senator steve martin

McAuliffe Dealt Setback: Senate Upholds Conscience Protection!

Earlier today, the Democrat-controlled Senate defeated Governor Terry McAuliffe's amendment to SB 330, an amendment that would have seriously weakened conscience protections included in a bill providing for the licensing of genetic counselors. The vote was 23-17 with Democrat Senators Chuck Colgan, Phil Puckett and Chap Petersen joining all 20 Republicans in protecting the right of conscience. The Family Foundation would like to thank Senators Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), and Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) who stood and spoke in opposition to the anti-conscience amendment. Special thanks goes to Senator Tom Garrett (R-22, Louisa) who articulated the legal liabilities of the amendment and to Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Franklin) who questioned the patron of the bill, Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), regarding the genesis of the amendment. Senator Stanley asked Senator Howell if she was comfortable with the initial language of her bill which passed the Senate 38-0. The considerably far-left senator responded that she was "perfectly comfortable" with the conscience clause language the way it was prior to the governor's amendment.

Continuing to prove how out of touch he is with mainstream Virginia, Governor McAuliffe showed today that he is also out of touch with even the most "progressive" leaders of his own party. He bowed to pressure from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and was reminded by the 23-17 vote that his radical agenda will not be approved even in the Senate simply because he has a "D" behind his name.

The passage of SB 330 without the governor's anti-conscience amendments is a great benchmark for conscience rights in Virginia. If genetic counselors can be protected from being forced to violate their conscience, it follows that all other professions should receive equal protection. Today's vote proves that the freedom of conscience is not a right-wing issue or even a Christian issue — it is about freedom of conscience for all.

We are also very appreciative of our colleagues at the Virginia Catholic Conference, which again worked so hard with us over the past several days on this amendment, as well as the representatives of the genetic counselors who were willing to work with us to protect the conscience rights of their clients. Thanks, also, to all of you who contacted your senators to vote no on this significant legislative action. It does make a difference and your voices are heard.

T-Mac Chili eating

Governor McAuliffe will have to chew on this legislative defeat.

Manufactured Abortion Outrage

You have probably heard by now that state Senator Steve Martin has found himself in a bit of a brouhaha over a comment he made on Facebook over the weekend. And while the fact that a Facebook comment merits news coverage at all is an indictment on Western civilization in and of itself, the manufactured hysterical reaction of the abortion industry to sarcasm — yes, sarcasm — is simply fascinating. Our friends at Bearing Drift have a couple of takes on "MartinGate" here and here. Both are good reads. It is interesting that the abortion industry recognizes someone who is pregnant is a "mother," the definition of "mother" implying parenthood, which, of course, requires the existence of a child. As in the unborn child.

But I'm more interested in the fact that the abortion and gay rights obsessed Richmond Times Dispatch jumped all over the abortion industry's press release and ran with it. Apparently, an abortion industry press release about a sarcastic Facebook post earns a story in that once proud newspaper.  But over the past three years, not a single story can be found in the Richmond Times Dispatch that examines the abortion centers in Richmond that had multiple health and safety violations — all of which was shared with the RT-D through numerous press releases. You know, the unsanitary conditions, the lack of safety policies, the ownership of one Richmond center by someone who has had abortion centers shut down by health officials in other states. Nope, not a word in the old RT-D.

It's a shame. There are some good reporters at the RT-D, people who work hard and do their jobs well. But I really have to wonder why they (or is it the editors?) are so animated by the abortion industry being "offended" by a Facebook comment, and so uninterested in women being put in danger by abortion centers in their own city.

Quotes Of The Day: Language Matters

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

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

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

"Language means a lot." 

It sure does!

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

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

the cruelest amendment. 

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

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

alternative lifestyle.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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.

Wild Day At General Assembly Ends With Several Victories

With the first two weeks of this year's short session progressing at a less than brisk pace, it was inevitable that the start of the last week before "crossover" would be hectic. Monday did not disappoint. No less than three important sub- or full committee meetings, starting at 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. with maxed-out dockets, were scheduled. The House Privileges and Elections Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments offered up the first good news of the day when it voted to report HJ 684, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), which would allow the Board of Education to approve charter schools as a way to get around obstructionist local school divisions that now have sole authority to approve them — and the reason Virginia only has four charter schools.  Then the House Education Committee heard debate and voted to report HB 1442, the "Tebow Bill," patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle), which would allow homeschooled students to play sports for their local public school; HB 1617, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Shenandoah), which protects college student groups from allowing membership to those who fundamentally disagree with the organization's mission; and HB 1871, a bullying definition bill successfully amended to ensure that it punishes bullies not based on the characteristics of the victim, but on the act of the bully. Additional language added to the bill ensures First Amendment protections.

Passage of the homeschool sports bill and the college student group protection act are legislative priorities for The Family Foundation. The latter would allow student groups at Virginia state colleges to organize according to their beliefs. Unfortunately, some universities around the country have enacted "all-comers" policies that essentially eliminate these groups from being able to set criteria for their members and leaders. Free association is protected by the constitution and this bill seeks to clarify that. It passed by a 19-2 vote. It also passed a similar bill affecting children of military personnel who constantly are re-stationed at various bases or deployed, but whose children stay in the same area with a relative.

Then, the shocker of the day: Overcoming the predictable opposition of the public schools, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-6 to report the Parents Rights Bill, SB 908, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Fredericksburg). It reaffirms Virginia court rulings that parental rights are "fundamental" into state code. This is significant, because fundamental rights are treated with much more deference by the judiciary than "ordinary" rights.

The afternoon was busier. Senator Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) introduced his second bill of the session in the Education and Health Committee to repeal the ultrasound update to Virginia's informed consent law. Because of its redundancy, committee chairman Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), wasted no time in public debate and it died quickly on an 8-3 vote, prompting Senator Northam to call the committee a "kangaroo court."

The House Courts of Justice Committee had a full docket as well. After debate, it killed on a 10-6 vote HB 1644, patroned by Delegate Vivian Watts (D-39, Annandale), which would have changed the definition of birth control in the Virginia Code to include abortifacients, including the morning after pill. While advocates claimed it was an innocuous bill, it would have forced pharmacists against their conscience to dispense abortifacients to those 17 and younger. Later, after many questions of concern their Senate counterparts did not have, the committee voted to pass by until Friday the House version of the Parents Rights Bill, HB1642, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City).

Please contact members of the House Courts of Justice Committee and urge them, especially if your delegate is on the committee, to pass HB 1642, to secure basic, fundamental rights of Virginia parent in state code! 

Please also contact your senator to vote yes on SB 908 on the Senate floor and no to any motion that would re-refer it to committee or otherwise kill it.

If that wasn't enough, sub-committee meetings started in the evening, highlighted by one of the most talked about bills of session, "The Right To Farm Act," a property rights bill. The highlight of that meeting is detailed in a brief, must read post, here.

Things are moving quickly this week. Please watch your e-mail, this blog and our Facebook and Twitter accounts — which often allow us to update you on events much more quickly — to get the latest news and information on what action to take with your delegates and senators in promoting traditional, conservative family values policies  in Virginia.

She Votes Bus Tour Brings Message To Virginia Women

She's conservative. She's confident. She's Christian. She votes! That very direct message was conveyed verbally and emblazoned emphatically on the Concerned Women for America "She Votes" Bus as its tour rolled throughout Virginia yesterday and today after finishing up its North Carolina leg earlier in the week. The tour emphasized the potential role conservative Christian women have in deciding the outcome of the 2012 election. Speakers included CWA CEO Penny Nance, Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Family Foundation Policy Analyst Jessica Cochrane. In addition to debunking many liberal myths about women and what the Left insists women do (or should) believe, CWA announced its extensive campaign plans to register, identify and turn out conservative Christian women voters for the November election. As Ms. Nance said, "Conservative Christian women are underrepresented in elections. We have to change that!"

Concerned Women for America is the largest women's advocacy organization in America — as one speaker said, "The one that likes men" — though it gets a fraction of the media attention of a certain left-wing women's group. Its "She Votes" campaign is a national effort in which anyone can participate, made convenient by a special web site that can track whether you or friends and family are registered to vote.

Amazingly, through its second-to-last-stop at the capitol in Richmond, the tour encountered no Leftist protesters. Did they all find jobs all of a sudden? Doubtful in this economy. More likely, it's because their crude tactics have been exposed. Ahhhh, the beauty of the digital age.

Speaking of the digital age, we don't have to rely on the Mainstream Media to report on these types of events anymore. So, in the comfort of your home (and not in the blazing heat for those of us who attended), you can see the event for yourself on the video below. In addition to the terrific speakers, a speaker provides information on how to get involved in "She Votes!"

"She's conservative. She's confident. She's Christian. She votes!" The bus almost says it all; it might add that they vote in large numbers and may determine the outcome of this November's election. 

Breaking News: Senate Sub-Committee Sends Property Rights Amendment To Full P&E! Committee Votes This Afternoon; Contact Committee Members!

In a shockingly good news event earlier today, a Virginia Senate sub-committee finally did the will of the people and voted to report HJ 693, a constitutional amendment to protect your property rights! It passed 4-3, with Democrat Senator Creigh Deeds joining Republicans Steve Martin, Jeff McWaters and Ralph Smith. Now, after six years of thwarting this popular issue and fundamental right, there is a real chance to see this resolution passed by the General Assembly and on the ballot for Virginians to vote on.

But we need you to act NOW!

The full Senate Privileges and Elections Committee meets at 4:00 p.m. TODAY! That committee will decide whether the resolution goes to the Senate floor, where it will have an excellent chance to pass.

Please take a very short moment to contact senators on the committee and urge them to vote for HJ 693, to ensure your property rights and just compensation when your property is taken for a legitimate public use.

Click here to see committee members and access their contact information.

Today, in sub-committee, we beat back the special interests, the big corporations and utilities, and local governments and housing authorities (who use your tax dollars to lobby against your rights). As of right now, they are plotting to kill this fundamental right this afternoon in the full committee.

But your voice matters! Please act now on this Family Foundation priority legislation!

Six years is long enough! Urge these senators to vote for HJ 693 this afternoon in the Privileges and Elections Committee so that we can finally have the constitutional protections for our private property rights that other states have!

Senate Committee: Public Prayer Censored!

Monday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee killed SB 56, legislation that would have restored the right of citizens invited to pray according to the dictates of their faith at government meetings. The legislation, patroned by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), was defeated 9-6 on a near party line vote (see committee vote). Last year, similar legislation was debated at length — in fact over two days, in the same committee. The proposal did not receive similar scrutiny this year as it was the final bill on the committee’s docket and was debated for only about 10 minutes as the meeting drew to a close. Despite evidence presented by The Family Foundation that no federal court case anywhere requires so-called "non-sectarian" prayers at government meetings, the majority of the committee chose to listen to the ACLU and other organizations that oppose the right of citizens to pray according to their conscience at public meetings. Similar legislation introduced this year in the House of Delegates was never debated in committee.

Senate Health Care Freedom Bills Advance To House Floor, Last Step Before Governor's Signature

Here's an update on Health Care Freedom legislation: The three Senate bills — SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417 — passed in historic fashion by the Senate last week, all passed by 16-5 bi-partisan margins in the House Commerce and Labor Committee around 3:30 today. (These bills originally were listed on the committee agenda last week, but were carried over to today. The vote most likely will be 17-5 as one pro-10th Amendment delegate was not there, but delegates are allowed to vote after committee as long as it doesn't afect the outcome.) The Senate bills are patroned by Senators Fred Qualye (R-13, Suffolk), Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), respectively. All three bills proceed to the House floor tomorrow and face a projected key vote Thursday. House passage is very much expected, but nothing should be left to chance. Contact your delegate (here) or, to learn who your delegate is, click here. If passed by the House, the bill goes to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature.

In other words, establishing a 10th Amendment wall around Virginia against the encroachment of federal bureaucrats is within a very short grasp — much quicker and without the huge dust-up most anticipated — making Virginia the first state to do so! The Old Dominion, leading for liberty, again.

That founding principle, ingrained but ignored for so long, that the states and the people, are the sovereigns of this country and commonwealth, may soon have the weight of law in Virginia. Where the central government has no stated role, the people have natural rights to make decisions for themselves. That is the essence of constitutionally guaranteed limited government — government does not grant rights nor issues commands. It secures rights and guards freedom. There's a rebirth of that now and, as during freedom's birth at the Founding, it's finding its bearings in Virginia.

Virginia Health Care Freedom Act Gains More National Attention

The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization of state legislators that  promotes conservative and free market legislation throughout the 50 state legislatures. Its immediate past national chairman is Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksbug). Its Virginia Chairmen are Delegate Chris Jones (R-76, Suffolk) and Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield). As a driving force for free market solutions to remedy health care, it provides model legislation to its state legislator membership, research and other tools, and tracks the progress of bills across the country. This year, health care freedom is one of ALEC's  priorities as 30-plus states have introduced such legislation. It's had a busy time in Virginia this session of the General Assembly as five bills protecting the health care freedom of Virginians have advanced rapidly through Mr. Jefferson's capitol and Virginia races to become the first state to stand up to the federal government's over reach into the health care decisions of individuals.

Recently, Christie Herrera, director of ALEC's health and human services task force, spoke with World Net Daily Radio about the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, as the national media continues to pay attention to Virginia's lead as the first state to define the limits of the federal government's powers.

To hear the seven minute interview, click here.

Virginia Closer To Becoming First State To Re-Establish Freedom From Federal Government!

Freedom-loving, constitution-respecting Virginians are one step closer to seeing Virginia enact historic legislation! Today, the House Commerce and Labor Committee voted 17-5 to report HB 10, The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, to the House floor. The bill is patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas). The committee also rolled the similarly worded HB 722, patroned by Delegate Chris Peace (R-97 Hanover), into HB 10. In introducing the bill, Delegate Marshall told the committee that the Congressional Budget Office cited the fact that Congress in 220 years never has mandated an individual purchase of any product — and if it hasn't done so in that time, it means it knows it can't do so. In typical Marshall style, he also quoted Alexander Hamilton, the most ardent supporter among the Founding Fathers of an influential central government, in Federalist 83, where he explicitly stated Congress' power extends only to certain enumerated powers and defined the "welfare" clause quite differently than do most politicians today.

In addition, the committee scheduled a late vote on SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417, the health care freedom bills passed in historic fashion by the Senate. The Senate bills are patroned by Senators Fred Qualye (R-13, Suffolk), Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), respectively. Easy victories were expected for those bills as well.

Virginia now is only a few steps from leading on, and asserting, what it so profoundly led and asserted two centuries ago: That the states and the people, as explicitly stated in the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, are the sovereigns of this country and commonwealth, and where the central government has no stated role, the people have natural rights to make decisions for themselves. Virginia now has the opportunity, in a new era, once again to lead the country in respect for constitutionally guaranteed limited government.

Even with this great momentum, nothing — nothing — should ever be taken for granted around here. These four bills – HB 10, SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417 – now go to the House floor. Anyone of the Senate bills that passes will go to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature. E-mail your delegate (here) (or find your delegate here) and ask him or her to vote in favor of Virginians’ rights to make their own health care decisions without the federal government’s intrusion.

BREAKING NEWS: SB 311 And SB 417 Also Pass Virginia Senate!

The two identical bills to SB 283SB 311 and SB 417 — also passed just seconds ago, by identical 23-17 margins. At first glance, the six vote margin is surprisingly large. More details to come. SB 417 is patroned by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) and SB 311 is patroned by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield).

Big Senate Vote Monday! Contact Your Senator!

On Monday, the Virginia Senate will debate and vote on SB 283 (Senator Fred Quayle, R-13, Suffolk), SB 311 (Senator Steve Martin, R-11, Chesterfield), and SB 417 (Senator Jill Vogel, R-27, Winchester), three bills that will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. All three are worded exactly the same. The bill made it to the floor earlier this week when the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee unexpectedly passed it 8-7. Democrat Senators Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Charles Colgan (D-29, Manassas) voted with the six committee Republicans. The debate is expected to be intense and widely watched. It also will be close. If the two Democrats hold their votes, it could come down to a tie, with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling breaking the tie.

Don’t let this rare chance at a major victory in the Virginia Senate go to waste! If you want Virginia to protect itself from the federal government’s reach into our personal health care decisions and protect us from the force of the federal government to make us buy insurance — an unprecedented act in the history of our nation — you must contact your senator and ask him or her to support these bills. (If you don't know who he or she is, click here.)

If any of the bills pass the high hurdle of the Senate, it certainly will receive a warm reception in the House. If either Senator Puckett or Senator Colgan represents you, thank them for their courageous committee votes and encourage them to stay strong on the Senate floor on Monday.

There's more great news about bills designed to assert Virginia’s sovereignty and resist federal intrusion into our health care decisions: Thursday, Sub-committee 2 of the House Commerce and Labor Committee voted by an 8-2 margin to report HB 10, The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, to the full committee. The bill is patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Prince William). Its day in full committee is not yet determined.

Family Foundation's 2009 Legislative Agenda: Protecting Chaplains' Religious Liberty Rights

 

This past fall, as Virginians worried about the failing economy and state government announced massive revenue “shortfalls,” the Kaine administration tried to quietly introduce a new regulation that forbid state police chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus. Apparently the superintendent of the state police did this proactively, without any complaints from anyone “offended” that a chaplain had actually prayed to God.

 

Six of 17 chaplains resigned their positions as chaplains over this order. We were honored to have two of those chaplains at our Richmond Gala in November.

 

The superintendent and governor’s office alleged that the policy change is based on a recent 4th Circuit Court decision involving prayer at government meetings, specifically a case where a pastor in the Fredericksburg area was ordered to stop praying “in Jesus name” at city council meetings. The court concluded that allowing someone to publicly pray according to his beliefs at a government meeting was an "establishment of religion" because the prayer was "government speech."

 

Other circuit court rulings, however, are in direct conflict with the 4th Circuit, and many legal experts conclude that the state police decision is a misapplication of a flawed 4th Circuit Court ruling. In other words, this new policy never should have happened.

 

To remedy the Kaine administration’s decision, The Family Foundation will support legislation this year introduced by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Independence). Working with Alliance Defense Fund and its expert attorneys we believe that there is a legislative answer.

 

Next week, the 2009 General Assembly will begin. The Family Foundation is poised to bring our pro-God, pro-life, pro-family agenda to the center of the debate. We hope that you will be ready to take action when bills like this one protecting the religious liberty rights of chaplains are debated.