General Assembly 2013, Day 3: Capitol Square Diary Returns With Quote Of The Day, Moment Of The DayJan 11, 2013
Today we are very pleased to bring back a unique category to our blog: Capitol Square Diary. From our inception five years ago, we carved out a special online home for the best, inside-the-walls, behind-the-scenes coverage of the General Assembly. With our team of lobbyists and well-established contacts and sources, no one gets access to information — serious and lighthearted — that we do. But, when we relaunched our web site in 2011, we streamlined the number of blog categories (which serve as blog sites within a blog on specific topics). Starting today, though, Capitol Square Diary is back. It will be the place to check out anything and everything that goes on in Virginia government — while the General Assembly is in session and while it is not.
In light of the reestablishment of Capitol Square Diary, we also bring back two frequent features proudly brought to our legions of readers in the Diary: Quote of the Day and Moment of the Day, which usually chronicle the unreported, off-the-cuff, lighter moments of session. (We'll also highlight a Bill of the Day from time to time during session.)
Today's Quote of the Day:
Delegate Sal Iaquinto (R-84, Virginia Beach), chairman of the House Courts of Justice Civil Sub-Committee, to Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-1, Gate City), patron of HB 1654, a bill to require certain circuit court clerks to file appellate courts trial records in an electronic format:
You know the forestry industry, the paper industry and the lumberjacks oppose this bill, don't you?
Today's Moment of the Day:
Just because committee work is in its early phase doesn't mean humor — and awkward moments — aren't already in mid-session form. At the same sub-committee meeting this morning, its first of the year, Delegate Annie B. Crockett-Stark (R-6, Wytheville), walked into House Room D. Delegate Iaquinto interrupted proceedings to call out to her, repeating, "Annie B.!" several times before she looked up, whereupon he informed her she was in the wrong committee room. Her bill was scheduled for the COJ Criminal sub-committee across the hall in House Room C. Looking over the composition of the Civil sub-committee, she said, "That's probably a blessing."
Of Retirements and Vetoes
Of Retirements and Vetoes
Wednesday's one-day “Veto Session” at the General Assembly proved to go largely as expected, primarily along party lines, with the Governor’s legacy cemented as the most obstructionist executive in the history of the Commonwealth.
Since ascending to office four years ago, Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a record 111 bills – with none being overridden by the legislature. A two-thirds majority of those present for the votes is necessary to override a veto, and with no Democrat courageous enough to go against the hysterical “progressive” base that demands nothing less than absolute devotion to its dogmas, overrides were impossible.
With the Governor’s vetoes of many common-sense bills, several of which protected life, rights of conscience, and parental authority, there was plenty for state legislators to consider as they voted. But the day began with the shocking retirement of 24 year House veteran and chairman of the House Courts of Justice committee, Republican Dave Albo. This came on top of the recently announced retirements of Richmond area Republican Delegates Jimmie Massie and Peter Farrell. With the retirement of Speaker of the House Bill Howell already announced, it’s clear the House of Delegates will take on an entirely new flavor next year. We appreciate all the work of Delegates Howell, Albo, Massie and Farrell, with whom we have worked on many issues over the years. They will all be missed.
After nearly two hours of farewell speeches, the House finally got down to business and began the process of reviewing the Governor’s vetoes and dozens of amendments to bills, including the state budget. The Senate methodically worked through its bills dealing with the Governor’s actions as well.
The good news was the House once again rejected the Governor’s repeated effort to expand Medicaid under the failed Obama “Care” government health insurance scheme.
No vote to override a veto showed the left’s dogmatic adherence more than the failure to override the veto on HB 2191, a bill from Delegate Steve Landes giving parents a say when schools want to teach sexually explicit material to kids. When the bill passed the House in February it received 74 votes, meaning several Democrats voted yea. But today, they fell in line with their party and voted with the Governor.
Also in the House, the veto of Delegate Nick Freitas’s HB 2025, which would protect religious charities and schools from government discrimination because of their beliefs about marriage, wasn’t challenged with a vote. However, Delegate Freitas correctly pointed out that in the Governor’s own reasoning for vetoing the bill, he made the argument that religious charities are protected by the first amendment and statute for religious freedom – which means the Governor essentially argued why his own Executive Order discriminating against religious charities is unconstitutional! Remarkably, the Governor’s explanation says, “I veto House Bill 2025, which would shield from civil liability those who actively discriminate against same-sex couples. I vetoed this exact same bill last year, and my rationale for that veto remains the same.” Except we amended the bill this year to remove the civil liability part, which means, of course, it isn’t the “exact same bill”, but apparently neither the Governor nor his staff actually read the bill! You just can’t make this stuff up.
Regardless, even though the House and Senate could not garner the votes necessary to overcome the Governor’s vetoes, our message was heard clearly in the General Assembly yesterday. And credit where credit is due, despite secular leftist and media hysteria on these bills, for the most part Republicans in the General Assembly stood their ground and voted correctly.
The frustrations over the Governor’s vetoes of common sense legislation that protects religious charities, unborn life, taxpayers and parents’ rights must now be translated into action. The next Governor of the Commonwealth will either carry on the obstructionist tradition or be a conservative leader who will side with a majority of Virginians and sign these key bills.
Which Governor that is will be up to you.
Rare Bipartisan Victory
Rare Bipartisan Victory
During a General Assembly session, The Family Foundation takes a position on over 100 pieces of legislation. We try to keep you informed on as many as we can, but often we will work on proposals that never get the attention they deserve.
Case in point is a bill that thankfully on Monday Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law.
The proposal, HB 1709, requires schools notify parents if their child is involved in an incident of alleged bullying within five school days. Patroned by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41, Springfield), the bill was amended during the process to give schools fourteen school days – or almost three full weeks – before having to involved parents. Let’s face it, Amazon can deliver packages to third world countries faster than that! We believe parents are the key to their children thriving and that parents should be informed, notified and included as soon as possible when their children are suffering from or being accused of bullying. Three weeks is far too long.
And while the education establishment always claims it wants to involve parents, they allege it’s just too hard or too expensive to quickly pick up a phone and call a parent. We disagree.
Virginia’s definition of bullying is such that it requires very serious, repeated acts. Bullying is a serious problem, and parents should be involved as soon as possible if their child is a victim. And, if their child is suspected of bullying, they should know they are being investigated by the school.
The bill ended up in a “conference committee” on the very last days of session, where a handful of negotiators from the House and Senate worked out the final five-day time period. We’re thankful to Delegate Filler-Corn for working with us on this important issue, and for those conferees for seeing the wisdom of involving parents.
Governor Terry McAuliffe spent Thursday celebrating the fact that he’s proven to be the most obstructionist Governor in Virginia history.
Earlier this morning, Hillary Clinton’s top cheerleader went live on air with WTOP radio to veto bills (SB 2314/HB 2025) that would have provided modest protections for pastors, churches, and peaceful religious organizations and schools by prohibiting the state from discriminating against them because of their religious or moral beliefs about marriage.
The vast majority of Virginians, nearly two-thirds according to polling by Mason-Dixon, believe that, at a minimum, religious entities should be able to hold traditional beliefs about the institution of marriage without facing retribution from the government. But once again, Governor McAuliffe sided with the radical LGBT lobby and the ACLU in claiming that protecting the faiths of countless churches, religious schools and religious organizations amounts to discrimination and even going so far as to say it equates to “demonizing people”, according to his official statement. The Governor, of course, is all too comfortable with demonizing anyone who happens to disagree with him!
In reality, these bills would have ensured that a religious charity couldn’t be denied equal access to state benefits because of its belief in traditional marriage – something the Governor is trying to do through his Executive Order 61 – and that Virginia students who attend Christian universities or colleges like Liberty, Regent or Patrick Henry wouldn’t be denied access to Virginia’s Tuition Assistance Grants because those schools have policies based on marriage between one man and one woman.
His vetoes were a record 90th and 91st of his term, but sadly, he wasn’t done. This afternoon, he announced the veto of several bills that would have advanced parental rights and provided more educational opportunities for Virginia families.
The Governor proudly vetoed HB 2191, which simply would have provided parents of public school students an opportunity to review and opt their child out of materials they find sexually inappropriate. You may remember that a similar bill met with fierce opposition last year from the education cabal in Richmond as well as the secular “progressive) left. This year, Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) narrowed the bill to define “sexually explicit” simply as things that are currently against the law under the criminal sexual assault statute, but that still wasn’t good enough for the Governor.
In addition, he vetoed bills which would create a full-time public virtual school option for up to 5,000 new students in Virginia, allowing them to choose, with no tuition, from over a dozen approved education providers. He also vetoed two bills that would allow two or three school districts to band together to form a regional charter school district where each district would have to have at least 3,000 enrolled students and at least one school that failed to be accredited for at least two of the previous three years.
The Governor once again sided with the antiquated, failing, one-size-fits-all education establishment against families and children who want more options and the freedom to choose the school that best fits their needs.
The reality: elections have consequences. Virginians have the opportunity to correct the McAuliffe error later this year. Advancing the values we cherish, like religious freedom, life and education freedom require a governor who not only shares our values but has the courage to fight for them. Four years of Terry McAuliffe’s contempt for the beliefs of a majority of Virginians are enough.
Here's What You Missed!
Here's What You Missed!
On Saturday we launched a brand new grassroots initiative with the unveiling of our Regional Engagement Teams! Our goal is to have a Regional Engagement Team, or RET, in all of the major regions throughout Virginia, and we need your help. If you signed up for a position on Saturday, we cannot thank you enough for volunteering your time and effort to fight for our principles. If you did not get the chance to join a RET, don’t worry! All the information about our RETs and the various positions available can be found online at www.familyfoundation.org/grassroots/.
Thank you so much to everyone involved with Saturday’s Grassroots Activism Project! We had such a great turnout, and we loved seeing each and every one of you. For those of you who were unable to attend, we missed you, but there is still time to get involved!
Not only did we launch our new Regional Engagement Teams but we also spread the news about our weekly Team Timothy prayer meetings. This is an open opportunity to join us at our office in Richmond every Tuesday for intercessory prayer! We hope to see you or have you join in via conference call. Please email us here for more information!
Everyone has something to contribute to the cause of defending the family in Virginia, and we hope you find your place with us.
Now is the time for engagement, and this is your chance. It is so encouraging to witness everyone’s passion for our principles, and we cannot wait to see the amazing things all of you are going to do within your communities.
This week our salesman-in-chief Governor Terry McAuliffe touted that Virginia was once again named a Top 10 state for business by Site Selection magazine, coming in at number six. This is apparently a good thing, even prestigious. Given that Virginia had been dropping like a rock in nearly every similar business ranking since he took office, it’s not surprising the Governor’s press office tried to make a big deal out of this one.
In his press release, the Governor said, “We are working every day to build a new Virginia economy that works for everyone, and moving back into the top 10 in Site Selection’s prestigious Prosperity Cup ranking is evidence that those efforts are paying off.”
Pretty boiler plate stuff.
What was interesting, however, was what wasn’t mentioned in the Governor’s press release, given that in nearly every speech he’s made he’s been sure to mention how terrible things are in our neighbor state to the south, North Carolina, because its legislature dared attempt to protect the privacy of women and children in public restrooms. He’s demeaned and demonized the Tar Heel state, and ridiculed efforts to protect women and children here in Virginia. He’s attacked efforts to defend religious liberty while he’s also made sure his efforts to increase the number of abortions in Virginia has been front and center in his messaging about making Virginia more “open” for the kinds of businesses that care about such things. Yet in this press release, not a peep.
At least until you look at the actual Site Selection rankings and low and behold what state do you find at the top of the list? Well, it ain’t Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia.
You guessed it, the top state in the nation for business according to Site Selection would be North Carolina.
Amazingly, despite the media-driven, leftist hysteria generated by the now famous HB 2, businesses are still moving to North Carolina, apparently at a higher rate than the Old Dominion. Perhaps public policies like low tax rates actually do matter to intelligent business owners despite state Senator Dick Saslaw’s remarkable claim made during session that he didn’t know of a single business that ever made a decision about where to locate based on the tax rate.
Anyway, if we’ve learned anything from the HB 2 debacle it is this: the narrative wins out over reality every single time. Reality tells us that North Carolina is doing just fine, better even than Virginia. But my guess is that if you asked most lawmakers or your average citizen they’d be convinced otherwise.
Send a Message to Warner and Kaine!
Send a Message to Warner and Kaine!
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced he plans to oppose confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. Likewise, Virginia’s other Senator, Mark Warner, issued a statement earlier this week that he also plans to oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation.
Both cite Gorsuch’s refusal to claim support for abortion “rights” as their reason for opposing this highly qualified jurist – and notably – one for whom members of their party unanimously confirmed to join the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
CLICK HERE to urge Senators Kaine and Warner to do the sensible thing, and confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court!
According to Kaine, “After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his testimony and past decisions, I’ve observed that he has repeatedly taken an activist approach to cases involving a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health.” Presumably, Sen. Kaine is referencing Gorsuch’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobbycase (which was soon after affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court) where the courts held that Hobby Lobby had the right, consistent with its religious liberty, to provide health insurance to its employees that excluded coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.
Sen. Warner said, “Despite his impressive academic credentials, Judge Gorsuch’s record and evasive responses – even refusing to answer questions regarding his views of cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United – do not give me confidence that he possesses a judicial philosophy that will serve the American public well.”
Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine portray themselves as "moderates," with the help of a friendly media. But their voting records and rhetoric have become more and more out of touch as their party lurches to the extreme left. Now, both are taking their cues from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU by opposing Gorsuch.
Both Senators need to hear from real Virginians like you that their vote against Gorsuch is a vote against Virginia. It's a vote against the Constitution. It's a vote against freedom.
Contact both Senators now and urge them to confirm Neil Gorsuch for the Court!