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33rd District News - Silence and the Storm

Week 6 General Assembly Session 2014


Dear Friend,
Good News:
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth…” as per the Virginia Constitution.
Bad News:
On Thursday, District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued a ruling striking down Virginia’s constitutional definition of marriage, saying that it conflicted with the United States Constitution. As most people know, Virginia was NOT represented by our Attorney General who had instead wrongfully placed himself on the side opposing Virginia’s Constitution.  The judge did issue a stay on her ruling while the case is appealed, so Virginia’s marriage laws will remain as they are at least temporarily.
More Good News:
The most basic contention of the American founding, set forth in the Declaration of Independence, is that we are a nation constituted in accordance with the “Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.”  Natures Law is a body of law or a specific principle held to be derived from nature and binding upon human society. God’s Law is always in harmony with Nature's Law because He is the Creator of all that has, does, or will exist, including nature. God made marriage as, “…only a union between one man and one woman…” so the people of Virginia got it right, the Obama-appointed judge got it wrong.
Even More Good News:
Delegate Ben Cline just gave me my American flag tie and welcomed me into the Conservative Caucus. Ben also mentioned that Senate Bill 617 which sought to repeal Virginia’s Informed Consent Ultrasound law, died in committee this afternoon. Hooray!
“Snowpocalypse” is melting away down here in Richmond. We didn’t get anywhere near as much snow as the northern part of the Commonwealth, but late Thursday afternoon, around 4:00, a camera-like flash lit up my office. Snow was still falling, and I glanced around to see who was taking pictures. A few seconds later, a long rumbling crash echoed outside; we were getting lightning in a snowstorm. 

Inside, over the last weeks, our Legislature is maneuvering for what may be an epic battle over issues that are key to Virginia’s future. While many of us are working to promote job growth, strengthen our economy, and help businesses in Virginia prosper, substance from the Senate side continues to be missing.
Candidate Terry McAuliffe ran on the slogan of “Putting Jobs First,” yet more than halfway through our first session our executive has endorsed a scant few legislative measures, and virtually none that would create jobs. Instead, McAuliffe (and his fellow Democrats in the Senate) are gearing up to fight to bring social changes to Virginia which either don’t help or will actively hurt our economy. 
The Agenda:
• Repeal Informed Consent Ultrasound- FAILED
The Senate poured time and energy into restructuring the Health and Education Committee. Unfortunately, this won’t promote anyone’s health or education, but instead allowed the Committee to give the go-ahead to a bill to repeal Virginia’s law allowing pregnant mothers the opportunity to see their unborn child before deciding whether or not to abort the life. Senate Democrats even forced one of their own members to vote against his conscience. While the bill will most certainly die in the House, it’s a shame the Senate is willing to work to keep information away from women before they make a life or death decision like abortion.
The Senate also suspended their rules to pass a bill to raise the minimum wage more than 27% over the next two years, from $7.25 to $9.25. While I can fathom the well-meaning attitude that would prompt a Senator to try to legislate that some folks will make more money, it’s irresponsible to even promote legislation that is commonly understood to kill jobs at a time when our economy is still in a recovery phase. 
Medicaid is shaping up to be a storm on the horizon. Virginia has, unlike our counterparts in Washington, never failed to pass a budget in a timely fashion. However, there are serious concerns that Medicaid advocates (including the Governor) could try to hold the budget hostage until a Medicaid expansion happens. The numbers show that even without an expansion, Medicaid is poised to devour a simply unsustainable proportion of our resources over the coming years. To insist on expanding a program like this in the face of the challenges Medicaid already poses to Virginia just doesn’t mesh with reality. I sincerely hope our colleagues who espouse an expansion will steer clear of trying to impose a budget shutdown to make their wishes come true. 
The Silver Lining:
Every cloud has a silver lining, right? The dust-up down here this session is no exception. Several bills that promise to move our economy in the right direction are moving forward with strong bi-partisan support.
They are:
Senate Bill 628 creates a grant program for community colleges that successfully get students through their instruction and completion of high-demand certifications that they can use to get a job. This grant program is funded at the discretion of the legislature each two years. 
House Bill 324 would make the Virginia Virtual School available as a complete K-12, Standards of Quality-compliant school available for full enrollment to any child in the Commonwealth. Making this option available to Virginia families can dramatically lower the costs our Commonwealth incurs on education, freeing up needed funds to improve our infrastructure and therefore our economy. 
House Bill 63 (which I co-patroned) would give school districts the freedom to allow homeschoolers to participate in interscholastic sports. This bill is still alive in the Senate, and I think this might be the year it passes. 
House Bill 156, (which I also co-patroned) would clarify and expand the property owned by churches and religious bodies that is exempt from taxation. This bill has already passed the House and Senate in separate versions, so it looks like final passage is probable. 

Meetings and Events


    I had the opportunity to meet with:
    Secretary of Education Anne Holton at a meeting of about 8 legislators in the Rural Caucus. Sec. Holton, the daughter of former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton and wife of former Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, spoke to the group about her passion for Virginia’s Community Colleges, and made it clear she shares the Caucus’s priority of advancing workforce training and development by rewarding the colleges whose success is measured by the number of their graduates who move into jobs they have trained for.
    Many, many 4-Hers! Several of my kids have been active in 4-H, and I have deeply appreciated the time and care that 4-H leaders pour into these kids as well as the great things they’ve had the chance to do and learn. 4-H rocks!
    Loudoun County 4-H students and staff
    Clarke County 4-H students and staff
    Students from Lord Fairfax Community College! Four of my 7 kids have attended LFCC, and we’ve been very pleased with the results. Virginia’s whole community college system is a great asset to the Commonwealth, and LFCC is a solid educator of many young adults in our district. 
    Lord Fairfax Community College students and staff
    Senators Obenshain, Peterson, Stanley, Stuart, Vogel, and the staff of Senator Edwards to discuss my HB 878 (and in some cases HB 652 as well). Although not all of these Senators voted favorably, I believe we laid solid groundwork for success for this bill in the near future.
    Supporters who testified on behalf of HB 878 in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee
    A Look Ahead


    While the House continues to consider Senate bills and vice-versa, the budget, which was unveiled yesterday, will also be a major focus for the next few weeks.
    Please pray for safety and wisdom for my team and me, and for all members of our government.
    Please don’t hesitate to call my office if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to stop by and visit. 


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    P.P.S.The video of my "This Week in Richmond" interview is now available! You can watch it here or by clicking on the picture below.



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    Richmond Office:
    General Assembly Building, Room 721
    Capitol Square
    Richmond, Virginia 23219
    (804) 698-1033
    District Office:
    P.O. Box 6
    Hamilton, Virginia 20159
    (540) 751-8364

    Phone: 540-751-8364



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