Today At The Capitol: Two Down, Dozens To GoJan 20, 2014
The General Assembly went into high gear late last week and especially today, with sub- and full committee votes coming fast and furious, while some bills have already been funneled to the floors of the two chambers. Adding to the whirlwind today were several advocacy groups, such as Second Amendment supporters (and opponents) and Tea Party activists who took advantage of the state and federal holiday to hold their lobby days. While things started off a bit slow, in deference to the "long session" — where there is more time to file and consider legislation, as well as for the inauguration — lawmakers now are digging into the nearly 2,400 bills they have introduced. Today, committees acted on several bills that The Family Foundation either supports or opposes. In a House of Delegates Courts of Justice sub-committee this afternoon, legislation that would have repealed the law that prohibits civil unions in Virginia was defeated. While the legislation would not have affected the state constitution's prohibition on same-sex marriages or civil unions, its passage would have sent a message to the courts that the Virginia General Assembly no longer supports a policy it once passed. The bill failed on a 6-4 vote.
On the other side of the General Assembly Building, a Senate committee failed to report a bill that would have added sexual behavior to the state's so-called "non-discrimination" policy. The bill was defeated on a 7-7 vote. Oddly, the patron brought the bill to the committee while it is missing one Democrat (while two seats remain unfilled because of undetermined special elections) instead of waiting for the outcome of the special elections. Perhaps we haven't seen the last of this issue in the Senate this year?
Bills, committee meetings, votes and rallies aren't the only action in Capitol Square during session. Another homosexual lobby news conference was held to promote legislation that would restrict duly licensed counselors in Virginia from working with children under 18 who want to leave or whose parents want them to leave homosexuality. Similar to laws in New Jersey and California, this bill would blatantly violate the rights of counselors, parents and children to choose to give or to seek counseling when a child is struggling with their sexuality. As we told the media, it's astonishing that the party that claims to champion choice and free speech would so blatantly violate both with this bill.
This week alone, The Family Foundation team will be working on dozens of bills that will be debated and voted on in subcommittee and committee. Please watch for our "Action Alerts" this week and do act on them to influence your elected officials here in Richmond.
Tar Heels Still Beating Virginia
Tar Heels Still Beating Virginia
Governor Terry McAuliffe with assistance from his media allies has spent the better part of his administration carrying the message that Virginia must be a “welcoming” state to successfully attract businesses, and therefore jobs, to the Old Dominion. By “welcoming,” of course, he means disregarding religious liberty, personal privacy and safety, abandoning common sense and imposing McAuliffe’s so-called “progressive” agenda on the Old Dominion.
When North Carolina was ground zero last year for the hysterical left’s latest fear campaign during debate over that state’s effort to protect privacy and dignity, Governor McAuliffe went so far as to invite businesses in NC to move to Virginia.
The latest analysis from Forbes magazine indicates that Mr. McAuliffe’s efforts have done little to help Virginia, while NC’s economy is doing just fine.
Forbes recent list ranking the best states in which to do business found North Carolina at #2, ahead of the Commonwealth's 6th place ranking.
Not a big deal, you say?
How about this. Seven of the top 10 states in Forbes rankings have not caved to the progressive left’s anti-freedom agenda that elevates sexual behavior to protected classification by adding “sexual orientation/gender identity” at the expense of safety, privacy and dignity.
Oh, and while Virginians are learning on a seemingly regular basis that many of Governor McAuliffe’s press releases about new jobs and business to Virginia have been unfulfilled or are just a tiny bit exaggerated, North Carolina has added thousands of jobs, particularly in high tech. In fact, despite the rhetoric that NOVA is the Silicon Valley of the east, Raleigh, NC has seen an over 38 percent increase in tech jobs since 2010, second only to San Francisco in that time period. Charlotte was also in the top 20 list of cities with increased tech jobs. No city in Virginia is on the list. It seems the new economy Terry McAuliffe promised has moved just a little bit down the road, to North Carolina.
Despite the well-funded, cultural elitist driven campaign of fear against North Carolina and the best efforts of Virginia’s salesman-in-chief, the Tar Heel state is crushing Virginia in jobs and business climate.
But wait, you say, the North Carolina governor just lost his race! See, there’s proof that protecting human privacy and dignity are losing issues.
Not so fast. While that race is still being contested, it’s important to note that Republicans that passed the bill the left is hysterically attacking as hateful and bigoted not only kept their seats but actually increased their majority. One state House leader of the bill easily won a seat in the state Senate – in a district near Charlotte, the epicenter of the left’s fear mongering.
If we learned anything from this year’s national election it’s that you really can’t believe anything the national media tells you. Sadly, this has brought about so-called “fake news,” but it also must make you question everything you’ve been told by the media about what’s been happening in North Carolina and the consequences for that state’s economy. The reality is, North Carolina’s economy is booming while Virginia’s remains stagnant and continues to rely too heavily on the federal government.
Virginia’s lawmakers are likely to use the potential defeat of Governor McCrory as reason enough not to defend and protect the privacy and safety of women and children in Virginia. They’ll conveniently argue that such efforts will make Virginia less “welcoming” to business and hurt our economy. In doing so, they will have fallen for the media-driven narrative that makes their fear of taking a stand seem reasonable. The Virginia media and editorial pages will provide all the assistance they need, and they’ll all pat themselves on the back for their pragmatism and vision. But they’ll be wrong, and consequently, jobs will continue to flow to North Carolina instead of our Commonwealth, and the privacy and dignity of women and children will be sacrificed.
In its blind haste to protect the $1 billion abortion industry by gutting Virginia’s abortion center health and safety standards, Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration and his hand-picked members of the Board of Health violated state law that guides the regulatory process multiple times in multiple ways. Of course, considering it’s Terry McAuliffe acting on advice from Mark Herring, this should come as little surprise to anyone. Neither has exhibited much fidelity to the law since being in office.
Consequently, to this point, we’ve blamed the mistakes on the administration’s incompetence and/or complete lack of respect for the law. Perhaps, but if nothing changes, the precedent set could have dramatic consequences.
If allowed to stand, the process the Governor used to pay back the abortion industry could become a model for ignoring long-standing state law that guides what is supposed to provide the public and those being regulated with an abundance of transparency and opportunity for input.
Essentially, the Administrative Process Act (APA) provides agencies and boards with the process to adopt regulations. One of the initial responsibilities of the agency or board involved is to publicly announce what it plans to do – the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action, or NOIRA. In the case of amending existing regulations, like the abortion center health and safety standards, the NOIRA is supposed to provide the public and affected persons notice of what areas of the regulations may be changed. This provides transparency for everyone involved. It’s also the, you know, law. The thing the McAuliffe/Herring regime finds so bothersome.
Thus, in 2014, the initial NOIRA developed by the Department of Health stated that six of the 27 sections of abortion center health and safety standards would be reviewed for potential amendment. This gave interested parties the opportunity to weigh in and make suggestions. But by the time the Board of Health took its final vote on the amendments on Monday, around 20 of the 37 sections of the standards had been changed, and several of those amendments had never been made public or had any public input whatsoever. This is why several Board members objected over and over again to amendments that were “outside the original NOIRA.” They were, in fact, illegal.
Now, let’s reverse this and put it in the context of adding new regulations instead of removing them. The new McAuliffe way provides a path for over-zealous regulators who aren’t interested in or care about the input of those being affected by the regulations. You simply adopt an NOIRA at the start of the process that is very narrow, quietly work the process and then at the very end, drop all the additional regulations you had planned all along but didn’t want the public or those being affected by the regulations to know about. Outside of dotting a few Is and crossing a few Ts, the deal is done. No transparency, no accountability, no problem.
Welcome to Terry’s new Virginia.
Because the issue of abortion has overshadowed the process of providing standards of care for abortion centers, few who don’t otherwise care about “social issues” are likely paying attention, which is exactly why it’s the perfect issue to test run the new process. That said, based on the first three years of his administration, I highly doubt this was all planned. More likely, they tripped into the new process by mistake while simply ignoring the law.
Regardless, if allowed to stand, you can count on this scenario playing out again in the future, only next time some highly disliked industry is going to be the victim. And those who dismiss this instance as “social issues” not to be bothered by will be the ones loudly protesting the unfairness of it all.
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.
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.