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Tuesday News: “A White House Budget Fit for the King of Debt”; Trump, Northam Discuss Ed “Not a Trump Person” Gillespie, Expanding Port; Bigotry Usually Fine for VA GOP, But Maybe Not This Time?

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by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, February 13.

  • House Republicans kill Del. Hope’s Instant Runoff Voting bill. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    http://bluevirginia.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/hopeirvkilled.jpg

  • Video: Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D) schools anti-immigrant Del. Ben Cline (R) on this godawful racial profiling bill.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbP9Kd4IRdk

  • From the VA House Dems:

    House Passes Long-Term Democratic Priority by Raising Felony Larceny Threshold

    RICHMOND, Va. – The House of Delegates today passed a key longtime priority for House Democrats by raising the felony larceny threshold from 200 dollars to 500 dollars.

    Virginia’s felony bar has not been raised since 1980 and is tied with New Jersey for the lowest in the nation. Raising the threshold has been a major criminal justice reform focus for Democrats for at least two decades. In 1999, then-Delegate Brian Moran introduced a bill to increase the threshold, versions of which have been introduced by Democrats for seven out of the last eight years.

    Delegates Jennifer Carroll-Foy, Eileen Filler-Corn, Patrick Hope, Joe Lindsey, and Steve Heretick all had legislation that would have raised the felony larceny threshold this session. Delegate Mike Mullin was a chief co-patron of the bill that passed today, as was Delegate Lindsey, who spoke to the bill on the floor.

    “Petty mistakes should not define the rest of your life,” said Delegate Lindsey. “Felony convictions are the most damning, life-altering experiences a person can have. It costs folks their careers, separates them from their loved ones, and costs too many their freedom. This bill is an adjustment to the times. Without this bill, there would continue to be a disparate measure of harm to our young people, many of whom committed stupid crimes of impulse or opportunity. They ought to be corrected and instructed to do better. A felony on one’s criminal record is an outcome that should be reserved for larcenies of a more serious nature.”

  • From Gov. Northam’s office:

    Governor Northam Statement on Progress of Legislative Session at ‘Crossover’

    RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today released a statement at the midpoint of the 2018 legislative session:

    “As the General Assembly crosses the midpoint of the 2018 legislative session, I am encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship that has defined my first month in office. So far this session, we have worked together, Democrats and Republicans, to make progress on a number of issues that will make life better for all Virginians. Those priorities include raising the felony larceny threshold for the first time in decades, giving student loan borrowers new tools and resources to manage their debt, and a commitment to smart regulatory reform.

    “These are just some of priorities that we have been sent to Richmond to address, but our biggest work is still ahead of us. It will require more of the commitment to bipartisanship and productivity that has distinguished this session from years past.

    “Virginians have tasked us with expanding healthcare access to nearly 400,000 people who need it. I am pleased that the dialogue on how we can best accomplish this goal is still ongoing. I am confident we have the capacity to meet this challenge together, in a way that works for all of us.

    “Fixing Metro, an integral part of our economy, is critical this year. This is not a regional priority, it is a Virginia priority and I remain hopeful that we will find a solution to its revenue challenges in the weeks to come.

    “As we work to repeal the freeze on electric utility rates, I am pleased that the General Assembly continues to work constructively on this important issue. We came away from the negotiating table with a product that made substantial improvements to the original legislation and current law; however, just as I promised on my first day in office, I will weigh final legislation by one standard: whether it is doing the most good for the most Virginians. If we can do better by consumers, we should, and I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly on getting this right.

    “We have made great progress on important issues, but we won’t solve every problem this year. As we look back on the legislation that has not made it through crossover, it is clear that Virginians’ voices are not being heard on many key issues, including preventing gun violence, increasing access to the voting booth and protecting all Virginians from discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

    “The first half of this legislative session represents the most productive period I have seen since I came to the General Assembly in 2008 and we are just getting started. I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to continue this progress and meet the challenges our fellow Virginians have asked us to solve.”

  • From the Virginia Senate Dems:

    HEALTHCARE BILL CLEARS SENATE WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT; NOW, HOW TO FUND IT?

    RICHMOND — This afternoon, Senate Democrats voted as a bloc in favor of an amended version of Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 915. In its final form, the bill — which has gone through several re-writes — represents an important step towards recognizing the need to close the coverage gap and extending healthcare coverage to nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians. With the 40-0 passage of this bill through the Senate, it is clear that there is consensus over priorities; the next step from here is to expand Medicaid through the vehicle of the budget.

    Said Senator George Barker (D-Fairfax), “This is the right path toward meeting the needs of more Virginians and to eliminate waiting times for those in need. The best way to find the monies to do this is going to be to expand Medicaid, and we look forward to continuing that conversation in the coming days and weeks.”

    Said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), “We have been working on these priorities for many years and we are pleased to stand in support of this measure, but this is an aspirational bill. We are pleased that there is consensus on these priorities; now we just need to come together to fund them.”

    Said Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairax), “Nearly 400,000 Virginians — 11,000 of whom are in my district — currently lack access to quality, affordable healthcare. Closing the coverage gap has been Senate Democrats’ number one priority for the past several years and we are encouraged that we are having this conversation. Now, to the budget.”

  • Democrat Diane Fraser ends her campaign in VA-07:

    Dear Friends,

    As Diane Fraser for Congress, I am suspending my campaign for the House of Representatives, and want to thank all those who have generously supported our campaign, whether financially, intellectually or emotionally. I am deeply humbled and grateful for your friendship.

    The day after Trump’s election, I was inspired to do whatever I might to help the Democratic Party retake the House of Representatives in 2018, and move swiftly to bring impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. I jumped in to help on the campaigns of multiple Virginia candidates in 2017, delaying my own Congressional race until after the November elections.

    I am proud to be a “daughter of the 7th”, and a citizen steward of the legacy of Jefferson and Madison, who created our American democracy in these hills and valleys. My goal was to run a campaign focused on issues which are core to our American values, and which both parties have perhaps neglected: fighting for environmental protections – what I like to call “Healthcare for Planet Earth”, broadband access – a 21st century essential – for every American in every pocket of the country, and a renewed commitment to addressing gun control and criminal justice reform.

    It has been my distinct pleasure to spend time with fellow candidates Helen Alli, Abigail Spanberger, and Dan Ward. They each bring strengths and different perspectives, and I wish them all success in the paths they have chosen. I have determined, however, that my path does not lead to serving in public office, and that I may contribute best by supporting other candidates through my personal efforts and through my organization Hoos for Change. I will be supporting several Democrats around the country, including Roger Dean Huffstetler in the 5th District and Dan Ward in the 7th.

    When I met Dan Ward, I realized he was the best possible individual to not only defeat Dave Brat in November, but to represent the interests of ALL citizens of the 7th District. I believe he shares my passionate commitment to a broad range of issues, and is quite simply “the Real Deal”. So, I invite you to learn more about Dan’s campaign and vision for all Americans.

    Thank you again – we will take our country back, and Democracy will Prevail!

  • Quizzical

    Trump’s infrastructure plan is an invitation for states to raise their taxes. It says right near the beginning that one of the goals is to create new non-federal revenue streams. There would be grants to the states to encourage them to create these “non-federal revenue streams.” Its ironic that right on the heels of the federal tax cut bill, the White House is sending an engraved invitation to the states to raise taxes. It’s also ironic that it is Republicans doing this. It is also ironic that after kicking and screaming for 7 years about Medicaid expansion, because of fear that the federal government will reneg on its funding promises ( which has not happened) the Republicans come forward with this proposal which would reneg on the federal funding promises which built the interstate highway system.

    So the bottom line in this proposal is that the federal government would kick in a small percentage, for which in return the federal government would maintain a higher percentage of control. Under this regime, why is it a good deal to let the federal government control priorities, including diversion of fund to rural projects which have little prospects of creating new non-federal funding streams? Why wouldn’t New York or California just pay for their own damned bridges and leave the federal government out of it?

    Now that I think of it, maybe this should be called the “EZ Pass Infrastructure Plan”, because the whole deal would depend on EZ Pass type toll collecting, where you whiz through without having to stop to take a ticket and or having to dig out your wallet and scrounge up some quarters. Without EZ Pass, would Trump’s new deal even be feasible? Nobody would stand for the entire country being tied up with toll booths. Nowadays, you can not only have tolls everywhere, if you want, to can have tolls that are more like auctions. I drove passed the entrance to I-66 inside the beltway today, and the auction price for entry was up to over $46.00.

    So that’s the last irony— Republicans proposing to rebuild our highways and bridges with omnipresent, invisible electronic tax collectors ( who also can monitor your every move).