virginia state police

State Police, Senators Blevins And Colgan Save Budget In Historic Vote: An Only In Hollywood End To Virginia's Budget Crisis

Earlier today, in an extraordinary sequence of events, the Virginia Senate passed the House-Senate Conference Committee budget 21-19. Senator Charles Colgan, the chamber's most senior member, and ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, cracked the heretofore Democrat hegemony to provide the constitutionally mandated 21st vote of a senator required for budget approval. It was a move, despite public whispers, the Senate minority leader, incredibly, said he "didn't see coming" (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). Senator Colgan talked about breaking ranks leading up to the special budget session, a session he contributed to necessitating by sticking with his more liberal Democrat caucus mates. Yesterday, he maintained that solidarity to the delight of the Senate minority leader, whose bravado about holding out for his demand de semana was topped only by his bravado about maintaining his former majority, belied the ultimate fissure in his caucus: The bill-killing 20-20 vote ostensibly set the budget process off track for a third time. But today, Senator Colgan saved the General Assembly the time and effort of starting from budgetary scratch again by exercising his right, as one who voted on the prevailing side, to bring the bill back to the floor on a motion to reconsider. However, this very common procedure, used scores of times each session, was not to be that simple.

As it turned out, with the budget seemingly dead again after Tuesday's deadlock, Senator Harry Blevins decided to return home to Chesapeake to see his ailing wife. When word broke of Senator Colgan's decision, and knowing a 20-19 vote had no more effect than a 20-20 count, in a sequential chain reaction seen only in Hollywood suspense and action flicks, Senate leadership had the State Police put out an all points bulletin on Senator Blevins. After locating him and informing him of the urgent need of his attendance, Senator Blevins rushed back to the capitol and cast the deciding vote in favor of the two-year, $85 billion budget. Once the issue was officially settled — after months of political grandstanding and obstructionism by Senate Democrats and its minority leader — State Police helicoptered Senator Blevins home to be with his wife.

Senator Blevins showed a remarkable sense of duty in putting his constituents and all Virginians above a serious family situation. We wish the Blevins family our best and will keep Mrs. Blevins in our prayers and encourage all to do so as well.

Breaking News: Lt. Governor Bolling Demands Apology From Senate Dems Who Slammed Capitol And State Police In Floor Speeches Today

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has just released audio of his answer to a question at a news conference today, where he let loose on Senate Democrats who criticized Virginia State and Capitol Police for their handling of Saturday afternoon's Capitol Square pro-abortion protest (see Richmond Times-Dispatch article and pictures). This afternoon, after the Senate concluded its business, several Democrats asked for a return to the "Morning Hour" — the time before bills are debated and voted upon at the beginning of each floor session, where speakers can address any subject at length, from introducing constituents or school groups in the gallery to addressing an issue or bill in general terms. The return to Morning Hour is a pro forma event, but what followed was not. In an unprecedented move, Democrat Senators Chap Peterson, Janet Howell (who woodenly read from a prepared statement) and Dick Saslaw (all of Northern Virginia), and Donald McEachin (from the Richmond area) verbally went after those who protect them on a daily basis, seemingly for purely partisan, crass political reasons — to appease their rabid base.

One member described it as a "disgraceful police presence" and it made us wonder two things:

» What would they have said had there not been a police presence and events got out of control, including physical violence and/or vandalism of Capitol Square?

» What would they have said had it been pro-life activists who rallied and ignored the parameters of their permit — a rally at the bell tower, with the capitol building area off limits?

Neither of those are hypothetical, especially the latter. That's exactly what the pro-abortion rally permit allowed, as all rally permits allow. But going to the mat to preserve the pro-abortion double standard doesn't surprise us. Anything to protect the sacrament of the left — abortion.

While Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) replied in kind to the floor attack with an unusually impassioned response, Mr. Bolling said that in his 16 years at the capitol he's never heard members of the Senate attack Virginia' Law enforcement. Here's a key portion of his statement:

Those comments were over the top. I think those comments were inappropriate and I believe the senators who made those comments owe an apology to Virginia's law enforcement professionals. They owe an apology to the Capitol Police and they owe an apology to the State Police because these guys were doing their job as they saw it, and none of us have a right to put ourselves in their position if we weren't there and if we don't know all the facts and if you don't know what they did. And that's why it is important that you talk to the head of the Capitol Police, you talk to the head of the State Police and get all the facts. ... Everybody has a right to protest. Nobody has a right to violate the law.

Click here to listen to the entire sound byte, which lasts 1:42. 

Rep. Perriello Charged In Car Crash

This news is making the rounds fast and furious this afternoon: Virginia 5th District U.S. Representative Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat seeking re-election against Republican Robert Hurt, a member of the Virginia Senate, was charged with making an unsafe lane change after he caused a traffic crash Friday night in Nottoway County that injured one person. Here's the story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Rep. Tom Perriello, D-5th, was charged with making an unsafe lane change after a traffic crash Friday night in Nottoway County that injured one person.

Perriello was not hurt in the crash, and neither speed nor alcohol was considered a factor, according to Virginia State Police.

The incident happened after 8 p.m. near U.S. 460 eastbound at state Route 723, Lewiston Plank Road.

A 2005 Ford Ranger pickup truck driven by Perriello was traveling eastbound in the right lane when Perriello attempted to change lanes and struck a 1996 Ford Explorer. The Explorer ran off the roadway and into the median.

The driver of the Explorer, Sh'Vonta S. Montgomery, 26, of Crewe was not injured in the crash and was wearing her safety belt, according to police.

Montgomery had three passengers. State police said Ashley Robertson, 23, was seated behind Montgomery and was transported by ambulance to Farmville Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries.

Additional information on Robertson's injuries was not available today.

The front-seat passenger and another backseat passenger, who is under the age of 8, were not injured and both were wearing their safety belts, state police said.

Our friend Jim Hoeft, at Bearing Drift, has recreated the scene with state of the art modern technology. Worth a peak.

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments at the T-D. Best ones so far: "I just read the police report — He blamed it all on BUSH!" and "Perriello, un-Hurt."

Theives Buy Pot In California With Senator Saslaw's Stolen Credit Card Number

Rosalind Helderman just reported on The Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) had his American Express Card number stolen and that it was used in California to buy, of all things, $225 worth of medical marijuana! The senator told Helderman it appears as if the number was lifted during a visit to a Northern Virginia restaurant because two unnamed N.Va. legislators also were victimized.  The identity theft came to Senator Saslaw's attention in March and he quickly notified the Virginia State Police who, in turn, notified the California Highway Patrol. However, the two suspected thieves are still on the loose, and believed to be in the Sacramento area. Not only did they buy the pot, they've actively tried to get new credit cards in the senator's name. 

The story came to light after Senator Saslaw gave an interview, at the request of California authorities, to a Sacramento radio station yesterday. The rest of the Golden State media picked up on it (ABC News10) and since then the alarms have gone off at national media outlets, including Fox News. Probably not the way the senator wished to gain notoriety, and we sympathize with him and the other two victimized lawmakers. Identity theft not only is an unpleasant experience, it can be ruinous to your life if not detected in time.

While the fact that marijuana was purchased with a high-ranking elected official's stolen credit card number may sound humorous to some, the suspects probably had a practical purpose in mind. It is California after all. Not only is life a little loose out there, but with its economy in its own depression, perhaps we'll learn this was just an exercise in creative commerce — rather than medical or even "recreational" use, we suspect the the thieves will try to flip the pot on the street. Criminals need to eat, too, during tough times, and smoking the weed will only make them hungrier.

Virginia News Stand: April 20, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Travel Plans, Conservative Media And Scary Sonia

The buzz around Capitol Square today is all about Europe — as in stranded travellers there trying to get back here. Among them, one Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, who is to preside over the Virginia Senate in tomorrow's reconvened General Assembly session (aka, "Veto Session"). There may very well be several tie votes and, at this point, it looks like he won't be there to break them. Ties kill bills or amendments. It's always something when it comes to the General Assembly, although no one seems to remember anything like this.

Nationally, a new conservative television network is about to launch and there are implications for NBC and its propaganda News Division and its whining, scratching ugly step child MSNBC. See Carl Franzen of AOLNews in Analysis. However, the big news was yesterday's hearing at the Supreme Court in the Christian Legal Society case. I especially point that out to you because, if reading is believing, maybe you can see why Justice Sonia Sotomayor is every bit the unqualified jurist her critics portrayed her. It's more than just a little bit scary. Of course, never miss our all-stars: Among them today, Thomas Sowell, Michael Barone and Debra Saunders.

News

Fight brewing over McDonnell health care cuts (Washington Post)

Bolling grounded in Italy by volcano ash (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Bolling stranded in Italy, likely to miss Wednesday's reconvene legislative session (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Virginia State Police told to back governor's plans (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Chesterfield optometrist to run for Nixon’s seat in House of Delegates (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Analysis

Right-Wing RightNetwork Already Causing a Stir (Carl Franzen/AOLNews.com)

National

Court splits sharply on campus Christian argument (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Divorce dilemma: Texas says gays can’t get divorce (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Obama says Boxer could lose if Dems don't work (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Palin set to take stand in Tenn. hacking trial (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Ignoring DC pressure, Crist mulls independent run (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

Using the Oklahoma City Bombing (Debra Saunders/GOPUSA.com)

The Limits of Power (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)

Tea Partiers Fight Obama's Culture of Dependence (Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

Two Views in Conflict (Star Parker/GOPUSA.com)

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)

Official Statement Of The Family Foundation On State Police Chaplain Prayer Policy

Statement of Victoria Cobb

President, The Family Foundation of Virginia

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia states:

"That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." [Emphasis added]

Today, thanks to the action of the Virginia State Police Superintendent and its endorsement by Governor Tim Kaine, Thomas Jefferson's words are little more than ink on paper. The words of the Statute for Religious Freedom that is the foundation for the tradition of religious liberty in our nation and the precursor to the First Amendment rings hollow in the ears of those state police chaplains who have had their opinions in matters of religion diminished and their civil capacities affected simply because they refuse to silence their faith.

As is usual with the issue of religious liberty, the debate surrounding the policy and legislation before the General Assembly to correct it, including several editorials in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is replete with misinformation, misunderstanding and confusion. Some, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, falsely claim that prayers offered before legislative or government bodies must be nonsectarian or non-denominational. Fortunately, the First Amendment and case law regarding this issue is absolutely clear and on the side of the chaplains.

Simply put, in no case involving public prayer at government-sponsored events (with the exception being public schools) does either the U.S. Supreme Court or any circuit court require that prayers offered be so-called "nonsectarian" or "nondenominational." In fact, the opposite is true. In the clear words of the Supreme Court's Marsh v. Chambers decision:

"In light of the history, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. To invoke divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, a violation of the Establishment Clause; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country."

Recently, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Pelphrey v. Cobb dismissed the argument that Marsh permits only "nonsectarian" prayers:

"The taxpayers argue that Marsh permits only "nonsectarian" prayers for commission meetings, but their reading is contrary to the command of Marsh that the courts are not to evaluate the content of the prayers absent evidence of exploitation. ... The court never held that the prayers in Marsh were constitutional because they were "nonsectarian."

Supporters of censorship, like the ACLU, are claiming that the Fourth Circuit Court's Turner v. Fredericksburg decision requires the state police's policy of censorship. Again, this is blatantly false.

While that case upheld a policy in Fredericksburg that censors prayers, it does not require that policy. In fact, in the words of Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the Turner decision:

"We need not decide whether the Establishment Clause compelled the Council to adopt their legislative prayer policy because the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer."

Again, in Pelphrey, the Eleventh Circuit says:

"Although it upheld the policy of the [Fredericksburg City] Council, the Fourth Circuit expressly declined to hold that Marsh required a policy of nondenominational prayers." Adding, "[The courts] . . . have applied the precedents of the Supreme Court irrespective of the level of government involved."

Interestingly, in arguing against legislation reversing the state police policy in a recent Washington Post article, Kent Willis of the Virginia ACLU makes our case saying, "Maybe the worst part of all this is now you have the government deciding what's a proper prayer and what's not a proper prayer."

I couldn't agree more! The government should not be telling people how to pray or not to pray, and that is exactly what the state police policy does. Whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or any other faith, chaplains should be able to pray at public events according to their beliefs, and those prayers should not be censored by the government. The legislation that has been presented to the General Assembly this year would simply protect chaplains of every religion.

Virginians are growing tired of these attacks on public faith. Our Commonwealth and nation are founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and no amount of revisionist history or politically motivated anti-religious bigotry will erase the truth. The First Amendment and the Statute for Religious Freedom protect the right of individuals to profess their faith in public. They do not protect a crowd from hearing about an individual's faith.

Once again our sacred rights are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Unfortunately, expunging our religious heritage from the public square seems all too in vogue in 21st century America, with elected officials and their political appointees leading the way. In the name of tolerance, public faith is not tolerated. While we would hope that Virginia's rich heritage of freedom would insulate us from such discrimination, recent history proves this not to be the case.

You Had To Be There . . .

We've received a few questions about yesterday's vote in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on HB 2314, the chaplain prayer bill. The most asked question is simple: What was the actual vote on the bill? Unfortunately, because of the game played in committee, its not as simple as that. In fact, the final vote on the bill is in no way a reflection of where individual legislators actually stood on issue of chaplain prayer or religious freedom. Essentially, an amendment to the bill (herein referred to as the "Norment Amendment") added by the committee changed the bill from a pro-religious liberty bill to an anti-religious liberty bill. It changed the bill into what is the current state police policy that censors prayers. Because of the Norment Amendment, we wanted the bill to fail (as did the patron, Delegate Bill Carrico). However, some of the members of the committee (who support religious liberty) voted against killing the bill in hopes that they could fix it later.  Thus, the final vote is very mixed and does not reflect the actual positions of legislators.

Because of the confusion over the final vote, we are counting the vote on the Norment Amendment as the actual position of legislators on the bill (shockingly, this vote is not available online). We do, however, have the entire meeting on video so we have record of that vote.

In a true "you had to be there" example, this is a debate and outcome that can be very confusing. Some legislators who voted to keep the bill alive at the end actually had ill intent for the bill, but my guess is they will attempt to hide behind that final vote. We won't let them.

We have a small sampling of yesterday's debate in the video below: