virginia beach

Event Update: Virginia Beach Meeting Cancelled, Newport News, Roanoke Meetings Still On

Due to the effects of Hurricane Irene, we have canceled today's pastors event with Dr. Wayne Grudem at London Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia Beach. We are sorry for inconvenience this might cause. However, tomorrow's event with Dr. Grudem at World Outreach Worship Center in the Denbigh section of Newport News is still on. It is from 8:00 a.m.-noon. If you were planning on attending today's event, you are welcome to attend this one instead. Click here to register.

We also are hosting Dr. Grudem at First Baptist Church in Roanoke on Thursday, September 1, from 9:00 a.m.-noon. Click here to register for that. There is no charge for these events and a complimentary breakfast will be provided to all pastors and ministry leaders. If your church pastor and ministry leaders are not aware of these events, please share this link with them. If they cannot schedule one of these events, please follow this link and share with them information about our pastors outreach affiliate, Pastors For Family Values.

A Little Disinfectant Will Do Wonders: The HB 570 Vote Is Back Up

Is it possible for a bill to create more buzz in death than in life? That's a pretty tall order, especially with an important bill such as HB 570. But we caused quite an uproar yesterday and today with the post about its missing PBI vote. Delegate Sal Iaquinto's (R-84, Virginia Beach) bill wold have made the burden of proof an equal share between homeowners and assessors in assessment appeal cases. Several blogs picked up on it, including our friends Norman Leahy and Lynn Mitchell at Tertium Quids and SWAC Girl, respectively. Even though the vote was taken a couple weeks ago, the bill's home page yesterday reflected a "Left In Committee" inaction by the Senate Finance Committee, even though the world knew it got plenty of action as committee liberals sunk it on a straight party line vote (a motion to "Pass By Indefinitely"). We reported the whole affair here along with the video of the entire committee debate and vote, yet the vote was taken down as if the world wouldn't find out.

"Left In Committee" has a totally different meaning than PBI. It means that the bill was never given a hearing and the patron never had the opportunity to introduce the bill. There's a big difference between a committee shirking its responsibility by not voting and in hiding its vote (that its members sought office to cast and for which they get paid to make). Not that one is worse than the other, there's just a big difference between the two.

Just a few minutes ago, however, I received an update on HB 570 from the Legislative Information System. An unexpected update yesterday verified another twist in this dead bill's life. Sure enough, voila! Just like David Copperfield (again) it appeared! So, if seeing the (video) isn't believing, it's now official with the vote listed here. Our disinfectant (this blog) did a little good as it turns out.

Earlier today, it must be said, at a meeting with another conservative organization, an ally relayed what she was told by someone either at LIS or from the Finance Committee staff: That since a vote to PBI doesn't technically kill a bill, it was still alive, thus the vote was not posted online until it was past time upon which official action could be taken. But this explanation still doesn't make sense.

A PBI vote kills a bill. If it is to be resurrected, it must be done so with a motion to reconsider. For that, the public needs to know how the vote went because only a member from the prevailing side can ask for such a motion. Either the bill was killed, and the people have a right to know who voted which way, or it was technically still alive and citizens need to know who to approach to try to save it. Furthermore, yesterday was the last day for committee action on bills. No matter the rationalization, the committee vote should have been posted within 24 hours of the meeting and not taken down. Just more games politicians used to get away with.

More Can't Miss Video: Senate Finance Committee Empowers Local Government Over Taxpayers!

The crush and pace of the Virginia General Assembly creates a dilemma: We cover a lot of ground and witness a lot of things, good and bad, almost all nearly impossible to relate. We do our best, but we hear it all the time from supporters who come to committee meetings: You really can't believe it until you see if for yourself (at least we have video now). A lot of stuff sits in the file because we're forced to move on to other topics: Such is the pace of 2,600 bills in 60 days. Don't blog something one day, it's old news the next. After all, our first priority is working on legislation. However, several days ago, HB 570 was before the Senate Finance Committee. It preceded this infamous bill hearing (you must see this if you haven't; click here). This bill, patroned by Delegate Sal Iaquinto (R-84, Virginia Beach) would level the playing field when property owners appeal their often over assessed homes in order to reduce their already overwhelming tax burdens. Besides, if the government has a good case, it will still win. A no-brainer, right? Not!

Currently, and the way it will now remain for at least another year, the homeowner is the equivalent to guilty until proven innocent, and low-income people can’t even afford to hire an appraiser and other expenses required to overcome the burden of proof. (That's why advocates for low-income families joined us in supporting the bill.) Tellingly, the bill’s defeat was heavily targeted by a plethora of local governments and associated organizations whose goal is to further government’s prosperity and not that of the family or individual. One witness favoring the bill exposed their intentions by asking if they would be against this bill would help them overcome an unfair burden against the homeowner.

Hypocritically, in criticizing the bill, ultra liberal Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington) said that the jurisdictions she represents receive a disproportionate amount of local tax revenue from commercial properties and the bill did not exempt those buildings from the proposed new appeal process. When Delegate Iaquinto said he agreed and would accept that as a friendly amendment, she shot back, “I’m not going to offer that!” More hypocrisy was exposed when Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) offered a friendly amendment to rectify another complaint. Another ally was Senator William Wampler (R-40, Bristol), who made procedural motions to advance the bill. Yet, the bill still went down on a straight party line vote, 9-5, with Senator Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk) absent from the vote.

But, no need for me to try to capture the ignominy. See it for yourself. The entire debate is below in two parts.

Delegate Iaquinto makes a persuasive, commonsense case on behalf of home owners . . .

then the forces of big government preach government prosperity at the expense of individuals and families. So much for government guaranteeing individual rights and a fair day in court.

Virginia School Board Association: 'We Philosophically Oppose Educational Choice'!

Today, in a House Appropriation’s sub-committee, one of the most fascinating — and revealing — debates we’ve seen this session occurred concerning school choice. HB 599, patroned by Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico), creates a tax credit for individuals or corporations that donate to scholarship foundations that in turn give scholarships to students toward private school tuition. HB 599 has ingeniously been crafted in such a way as to ensure that there will be no fiscal impact to the state — something valuable in today’s economy and something that not many tax credits can boast. In addition, local school systems would actually save money as students leave their schools. The intrigue began when the opposition stood to speak. Dick Pulley, a long-time lobbyist representing the Virginia School Board Association, stood up to oppose the bill. As a lobbyist from an allied organization said, Mr. Pulley flexed his organization’s muscle, but failed to supply a coherent argument as to why he opposed the bill. He was forced to admit that the bill was better because there is no fiscal impact so the usual "this will take school books from children"contrivance wouldn’t fly. Left without that, he revealed his organization’s true colors.

After saying a lot of nothing, he finally came out with, "We philosophically oppose these types of bills." Not one to let an argument like that go by without explanation, Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights), a public school teacher, asked Mr. Pulley, "Could you explain what you mean by ‘philosophically oppose'?" Mr. Pulley responded:

We have good public schools. We support public schools. We’re going to have a hard time keeping public schools at the level they’re on now if we pass this bill. We support parents making good educational choices for their children, but we’re opposed to having a public policy device that would allow that to happen.

It is difficult to explain the visceral contempt the public education establishment in Richmond has for parents who choose options other than government-run schools. Organizations like the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia School Board Association and the school principals association make it abundantly clear, year after year, that children of families who choose private education or home schooling are inferior to children who attend public schools.

After lengthy debate, HB 599 was recommended for reporting to the full Appropriations Committee on a vote of 5-3. Those voting for the bill include Delegates Cox, Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), Charles Poindexter (R-9, Glade Hill), Watkins Abbitt (I-59, Appomattox), and Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth). Those voting against the bill include Delegates Bob Tata (R-85, Virginia Beach), Jim Scott (D-53, Merrifield), and Mayme BaCote (D-95, Newport News). The bill now goes to the full Appropriations Committee (click here to contact members) Friday.

Delegate John O'Bannon, M.D., On HB 10

Delegate John O'Bannon (R-73, Henrico), the chief co-patron of Delegate Bob Marshall's (R-13, Manassas) Virginia Health Care Freedom Act (HB 10), spoke at The Family Foundation of Virginia Day at the Capitol on January 18. Here are his comments on the bill, why it is necessary, constituent feedback and why it is constitutional. Delegate O'Bannon is a neurologist and was the only doctor in the House of Delegates for several years until 2008. Until this session started, he remained the only physician in the House. Now there are three "delegate-doctors," with Doctors Chris Stolle (R-83, Virginia Beach) and Scott Garrett (R-23, Lynchburg) beating Democrat incumbents last November.

Delegate O'Bannon, long the General Assembly point man on health care issues, speaks about the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act.

Can The States Stop Nationalized Health Care? Bob Marshall Says, "Yes"

As mentioned here (and according to the AP), 13 attorneys general are preparing to file suit on behalf of their states to block any eventual nationalization of America's health care system — or at least leave their states free to choose whether to participate. Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims is one of the 13. Law suits have been known to work. It is, after all, the states which have the right and obligation to defend themselves from participation in any federal scheme not enumerated in the constitution as a federal responsibility — also known as the 10th Amendment. Of course, the 10th Amendment, nor anything about the constitution, has stopped the federales from increasing its size and scope over our lives throughout recent decades.

But law suits aside, what else can the states do? Apart from the attorney general, who else is in the game? What about legislatures? If Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Prince William) has anything to do with it, Virginia's General Assembly will have a lot to do with it. Last month, he made a presentation to the Tuesday Morning Group Coalition about HB 10, The Health Care Freedom Act, a bill he has already filed. Other patrons thus far are John O'Bannon (R-73, Henrico), Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Prince William), Harvey Morgan (R-98, Gloucester) and Bob Tata (R-85, Virginia Beach). HB 10 reads, in its entirety, thus:

No law shall restrict a person's natural right and power of contract to secure the blessings of liberty to choose private health care systems or private plans. No law shall interfere with the right of a person or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life or health, nor shall any law impose a penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage or to participate in any particular health care system or plan, except as required by a court where an individual or entity is a named party in a judicial dispute. Nothing herein shall be construed to expand, limit or otherwise modify any determination of law regarding what constitutes lawful medical services within the Commonwealth.

Marshall, as ever, is sure of its legislative cure as well as its constitutionality, as we are reminded by Norm Leahy at Tertium Quids. In fact, as Leahy points out, Delegate Marshall offers a Q&A on Dr. Bob Hollsworth's Virginia Tomorrow blog, asking and answering questions himself, a FAQ tutorial on state legislative prerogative on federal issues, if you will. At least as far as it concerns the federal takeover of the health care industry and individuals' constitutional rights to be forced into it. 

So, the 10th Amendment lives? We'll see what Virginia's General Assembly says — about its own authority. Virginia could make hay as the bulwark against the largest federal power grab in history. That would really give the lawyers something to fight about.

Virginia News Stand: November 12, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations The Slow Time

It's a slow political news cycle this time of year, especially right after a gangbusters election, as things settle down. Soon, however, it will be special election time in Fairfax and Virginia Beach for two Virginia Senate seats (vacated by the elections of Ken Cuccinelli to attorney general and Ken Stolle to Virginia Beach Sheriff). It's becoming more likely that the new senator from Virginia Beach will be the Republican nominee since the Democrats can't seem to find a candidate. Bob McDonnell will show his bipartisan stripes and meet with House Democrats, while Ron Villanueva gains another vote in his bid to keep said Dems one seat fewer.

Nationally, the AP reports 10 states face looming budget disasters, while U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is seeking a huge tax increase to pay for the health care bill. Who thinks things will get better soon? Meanwhile, Walter E. Williams is on target as ever in his column about contempt for the constitution, Christopher Adamo offers the GOP lessons from the New York special Congressional election, and Bobby Eberle tells RNC Chairman Michael Steele to knock off the irresponsible racial talk.  

News:

McDonnell to meet with House Democratic Caucus (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Beach electoral board finds extra vote for Villanueva (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Two Republicans run for Stolle's seat; another Democrat out (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

'Jane Roe' honored at LU pro-life conference (Lynchburg News & Advance)

National News:

A Year Out, Widespread Anti-Incumbent Sentiment (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press)

Reid eyes payroll tax hike to pay for health care (AP/GOPUSA.com

Report: 10 states face looming budget disasters (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

History Is Calling — Will Obama Answer? (Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

Constitutional Contempt (Walter E. Williams/GOPUSA.com)

We Win, They Lose (Lisa Fabrizio/GOPUSA.com)

Blind Diversity Equals Death (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Lessons Learned From New York District 23 (Christopher Adamo/GOPUSA.com)

Bridging the Racial Divide Takes a Bridge, not a Chainsaw (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

No More Career Politicians! (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Today's Celebration, Tomorrow's Work

Today, pro-family Virginians are celebrating yesterday’s election of candidates whom we believe hold to, and will govern by, values you and I share. After months of working hard either for candidates or organizations like The Family Foundation to educate voters, seeing the fruit of that labor is sweet indeed. Exit polling found that evangelicals made up more than one-third of voters yesterday and 83 percent of those voted for the pro-life, pro-family candidates. Those numbers surpass the high water mark of pro-family involvement in any Virginia election to date!

No one can question that our Winning Matters campaign had an incredible effect on voter turnout. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the campaign by donating financially, distributing Voter Guides, Report Cards, holding voter registration drives, and a multitude of other activities. Your efforts made a huge impact yesterday.

But now, the work begins.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as thrilled as you that Virginians sent a clear message to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (not to mention Mark Warner, Jim Webb and the like) that we reject the debt riddled policies they are pushing. I’m excited that we have a Governor-elect, Lt. Governor-elect and Attorney General-elect who share our values. But I also know that we’ve been here before, in the days after elections, thinking that the work was done only to learn that it was far from over. We need to hold all of our newly elected officials to their promises.

Even with a larger conservative majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, the obstacle that our pro-family, pro-life agenda has faced for several years – the Virginia Senate – stands between us and our goals. While we hope members of that chamber also get the message of last night’s election results, they have two years before they face the voters. If history is any indication, they are hoping that you will have forgotten by then.

The first opportunities to affect the Senate will come with two special elections in the next few weeks. With Ken Cuccinelli’s victory last night, there will be an election to replace him in his Fairfax Senate seat. In addition, Senator Ken Stolle won election to sheriff of Virginia Beach, meaning that there will be an election for that seat as well.

Here is the commitment I’m asking you to make today: we will not stop, we will not rest, until the Senate of Virginia reflects our values! We will not stop working until that chamber joins the rest of our leaders in supporting common sense pro-life and pro-family proposals.

We have the opportunity in the upcoming session to give all 40 members of the Senate the chance to vote on legislation that reflects our values – and if they reject those values again, we have to make them pay the price at the ballot box in 2011.

I also encourage you to pray for all the newly elected candidates. In particular, over the next few months Governor-elect McDonnell will select key advisers, cabinet members and a multitude of officials on boards and commissions. Please pray that he appoints qualified, principled conservatives to those positions, the impact of which will go on well after he leaves office. It is often said that "personnel is policy," so selecting those he will take counsel from in the years ahead is crucial for the new governor.

But today, celebrate. Enjoy a hard fought victory. Then get ready to join The Family Foundation as we look only to the future.

Voter Guides For November Elections Ready This Weekend!

The Family Foundation of Virginia's 2009 Voter Guides, non-partisan bulletin inserts that compare the positions of candidates on important issues such as life, marriage, parental rights and religious liberty, now are available. These Guides do not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party and are legal for distribution in churches. We were busy all summer encouraging pastors to engage in the civic process. Many have committed to distributing our Voter Guides in their churches. However, Virginia is a very large state and we have areas that have not yet been reached. We need your help in getting our Voter Guides into every church that is concerned about the direction in which our state and nation are heading. Please ask your pastor if your church will take The Family Foundation Voter Guides.

Each year, people contact several pastors and ask them to take the guides. This year, we are offering a small prize for your participation: Win a framed Virginia Capitol photo by submitting the largest number of churches with which you coordinated and delivered Family Foundation Voter Guides before midnight, November 3. Voter guide distribution at targeted events also will be considered.

Plus, we have another incentive: Start by entering just one church you know you can help with Voter Guides and you will be entered into the drawing to receive an autographed copy of our Gala speaker and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's latest book. Click here to enter.

On Saturday, October 17 (unless otherwise noted), we will have distribution sites across Virginia to pick up the Voter Guides. See the list below for the one closest to you. If there are none in your area, please volunteer to set up a distribution point for two hours that Saturday. To help in any way with this effort, e-mail john@familyfoundation.org or call 1-804-343-0010. Whether you want to take Voter Guides to your church, set up a distribution point in your area or be the contact person for your city or county, we need your help.

The distribution points are:

Richmond (Contact: Mark Earley, Jr., at 804-405-2129)

Grove Avenue Baptist Church, 8701 Ridge Road, 9:30-noon.

Clover Hill Baptist Church, 3100 Old Courthouse Road (Midlothian), 9:30-noon.

Gethsemane Church of Christ, 5146 Mechanicsville Turnpike (Mechanicsville) 9:30-noon.

Loudoun (Contact: Ryan Rogge at 703-674-6948)

Near Panera Bread, 215 Fort Evans Road, NE (Leesburg), 10:00-1:00 p.m.

Tidewater (Contact: Hector Falcon at 757-288-2382)

Kempsville Presbyterian Church, 805 Kempsville Road (Virginia Beach) 8:30-1:00 p.m.

Peninsula (For more information, call 757-592-0312)

World Outreach Worship Center, 1233 Shields Road (Newport News), 10:00-1:00 p.m.

Lynchburg (For more information, call 434-401-0726)

Thomas Road Baptist Church Parking Lot, 1 Mountain View Road, 10:00–noon.

Henry County (Contact: Jeff Evans at 276-233-9407)

Victory Baptist of Fieldale, 1300 Dillons Fork Road, 11:00-1:00 p.m.

Patrick County (Contact: Mildred Layman at 276-340-0549)

Stuart Festival, Patriots of Patrick County Booth, Between 410 and 402 Patrick Avenue in Stuart, 10:00-4:30 p.m.

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Available at the "Values" debate between incumbent Republican Delegate Matt Lohr and Democratic challenger Gene Hart, Cornerstone Church at the Lake, 3591 Isaak Walton Drive, Sunday, October 18

Roanoke (Contact: Mickey Mixon at 540-798-8621)

Tanglewood Mall, under the mall sign, 4420 A-Electric Road, Sunday, October 18, 3:00– 6:00 p.m.

Shenandoah County (Contact: Brad Huddleston at 540-820-0810)

Family Fun Day Festival for Christ, Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, 300 Fairgrounds Road, Woodstock, Sunday, October 18, 10:00-4:00 p.m.

Staunton and Surrounding Area (Contact: Brad Huddleston at 540-820-0810)

Free lunch for pastors! Shoney's Restaurant, 30 Sangers Lane, Staunton (I-81, Exit 222), 11:30–1:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 20. The Family Foundation of Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge are sponsoring a free lunch for pastors. Voter guides will be available there. In order to attend, register by calling Brad Huddleston or e-mailing him at brad.huddleston@tffaction.org.

Group Leader Training For The Truth Project

Dynamic. Inspiring. Transformational. These are just some of the comments from those who have experienced Focus on the Family's The Truth Project®, a DVD-based small group study that practically, and personally, introduces viewers to the truth claims of God.

The Family Foundation, in association with Focus on the Family, is pleased to offer The Truth Project® group leader training in Virginia Beach.

This dynamic event will prepare participants to lead this innovative small group curriculum, imparting a Biblical worldview into the lives of others. The event is open to everyone, especially small group ministers and leaders — and you're invited as well!

Truth Project

For more information about The Truth Project®, click here.

So, sign up today and share this exciting information with a friend! It takes place Saturday, October 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., at Kempsville Presbyterian Church, 805 Kempsville Road in Virginia Beach. 

To regisgter online, click here.

You can only get The Truth Project® DVDs by attending a training event or by completing the 13-week study. So don't miss this great opportunity. It may very well be the most transformational four hours of your life.

Registration is $99.00 per individual or couple. Cost includes the entire 8-disc DVD curriculum with Leader Training DVD. Group discounts are available. Walk-up registration opens at 8:00 a.m. So even if it's a "game time decision" you are welcome to attend!

Tea Parties Continued: Make Your Voice Heard On Government Takeover Of Your Health Care!

Tomorrow at High Noon, the Tea Party movement in Virginia continues into another phase as people from all walks of life and all political persuasions will gather at the offices of Virginia's two U.S. senators to let them know socialized medicine, nationalized health care or whatever one wants to call it, is not acceptable. The monstrosity under consideration in Washington will destroy the world's greatest health care system through diminished quality, rationed services, exploding government debt, government bureaucrats picking who gets treated for what and when, and an increase in abortion services. It is nothing less than a complete government takeover of health care, which accounts for one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Since this is July, the month when the revolutionary ideals of American freedom from oppressive government were so eloquently and dramatically expressed, it is an appropriate a time to rekindle those ideals and let our senators know in very adamant terms that we want to remain true to our Founders' vision.

We won't be alone in Virginia. Americans in every state will visit senators'  district offices in a coordinated effort to demand that they protect our health care  freedoms to choose our doctors and to keep the government out of our health decisions.

If you are not able to make it, please take the time to call, e-mail or fax Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner so your voice is still heard. You may mail them by simply addressing envelopes with their names and the following: United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; or you may call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for their offices. To e-mail the senators, click on their names below. Also see below for district office locations and contact information.

Senator Jim Webb's District Offices (click to e-mail him)

Southside 308 Craghead Street Suite 102A Danville, VA 24541 Phone: 434-792-0976 Fax: 434-972-0960

Hampton Roads 222 Central Park Ave. Suite 120 Virginia Beach, VA 23462 Phone: 757-518-1674 Fax: 757-518-1679

Northern Virginia 1501 Lee Highway Suite 130 Arlington, VA 22209 Phone:703-807-0581 Fax:703-807-5198

Southwest 756 Park Avenue, N.W. Norton, VA 24273 Mail to: 756 Park Avenue, N.W. P.O. Box 1300 Norton, VA 24273 Phone: 276-679-4925 Fax: 276-679-4929

Central Virginia 507 East Franklin Street Richmond, VA 23219 Phone: 804-771-2221 Fax: 804-771-8313

Roanoke Valley 3140 Chaparral Drive Building C, Suite 101 Roanoke, VA 24018 Phone: 540-772-4236 Fax: 540-772-6870

Senator Mark Warner's District Offices (click to e-mail him)

Southwest  180 West Main Street Abingdon, VA 24210 Phone Number: 276-628-8158 Fax Number: 276-628-1036

Hampton Roads 101 W. Main Street Suite 4900 Norfolk, VA 23510 Phone Number: 757-441-3079 Fax Number: 757-441-6250

Central Virginia 5309 Commonwealth Centre Parkway Suite 401 Midlothian, VA 23112 Phone Number: 804-739-0247 Fax Number: 804-739-3478

Roanoke Valley 129B Salem Avenue, SW Roanoke, VA 24011 Phone Number: 540-857-2676 Fax Number: 540-857-2800

Tea Party Redux

We were so overwhelmed by pictures and video of the almost two dozen official Tax Day Tea Parties last month, that we haven't been able to post all the great sights and sounds from them. We got some of them up — from Richmond, Woodbridge, Virginia Beach, and even Chicago. We pledge to get more highlights up as we approach July 4, when more are planned across the country, as a follow-up and a reminder not to let this fire die. Below is video of John Taylor, president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy and Tertium Quids, at the Richmond Tea Party, where he addressed an estimated 5,000 people as one of the featured speakers. (He also spoke in Charlottesville that day.) A combination of intellect and inspiration, he covers a lot of ground. But it's well worth a look and listen. The applause at the  conclussion of his speech doesn't do justice to the actual level of noise and approving enthusiasm he received.

"In a sentence in a half . . . Jefferson . . . set forth a new world order for the ages. ... The role of the sovereign would be performed by the people." 

"We know what our Founders stood for. Do we know what we stand for?" Freedom is something "no good man surrenders but with his life."

Pastors Luncheon To Feature Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr.

Tomorrow, Pastors For Family Values, the pastoral component of The Family Foundation, and the Capital Bible Seminary, will sponsor a Pastors Fellowship Lunch (RSVP info here) at 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 111, in Springfield. It will last from 12:00-2:00 p.m. There is no charge for the event, which includes lunch, but a reservation is required. All pastors are invited. The featured speaker is someone we are especialy pleased to have, one who will not disappoint anyone who attends: Bishop E. W. Jackson, Sr. He is the Founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, a nondenominational ministry headquartered in Chesapeake (and satellite church in Boston), as well as author of Ten Commandments To An Extraordinary Life — Making Your Dreams Come True, published in 2008.

Bishop Jackson has a wealth of varied, real life experiences that make him a rare resource of intellect and inspiration. After three years in the U.S. Marine Corp, he attended the University of Massachusetts-Boston, from where he was graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1975 after only three years, and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa Key.

He was graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978 and also studied theology at Harvard Divinity School, and was licensed to preach by Ebenezer Baptist Church in Boston. After a successful professional career, including a 15-year law practice and work in the radio business — as host of a daily nationally syndicated program and founder of Boston's first and only all-gospel radio station — he moved to the nonprofit field.

In 1996, he took over "The Samaritan Project," a national outreach and racial reconciliation effort that distributed $500,000 to churches victimized by arson. In recognition of his national leadership, he was consecrated a bishop in 1998 and moved to Chesapeake to establish the headquarters for Exodus Faith Ministries, Int'l.

Bishop Jackson served both as a minister for the Boston Red Sox chapel services and as protestant Chaplain for the Boston Fire Department. He has taught Law at Northeastern University in Boston and at Strayer University in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

He and his wife, Theodora, are the founders of the Chesapeake MLK Leadership Breakfast which brings together hundreds people from the greater Chesapeake area to celebrate the life and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They also are the founders of Youth With A Destiny, a nonprofit  organization dedicated to helping youth avoid drugs, gangs and violence through faith, education and positive activities.

He presently serves as a member of the Chesapeake Police Advisory Board, the South Norfolk Revitalization Commission and a Trustee of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Bishop Jackson's media appearances include CNN's Talk Back Live, ABC's Good Morning America, ABC's Politically Incorrect, Hardball with Chris Matthews, C-SPAN's Washington Journal and National Public Radio. He also hosts his own radio program on WYRM-AM/1110 in Norfolk. His op-eds have appeared in newspapers around the country and he has been the subject of the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and many other publications.

Bishop Jackson will bring encouragement to the pastors attending the luncheon tomorrow, and is something surely not to miss, especially during these ambiguous times.  

Senator Stolle Will Run For Virginia Beach Sheriff

As noted in the News Stand post, Senator Ken Stolle (R-8, Virginia Beach) ended the speculation and made it official: He will run for Virginia Beach sheriff (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). Although we rarely see eye-to-eye with him, we were saddened to hear of his other announcement: that he has Parkinson's Disease. Knowing first hand of Senator Stolle's bruising toughness, we're sure he will deal the disease a worse hand than it has dealt him. Now, about that campaign for sheriff . . . good luck senator! As for the subsequent special election that would be called to fill his senate seat should he win . . . are there any good Virginia Beach conservatives out there looking for something to do next winter in Richmond?

More On The Tea Parties

As you well know, in 1773, colonists gathered to dump imported tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the British government's oppressive tax system that allowed for no direct representation. At the Boston Tea Party, determined colonists stood against the expanding British authority and said no more! Expanding government authority . . . sound familiar? Are you tired of bailouts, stimulus packages, endless national debt and increasing subsidization? Do you practice financial responsibility and watch those who do not get rewarded by the government? Along with many other Americans, are you frustrated by our government reaching its hand out to take far more than it needs?

If so, join thousands of Americans on Tax Day, April 15, at your local Tax Day Tea Party to express your frustration over our out of control government and its redistributive economic policies. Whether you are Democrat or Republican, Libertarian, conservative or liberal, all are welcome in this stand against unrestrained government. This true grassroots movement is spreading with Tea Parties planned across the nation.

While those who gather will not be throwing crates of tea into a harbor, many of the Tea Parties will feature speakers, patriotic activities, music and welcomed audience participation. Below is a list of confirmed Virginia Tax Day Tea Parties. Visit the national Web HQ, TaxDayTeaParty, (click here) for more information, to RSVP, or to volunteer.

Virginia Tax Day Tea Parties: (Click here for a Virginia specific Web site. All parties scheduled for April 15 unless otherwise noted.)

Abingdon Time:  5:00 p.m. Location: TBD Information: www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=75478635585

Charlottesville Time: 3-6:00 p.m. Location: Downtown Mall by the Pavilion Information: http://vateaparty.wordpress.com

Franklin County Time: Noon Location: In front of the Franklin County Courthouse (40 E. Court Street in Rocky Mount) Information: http://franklincountyteaparty.blogspot.com

Lynchburg Time: 6:00 p.m. Location: Downtown Lynchburg — Waterfront Information: www.lynchburgtaxdayteaparty.blogspot.com

Northern Virginia Shenandoah Valley Time: Noon Location: Front of Old Frederick County Courthouse Old Town Walking Mall, Winchester

Peninsula/Newport News Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Location: Oyster Point City Center Fountain Plaza in Newport News Information: http://newportnewsteaparty.wordress.com

Reston Time: 6-8:00 p.m. Location: Lake Anne Village Center (1609 Washington Plaza)

Richmond Time: 6-7:30 p.m. Location: Kanawha Plaza, South 8th St. (near Federal Reserve Building) Information: www.richmondteaparty.com/ Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndr_vK0akAM

Roanoke Time: 5-7:00 p.m. Location: Wiley Drive (near footbridge to old Victory Stadium)

Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Location: Virginia Beach Town Center Fountain Plaza Information: http://taxdayteaparty.wordpress.com/, http://budurl.com/hrteaparty   College of William and Mary/Williamsburg (April 11) Time: April 11, 1-2:15 p.m. Location: Crim Dell Amphitheater at the College of William and Mary

Tea Anyone?

Boston may have had its Tea Party in 1773 (a fact I know well as a stammering, stage-frightened, scene-blowing actor in my 7th grade play, The Boston Tea Party), but Virginia's rebellious nature against authoritarian rule is no less historic, given Patrick Henry's famous 1765 "Caesar had his Brutus" "Treason" speech in the House of Burgesses. As with Thanksgiving, them Yankees try to steal all our firsts. But it seems the Tea Party movement has revived more than 235 years later. Thousands of Americans are fed up with the large government debt, the printing of money, stimulus packages, government bailouts, and the inevitable higher taxes to pay for it all and resulting inflation that would completely wreak our country.

So, on Tax Day, April 15, as of now, at least five Virginia localities are joining hundreds more across America to have their own tea parties to demonstrate their displeasure with the government's increasing involvement in the private sector.

The tea parties will be in Richmond, Charlottesville, Virginia Beach and Lynchburg (locations, times, etc., here at TaxDayTeaParty.com); as well as Newport News (more info here via Tertium Quids). Richmond and Newport News have wsonderfully appropriate locations: at Kanawa Plaza, in front of the Federal Reserve Building in the Holy City; and in front of the office of 3rd District U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-Newport News).

It won't be July 4th. But there should be some (rhetorical) fireworks nonethesame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview With Delegate Marsden Later Today, Senator Wagner Later In Session

We are very pleased to announce that two legislators, Delegate Dave Marsden (D-41, Burke) and Senator Frank Wagner (R-7, Virginia Beach) have agreed to question-and-answer blog interviews here. One Democrat, one Republican. One delegate, one senator. Fair and balanced. The interview with Delegate Marsden is completed and will be posted here later today. The interview with Senator Wagner will be conducted after "crossover." Originally, we hoped to have both completed and posted on our Virtual Lobby Day last Thursday. But the pace of session and the massive consumption of time — lawmakers can be on the floor until late into the night — requires adjusting plans.

We are very grateful to both lawmakers and their staffs for accomodating us during such a busy time, and very much look forward to reading for ourselves their responses to our questions. We think you will too.

A Major Victory Tonight On Transparency, But Big Hurdle Tomorrow

Early this evening, a broad coalition of groups, including The Family Foundation, won a unanimous victory for open government when the House Science and Technology Committee, without dissent, voted to report and refer HB 2285, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-27, Amherst), to the Appropriations Committee.  However, it faces a major hurdle — the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Technology Oversight and Government Activities, perhaps as early as 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. If you want transparency of the state's expenditures, click on that sub-committee link above and e-mail or call the members now. Tell them you want to be able to search, in an easy-to-use online search engine, how they spend our hard-earned tax money, and that other states have done it for only a few thousand dollars. Refer them to this blog if they don't believe you. 

The road block is the Fiscal Impact Statement attached to the bill by the Department of Planning and Budget which says such a system would cost as much as $3 million. Not True! Several states, such as Nebraska, have put their spending online for almost no money. (See the Nebraska Treasurer's statement to the General Assembly here.)

We also received a late tonight a statement, which we will distribute tomorrow, from Edward R. Martin, Jr., chief of staff to former Missouri Governor Matt Blount, detailing how they put that state's spending online for a fraction of the preposterous DPB claim of $3 million (the feds did its online budget for $1 million). See the following post.

So, as you can see, some people in government will do anything to keep you from knowing how they spend your money and we must overcome this obstacle. But in committee tonight, Delegate Joseph Bouchard (D-83, Virginia Beach) said, "This is an excellent bill. I worked in IT and I don't believe these projections for one minute!"

If Nebraska, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Missouri can put their spending online at little or no expense, hi-tech Virginia, where the Internet was invented, sure can. This is a high priority bill in our legislative agenda, and we are close to a major victory. Who wins government contracts — notorious groups such as Planned Parenthood, for example? Or is the state paying for duplicate and unneeded services and wasting our hard-earned money? We can only find out with your help.

Contact members of the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Technology Oversight and Government Activities and urge them to pass HB 2285 Tuesday — for good government and transparency in how our tax money is spent!

If you want quick access to their phone numbers, click here, for a list on an alert put out by our friends at the National Taxpayers Union.

Are The Tea Leaves Looking That Bad For The GOP?

Maybe not. If you haven't heard by now, the House didn't disappoint today with its traditional first day fireworks over matters that usually are nothing more than housekeeping. At issue was whether to seat a new delegate in what was an unusually close special election last night in the 46th district to replace Democrat Brian Moran, who resigned recently to run full time for governor. Unusually close because this district is all but two precincts in Alexandria and is one of the most reliably liberal districts in the commonwealth. This should have been a slam dunk for Democrat Charniele Herring over Republican Joe Murray, but she won by just 16 votes out of about 2,700. Until the automatic recount, House Republicans took the prudent measure, as we see in Congress every two years, of waiting until all is official and challenges exhausted.

(On a side note, what does this say about Moran's coattails, especially when Democrat gubernatorial rival Terry McAuliffe is promising to raise $75 million for the joint Dem statewide/House campaigns? Terry Mac's fundraising prowess combined with his lack of office to restrict what he raises during the G.A. is what spooked Moran to leave the House prematurely to begin with.)

This scarily narrow win in the People's Republic of Alexandria, combined with a special election in heavily African-American Richmond, where new mayor and former delegate Dwight Jones' handpicked successor Delores McQuinn won against a stealth write-in Republican candidate with only 63 percent of the vote, and a Republican blowout by Barry Knight (83 percent of the vote) in a Virginia Beach special to replace retired former delegate Terry Suit, where the Dems had hoped to at least run close, all point to a glimmer of hope that the House GOP has mobilized its grassroots.

We don't know that tea leaves can read deep into the soil, or if any of this pertains to anything come fall '09. But if ever a caucus needed a boost, even from a surprisingly close loss, this may have been it.