veto session

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.

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.

Reconvened Quotes Of The Day

The General Assembly is meeting today in its annual one-day reconvened session, commonly referred to as the “Veto Session,” where it considers the governor’s vetoes and amendments to bills passed during the regular session that met during the winter. Whereas the “Morning Hour” — a fairly open-ended time for members to comment on matters not directly dealing with the legislative calendar — of a regular session consists mainly of welcomes to constituent groups, lifting the profile of a bill or policy position and assertive partisan speeches, Morning Hour during the reconvened session typically plays homage to the members who have announced their retirement. With eight members making the announcement since the end of session in February, there was a lot of talking going on, but none more so than that on behalf of Delegate Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford), the last of the independents and powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, whose first term began in 1962. He is the longest serving member in the 400-year history of the longest continuously meeting legislature in the New World. That meant lots of laud from numerous colleagues — and a great deal of story telling. After the very lengthy praises were over, Delegate Putney, soon to be 85, took the floor and brought down the House (get it?) with this:

It's not often that I’m speechless, but I hardly know what to say today. I feel like the mosquito at the nudist camp. There is so much territory to cover, you don’t know where to start.

It took several minutes for delegates to contain themselves and the chairman proceeded to compliment colleagues of both parties past and present and the demeanor of the chamber, explain what his time there meant to him, and recount humorous anecdotes, history and the accomplishments of the General Assembly over his 50-plus years of service. The last of the retirees to be recognized, and on the other end of the service scale, was Delegate Donald Merricks (R-16, Chatham) retiring after only three terms. Described by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albemarle) as a workhorse and not a show horse, one who rarely took the floor to embellish himself and one, most importantly, who told you where he stood and never held out his vote for something else.

Then the man of few words took the floor to acknowledge his colleagues' ovation. By now it was nearly two hours after session started with a long single-day's worth of business ahead. He recounted his favorite Bible verse from Exodus, where the Israelites were at the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit. Moses prayed to God for a means of escape while others complained that they were better off as slaves in Egypt. Delegate Merricks then relayed how a scholar translated God's answer to Moses:

"Stop praying and start moving the people!" So let's stop talking and get on with the calendar!

To which House Speaker Bill Howell (R-26, Stafford) replied:

If I knew you were going to say that, I'd have recognized you first!

 

Support Governor McDonnell's Pro-Life Amendment!

Last week Governor Bob McDonnell handed down a pro-life amendment that The Family Foundation had been strongly urging. This amendment prohibits health insurance plans that are part of federal health insurance exchanges required by Obamacare from covering abortion services except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. The amendment is to HB 1900 and SB 921, bills regarding state oversight of health exchanges. Without the governor's amendment, pro-life citizens opposed to abortion will be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. The amendment simply continues what has been state law for the proposed exchanges since 2011 when the General Assembly adopted a similar amendment. Because the state has chosen not to create a state exchange but instead force the federal government to do so, the amendment is necessary. Twenty states have already taken this step and more are considering it. Despite the rhetoric of the abortion industry, private insurers can continue to offer elective abortion plans outside the exchanges if they wish.

Now the General Assembly must accept Governor McDonnell's amendment at tomorrow's Reconvened Session (i.e, the "Veto Session") where it considers amendments and vetoes by the governor. While we are confident that the House of Delegates will adopt the amendment, the 20-20 Senate is questionable.

So that is really where the battle lies. Over the last several days we have mobilized citizens across Virginia to contact their legislators — especially key senators — to make sure they know the citizens of Virginia want this amendment passed.

Please contact your delegate and senator and urge them to support Governor McDonnell's amendment to HB 1900 and SB 921. If you are not sure who they are, click here to find out. Then, or if you already know who they are, click here to look up your delegate's contact information and here to look up your senator's contact information.

Then contact the following key senators and urge them to vote YES on this important amendment as well:

Senator Harry Blevins: 757-546-2435 district14@senate.virginia.gov

Senator John Watkins: 804-379-2063 district10@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Charles Colgan: 703-368-0300 district29@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Phil Puckett: 276-979-8181 district38@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Frank Wagner: 757-671-2250 district07@senate.virginia.gov

Reminder . . . GO VOTE! Then, Participate In Our Open Thread

As if you needed one. But remember, polls close at 7:00 p.m. in Virginia. Don't chance a thing. If you have not voted yet, take traffic, your work schedule, any errands you must do and, possibly, long lines into account, and arrive in plenty of time. (If you need to learn where your polling place is, visit  www.WhereVAVotes.com.

Also, remember: The Family Foundation Action supports Question 1 and Question 2, state constitutional amendments to limit the government's power of eminent domain and to allow the General Assembly to reschedule its annual one day "Veto Session" when it conflicts with a religious holiday, respectively. Please spread the word about these amendments. The more people know about them, the more they favor them. Share the posts linked above. There's still time.

As if you need any reason to vote, and make that last hours push to get others to the polls, perhaps this will get you to boil:

Then, once you are done voting, and taking a break from contacting others to vote, let us know about your election day experience. How's turnout in your area? Were the partisans polite or punchy? What are your predictions for Virginia and the nation? Did you meet a candidate at your precinct? Anyone of note stop by your volunteer office? We'd love to know what you're experiencing today. Leave your comments here or at our Facebook page or tweet us at #TFFOpenThread.

The politicians have done all the talking for months. But now, the floor is yours!

Paid for by The Family Foundation Action and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

21-20, 21-20, 21-20: Pro-Life Bills Finally Pass Virginia Senate Roadblock To Become Law; Behind The Scenes At Last Night's Drama!

Near the end of an already extraordinarily long annual "Veto Session" last night, at around 10:00, after intense debate and several failed parliamentary maneuvers by opponents, the Virginia General Assembly handed pro-lifers and Governor Bob McDonnell another big victory. After passing the House of Delegates by a comfortable margin, the Virginia Senate — whose committees long have been the burial ground for commonsense bipartisan pro-life legislation, deadlocked 20-20 on the governor's amendments to HB 2434 — to restrict Virginia's health insurance exchanges (when and if ObamaCare takes effect) from publicly funding abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother — allowing Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie and send the bill back to Governor McDonnell for his signature. We long have stated that if certain measures could get to the floor, they would pass. This victory, another vote last night to restore the abstinence education funding eliminated by former Governor Tim Kaine, as well as the landmark vote the last week of the regular session to regulate abortion centers (all by 21-20 margins with Lt. Governor Bolling casting the tie-breaking vote each time), vindicates us. As represented by their legislators in Richmond, Virginians are decidedly pro-life.

The hard work began as lawmakers returned to the capitol Monday. Family Foundation lobbyists hit the ground running, going door to door to sure up votes and answer questions from legislators. Preceding that were efforts well before the reconvened session to educate lawmakers and their constituents. While the House looked secure, the Senate was always going to be close, with perhaps one or two senators leaning one way or another, but not fully committed.

Meanwhile, opponents in both chambers used several procedural motions to derail the votes. House members yielded their time from member to member in an attempt to control the debate and even moved to break up the governor's amendments into separate votes. While that succeeded, all four passed. The bill then moved down the hall where Senator John Edwards (D-21) challenged the germaneness of the governor’s amendments. When Lt. Governor Bolling ruled them in order, opponents attempted to overturn the decision by a floor vote, but lost 21-19 (see vote).

After intense debate, the Senate voted 20-20, with all 18 Republicans and pro-life Democrats Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) voting yes. Interestingly, Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), who voted to sustain Lt. Governor Bolling's ruling, voted no. When the clerk read the result, The LG decisively announced that "The chair votes aye." Thus, the making of a law (see vote).

Despite the late vote, an early morning event may have had the most impact — the first ever meeting of the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus (more on the LPC in a future post). More than 500 Virginians, including many delegates and senators of both parties, gathered at the steps of the historic capitol to pray for God to shower His blessings on our Commonwealth. As Governor McDonnell reminded attendees, Matthew 19:26 says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

The Family Foundation gives its overwhelming appreciation to Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, all 20 Senators who voted for this pro-life amendment, and to all who contacted their senator to urge their support. If you don't think this has the grassroots excited, see our Facebook page!

Support Abstinence Education Funding In Virginia Budget

In addition to Governor Bob McDonnell's amendment to HB 2434, which would restrict Virginia's health insurance exchanges under ObamaCare from covering abortion services, Governor McDonnell also added an amendment to reinsert abstinence funding in the Virginia budget. This funding was included in the House of Delegates budget, but budget conferees left it out of the final budget which the General Assembly approved and sent to the governor. Such funding was a regular line item in the budget until then-Governor Tim Kaine abruptly stripped it out in November 2007 as a political IOU to Planned Parenthood. Tomorrow, the General Assembly reconvenes for its annual "Veto Session," when it reconsiders gubernatorial vetoes and amendments to bills, and will have the opportunity to include this provision back into the budget. While it is likely the House will accept this amendment, the Senate will be an uphill climb. Please contact your senator today and urge support for Governor McDonnell’s abstinence funding amendment to the budget.

Planned Parenthood, and its ally NARAL, have made it their national agenda to stop abstinence education. Both groups consistently assail abstinence programs as being ineffective. One legislator, who works closely with Planned Parenthood and NARAL, said, "The reality is with teenagers, their hormones come into play, and abstinence-only doesn't always work." Work for who? The more teens postpone sexual activity, the less profit the abortion industry makes.

The pro-abortion lobby also asserts that "abstinence education doesn’t work," "parents don't support abstinence education," and "it's naive to think that teenagers can be abstinent." None of those arguments, though, are correct according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, an October 2010 study paid for by the federal Department of Heath and Human Services found that abstinence education is highly effective and it is widely supported by parents and teenagers.

The HHS survey found that 70 percent of parents agreed that it is "against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage" and that "having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do." Adolescent beliefs, according to the survey, were similar. In fact, there are federal abstinence education funds that Governor McDonnell has applied for that Mr. Kaine refused. So, even the Obama administration realizes it works.

Clearly, abstinence education is not only effective, but it is widely supported among both parents and teens. So, please contact your senator today and urge support of the governor's amendment to reinstate abstinence funding in the budget.

Click here if you know your senator and need his or her phone number.

Click here if you don't know who your senator is.

Support Governor McDonnell's Pro-Life Amendment To Health Exchange Bill

Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell added a pro-life amendment to an ObamaCare induced bill — Delegate Terry Kilgore's HB 2434, that directs the Commonwealth to set up health insurance exchanges in accordance with the new law. (Under ObamaCare, if states don't act to establish their own exchanges and rules, the federal government will do ti for them.) The governor's amendment would restrict the proposed and mandated health insurance exchanges from covering abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Without such change to the bill, pro-life citizens will be coerced into funding the unethical destruction of human life. His amendment also would prohibit insurance companies from selling optional riders that cover those same abortion services. Typically, NARAL went ballistic (see the Washington Post VIrginia Politics Blog, a Post news article and the Richmond Times-Dispatch; we're quoted in all three), although the amendment reflects decades-old federal policy under the Hyde Amendment. Now, the General Assembly must accept the governor's amendment at next Wednesday's veto session. During this year's General Assembly session, similar health insurance abortion funding opt-out language was passed by the House of Delegates twice with overwhelming majorities, but was defeated in the Senate. The Senate voted on a procedural motion, at the end of session, to strike a bill almost identical to Governor McDonnell’s language. It succeeded on a 22-18 party line vote. Since the governor's language strictly is a policy vote, not a procedural vote, we hope to urge at least two pro-life Democrats to support the amendment.

Of course, this is nothing new. Whether it is a widely-passed bipartisan House bill or a governor's amendment, the Senate remains the body that blocks nearly every pro-life effort, and has done so for several years. Over the last several days, The Family Foundation has mobilized citizens across Virginia to contact key senators so that they know Virginians want this amendment passed. It is clear that it will not be until the Senate reflects the values of Virginia that we will see many victories. The opportunity to make those changes is quickly approaching, as all 40 Senate seats are up for election in November.

We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with five key senators: Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell). Contact these senators now and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell's abortion funding opt-out amendment for health insurance exchanges on HB 2434.

You can contact them by calling their district offices (numbers below) or by clicking on their names for their e-mail addresses:

Senator Quayle: 757-483-9173

Senator Watkins: 804-379-2063

Senator Reynolds: 276-638-2315

Senator Colgan: 703-368-0300

Senator Puckett: 276-979-8181

Thanking Senators And Delegates For Their Pro-Life Votes

Over the past several days many people have contacted us to find out how their elected officials voted on the pro-life budget amendment passed by the General Assembly during last month's veto session in order to thank them if they voted favorably. The amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of low-income elective abortions.  Despite deceptive efforts by the abortion industry and their advocates in the General Assembly, 64 delegates and 20 senators held firm and voted to protect the unborn. We are blessed that the House of Delegates regularly supports pro-life legislation, but sometimes, unfortunately, we may take that for granted. The Senate, on the other hand, is the chamber that is regularly hostile to pro-life legislation. So, when it does the right thing, it is very important to thank the senators who voted for life.

Below is the list of delegates and senators who voted yes. To see the complete recorded vote — those who voted yea and nay and not at all — click here for the House and here for the Senate.

House:

YEAS: Abbitt, Albo, Anderson, Athey, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bulova, Byron, Carrico, Cleaveland, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, J.A., Cox, M.K., Crockett-Stark, Edmunds, Garrett, Gear, Gilbert, Greason, Griffith, Hugo, Iaquinto, Ingram, Janis, Johnson, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LeMunyon, Lewis, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Massie, May, Merricks, Miller, J.H., Miller, P.J., Morefield, Morrissey, Nutter, O'Bannon, Oder, Orrock, Peace, Phillips, Pogge, Poindexter, Pollard, Purkey, Rust, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Stolle, Tata, Torian, Villanueva, Ware, R.L., Wright, Mr. Speaker (Howell, W.)—64.

NAYS: Abbott, Alexander, Armstrong, BaCote, Barlow, Brink, Carr, Dance, Ebbin, Englin, Filler-Corn, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., James, Joannou, Keam, Kory, McClellan, Plum, Scott, J.M., Shuler, Sickles, Spruill, Surovell, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, O., Watts—30.

ABSTENTIONS: Marshall, R.G.—1.

NOT VOTING: Lohr, McQuinn, Morgan, Putney—4.

Senate:

YEAS: Blevins, Colgan, Hanger, Hurt, Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Norment, Obenshain, Puckett, Quayle, Reynolds, Ruff, Smith, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins—20.

NAYS: Barker, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Northam, Petersen, Puller, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple—19.

NOT VOTING: Newman—1.

To thank your delegate or senator (or both), click here for the House and here for the Senate to see the respective chambers' directories. Scroll for your legislator(s), click on their names, and access their e-mail or office addresses. We hope you will take the time to make these two clicks and type a few sentences of gratitude to these hard working men and women for making possible, despite a great amount of pressure, Virginia's most important pro-life advancement in in years.

If your delegagte or senator voted no, we recommend you write a respectful note expressing your grave disappointment in their vote to allow your tax dollars to be used to end unborn human life, and that he or she please re-examine the issue for next session. Finally, if you do not know who your senator or delegate is, click here first.

Virginia News Stand: April 22, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations The Landmark Edition

A short edition today, which gives you no excuse for not reading every article. Leading the news is the landmark pro-life budget amendment passed last night by both chambers of the General Assembly. We're quoted and mentioned prominently in the lead link below. This may only be the start. Nationally, states are moving toward using a provision in the government health care takeover law that allows them to opt out of paying for abortion in health care. Ashley Horne of CitizenLink.org has an in-depth analysis of the hows and whys of federal government funding of abortion in this new law, despite the so-called prohibitive language in the legislation and President Obama's executive order supposedly prohibiting it. Speaking of executive orders, Peter Sprigg of FRCBlog explains the impact of the president's order allowing "same-sex partners" hospital visitation rights and such.  

While most of the ink is about yesterday's "Veto Session," the Richmond Times-Dispatch highlights yesterday's "Virginia Annual Political Rite of Spring," The Shad Planking in Wakefield. Former governor and senator George Allen was the keynote speaker and about 1,200 attended, less the 138 (two House seats are vacant) from the General Assembly. You'd think they could schedule it on a day when Virginia's princes and princesses could attend. On the other hand . . . maybe that's the point?

News

*Va. legislature votes to restrict abortion funding (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

McDonnell bid to restrict abortion funding upheld (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Virginia legislature restricts abortion funding (Washington Post)

McDonnell cuts for broadcasting, at-risk children rebuffed (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

House rejects at-risk youth cuts, others by gov (The Daily Press)

Session finalizes budget matters (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

General Assembly veto session a mixed bag (Roanoke Times)

Former McDonnell brother-in-law addresses gay-rights rally (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Allen and about 1,200 turn out for Shad Planking (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Rep. Scott questions police procedures after hotel visit (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News

States Opt Out of Paying for Abortion in Health Care (CitizenLink.org)

Analysis

Hospital Visit Horrors? Here’s the Rest of the Story (Peter Sprigg/FRCBlog.com)

How Exactly Will the Government Fund Abortion Under the New Health Care Law? (Ashley Horne/CitizenLink.org)

A More Motley Crew Of Propagandists You'll Never Meet

I've been meaning to post this photo of the Right Wing Virginia Bloggers Cabal for a while now. Actually, this is a group photo of most of the bloggers in attendance at Lt. Governor Bill Bolling's Annual Bloggers Day At The Capitol, which was held the day of the Veto Session in April.

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Virginia's best and brightest bloggers with the Washington Equestrian Statue in Capitol Square as a backdrop. Majestically patriotic, huh? Can you pick out your friendly Admin?

It was a fantastic day complete with briefings from very informed sources, a superb Senate gallery introduction of us by Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), great networking, and a wonderful lunch by the Project Virginia guys and dinner with the LG's staff at night. A lot of what we learned was very useful background information on the campaigns and policy which will be, or has already been used, here. All part of the extraordinary lengths we go to keep you ahead of the curve. A big sweep of the hat to Rick Sincere for the photo.

Virginia News Stand: April 17, 2009

Welcome to the end of the week. But the news is only beginning. Leading off, we have a Virginia-based pro-life organization, Life & Liberty Ministries, which says it's been put on a domestic terrorist watch list by the Virginia State Police. Very curious, to say the least. Also of note, Americans For Tax Reform took notice of the work we did on spending transparency and this blog's comment on how it all played out, especially with Governor Tim Kaine's nice veto session surprise (making the bill better). We're honored such a prestigious national organization took notice and we thank them for the help it provided in the long road it took to get transparency passed and signed into law. When you read in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star how the state paid a company $40,000 just to sit by and wait, you understand why spending transparency is important.

It's not yet time for the Colonial Downs season, but the horse race known as the gubernatorial campaign is well underway and Republican Bob McDonnell is ahead by a couple of lengths and pulling further ahead — as of now. We have the poll info directly from the pollster, Rasmussen. Enjoy your reading.

News:

Virginia pro-lifers labeled 'potential terrorists' (OneNewsNow.com)

Election 2009: Virginia Governor Election — GOP's McDonnell Pulls Further Ahead in Virginia Governor's Race (RasmussenReports.com)

Poll gives McDonnell lead in hypothetical governor matchups (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Bill Clinton, Trump among McAuliffe's donors (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McAuliffe won't take Dominion cash, but donations from executives OK(Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Candidates in governor's race casting wide nets (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Moran Campaign Contributors Have Business Before Brother (Washington Post)

State paid $40,000 in fees for towing firms to stand by (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

VA Transparency Gets Unexpected Veto Session Boost(FiscalAccountability.org Blog)

Del. Shannon Valentine tops in campaign funds (Lynchburg News & Advance)

Concert to benefit Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg (Lynchburg News & Advance)

Delegates Defend Internet Use on the Floor (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

National News:

Senate Republicans Reply to DHS 'Rightwing Extremists' Scaremongering(RedState.com)

ACLU demands schools allow access to gay Websites (Nashville Tennessean)

Following The Leader Off The Cliff

It's beyond lame, now . . . the automatic, reflexive response by Virginia's liberals that not only do we need more taxes but that we can afford them. Regarding the former, it's that the "government doesn't have enough money," as if the people it is sucking it from does. That's the problem we're facing now, right? People have less money. Too bad. Government elites want whatever it is you have left. Regarding the latter, whether it's Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) pitching higher gas taxes or now Governor Tim Kaine pleading  for higher unemployment insurance taxes on businesses, it's always something about Virginia's taxes aren't as high as a neighboring state's or the national average or states that begin with letters never chosen in the final round on Wheel of Fortune, therefore we can afford them. As if the fact that Virginia may happen to have a particular tax lower than North Carolina, Maryland or Utah makes a difference as to whether it's justifiable on the merits to raise it .

The latest in this nonsense is the aforementioned tax on businesses that funds unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Last week, during its veto session, the General Assembly rejected the governor's attempt to accept federal "stimulus" money for extended unemployment insurance payments. The main argument against accepting the money was that, after the two year federal funding period, Virginia would have been obligated to continue the expenditures at a level necessitating a large tax increase on the people that create the jobs to begin with — businesses, including small businesses (often family owned) which create most jobs.

According to Governor Kaine, as reported in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Virginia employers pays the second lowest annual amount of unemployment taxes in the nation." By that logic, let's raise every tax in Virginia in which we are in the bottom 10 percentile. Or 20 percentile . . . or heck, make it the 50 percentile. Don't want to feel too fortunate, here, do we?

In effect, they're saying let's give up our advantage in order to tax more people because other states are doing it. But isn't the idea to create an economic environment to recruit new business to Virginia and to encourage start-ups? But these liberals are saying, "We're not taxing our residents enough. If other states can do it, so can we!" Worse, they believe it!

Turns out though, Virginia isn't such a low tax state after all, the perception perhaps perpetuated as a ready excuse to raise taxes (we're under taxed, so ante up more). According to Scott Hodge of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Virginia's overall tax burden is one of the nation's worst, rivaling notoriously high-taxing New York, New Jersey, California and, even, "Taxachussetts." (So much for our low-tax advantage.) Hodges spoke recently on Freedom & Prosperity Radio and you can hear the interview here with other interesting statistics.

Either way — whether they believe there is "room" to raise taxes compared to other states or they selectively pick and choose taxes that are lower here by comparison in order to raise a sense that an increase won't hurt — Virginia's tax-and-spenders insist on following other states rather than leading. Never mind that it's following them right off the economic cliff.

Virginia News Stand: April 9, 2009

As it turned out, veto session was somewhat eventful. Read all about it here, as that's pretty much what dominates the News Stand today. There's also a couple of pieces about T-Mac's money bags, but is that really new? News:

Kaine criticizes House GOP for spurning jobless benefits (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia likely forfeits $125 million for unemployed (The Daily Press)

Va. lawmakers reject federal jobless help (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Assembly Rejects $125 Million for Expanded Jobless Benefits (Washington Post)

Most of Kaine's vetoes upheld (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Legislators being work on gaming (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Legislators back Kaine on quicker crackdown on payday lendors (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Fairfax delegate says he's stepping down to run for A.G. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Carlos Brown running for 69th House of Delegates District seat (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McAuliffe, Moran report first-quarter fundraising (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McAuliffe Reports Sizable Money Lead Over Moran (Washington Post)

Are Va. Republicans Making a Primary Error? (Washington Post)

Virginia News Stand: April 7, 2009

It's April so that means three things in Virgilankingnia politics: Veto Session, Shad Planking and campaigns in full swing. They usually coincide to some (or large) degree. But there's something different this year:  Gubernatorial candidate Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath) is avoiding the Shad Planking. That's almost unheard of for a statewide candidate. Who knows? If he wins the governorship, maybe it'll start a trend. Meanwhile, Governor Tim Kaine faces veto override threats on several bills, including those dealing with the death penalty and accepting strings-attached "stimulus" money for extended unemployment insurance — paid for by tax increases on business, since the fees it pays into that program fund it.

In another state's news that may have national implications, Iowans are fighting back against the edict by its supreme court inventing a "right" to same-sex "marriage." Also, Newt Gingrich talks, albeit briefly, about his conversion to Catholicism. Finally, check out one legal organization's unique avenue to challenge the federal bailout to AIG. 

News:

Kaine's vetoes facing his foes (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Deeds Will Not Speak At Shad Planking (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Big money flows to Virginia race for governor (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Deeds files petitions for Virginia governor's race (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

McDonnell calls for unity after leading ouster of party chairman (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Rejected GOP Chief To Run Again in Va. (Washington Post)

Battle over bingo laws in Va. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News:

Conservative Iowans fight to preserve traditional (OneNewsNow.com)

Does AIG Bailout Violate Establishment Cause? (OneNewsNow.com)

Gingrich tight-lipped on Catholic conversion (OneNewsNow.com)

UPDATE: Last Chance To Ask Lt. Governor Bolling Questions, Interview Begins Today At 5:00!

If you want to leave a question for Lt. Governor Bill Bolling about the recently completed General Assembly session or the upcoming veto session you have until about 4:30. Click here to leave your question. The interview starts at 5:00. He will take as many questions in an hour as he can. Look for a new thread at 5:00 on which to follow the interview. We look forward to all of your questions and the Lt. Governor's responses, and we thank him and his staff for making time out of his busy schedule to afford us this excellent opportunity to discuss the issues confronting Virginia.

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.