A Positive Proposal On TransportationFeb 05, 2013
Much of the discussion and attention of this year's legislative session thus far has been surrounding how to fund transportation. Governor Bob McDonnell initiated the discussion with a bold plan to be the first state in the nation to eliminate the archaic gas tax and replace that revenue with numerous other tax and fee changes. Yesterday, Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest) introduced a plan that would replace the gas tax with a sales tax of 5.5 percent on gas, but keep the state sales tax at 5 percent. This proposal is a very positive development in the debate surrounding how to fund transportation.
To this point, we have been monitoring the various proposals and debates in committee, knowing that the initial offers from Governor McDonnell and others would not be the final package. Unfortunately, liberals in Richmond have their own plans — and they include massive tax hikes in the billions of dollars that would cripple our economy and rip money from our families, already paying at least $3.60 a gallon for gas in some parts of the state, during some of the most challenging economic times we've ever faced.
Senator Newman's plan offers legislators an opportunity to address the needs of transportation — and there are needs — without increasing the tax burden on Virginia families. There is no doubt that the General Assembly has an opportunity this year to address an issue that has been challenging our elected officials for years. Senator Newman's plan is the best proposal we've seen at this point.
The House and Senate will vote on various plans, have more committee meetings, amendments, floor surprises and, ultimately, conference committee process that will change its content faster than the twists in an Albermarle County back road. So no one knows exactly what the outcome will be until the final days of session. We do know that we will oppose any plan that taxes Virginia families' hard earned income and that Senator Newman's plan has provided a new, improved platform from which to continue the discussion.
Will Board of Health Break the Law?
Will Board of Health Break the Law?
Imagine my surprise late on August 25th to receive an official document published by the Commonwealth of Virginia with the following message.
Yes, you read that correctly. An official state document, drafted by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and released in late August (and drafted on August 10), predicted the future outcome of a vote on abortion center health and safety standards and – shockingly! – the vote will be in Governor Terry McAuliffe’s favor!
Of course, we weren't the only people surprised to read this, members of the Board of Health who don’t plan to favor the Governor’s amendments were surprised as well. Incredibly, the same document did not include a legally required summary of public comment in opposition to the amendments!
When we learned of this, we had to respond quickly. But what to do? Well, we already knew.
On Monday, I told you about a little known commission of the General Assembly, the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR). We learned of this commission in recent months and knew it had already been contacted about serious problems with the regulation process so far. So, we immediately sent a letter to JCAR Chairman Frank Wagner (R-7, Virginia Beach) explaining our concerns and the importance of holding a meeting prior to the Board of Health’s scheduled vote tomorrow.
Last week, Senator Wagner responded to our concerns and scheduled the meeting for this morning.
And what a meeting it was! JCAR this morning sent a crystal clear message to VDH -
1) You broke the law, and
2) If you vote to approve the amended regulations at tomorrow’s Board of Health meeting, you will be breaking the law.
Limited in power, JCAR did what it can, voting to immediately send a letter to the Board of Health demanding that they provide an explanation for their violations and informing the Board that it cannot legally go forward with a vote it had planned for tomorrow to water down abortion center health and safety requirements.
The JCAR members were outraged at how VDH and the Board of Health (now dominated by Terry McAuliffe’s pro-abortion appointees) published three weeks in advance of its public meeting that it had already voted to approve the regulatory changes! A number of them rightly asked: what’s the point of anybody who opposes the changes even showing up or giving testimony if, as Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge) put it, “the fix is already in”?
Meanwhile, like a seasoned trial attorney, Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4, Mechanicsville) nailed down the Health Commissioner on how a vote tomorrow by the Board of Health to approve the regulations would be in clear violation of the statutory requirement that all public comments must be summarized and responded to at least five days prior to finalizing the regulations. Senator McDougle literally read the Code section in question to the Commissioner, demanding to know how a vote can happen.
Delegate Tag Greason (R-32, Loudoun) hammered home the point by asking for confirmation that the Commissioner would instruct the Board that any action tomorrow on the regulations would be illegal. Sadly, the Commissioner ultimately would not commit to making a recommendation to delay! Delegate Greason’s questioning of the Commissioner also revealed that the online version of the tainted regulatory document had still not been corrected, less than 24 hours before the Board of Health is scheduled to vote!
In the end, the decision now rests with the Board of Health: vote tomorrow and prove that this has been a sham process from the start, or delay the vote. Even then, however, the other violations of the law by the Board also talked about at today's meeting still prove the process has been a sham. More on that tomorrow.
Gov/AG Kneel Before Abortion Industry
Gov/AG Kneel Before Abortion Industry
This Thursday, the Virginia Board of Health is scheduled to do what Governor Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, the media in Virginia, and the $1 billion abortion industry want it to do – gut Virginia’s abortion center health and safety standards to ensure that people like Steven Brigham can operate abortion centers in Virginia.
The abortion industry bought this vote – and it expects to be paid in full.
But will the vote happen at all?
You see, on Wednesday, the day before the Board is scheduled to vote, a little known commission of the General Assembly, the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR), has scheduled a meeting and on its agenda are several questionable– and perhaps illegal – actions of both the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Board during this amendment process ordered by Governor McAuliffe.
By now any thinking Virginian recognizes that the Governor McAuliffe and AG Herring have had serious difficulty following Virginia law and the Constitution. Over and over again, both have ignored or been ignorant of Virginia law. In this case, the regulatory process is governed by something called the Administrative Process Act (APA), to ensure a transparent process where the public has ample opportunity to weigh in on regulations and to protect the public’s right to know what regulations a government agency is imposing on its citizens. Unfortunately, at several points in the process to amend the abortion center health and safety standards, VDH and the Board have apparently violated that law, making the entire process a sham.
But what else can we expect from the McAuliffe/Herring regime? It’s been clear from the beginning of their terms that they have no interest in the law, the Constitution, or frankly, the truth. They have a political ends – to protect abortion at all costs – that justify any means.
In addition, suggested amendments from the Attorney General released recently under the guise of meeting the requirements of the Supreme Court’s June opinion on abortion center health standards are actually in conflict with the decision itself and put women in danger. In one case, the AG has recommended that abortion centers no longer be required to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) standards to prevent infectious diseases!
Some of our politicians and Virginia’s editorial pages can continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to what inspections have found in Virginia’s abortion centers. They may be quite content with sending their wives and daughters to facilities that repeatedly have been found to have bloody and unsterilized equipment, untrained staffs, misused dangerous drugs, violated of state and federal laws, and a host of other deficiencies.
But take note - when and if the Board of Health votes to gut health and safety standards for abortion centers - people like Steven Brigham will be the one’s celebrating, and that tells us all we need to know about this sham vote.
Don't Look Now
Don't Look Now
It's PR 101. If you have bad news, announce it when everyone is distracted by some other big news story.
So late Friday, perhaps hoping no one would notice amidst the uproar over the President's edict on public school bathrooms and showers, Governor Terry McAuliffe took advantage of the distraction to release April's financials for the Commonwealth. It seems the General Assembly was wise to pass a somewhat reigned in version of the first-ever $100+ billion budget initially proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
The Governor's office announced that April revenue collections fell 6.7 percent from last year. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 1.3 percent, behind the annual forecast of 3.2 percent growth. While having an optimistic outlook is generally a good thing, overly-inflated tax and spending proposals which leave Virginia taxpayers picking up the tab are potentially reckless.
Of course, the administration could always find more ways to save the state money. Here's a few ideas worth passing along: Enacting policies that encourage educational choices (like education savings accounts, education tax credits, and virtual education programs) and fully defunding Planned Parenthood and all taxpayer funding of abortions. For a Governor who spends so much of his time talking about the economy, he spends a lot of his time defeating common-sense cost-saving measures like these.
Our 2016 Summer Interns
Our 2016 Summer Interns
The Family Foundation’s summer internship program has grown over the years and attracts some incredibly talented college students. This year, our 2016 intern class is bright, fun-loving, creative, driven, and faithful. With dozens of students applying for a limited number of spots, the caliber of interns continues to improve. This summer, our interns are learning about each area of the organization, from policy research to social media outreach to grassroots activism and community organizing.
One aspect of our summer internship program that continues to evolve is in Biblical worldview training and discussion. Each Friday, our interns spend several hours hearing from various experts on different issues and participate in in-depth discussions of these topics. Our goal is to continue to expand this program in future years, and I look forward to announcing more about these plans in the coming months!
I hope you’ll enjoy the brief bios below and be sure to click on their names to read more about each of them:
Abbey Jessee (Development Intern; Radford University)
Abbey returns to us after interning last summer. This is her second summer interning and she is very excited to be back again. She attended Radford University and graduated in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Sports Administration. A fun fact about Abbey is that she has broken her arms 5 times and her foot once. Although it has been a little over a year since she’s been clumsy and broken anything and her family is hoping that the streak continues!
Grace Saunders (Social Media Intern; University of South Carolina)
Grace is the Social Media Intern at TFF this summer. She will be a junior next year at the University of South Carolina, Go Cocks! She is studying Library and Information Science with the hopes of minoring in Political Science, as her dream job is to be a political analyst. Her favorite sport is tennis and she considers herself to be the next Serena Williams. Peanut Butter and Chocolate are her two top favorite foods, so the way to her heart is Reece’s and Cookout Milkshakes. She obviously got the internship start date wrong because she didn’t show up until a month through the internship. She is well traveled and considers herself an expert in traveling abroad. Grace probably knows more than you so she considers humility her best quality
Richard Wiley (Policy Intern; Liberty University)
Born in Jacksonville, Florida and presently living in Goochland, Virginia, Richard was drawn to The Family Foundation because of his interest in the interaction of church and state in local politics, particularly those in the Old Dominion. He was homeschooled for much of his primary education and studied with Liberty’s dual enrollment program to complete high school with an associate’s degree. Richard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law from Liberty this spring after spending time on the University’s policy debate team, moot court team, and SGA legal team.
Evan Withrow (Grassroots Intern; Christopher Newport University
Evan is an excellent candidate for the new British Prime Minister. After Britain voted to leave the EU last month, Prime Minister David Cameron decided he no longer wanted to steer Britain to its uncertain future and announced his resignation. The nation will be left looking for somebody come October and much to our excitement as the first American non-profit organization to endorse an all-American candidate for Prime Minister, Evan has agreed to act in this capacity should he be chosen, so long as he gets to keep his desk and his American accent. His experience includes, but is not limited to, diligent and faithful service to his country in his softball league for several years, two years of college education at Christopher Newport University studying communications (probably the undercover kind), and YouTube. We can’t guarantee that he’ll be selected by the present monarch due to a less than advantageous situation with the unionist party, but if he succeeds at gaining the position, he’ll leverage technical jargon against malefactors better than Humphrey Appleby ever did.
Cameron Dominy (Elections and Grassroots Intern; Charleston Southern University)
Cameron is very much a Yankee…yet he wears Chubbies and goes to school at Charleston Southern University. Cameron is a Former Division One Javelin Thrower, but his competitive spirit carries over which is why he is currently serving as the President pro tempore for the CSU Student Government and is also the chairman of the CSU College Republicans. The South Carolina Student Legislature is lucky to have him as their chief of staff.
Introducing Abbey Jessee
Introducing Abbey Jessee
Abbey Jessee is the Development Intern at TFF this year. This is her second summer interning and she is very excited to be back again. She attended Radford University and graduated in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Sports Administration. One of Abbey’s favorite times in college was when she had the opportunity to intern with the Radford Athletic Department as a Sports Marketing Intern. During this internship she worked with multiple sports teams doing advertising and promoting sporting events on and off campus as well promotions and student involvement during game time.
After, she graduated college she decided that while still looking for a job it would be beneficial to have another internship under her belt in order to gain a little more experience. Coming back to The Family Foundation she was excited to learn more about fundraising and all of the efforts that go into garnering donors. After this internship she would like to get a job doing event planning for corporations.
Her favorite thing to do is go to Virginia Tech football games with her family. This has been a tradition that has been going on even before she was born and she attended her first football game at 4 months old and has only missed a couple home games. Her favorite game that she has been to so far was when Virginia Tech played Ohio State at OSU and Virginia Tech won the game! The atmosphere was by far the craziest she has ever seen it and OSU was one of her favorite stadiums that she has been to. Her favorite movie is Sweet Home Alabama, but Frozen does come in as a close second. A fun fact about Abbey is that she has broken her arms 5 times and her foot once. Although it has been a little over a year since she’s been clumsy and broken anything and her family is hoping that the streak continues!
Abbey is excited to see what God’s plan is for her after the internship!
Introducing Cameron Dominy
Introducing Cameron Dominy
This is Cameron Dominy’s second consecutive summer interning for The Family Foundation. He returns as a Grassroots intern this time around, after spending the previous year working in Elections.
A Connecticut native, Cameron’s family currently resides in the Blacksburg area. For the majority of the year, he studies Political Science and History at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. At his college, Cameron leads the on Campus College Republicans Chapter, and serves as the President pro tempore of the Student Government Association. Last year, he was elected to be the Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature, a student run and perpetuated organization with thirteen college delegations and over one hundred representatives. He will continue to serve in that capacity until the upcoming spring semester. Following graduation from college, Cameron plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science at either George Mason or William and Mary.
Cameron enjoys reading, good tea, and all things Boston sports. He finds collections of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories especially stimulating, and he frequently writes about current political issues. Cameron has a particular love for sarcasm, which much of his writing tends to reflect. He is also a former NCAA Division One athlete, as the threw the Javelin for Charleston Southern his Freshman year of college.
Cameron hopes that the experience and worldview training of two summers with the Virginia Family Foundation will allow him to be an effective voice for Christ across the American political system.