lawmakers

Calling Homeschool Families: Want To Make A Difference?

We always have volunteer opportunities and, for homeschool families, we have a great one helping us run our booth at the HEAV Homeschool Convention, from Thursday, June 11 through Saturday, June 13.  The HEAV Convention booth hours are as follows:

5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 11

9:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 12

9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. on Saturday June 13 

Responsibilities and duties of volunteers:                                                               

  • Distributing General Assembly Report Cards.
  • Assist in non-partisan Voter Registration.
  • Obtain contact information from homeschool families.
  • We request a two-hour (or longer) shift.

If you are interested in volunteering your valued talent in order to advance the cause of traditional values in the Commonwealth, then please take a moment to e-mail Vanessa Strait vanessa.strait@tffaction.org or call her at (804) 343-0010.

This year's statewide elections (for governor lieutennant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates) will receive unprecedented national media attention. The Family Foundation is committed to its long-standing (since 1985) non-partisan leadership role of shaping critical public policy debates to help Virginia citizens, lawmakers and business leaders better understand and apply to law the principles of life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious liberty. Throughout the summer and fall we will have other volunteer opportunities for citizens who believe in standing firm for traditional values. Stay tuned.

We're Looking For More Than A Few Good People

Since 1985, The Family Foundation has been on the forefront of critical public policy debates helping Virginia citizens, lawmakers and business leaders better understand and apply to law the principles of life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious liberty. Non-profit and non-partisan, we are the Commonwealth's oldest and most influential family public policy organization. Our mission is to strengthen the family through accurate research and education, prompting civic activism and affecting public policy outcomes. The Family Foundation of Virginia is proud to be associated with Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family and its network of nearly forty independent state policy councils.

The entire country is focused on Virginia this year. Other than New Jersey, we are the only state that has statewide elections (for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the entire House of Delegates). We will need ongoing assistance so we can distribute our 2008-09 General Assembly Report Card (to be made public within a couple of weeks) and other materials to help educate Christians and churches around the Commonwealth regarding the principles each candidate represents during this November's elections. While candidates campaign for votes, we will educate citizens on the principles these numerous  individuals represent.

To pull this off, we need you! We have various needs that can be fulfilled by middle school, high school (homeschoolers welcome!) or college students. These activities are perfect to meet community service requirements for graduation or for adults (such as retirees or stay-at-home-parents) who would enjoy assisting us in our mission. We can use help on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis. Our headquarters is located across from the Capitol Square in downtown Richmond and we there is convenient parking. 

Some of the areas where we can use help include data entry and data base managment (basic computer skills) in office or at home; mailings (production and stuffing); and distributing General Assembly Report Cards and other items to churches. 

If interested in volunteering your valued talent in order to advance the cause of traditional values in the Commonwealth, then please contact Marie Edwards at marie@familyfoundation.org or call her at (804) 343-0010.

During this crucial time in our Commonwealth's and nation's history, we believe it is more important than ever to do whatever possible to secure the traditional values we hold dear and precious, while they are under heavy assault. Please consider helping us with what will be a rewarding experience.

General Assembly Recap: Success On The Fly And In The Plan

It's hard to believe the 2009 General Assembly is over. It seems like it was just yesterday that we red flagged HB 1671 and SB 1094 (the "blight bills") and "created controversy," (according to the big-government types who said we shouldn't be involved). But we got the two bills amended to where they won't affect property rights. It was an improv act, to be sure, but that type of nimbleness is needed during session because rarely does anything go to plan.  We had many other important victories in both chambers and some good  legislation is on its way to the governor's desk — unlike the above, legislation we either initiated or supported from before session. Only 46 days ago these victories were mere drafts of bills on the desks of lawmakers. Through the Family Foundation's advocacy, and legislator contact from concerned citizens, many pro-family bills passed both chambers — some even with unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. But even that doesn't make it easy (see why here).

We have five core principles upon which we advocate in the legislature: Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty, Constitutional Government and Parental Authority. To put our 2009 victories in perspective, we received major victories on four priority bills reflective in five of those principles:

While we are pleased with the successes we had this year we understand that there are still many obstacles to make Virginia more family friendly, including an upcoming veto session in which we may see a veto threat against the Choose Life license plates. So, while the 2009 General Assembly is for the most part over, and we prepare for veto session, we are already working on our plans for 2010.

We thank each of you who took the time to contact your legislators during this past session. Our e-mail alert system generated nearly 25,000 e-mails to legislators this year! Your action does make a difference and, we at The Family Foundation, always are encouraged by your response. Additionally, we enjoyed bringing the General Assembly to you via video on this blog and our YouTube page. We had more unique visitors in the 28 days of February than in the 31 of January!

We also offer our humblest thanks for allowing us to represent you in the General Assembly. We take the responsibility very seriously and look forward, with your help, to continued success.

Three Constitutional Amendments To Go On Trial In The Senate

The pace remained settled in Capitol Square today as committees in the two chambers prepare for the grind of hearings next week on bills passed in each other's chamber. We've reported on a number of successes over the first half of session, both in good bills that passed and bad bills killed. Also in the mix are three proposed constitutional amendments we support, all of which passed the House earlier this week and now begin their trials in the Senate. To amend the constitution of Virginia, a proposed amendment must pass the General Assembly in exactly the same form — a comma can't even be changed — in two sessions with an intervening statewide election, and then approved by the voters in a statewide ballot. So it's nearly a three-year process. It's not the easiest thing to do, as we know from the Marriage Amendment.

HJ 725, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle) would provide protection from the government's power of eminent domain, and protect the 2007 law protecting private property rights from tampering by future General Assemblies. That law was a reaction to the deplorable U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision, which allowed a local government to take private property and give it to developers. Just as the Marriage Amendment was needed to protect Virginia's marriage statutes, the 2007 law needs constitutional protection. This session alone has seen two bills that would have weakened it (we were able to amend them into acceptable bills). So it is obvious this constitutional protection is needed.

HJ 789, patroned by Delegate Manoli Loupassi (R-68, Richmond) would limit spending to the preceding year's total appropriations plus an amount equal to the percentage increase of inflation plus population growth. It makes exceptions to provide tax relief, deposits to the "Rainy Day Fund" and nonrecurring capital projects. With state spending increasing more than 80 percent over the last 10 years, we need this constitutional protection from the big spenders in Richmond. What family budget has grown that much that fast? 

HJ 620, patroned by Delegate Glen Oder (R-94, Newport News), is another protection against greedy government big spenders. It would put all tax revenues designated by law for transportation in a "lock box" so that they cannot be spent on earmarks, pork or for other areas of the budget, only for the big spenders to claim they need more money for transportation. This way, we know that our hard-earned tax money is going to where lawmakers say it is going. Then, and only then, if they need more money for transportation, can they in good conscience ask us for a tax increase.   

All three of these commonsense and much needed reforms and protections will be heard in the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee (get members' contact info here), perhaps as early as next week. Please contact the committee members to urge them to report these resolutions to the Senate floor.

Budget Transparency Bill May Come Up Soon!

The General Assembly is barely under way, yet already there is urgency in the air. Most people think this session will be dominated by the budget and the revenue surplus that has been squandered, putting our state finances in a deficit. Complementing the budget debate is a very important issue and one of our very top priorities this session: Budget Transparency and Accountability, which entails putting the state budget online in an easy-to-search format.

How can we control spending when no one knows how much is spent, where it is spent and on what it is spent? Lawmakers from both chambers readily admit that unless they are on the powerful money committees, they don't know where our money goes because after it is appropriated, it gets funneled around and through departments and agencies in forms of grants and contracts that make it virtually impossible to track. In fact, lawmakers themselves have to file several Freedom of Information Act requests just to discover the purpose of one  check.

Without an accountable, easy-to-use online tool, how can anyone track the many thousands of tax dollars the commonwealth doles out to nefarious organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, under cryptic "education" grants? How to uncover the millions of wasted tax-dollars on earmarks and political paybacks for non-essential services to special interest groups or district-friendly pork barrel projects?

Not only will an online budget — easily searchable in a Google-like format — help legislators make informed decisions on how to budget billions of your hard-earned tax dollars, it will allow hundreds of thousands of citizen watchdogs to point out the waste in government spending. In short, this is a just concept of open and good government; of sunshine; of the people having oversight of their government, as the Founders intended.

We were informed early this week that the Senate bill creating online budget accountability, SB 936, might come up as early as Wednesday, January 21, in the Senate General Laws Committee. The patrons are Senators Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) and Chap Peterson (D-34, Fairfax), but despite this same bipartisan support last year, the committee defeated it with bipartisan votes. Lawmakers of both parties, and their bureaucrat allies, who are more interested in the accumulation of power via the purse and the secrecy of the budget's intricacies, are determined again this year to arrogantly deny the families and people of Virginia their rights to know what their government does with their hard-earned tax money.

However, this year, with an overspent government desperately trying to "find money to cut" and with the twin backdrops of an election year and federal bailouts to banks and businesses that have refused to account for what they've done with our tax money, the time is ripe for accountability in the commonwealth's finances.

The "Google Government" bill, SB 936, may come before the Senate General Laws Committee as soon as this Wednesday, January 21. Don't let opponents of open government kill this bill quietly, early, when few are paying attention.

It is urgent for you to write members of the Senate General Laws Committee (click here) and to find others to do so as well — all the better if one is your senator — and let them know you want the ability that the citizens of several states already have, to conveniently research how and where your money is spent. Amazingly, President-elect Barack Obama's one major accomplishment in the U.S. Senate, was to partner with Oklahoma's conservative Republican Tom Coburn, to put all federal contracts online.  

If the behemoth that is the federal budget can be put online, so, too, can Virginia's.

2009 Lobby Day Especially Crucial; Great Speaker Confirmed

We're busy counting down the days. But while we're all preparing for Christmas, we have a dual countdown — the start of the 2009 General Assembly. Believe it or not, it's less than three weeks until our lawmakers return to Richmond to deal with the in-deficit budget. That means also time to remind our legislators of the principles we expect them to protect and promote during this upcoming important election year, even with the budget as a convenient distraction.

You can do your part by joining us in Richmond for:

Family Foundation Day at the Capitol on January 19, 2009!

9:00 a.m. - Afternoon

Richmond Marriott

500 East Broad Street

At this free-of-charge event, you can meet with and encourage your legislators to, among other things:

» Support a proposal that adds a requirement to teach about the positive benefits of marriage in the Family Life Education curriculum.

» Address the Kaine administration's decision to forbid chaplains from praying in Jesus name;

» Make the state budget more transparent by placing it online and ensuring that it is easily searchable; and

» Encourage support of bills that update and improve Virginia's Informed Consent Law.

All you have to do is register, at no charge, by January 13. We'll arrange meetings with your delegate and/or senator. We take care of the details; you just need to be here on January 19. Especially now, when so many pundits and liberal politicians have pronounced conservatism and traditional values issues dead, we want to have hundreds of pro-family Virginians lining the halls of the General Assembly Building to show them and our lawmakers quite the opposite is true.

In addition, we've lined up great speakers, including legislators as well as Jordan Lorence, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a nationally known expert on several issues that affect religious conservatives. He will specifically address religious liberty issues and the case of the Virginia State Police chaplains who resigned in protest when ordered to cease praying in Jesus' name.

As a preview of how good a speaker Jordan Lorence is, we've posted below a video of him speaking about one of our favorite subjects — lessons on the life of William Wilberforce.

So, we hope you make a special effort to get to Richmond on January 19. In order to register, contact Grassroots Coordinator John Smith at 804-343-0010 or e-mail him at john@familyfoundation.org.

We look forward to seeing you make a difference in Richmond on Monday, January 19.