legislators on both sides of the isle complain about the SOLs and the "teaching to the test without teaching critical thinking," this bill would provide the opportunity for viewpoints that not everyone agrees with to be expressed, which motivates critical thinking.

The opposition misrepresented the legislation by claiming that it would "coerce" students to hear a viewpoint that may be "offensive." Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30, Alexandria) warned of "coercive prayer" to students who are compelled to attend a function. In fact, the bill doesn't offer special protection to religious speech, but simply the same protection that is offered any other type of speech at a school function. It evens the playing field for students who have a religious viewpoint, protecting them from unwarranted discrimination, and only requires school boards to adopt policies that protect that speech.

We appreciate that 19 of 20 Republicans voted to support religious liberty with their votes for the bill, as well as Democrat Senator Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazwell). The only Republican to vote against the measure was Senator John Watkins (R-10, Chesterfield).

A similar bill, HB 493, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), is working its way through the House of Delegates.

Wexton Prefers Demonizing Conservatives To Fighting Criminals Or Protecting Unborn

If you live in the parts of Loudon and Fairfax Counties that make up the 33rd Senate District, where a special election will be held this Tuesday to fill the seat of Attorney General Mark Herring and determine which party will control the Virginia Senate, take notice of this mailer Republican nominee John Whitbeck. It's in response to the over-the-top television ad Democrat Jennifer Wexton released last week in which she equated Tea Party activists to rapists (see it here).

As it turns out, Ms. Wexton, who prides herself as a no-nonsense, tough-on-crime prosecutor, may have set up a straw man to impugn because her record isn't exactly as she has advertised. As it turns out, in recent years, she's taken on four rape cases (notice the omission of the word "prosecuted") and plea bargained them, including one perp who was charged with four counts of rape and one count of abduction. Three of the four rape counts were dropped and the remaining charge was reduced to misdemeanor sexual battery. He was sentenced to time served and two months. He's now free.

Another man was charged with rape and abduction, but Wexton pleaded the case down to misdemeanor sexual battery and a sentence of about four months. Yet another case involved rape, abduction and intent to defile. That, too, was pleaded by Wexton — to a four month sentence. The list, as they say, goes on and on.

Apparently, Ms. Wexton, an ardent pro-abortion advocate, is tougher on limited government Tea Party activists and unborn babies than she is on rapists. In the so-called "War On Women," Ms. Wexton outranks any so-called "anti-woman" conservative legislator. I suppose that's why she had the need to build up a straw man to knock down — because she hasn't demonstrated the ability to take on real scoundrels.

That's anything but the qualities needed to fight the legislative battles in Richmond, where credibility, veracity and trust are essential to be an effective legislator. Maybe Ms. Wexton should spend her time conscientiously fighting criminals instead of demonizing people who simply have a different opinion. She would be much better served and serve her constituents much better.

WhitbeckFlyerJennifer Wexton has shown an incredible ability to be tougher on political opponents and the unborn than on rapists. Yet, she thinks she deserves to be a state senator.

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.

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.

 

With Control Of The Senate At Stake, Over The Top Wexton Ad May Cause Blowback For Dems

As control of the Virginia Senate continues to hang in the most precious of balances — Democrat Lynwood Lewis' lead dropped to nine votes over Republican Wayne Coleman earlier today during the 6th district special election's certification, which should trigger a recount (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) — a new controversy has emerged in 33rd Senate district special election (necessitated by the election of Attorney General-elect Mark Herring). There, Democrat Jennifer Wexton, who has a history of slash and burn campaign tactics, released a television ad comparing Tea Party members to rapists (see Washington Post). While it's shocking that a "tolerant" liberal would be so vile (yeah, right), Wexton may have done more damage to Democrat hopes than releasing an obnoxious ad that is nothing more than a typical campaign misstep. It may just blow up in her, and her party's, face.

First, it shows desperation in what should be a fairly safe Democrat district. The Dems need to hold on to Lewis' Hampton Roads-area victory and lock up the Northern Virginia seat as well to get to a 20-20 split in the Senate where Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam would be the tie-breaking vote.

More than that, though, it moves the conversation away from which party should control the chamber, which would favor the Democrats and motivate its majority in that district, to one about personality and proper senatorial demeanor. A lot of the 33rd is genteel horse country and the ad (below) blows the lid off the mainstream media contrived stereotype that conservatives are the brass knuckle, street brawler campaigners.

Left wing Virginia Senate candidate Jennifer Wexton thinks comparing Tea Party members to rapists is no big deal.

Now, some might say that liberal base voters won't mind an ad like this and, besides, what else are they going to do on election day? Of course, it wouldn't be Virginia politics if anything about this was straightforward. Running against Wexton is not only conservative Republican John Whitbeck, but former Delegate Joe May, another liberal and recently turned independent. That gives district liberals, turned off from Wexton, an outlet.

Compounding the controversy is Wexton's obnoxious unrepentance. In typical leftist fashion, she has created an evil straw man that she, simply, is standing up to. Her spokesman told the Post:

 (GOP) charges(s) are ridiculous. The real outrage here is that both of Jennifer's opponents have voted for these types of laws that would have prevented victims of rape and incest from seeking quality health care or exercising the right to choose.

Seriously. That is the level of intellectual honesty that regularly emanates from the Left.

Nothing is ever for certain in politics, especially in the commonwealth. A January special election with the General Assembly in mid session makes it as murky as the James near Hopewell. But when the waters do clear, it may because of the self-inflicted blowback from Wexton's bomb.

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.

 

The Lieutenant Governor Jumble And The Silent, But Crucial, Issue

It's a jumble out there. Maybe a jungle, too, with about 10,000 delegates crammed in the Richmond Coliseum tomorrow at the Republican Party of Virginia Convention (not to mention circulating tonight through the city's downtown at no less than 12 parties by candidates and GOP and public interest organizations). Never has there been a less predictable campaign for a party's nomination for the commonwealth's number two spot. But never has there been so much at stake with the Virginia Senate split at 20-20. (There was one somewhat similar in 1985, as I commented on here.) What to make of it all and the seven candidate jumble? A lot of organizations and web sites, who otherwise wouldn't be considered too important, have either made themselves so, or have been granted such status because in a crowded and unpredictable field, where no one can accurately gauge delegate preferences until people actually show up — and who knows who will or even can show up for an entire day and at least some evening? — candidates have to find a way to gain traction. Thus, what has been a generally clean campaign (nothing like the rear-end exam the Left will launch at the nominee starting Sunday) has become something of a He lied, She lied, They're all playing dirty affair.

The crossfire has been amusing. Candidate 1 criticizes Candidates 4 and 5 through robocalls, and maybe Candidate 3 via mail. Candidate 2 attacks Candidate 1 for that, but goes after Candidate 7. Candidate 6 claims Candidate 4 is attacking him through a front group, while Candidate 5 says certain web sites and blogs are in Candidate 2's back pocket. But in person, they all seem to get along. That was the case two weeks ago at their last debate, at Benedictine College Prep in Richmond, sponsored by the Richmond City Republican Committee and other Central Virginia GOP units. (It drew, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 250 people. A Democrat debate several days later, at the completely contrasting Richmond Gay Center, only drew about 150 according to the same source.) In the holding room where they were briefed by the host committee and moderator Scott Lee (of WRVA-AM and Bearing Drift/Score Radio Network), they joked with each other and exchanged campaign anecdotes. The potential fireworks during the debate itself were limited, with each touting him- or herself. Perhaps the "offenses" being felt are coming from over zealous supporters instead?

News was made at the debate, though. For the first time ever, an obscure process issue which punches well above its weight in importance, was addressed. After a warm up question about recently read books, they were asked what reform to bring accountability to the office would they work for. After all, so many of their campaign promises are really desires, because so much of what they want to do has almost nothing to do within the powers of the office of lieutenant governor. It's a question I've put to a few of them individually, though phrased differently. Some had no clue. They all seem to know about it now.

Call it the crucial, but silent, issue, because not many are talking about it and the media isn't reporting it. It's about the power of the LG to assign bills to committee, similar to the House Speaker's power. What good is it to be the presiding officer of a legislative chamber if your have little clout? Decades ago, during the day of one party (i.e., Democrat) rule, the lieutenant governor was a liberal populist named Henry Howell. The majority thought even he was too liberal to have that authority, and stripped it away, giving it to the unelected, unaccountable senate clerk, in cooperation with the majority leader. It's one of the reasons the Senate has been the graveyard of many good bills and reforms, especially pro-life bills, where Democrat and Republican majorities have sent them to unfavorable committees that do not have a natural connection to the bills. (For example, coercive abortion is always referred to the "Committee of Death," the Education and Health Committee, rather than the Courts of Justice Committee as it is in the House.) Restoring that power to the Senate's presiding officer will make for a more responsive and accountable process. After all, what LG isnt' already running for the top job?

Pete Snyder, Senator Steve Martin, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Corey Stewart all brought up bill referral power as a critical reform to governing the split chamber and to advance conservative legislation that many Republican senators would just as soon see fail. Martin, Lingamfelter and Stewart even expounded on the idea and expanded upon it.

Snyder was assertive, while Stewart was assertive and passionate about ending the Senate's "graveyard" reputation by assigning bills to their rightful committees. Even though the LG has never had the power to assign members to committees as does the Speaker, Stewart went so far as to say he would use his clout as the tie-breaking vote to influence who sits on what committees (a power left to the party leaders in the Senate). Former Senator Jeanmarie Davis gave a lukewarm "I don't disagree with it" answer. Susan Stimpson and E.W. Jackson never mentioned it.

There's an old expression in Virginia politics: If you want to change Virginia, then change the Virginia Senate. Sometimes, it's not the headline grabbing issues that make the difference, just as it can be a little thing no one suspects that wins a campaign. In this case, the two may have merged. While this just reform may not happen over night, it now is part of the conversation, whereas previously, no one had ever heard of it From now on, Republicans candidates will feel the necessity  to campaign on it until it finally happens.

The Pols Are Out And So Are Their Grades: American Conservative Union Releases Virginia General Assembly Scorecard

The General Assembly wrapped up its 2013 business, officially, April 3, at the conclusion of the "Veto" session. Since then, a flurry of scorecards have been released by several organizations, including the Family Foundation's late last week. Usually released throughout the year to coincide with fundraising galas, elections or other events, many organizations this year dropped their ratings in advance of the Republican Convention this weekend and the June Democrat primary. Today, the American Conservative Union released its third annual Virginia General Assembly Scorecard (click here for complete results). The ACU, founded in 1964 by a coalition of prominent national conservative organizations, is known for its annual Congressional Scorecard, considered the "gold standard" of Congressional ratings. In 2011, it decided to take that success to the state level, with a goal of annual rating all members in each of the 50 state legislatures. That year, it graded five, Virginia being the first of those (this  year it will score 20). Consequently, the General Assembly is the first to be scored three times — more firsts for the Old Dominion.

The ACU Scorecard offers three awards: Defender of Liberty Award, for those who score 100 percent; the ACU Conservative Award for those who score above 80 percent, and the not-so-coveted True Liberal of the Commonwealth Award for those who get a zero — and there are a few of those. However, the number of members in both chambers who scored 80 or higher dropped precipitously, with some who have reputations as conservative stalwarts not even even getting to 80 percent.

The reason? Not only were there several immensely important and substantive votes this year on significant policies with massive ramifications, they were voted on multiple times. For instance, the tax increase bill (HB 2313) was voted on three times (scored twice). An ironic twist is that the House budget, which normally rates as a support because of its pretty tight spending parameters and policy language, was opposed by the ACU when it came out of conference committee with the Senate, specifically because the rejection of the Medicaid expansion was stripped out. That also got a second vote because of a gubernatorial amendment. The Obamacare health insurance exchange also made the list and several conservatives got nicked on that, as well.

The ACU Virginia Scorecard is not only the most comprehensive one of its nature in Virginia — complied annually, with more than 20 floor votes on everything from spending, taxes, education reform, securing voting rights, second amendment rights, religious liberty, right to work, life and marriage, and all else that make up the conservative agenda, it's one the most comprehensive state scorecard in the country, as many legislatures, especially part-time ones, rarely let so many significant votes get to the floor. The ACU only scores floor votes and does not score unanimous or immensely lopsided votes, nor partisan votes, with the exception of significant policy shifting bills.

In a statement released today by the ACU, its Chairman Al Cardenas, said:

On behalf of the American Conservative Union, I am pleased to announce the winners of our 2013 State Legislative Ratings for members of the Virginia General Assembly. For 40 years ACU has set the gold standard for Congressional ratings, and we are now able to offer that same level of transparent information to the voters of Old Dominion so they can hold their elected officials accountable at the state level as well. In our third year rating the Commonwealth, we applaud conservatives in the Virginia General Assembly who continue to fight against higher taxes, against Obamacare and for the rights of the unborn.

The ACU's philosophy in its scorecard system is to track . . .

a wide range of issues before state legislatures to determine which issues and votes serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles — constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values. The votes selected for our Virginia Legislative Ratings were chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them.

The Defenders of Liberty Award winners are:

Delegates Rob Bell, Ben Cline, Scott Garrett, Todd Gilbert (TFF Legislator of the Year Award winner), and Margaret Ransone; and Senators Tom Garrett, Jr., Mark Obenshain and Ralph Smith.

ACU Conservative Award winners are Delegates Richard Anderson, Richard Bell, Kathy Byron, Mark Cole, Barbara Comstock, John Cox, Mark Dudenhefer, Matt Fariss, Peter Farrell, Greg Habeeb, Chris Head, Tim Hugo, Sal Iaquinto, Steve Landes, Jim LeMunyon, Scott Lingamfelter, Bob Marshall, Jimmie Massie, Jackson Miller, Randy Minchew, Israel O’Quinn, Brenda Pogge, David Ramadan, Roxann Robinson, Nick Rush, Beverly Sherwood, Lee Ware, Jr., Michael Webert, Tony Wilt, and Tommy Wright, Jr.; and Senators Richard Black, Steve Newman, Richard Stuart, Bryce Reeves, Steve Martin, Bill Stanley, Jr., and Ryan McDougle.

The highest scoring Democrats were Delegates Johnny Joannou and Joe Joe Johnson at 73 and 64 percent, respectively. The both  topped some Republicans, such as Delegate Chris Jones, who scored only 60 percent. Delegate Jones wasn't alone. Speaker Bill Howell only managed to match Delegate Joannou. Senate Republicans saw similar slippages. For example, Senators Jeff McWaters and Frank Ruff, who had scored at least 80 in the first two scorecards, dropped to the low 60s. Majority Leader Tommy Norment and Senator Harry Blevins, who retired recently in mid-term, scored 60 and 57 percent, respectively. Senator John Watkins rated a dismal 48 percent.

Last year, more than 70 Republicans from both chambers scored 80 percent or higher. This year, only 45 did.

The members who earned the True Liberal of Old Dominion Awards are Delegates Delores McQuinn and Roslyn Tyler; and Senators Kenneth Alexander, Janet Howell and Linda Puller.

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.

Candidates In Crowded GOP Lt. Gov. Field Face Potential Game Changing Debate Tuesday Night

It may be unique in the long history of Virginia politics: Seven candidates standing for a party nomination for a statewide office. But that's the situation this year as seven Republicans seek to win the second spot on the GOP ticket at the party's May 18 convention. There hasn't been anything like this since 1985, when five ran for the number two spot at the GOP convention at Norfolk's Scope. But seven? There are similarities to the two campaigns aside from the large number, though not enough to draw many parallels. The one major common denominator is that both nominations were decided by convention instead of primary, drawing a lot of interest from people who would not have otherwise run.

Precisely because of that, the candidates are by and large unknown to many GOP activists going into the convention at the Richmond Coliseum. Not one has been able to cut through the clutter of an already hot gubernatorial general election campaign between Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, as well as a more easy to sort through GOP campaign for attorney general between Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County and Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg. Throwing seven candidates into the mix for a part-time position that has two official duties — preside over the Virginia Senate and fill the office in case of vacancy — makes deciding who is best a difficult task.

However, there may be a game changer in the LG race in the form of a late-in-the-process-debate Tuesday night in Richmond at Benedictine College Prep at 6:30. The Central Virginia GOP Lieutenant Governor Candidates Forum is sponsored by several of that area's GOP committees, including the Richmond City and Henrico County units. They selected the location in the middle of the city as a way to bring the conservative message to areas that don't always hear it, and reach young people and Catholic voters as well.

All seven candidates have agreed to attend and a buzz (see Norm Leahy at Bearing Drift) is building up over it primarily because its proximity to the convention could create a breakthrough wave for a candidate that impresses or sink one who doesn't. In addition, the host committee and moderator Scott Lee, a conservative talk show host on Richmond radio station WRVA and the host of the syndicated Score Radio Show (which previewed the debate with its organizers last weekend), have promised questions that won't lend themselves to campaign brochure blather. We'll see and we'll be there to report.

The event is free and, while elected convention delegates may take special interest to attend, is open to the public as well. Doors at the Benedictine College Prep gym open at 6:00. The school is located at 304 North Sheppard Street (23221). Click here for more information. The candidates are: former Senator Jeannemarie Davis, E.W. Jackson, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Senator Steve Martin, Pete Snyder, Prince WIlliam County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, Stafford County Board Chairman Susan Stimpson.

Surprise! Washington Post Endorses "Tebow Bill," But Says Dems Control Va. Senate; Bill In Ed & Health Thursday!

Miracles do happen. Witness this: The Washington Post this morning editorialized in favor of the "Tebow Bill" after years of opposing it. Coincidentally, the bill, HB 1442, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle), will be in the Senate Education and Health Committee this Thursday (follow the link for committee members and their contact information). The committee vote is expected to be close. Will the Post's endorsement help the cause? Anything can happen at the General Assembly and it usually does. In fact, surprises are the norm. Not to have one would be the surprise.

Here's the telling sections from the Post's editorial:

It is clear, though, that the group entrusted with helping to make those determinations needs to revisit rules that have become too rigid. Local school districts that want to include home-schooled students are barred from even trying. ...

The bill . . . was improved this year to spell out that any decision about the participation of home-schooled students would be left strictly to local school boards. Even with that local option being made clear and other provisions to guard against abuses, the bill, faces an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The current ban against home-schoolers is the result of long-standing policy set by the Virginia High School League, which governs interscholastic sports and other activities in Virginia's more than 300 high schools. ... No doubt the issues are complicated and, for many, emotional. But 26 other states have managed to allow home-schoolers to play sports, either by right or through local option, with apparent success. In Virginia, elementary and middle school students participate in public-school activities with no problems.

Alas, even as the Post, finally sees the merit in a common sense bill that we support, it engaged in wishful thinking, stating that the Democrats control the Senate.  But we'll trade that for another miracle Thursday.

Affirm That Parental Rights Are Fundamental!

Tomorrow on the Senate floor, and Friday afternoon in the House of Delegates Courts of Justice Committee, Virginia lawmakers will vote on SB 908 and HB 1642, legislation that directs Virginia courts to treat parent's rights as fundamental rights rather than ordinary rights. Click here for the committee's home page, which provides links to the members' contact pages. Urge your delegate to vote yes on HB 1642 to affirm existing fundamental parental rights. Here is the link to the Senate membership's contact page — please call your senator Thursday morning and urge a yes vote and no to any attempt to re-refer it to committee.

This legislation is significant because courts give special deference to "fundamental rights." While our state courts have so far ruled that parental rights are fundamental, the courts could change their mind at any time if the General Assembly remains silent. HB 1642 directly addresses this issue.

The threat is real: 24 other states have reduced parental rights to "ordinary."

Some argue that the bill could have the effect of interfering with the state's ability to protect children from abuse or neglect. However, a fundamental right is not an absolute right. Courts have said:

This fundamental right [to bring up children as one sees fit] is not unbounded. Indeed the state can legitimately impose restraints and requirements that touch the lives of children in direct conflict with the wishes of their parents.

In Virginia, it's time to reassert foundational principles such as the fundamental right of parents to raise their children. While HB 1642, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City County) and SB 908, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Fredericksburg) read simply . . .

1. A parent has a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of the parent's child.

2. That the provisions of this act are declarative of existing law.

. . . they would provide a world of protection for parental rights in Virginia law.

After all, authority for children instinctively resides with parents, solely, except in very certain and specific abusive cases where the state has a compelling interest (and meets a certain legal standard). But for years, government institutions and mandates have incrementally moved us to a system where they impart big government's values in place of the family values on which children are raised. The General Assembly has a chance to rectify that this year.

General Assembly Pages And Interns Needed

General Assembly session is quickly approaching, which means The Family Foundation is in the midst of important preparations. One of the critical elements of our preparations includes finding student interns and pages to assist our legislative team in our advocacy work in our Richmond office. Both our intern and page programs offer students a valuable opportunity to experience the activities of a General Assembly session firsthand. There will be unique opportunities to observe legislative committee meetings, floor sessions of the House of Delegates and Senate, and much more. Candidates for the intern and page positions must have a pro-life, pro-family perspective on social issues and a Biblical worldview of the roles of politics, government and the church. The Family Foundation's 2013 General Assembly team will begin session work Monday, January 7 and conclude Friday, February 22. Those desiring more information, or those interested in serving, should contact Jessica Cochrane by phone at 804-343-0010 or by e-mail at Jessica@familyfoundation.org.

Intern Program (College)

Interns assist staff in actively monitoring legislation, attending General Assembly committee meetings, research and writing, assisting with our Virginia Stands for Life prayer walk and rally, and helping with social media and video projects. Candidates for this position should be available at least two full days per week, but preferably more. The optimal candidate for this position would be organized and self-motivated, able to work without constant supervision, and have some skill in research and writing. Both credit and non-credit internships are welcome. Parking is provided and housing can be arranged if necessary.

Page Program (High School)

Pages are responsible for the efficient maintenance of information within The Family Foundation's General Assembly Operations Room and information exchange between The Family Foundation and the members of the General Assembly. Pages assist Family Foundation legislative staff in the accomplishment of their daily tasks, delivery of information to the General Assembly building, and administrative responsibilities in the development department. Pages are encouraged to work at least two (half or full) days per week. The more days a page is in the office, the more he or she will learn and experience.