fundamental right

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!

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.