good government

Wallbuilders Founder David Barton To Keynote Valley Family Forum Events May 24

The Prince William Family Alliance isn't the only regional Family Foundation affiliate proving that values voters not only never went away, but are, in fact, thriving. The Valley Family Forum, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, also proves the point with its robust growth and vigorous activism. On Monday, May 24, it will host David Barton, founder and president of Wallbuilders — one of the nation’s leading experts on America's Christian heritage — at its Annual Salute To The Family. The bad news is that the event already is sold out. But there is good news: To accommodate the demand, it has added a luncheon with Mr. Barton from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., Monday, May 24, at the James Madison University Festival Conference and Student Center, and tickets are still available! 

Mr. Barton is an award winning author, nationally acclaimed speaker, and advisor to legislators and educators. He draws from original sources to remind us about what made America an "exceptional" nation from our earliest settlers to today. Who were our Founding Fathers, and how did their faith influence the formation of our government? What are the key principles on which America was founded and prospered, and to which we must now return? Why is this great history now being deliberately ignored and even re-written, and why does it matter to us now?

The theme of his speech will be, "Keys to Good Government — According to the Founding Fathers." If you have never heard David Barton we encourage you to attend the Valley Family Forum Luncheon on May 24. You will learn more about our nation's history in a half hour from him than you probably ever did in school.

Seats are $25 per person or $200 for tables of eight. For reservations or more information, e-mail family@valleyfamilyforum.org or call 540-438-8966.

Spending Transparency: Close To Two Major Victories, Keep Contacting Lawmakers

Spending transparency is one of our priority issues this session and the bills involved (SB 936 and HB 2285) have had a long and winding path thus far (as do most major reform efforts). Just as predicted, their paths are somewhat similar to eminent domain reform bills in 2007, with many twists and turns and near-death experiences. Although each committee vote has been non-controversial, the behind the scenes efforts have been exhausting to get it to that point, with great credit going to the two patrons — Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) and Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), respectively, and their co-patrons, particularly Senator Chap Peterson (D-34, Fairfax) and Delegate Joe Bouchard (D-83, Virginia Beach). There has been tweaking of the bills to avoid the inexcusably outrageous and bogus fiscal impact statements which would have made the bills cost prohibitive to implement, especially in these tight budgetary times. (Fiscal impact statements once served a good purpose — cautionary breaks for lawmakers on new programs or government administrative expenses. Now they are used as excuses to stop much needed reforms.)

Each bill has gone through numerous committee hearings, amendments and substitutes, been reported and refered to money committees and the House version even was sent to a Senate committee the Senate version had no part of (see here). (As it turned out, HB 2285 was sent to the Rules Committeebecause the Auditor of Public Accounts comes under legislative directive, or some such governmentese, but still begs the question why SB 936 didn't go that route.)

All that said, we are closing in on major victories, but it's not time to let down our collective guard. A final push is needed from concerned citizens who believe the government has a serious obligation to shine the light on where our tax dollars are spent. 

SB 936 unanimously passed the House Science and Technology Committee only to have another obstacle thrown in its path — a trip to House Appropriations tomorrow. Committee members Bob Marshall (R-13, Prince William) and John Cosgrove (R-78, Chesapeake) tried to avoid the referral by asking for a vote to report straight to the House floor.

However, things look positive. Committee Chairman Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) told committee members the bill had to be referred to Appropriations to be vetted for costs, but that she would inform Appropriations Chairman Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford) there are no costs associated with this bill. Appropriations meets tomorrow afternoon.

Indeed, Auditor of Public Accounts Walter J. Kucharski and Joe Damico, deputy director of the Department of General Services, both testified that the bill, offered in its third form, would have no fiscal impact on the state budget. Amazingly, the Department of Planning and Budget attached a fiscal impact statement to the bill claiming its original and subsequent amended versions would cost state government between $1.5-$3 million in new equipment and software, man-hours, and more employees. One small problem: no one asked the departments involved (read this about impact statements).

Earlier in the week, HB 2285 emerged with unanimous approval in the Senate Rules Sub-Committee on Studies and now is in the full Rules Committee which meets at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. 

Spending transparency is an important issue (read here) for many reasons: good government, accountability, taxpayer protection and the like (read here). It also will give us a clearer window into how often, how much and for what reasons nefarious profit making groups such as Planned Parenthood get our tax money! We are very close to victory on a major priority this session. Let's not take it for granted.

Contact Rules Committee members here (HB 2285) and Appropriations Committee members here (SB 936).

Virginia News Stand: December 10, 2008

The communications department had a "business trip" today in the northern reaches of the commonwealth — there are conservatives up there? — so we don't have much of a News Stand today. However, what I have found is good. So, herewith, with some comments by me, is today's News Stand:

News:

Group seeks more recorded votes (This is very interesting to note. Conservatives are split on the issue of recorded House of Delegates sub-committee votes. Some like the idea of killing of bills quickly and quietly, while others preach the good government/open, transparent government reform mantra. It cuts both ways: Neither side likes to go on the record when they can help it.) (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Election 2009: Governor's Race Is Wide Open In Virginia (Polling from Rasmussen shows it tight from the get-go. Also, interesting numbers on various issues, including that Virginians are not dying for a tax increase for transportation.) (Rasmussenreports.com)

Opinion:

The Democratic Culture Of Corruption (From Michelle Malkin. I've been waiting for someone to write about this, and I still may. By the way, she left off her list Eliot Spitzer — prostitution; Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad — Countrywide loan scandal; Representative Robert Wexler, who had no home in the Florida district he represents until recently; and Representative Tim Mahoney — who tried to use government money to keep his mistress quiet; among others.) (GOPUSA.com)

The Friday Line: Ten Republicans To Watch (From Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post blog The Fix. He notes 10 Republican rising stars who may make it big nationally. Two are Virginians, House Republican Whip-Elect Eric Cantor, from the 7th Congressional District, and Attorney General Bob McDonnell, seeking the governor's mansion. Additional interesting picks are two governors Virginia conservatives like very much: South Carolina's Mark Sanford and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal. Those not on the list include Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.) (The Fix/WashingtonPost.com)

Editorial Comics:

"Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Bar Codes" (Steve Breen, Townhall.com)  

"Obama Prepares To Part The Red Sea" (Chuck Asay, Townhall.com)  

"Having Solved The Affordable Housing Problem Congress . . . " (Chuck Asay, Townhall.com)