The week started with Pastor Gary Hamrick of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg opening the session with a beautiful prayer. Following that were several floor speeches. Some were honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King and remembering the civil rights struggle he led. We heard inspiring King quotes like,
“We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood. … We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. … and until all God’s children … will be able to sing … ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’ ” All present were united in agreement with King’s sentiments.
Fast forward to Thursday, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and, instead of unity, there was sharp division in the House. Ignoring the need to respect the intrinsic value of all human life, which was at the core of the civil rights battle in America, several speeches attempted to justify the abortion of over 53 million young lives. On days like that, I am very pleased to be aligned with Dr. Martin Luther King’s values and those who seek to guard them by standing up for the self-evident and unalienable right to life which was so eloquently put forth in our Declaration of Independence,
“…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Dr. King was spot on saying, “We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood." The truth is that abortion strips children and mothers of their selfhood. By embracing and protecting the lives of the unborn, we are engaging in one of the greatest civil rights struggles of all time.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
This week I introduced legislation, with the support of many of my fellow pro-life Republicans, the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL), and National Right to Life, to protect the right to life of infants who are capable of feeling pain in the womb. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts have already passed in 10 other states, and I believe they reflect the values of our Commonwealth and our highest ideals in defending the defenseless.
VSHL Lobbyist Maggie Disney and volunteer Susan Smith delivered a rose and pro-life literature to every Member of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates.
You may have noticed that our President, in his State of the Union address, explained that his plan to expand college access and make it “free” for more Americans involves taxing the college savings of middle class – families. College is an important tool for success, and making higher education more available is a challenge we have to address. That said, I strongly believe that raising taxes is not the right way to expand college access. Instead, I’m supporting legislation that makes college more affordable here in Virginia by capping expensive athletic fees and making it easier for small schools to cut wasteful spending, both of which I’m happy to report passed unanimously out of committee this week.
Lowering Tolls on the Dulles Greenway
This week I co-patroned legislation (along with Delegates Minchew and Ramadan and Senator Black) designed to bring desperately needed toll relief to drivers on the Dulles Greenway. Delegate Ramadan has worked with the State Corporation Commission to bring down tolls on the Greenway, but they’ve run into a roadblock – the Virginia Code guidelines for tolls aren’t clear enough for them to take action to bring tolls down to reasonable rates as required by law. By defining key terms, this legislation will allow the SCC to bring tolls down dramatically. This could have a huge, much needed impact on the businesses and families all over Virginia who are struggling with rising tolls and longer commutes.
Transportation Spending Reform
Good news! HB 1470 passed its first hurdle, passing out of subcommittee on a 5-2 supporting vote. Other delegates here are telling me they agree – transportation projects in Northern Virginia all need to be rated for efficiency so we can be sure our transportation funds are being spent where they will have the best return on the dollar. For years transit (mostly train) projects, – some of which cost hundreds of millions of dollars – have been exempt from rating. Closing that loophole will bring much-needed efficiency to our transportation spending system and our economy as a whole.
Speaking in a Committee Room
This week we had lots of visitors, including some friends and 33rd District Constituents:
Mike and Rachel Underhill and Matt Bergstrom