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Virginia Politics

Virginia House Minority Leader Del. Toscano's General Assembly Wrapup

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 03, 2015 at 11:52:05 AM EST

From Virginia House Minority Leader David Toscano:

 

Friends,

The General Assembly adjourned on Friday, February 27, 2015, at approximately 9:00 p.m.In most sessions, the last minute negotiations surround the budget. This year, it involved ethics reform. As you may have noticed from numerous news reports, Senate Republicans threatened to block any ethics bill from being passed. At the last moment, however, they relented, and we were able to pass modest ethics reform that improves the law somewhat on what had previously been in place. While this law goes farther than previous efforts, it does not tackle the critical issues related to campaign finance reform, including the role of major contributions in election campaigns. That being said, the bill lowers from $250 to $100 the value of gifts, meals, and travel that an elected official can receive from a lobbyist or a person seeking a contract with the state. It also includes any dependents living in the official’s home, such as a spouse, child, or other relative. The bill clearly could have gone farther; the Ethics Advisory Council does not have much enforcement power and there are certain exemptions to the gift ban for legislators’ travel to “widely attended” events such as conferences. I voted for the bill because it is better than our laws were two years ago, but I believe there is still much to be done.  

The last days of the session saw a number of measures passed that I had proposed and strongly supported. Included in these were the expansion of the DNA database, a campus sexual assault reporting bill that protects survivors while providing increased encouragement to them to report perpetrators of these crimes, and a bill that requires notations be placed on college transcripts when students are discharged for violations of the codes of conduct. These measures were proposed as a result of The Rolling Stone article on UVa and the Hannah Graham case, and I believe that they will bring a higher level of protection for our citizens while encouraging more reporting of sexual assault on campuses.

During the final days, we also passed:

  • A bill to increase safety of daycare facilities (HB1570). Homes serving five or more children will require licensing. There will be national fingerprint background checks for employees, and a requirement that unlicensed providers tell parents in writing that they are not licensed or regulated by the state. This will undoubtedly increase safety in our daycare facilities. 
  • A bill that will further professionalize the Virginia ABC operation (HB1776). ABC will now be an authority that is run more like a business and less responsive to political appointees.
  • A bill that extends health insurance coverage for autism treatment to about 5,000 more children (HB1940).

This session brought changes to extend mental health benefits to about 22,000 low-income Virginians, increased funding for free clinics, legislation to de-criminalize the use of oils derived from marijuana to treat severe epilepsy, and the defeat of a measure that would have shrouded Virginia’s lethal injection process in secrecy by preventing public disclosure of the drugs used in execution.

Little progress was made on common sense gun legislation; the House rejected my bill that would have allowed private gun sellers to voluntarily ask state police to conduct a background check of anyone who sought to buy firearms from them at a gun show (HB2370). Universal background checks and the return of one-gun-per-month were also defeated. At least we were able to defeat a bill that had been offered by some Republicans to put guns in schools and airports.  

2015 Virginia House of Delegates House Democratic Caucus - Back Row (left to right): Vivian Watts, Mark Sickles, Mark Keam, Daun Hester, Lionell Spruill, Luke Torian, Kaye Kory, Scott Surovell; Middle Row: Monty Mason, David Bulova, Eileen Filler-Corn, Alfonso Lopez, Joe Preston, Patrick Hope, Joseph Lindsey, Ken Plum, Rip Sullivan, Matthew James, Marcus Simon; Sam Rasoul, Mike Futrell; Front Row: Jeion Ward, Delores McQuinn, Betsy Carr, Roz Tyler, Jennifer McClellan, Toscano, Mamye Bacote, Kathleen Murphy, Charniele Herring, Johnny Joannou, Rob Krupicka.

 

We passed a bill that will allow home-schooled children to participate in public school athletics, and a bill that will allow Uber and other transportation ride-sharing services to operate in Virginia. We passed bills that will establish two new veteran care centers in the Commonwealth and to allow veterans to receive certain academic credits at community colleges for training and educational programs they completed during their military service.

For those interested in music, we passed legislation that would designate not one, but two state songs.  “Our Great Virginia” will be considered the traditional state song and “Sweet Virginia Breeze” will be considered the popular state song.

The big disappointment continues to be our failure to pass Medicaid expansion.

The Governor has until March 30 to sign, veto or send amendments to legislation, including the budget. We return to Richmond for the one-day Reconvene Session on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, to address his vetoes and amendments.

Several of my floor speeches from this year’s Session can be viewed here via YouTube.

I have now returned to my law practice, but remain willing to assist you with any issue involving the Commonwealth. Please feel free to call my office at (434) 220-1660, or email me at david@davidtoscano.com with questions or concerns. It is a pleasure serving you in the General Assembly.

Sincerely,

David Toscano 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 03, 2015 at 06:25:39 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, March 3. Also, check out Jon Stewart mocking the "unstoppable tag team" of "turtle and carrot" (McConnell and Boehner).

*Netanyahu says it's his duty to warn Congress (I agree 100% that a nuclear Iran would be a threat to Israel and to the world, but the way Boehner and Bibi have botched this speech has only been a distraction to that core issue. That's my main concern here; that this entire episode is hurting Israel not enhancing its security.)
*Clinton used private e-mail for State Dept. business (So...maybe not a major deal in the end, but let's just say, hypothetically, that Hillary Clinton doesn't run for president after all. Then what?)
*An alliance in danger ("Netanyahu has made matters worse." Yep, that's my point exactly.)
*The real reason Netanyahu is willing to risk Israel's relationship with the U.S. ("To put it bluntly, every day in which Netanyahu manages to deflect conversation away from the economy is a good day for him.")
*Boehner's spectacle ("The DHS situation is beyond ridiculous.")
*Centrist Dems ready strike against Warren wing ("The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course." Note that Reps. Connolly and Beyer are in the NDC.)
*Warner, Kaine vote against GOP motion to negotiate Homeland Security funding (Good. Now it's back where it should be, in Boehner's lap.)
*Exclusive: Obama says Iran must halt key nuclear work for at least a decade ("Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but the odds are still against sealing a final agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters on Monday.")
*Small steps ("Measured from where Virginia stood a couple of years ago, the ethics reforms passed by the General Assembly - the second in a row - qualify as another modest step forward. Measured from the ideal, they fall far short.")
*Feds shirk duties on roads (Title is wildly misleading; it's not the "feds," it's Bob Goodlatte and his merry band of Teahadists running the House of Representatives blocking the "Marketplace Fairness Act.")
*Del. Scott Surovell: Budget Tweaks, Execution Secrecy and Ethics ("Stronger ethics laws are essentially meaningless if they cannot be enforced." Also, "although the bill lowered Virginia's gift cap to $100, it deleted the $250 aggregate gift cap, so now elected officials can accept an unlimited number of gifts under $100 from the same donor.")
*McDonnell launches bid to have corruption conviction thrown out
*Maureen McDonnell appeals corruption convictions
*Reeves' legislation reflects an unnecessary desire to strengthen his position
*Va. cabdriver on FBI's 'Most Wanted Terrorists' list detained in Somalia
*Robert Hurt talks about security, Israel at Liberty University (The stuffed shirt speaks! LOL)
*Council votes unanimously to keep brewery deal alive
*Virginia Peninsula Schools officials trying to catch up on makeup plans for snow days
*Fairfax County to create commission in wake of Geer shooting controversy
*Snow and rain mix later today with temperatures hovering near freezing ("The precipitation should develop between 1 and 3 p.m. and taper off before 7 p.m.")

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Blast from the Past: 1990s "Clintonian Triangulation" Returns to 2015 Virginia?

by: lowkell

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 14:18:50 PM EST

I've now seen Terry McAuliffe use the same messaging too many times to write it off as a mistake, a fluke, a slip of the tongue, whatever. What messaging is that, you ask?  See here and here, for instance. The key messaging points:

*"'It's a lovefest here in Richmond,' McAuliffe declared during his "Ask the Governor" segment Thursday morning on WRVA-AM."
*"'We all put Virginia first,' McAuliffe said, praising Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; and Sens. Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico and Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince Williams, the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee."
*"I enjoy working with the legislature."
*"Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised lawmakers for working with him in a bipartisan fashion to produce a budget that safeguarded mutual priorities and serves the best interests of the commonwealth."
*"McAuliffe also said he was satisfied with the last-minute agreement on ethics reform and reiterated his position that the $100 cap on all gifts 'is a big deal.'"
*"'It's been a great session,' the governor said Friday night to a delegation of House and Senate members that included eight retiring lawmakers.
'We've all worked together. We put the partisan politics aside. ... It was great teamwork,; he added."
*"This is the model - we can work together."

Does this not-at-all-subtle happy talk of bipartisanship and how (supposedly) great it is to work across the aisle by a Democrat, coming after said Democrat got his (political) butt seriously kicked last year on Medicaid expansion and other issues, remind you of anything? How about McAuliffe's BFF Bill Clinton, following the 1994 "Republican Revolution"/"Gingrich Revolution," in which Republicans saw a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives and eight seats in the Senate? Before that, Bill Clinton had governed basically as a strong progressive, pushing for universal health care (aka, "Hillarycare"); a tax package that, among other things, helped balance the budget by raising tax rates on the wealthy; signing the Brady Bill into law; implementing the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which at the time was considered progressive (believe it or not); etc. No, it wasn't all progressive prior to the Gingrich Revolution (e.g., NAFTA anyone?), but for the most part Clinton pushed for progressive policies in 1993 and 1994, until...cue scary music!

After the 1994 wipeout, of course, Clinton was forced to work with a Republican Congress for the rest of his term in office. That meant scaling back...well, pretty much anything and everthing remotely progressive, and instead turning to advisors like Republican strategist (and all-around right wingnut, as it turns out) Dick Morris to figure out how to "triangulate" himself back to relevance. Here's what I'm talking about.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 602 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 06:16:05 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, March 2. It's still icy out there -- be careful!

*Weather Alert: Federal agencies on delay; many schools closed or delayed
*GOP discord undercuts efforts to fund DHS
*The party of 'no' ("The GOP still can't get to 'yes.'")
*A snowball's chance ("Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee - and he seems determined to make that fact a national embarrassment." How can lunatics like this ever get elected to anything in our country?)
*Retired Israeli veterans warn against speech ("...a group of 180 retired Israeli generals and former top security officials warned that his upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress on Iran's nuclear program will cause more harm than good....Rather than slowing down Iran's nuclear project, the former security officials said, Netanyahu's speech Tuesday will bring the Islamic republic closer to developing a nuclear bomb.")
*Kerry Pushes for Agreement in Nuclear Talks With Iran
*CPAC: Hackneyed and Hollow ("There remains in the Republican Party, as evidenced by the speakers at this event, a breathtaking narrowness of vision and deficit of creative thought.")
*GOP infighting in Va. may harm the party's White House bid in 2016 (Who are these "centrist conservatives" exactly? As far as I can tell, it's a party of right-wing conservatives and far-right-wing extremists.)
*With GOP in control of Virginia's legislature, McAuliffe agenda sunk ("They canned his name for a health-care initiative, changed the name of his economic development fund, whacked his effort to expand pre-school - all in all, the governor had a tough time in the General Assembly this year." Right, TMac can spin it however he wants with happy talk, but this session was not good.)
*McAuliffe praises bipartisan model as session ends (What I was just talking about - mindless happy talk about this being a "great session," which it most definitely wasn't. Also, this is wildly off message for the 2015 elections, as the argument is de facto "things are going great with Republicans in control of the General Assembly, so no need to change anything." Bad politics, bad policy.)
*Virginia Port Authority faces a bottleneck of problems
*Private police carry guns, badges, can make arrests ("The number of "special conservators of the peace" - or SCOPs, as they are known - has doubled in Virginia over the past decade to roughly 750, according to state records." Hmmmm.)
*Portsmouth's latest political embarrassment
*Plans underway to expand Prince William's compost facility
*In Arlington, growth threatens a building some view as historic ("The Wilson School is targeted for demolition, and officials intend to build a much larger facility there.")
*Council to decide fate of Stone Brewing deal in property vote
*Fairfax law enforcement resorts again to stonewalling
*Lots of ice early before area temperatures begin to warm

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Mar 01, 2015 at 07:07:06 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, March 1. Oh, and check out who won the CPAC straw poll in 2006 -- our old pal George Allen, who was a frontrunner for the Republicans presidential nomination until we stopped him with the "ragtag army" in 2006. :)

*Israeli leader will take Obama to task on Iran (So, so stupid of Netanyahu, and I say this as a strong supporter of a secure Israel my entire life.)
*Thousands to March in Moscow to Mourn Slain Boris Nemtsov
*John Boehner allies fret coup attempt ("Conservatives warn the speaker's fate could be determined by how he handles the next seven days." The nuts like Steve King and others trying to overthrow Boehner are not "conservatives," they're right-wing extremists.)
*Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll, with Scott Walker right behind (Speaking of right-wing extremists...that's CPAC. Can anyone think of what the Democratic equivalent is to this lunacy? Nope, because there isn't one.)
*What we learned from CPAC 2015 ("Jeb survived, Christie stumbled and a conservative heartthrob finished strongly")
*It's worse than Scott Walker and Ted Cruz: Secrets of conservatives' decades-long war on truth ("The right knows that facts and reason have a liberal bent. That's why their decades-long strategy is to lie")
*Editorial: Rein in payday loans ("The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering doing what many states, including Virginia, seem unwilling to do: Rein in payday loans and car-title loans.")
*20 other reasons the session mattered ("The General Assembly took action on a wide array of matters aside from signature issues such as the budget, ethics, campus sexual assaults and oversight of Dominion Virginia Power's rates.")
*Virginia Senate Republicans were set to sink ethics bill (And remember, that was a super-weak, mostly-a-complete-joke bill that makes a parody of "ethics reform." Apparently, even that was too much to handle for Senate Republicans.)
*Assembly season ends with another nod toward ethics (That's about all it was, a "nod.")
*The more things change in Richmond... ("This year's bipartisan ethics reform bill focused strictly on one component of ethics in government - restricting gifts to elected officials - while ignoring two others that are critically important: redistricting and campaign finance." And even on the gifts part, it's wildly inadequate.)
*Schapiro: Agencies set up to counter bossism get bossed around ("Almost painlessly, the corporation commission and liquor board were remade by the 2015 legislature.")
*McAuliffe says Dems will target Hampton Roads seats ("...the 7th Senate District seat held by Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, is a target...McAuliffe also mentioned the 8th District Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, as an opportunity for Democrats.")
*Weiner and Coombs: Virginia gun bill shootdowns shows little learned from Virginia Tech ("Little learned" by Republicans and Democrats in the gun lobby's pocket.)
*Time to return to smart planning ("A year ago, Chesapeake updated its plan to guide the city's future growth and land use through 2035. One of the primary goals was to ensure that designs for new development emphasized quality of life and economic vitality.")
*D.C. area forecast: Wintry mix makes for a slick and messy Sunday

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Feb 28, 2015 at 06:51:21 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, February 28. Also, see President Obama's weekly address, in which he reiterates "his commitment to middle-class economics, and to ensuring that all hard-working Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve."

*Congress passes 1-week extension for DHS funding ("President Obama signed the measure just before the midnight deadline. It marked the end of a whirlwind day of negotiations and a stinging defeat for the House GOP")
*The Fix: Congressional Republicans are their own worst enemies, by a lot ("The Boehner renegades -- Steve King of Iowa, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Dave Brat of Virginia among many others -- identify closely with the tea party wing of the GOP which finds its congressional champion in the form of Sen. Ted Cruz.")
*Putin critic, Russian opposition leader gunned down in the streets of Moscow (Dark, dark days as Russia descends into corruption and tyranny.)
*Emotionless, yet beloved: Nimoy and the lasting dignity of being Spock (Spock actually wasn't "emotionless," in part because he was half human, in part because being Vulcan was about containing/controlling emotion and relying on logic instead. You know, kinda like the Tea Party. Hahahahahahaha.)
*Rand Paul wows CPAC crowd as Jeb Bush faces mix of cheers, boos (What a freak show.)
*Jeb Bush, CPAC piñata ("Conservatives show him no mercy.")
*A Partial Accounting of the Damage Netanyahu Is Doing to Israel ("The Israeli prime minister seems willing to undermine his country's relations with the U.S. in order to save his career.")
*Marco Rubio Tries To Lecture Obama On ISIS, Commits Epic Error (Iran? Iraq? Shia? Sunnis? Whatever! LOL)
*Democrats to the Rescue: Congress Averts Shutdown for One More Week (It's pretty much always "Democrats to the Rescue," while Republicans are busy being wildly irresponsible, extremist ideologues, etc.)
*Fourth suspect in ISIS probe is being held in Hampton Roads
*Commentary: Warner's vote wasn't pro-jobs for Virginians ("Why would an ostensibly pro-jobs senator from Virginia damage his political future by supporting mega-pollution legislation that is directly harming large numbers of his own constituents? Warner should change his vote on the Keystone XL pipeline to no.")
*Deals on ethics rules, reporting of sexual assaults wrap up Va. session (The "ethics" bill is weak, will NOT clean up the culture of corruption in Virginia or reverse the "capture" of Virginia government by corporations.)
*Week's End Wrap up: Another week passes into the twilight
*House, Senate back rules on reporting campus sexual assaults
*Our view: Blowing in the wind
*Fairfax schools push for more money in tough budget year for the county
*Geer case has Fairfax supervisors taking another look at attorney
*Dominion, citing lower fuel costs, asks regulators to reduce customer bills (If Dominion would push hard for energy efficiency, the cheapest form of energy by far, customer bills would fall a lot further!)
*Another storm possible tomorrow bringing a mix of rain and sleet

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Progress VA: Ethics Reform Bill "falls far short of the mark"

by: lowkell

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 21:05:18 PM EST

ProgressVA released the following statement from executive director Anna Scholl in response to passage by the General Assembly of the final conference report for HB2070 and SB1424.

"Virginians should have no doubt that our elected officials are working on our behalf. Recent events, including the high profile felony conviction of former Governor Bob McDonnell, undermine public integrity. Whether or not members of the General Assembly broke our trust, by virtue of their position they do bear responsibility for earning it back. The ethics reform legislation the General Assembly passed today is a step forward and it includes important reforms, such at a $100 gift cap, but it still falls far short of the mark. Notably, legislators refused to establish an independent and impartial ethics commission with the power to randomly audit ethics filings, investigate signed complaints, and refer findings for prosecution.

"The approved bill also carves out a loophole for privately-sponsored travel for legislators and elected officials to private conferences such as the American Legislative Exchange Council. ProgressVA has long expressed concern that Virginia lawmakers meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors at ALEC conferences with little disclosure. Under the new ethics bills, lobbyists would now be allowed to pay for that travel with no disclosure since the travel will not qualify as a gift. Several high profile and controversial bills in the 2015 General Assembly session bear ALEC fingerprints, including HB2238 which would have siphoned money away from public schools to private and parochial academies as well as HB1608 and HB2395 which would eliminate localities' ability to ensure local contractors are paid a living wage.

The 98-page conference report contains multiple changes from the original bills introduced in the House and Senate and we expect additional problems may come to light as legislators and advocates have time to actually read the bill."

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 06:34:08 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, February 27. Also, check out the loop of John Boehner making kissy sounds at a reporter. Yep, that's the Republican Party's leader in the US House of Representatives.

*GOP stopgap bill may calm DHS shutdown fears (Wow, three whole weeks - what a competent party the GOP is! Not.)
*Out of line ("Scott Walker's questioning of Obama's faith." This one's by conservative columnist Michael Gerson.)
*'Jihadi John' is a Kuwaiti-born Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi
*Scott Walker's Awful Answer on ISIS (I'm linking to the National Review specifically because it's a right-wing publication. Even they know that Scott Walker comparing peaceful protests by Wisconsin working people to a vicious, sadistic, murderous terrorist group is beyond outrageous.)
*The new GOP split on net neutrality (Bizarre; when did the Republicans become so vehemently anti-net-neutrality? When President Obama announced he supported it? This routine got tedious a loooong time ago.)
*Rush Limbaugh Conspiracy Theory: NYC ISIS Arrests A Ploy To Push Net Neutrality, Ban Gun Ammunition (Tedious AND insane, what a combo!)
*Scalise to EPA chief: 'snow blizzards' contradict climate science (This is the same Republican who spoke at a white supremacist rally and apparently was friendly with neo-Nazi leader David Duke.)
*Jim Inhofe's snowball has disproven climate change once and for all (Yet another insane Republican for a Friday morning. My god, where do they find these freaks?)
*USDA Whistleblowers Tell All-and You May Never Eat Bacon Again ("Diseased carcasses, fecal matter in food, untrained employees, and other delights from a new report on pork processing plants.")
*House in limbo: Beyer says 'dangerous time' to shut down Homeland Security
*Jim Webb: We need a voice for economic fairness, new doctrine on U.S. security (I agree on the voice for economic fairness, it just won't be Jim Webb as president.)
*Gov. McAuliffe defends signing bill to change Dominion oversight ("The governor said he tried to negotiate a compromise with the utility." Hmmmm...I've heard REALLY different stories on this one!)
*General Assembly almost done (" The end is well in sight for this session of the Virginia General Assembly, and though a number of high profile issues remain to be done, all indications are the body will wrap its work up Friday.")
*Virginia to compensate victims of forced sterilizations
*Gov. McAuliffe signs bill on marijuana oil for epilepsy treatment
*Taking aim at PETA's work ("PETA can certainly be its own worst enemy. But the organization does a job no one else wants.")
*Va. Republican Party spokesman to announce departure ("Garren Shipley says he's taken another job that will allow him to spend more time with his family." Ha, gotta love the ol' "spend more time with my family" line when someone in politics has been fired.)
*Governor proposes part-time ABC board ("Under McAuliffe's proposal, the state liquor authority would be led by a part-time board and a chief executive officer")
*Va. delegates dole out mock 'sensitivity caucus' awards
*Terry McAuliffe, Republican (I wouldn't say that, but he's definitely from the pro-corporate wing of the party.)
*Patient transported from Clarendon apartment does not have Ebola (More idiotic Ebola coverage, when thousands of Americans die from the flu every year.)
*Fairfax prosecutor asked state police to investigate Fairfax police shooting
*Another chilly day ahead with a 40 percent chance of snow

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Video: Delegate Scott Surovell Fights Execution Secrecy Bill

by: lowkell

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 13:11:30 PM EST

Yet another example of why I'm so looking forward to Del. Surovell becoming Sen. Surovell next year. :)

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Endorsements Start for 2017 Virginia Governor?!? Talk About WAYYYY Too Early!

by: lowkell

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 11:30:52 AM EST

On Tuesday, after reading that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was essentially announcing his run for Governor of Virginia in 2017, I wrote that it's waaaaaay too early for us to be starting that now. First, let's focus on the 2015 state legislative races. Then, let's focus on making sure the Democratic presidential nominee carries Virginia in 2016 (and hopefully picking up a House of Representatives seat or seats). Then, it seems to me, it will be time to turn our attention to 2017.

But certainly not now. Which is why I was happy to read that Northam had "walked that back somewhat Tuesday evening, telling The Richmond Times-Dispatch that he is in the preliminary stages of assessing whether a run is feasible and could be successful before deciding whether to seek the office." OK, cool, I've got absolutely no problem with any of that, particularly since it's 100% expected that, as Larry Sabato notes in the article, "I don't think I've ever met anyone who ran for lieutenant governor because his or her life ambition was to preside over the state Senate." And it's also fully expected that Attorney General Mark Herring will run for governor as well. But again, why on earth do we want to be starting this in February 2015?

Yet, whether we want it or not, here it comes apparently, with the first major endorsement of the election -- 2013 Democratic primary candidate for Attorney General, Justin Fairfax, endorsing Ralph Northam. What makes this one particularly interesting is that Fairfax is clearly running for Attorney General again, which means he hopes to be on the ticket of whoever the Democratic nominee for governor is -- Northam, Herring, or someone else for that matter. Given that we don't know who that nominee will be, I don't think that's a move I would ever have recommended, since it risks alienating any other potential gubernatorial nominees, but to each his own I suppose...

P.S. Just a side note, but I really wish politicians would stop referring to actual or potential political allies as their "dear friend," "great friend," or whatever, when obviously they're not.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 06:32:40 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, February 26. Also check out Jon Stewart brilliantly skewering Faux "News" and dissecting the right-wing modus operandus (hint: lots of lies, deflection, projection, anger, insanity, etc.).

*Waiting for the punch ("Speaker John Boehner is leading from behind." What else is new?)
*Obama vows 'aggressive' defense on immigration (G'Obama!)
*On immigration policy, the GOP is out of touch with the rest of America
*Breaking stalemate, Senate votes 98-2 to debate 'clean' DHS bill
*Another Fabrication: O'Reilly Never Witnessed The Murder Of Nuns In El Salvador ("O'Reilly's Claim To Have Seen Nuns 'Shot In The Back Of The Head' Contradicted By His Own Timeline")
*Jeb braces for CPAC (The fact that "JEB" is even going to this extremist freak show, let alone that he's taking questions from far-right-wing shock radio host Sean Hannity, says it all about "JEB")
*Trump says he is serious about 2016 bid, is hiring staff and delaying TV gig (Oh please! Sarah Palin too, the "clown van" is big enough! LOL)
*Budget pact leaves McAuliffe with sunny outlook ("Despite the bad weather, Gov. Terry McAuliffe had a sunny forecast for the progress of his administration and state lawmakers on a budget agreement and spending priorities for the coming year.")
*Richmond leashes watchdog ("It looks like the State Corporation Commission is going to have some free time on its hands over the next five years, now that Gov. Terry McAuliffe and state lawmakers have effectively cut the consumer watchdog from holding Virginia's biggest power company accountable." Except at the SCC is a pussy cat of a "watchdog" anyway.)
*Tim Kaine the latest Hill Democrat to announce plans to skip Netanyahu's speech
*McAuliffe tries and fails to protect bill that would hide data on Va. executions (Glad that he failed on this one.)
*Va. ruling could mean big refunds for businesses - and lower tax revenue
*Va. lawmakers try to negotiate ethics reform, college sex assault bills (The good news is that adjournment is near! LOL)
*Sen. Jeff McWaters won't seek re-election (Unfortunately, the guy favored to succeed him may be even worse - a right wingnut AND a raging Islamophobe to boot. Ugh.)
*Rigell adviser seeks Virginia House seat ("Jason Miyares is seeking election to the 82nd District House seat now held by Republican Bill DeSteph, who is running for a state senate seat. DeSteph is seeking to replace Sen. Jeff McWaters, who announced this week he will not seek a second term in the 8th Senate District.")
*House, Senate churn through bills, negotiations
*Casey: Of phony and incomplete Thomas Jefferson quotes
*Our view: McAuliffe could show Obama how to deal (Included in the news clips simply as an example of how NOT to write an editorial. WTF?)
*Virginia General Assembly appoints 3 new Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judges (A legislator was telling me yesterday that they don't even really know who they're voting for much of the time on judges. Great, huh?)
*Herndon delegate announces retirement amid tough reelection bid
*Snow brings Richmond-area school closings ("The four major Richmond-area school systems canceled classes Thursday as snow fell heavily across the region, covering roads.")
*Legislators reach compromise on bake sales bill ("They may not have reached agreement yet on ethics, but lawmakers in the state Senate and House of Delegates found compromise Wednesday on a bill to regulate school bake sales." Tackling the REALLY important stuff, I see! /snark)
*Blanket of snow covers Hampton Roads overnight
*Falling snow once again making for slow and messy morning commute

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 06:43:30 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, February 25.

*Senate moves closer to a deal on DHS funding (As usual, it will be up to extreme House Teapublicans. We really need to take back the House in 2016 if at all possible!)
*Obama Aide Calls Netanyahu's Planned Visit 'Destructive' (All I have to say is, go Isaac Herzog and the Israeli Labor Party!)
*Bruni: The G.O.P.'s Assertive God Squad (Christian conservatives...have a disproportionate sway over the Republican Party. And because of that, they have an outsize influence on the national debate.")
*A compelling argument on Iran ("They see in Netanyahu's maximalist goals an air of unreality - of fantasy, even. They grant that their solution isn't perfect. But they argue that it's far better for Israel and the West than any other plausible scenario." Bingo.)
*GOP Attacked Democrats For Not Supporting Homeland Security. Now They're Threatening To Shut It Down (Internal consistency is the hobgoblin of small...Teapublicans?)
*F.C.C. Net Neutrality Rules Clear Hurdle as Republicans Concede to Obama
*O'Reilly Lied About Suicide Of JFK Assassination Figure, Former Colleagues Say ("Fox Host's Dallas TV Colleagues Tell Media Matters Of Another Fabrication")
*Virginia lawmakers offer plan to pay workers during shutdown
*McAuliffe signs bill that would change oversight of Dominion (A deeply flawed bill. Even more troubling, I've heard that Gov. McAuliffe was happy to sign the bill even BEFORE extensive changes for the better were made. If so, that's messed up, let's just put it that way.)
*Va. House kills lethal injection secrecy bill despite support of McAuliffe (I can't believe I actually was rooting for the House of Delegates against Gov. McAuliffe on something, but I was - big time - on this!)
*Ralph Northam confirms he's running to become next Va. governor (Waaaaayyy too early!)
*Schapiro: McAuliffe, GOP refuse to work or play well together ("Conflict is the norm. Cooperation is an aberration. When they're not working around each other, the governor and General Assembly are working each other over. McAuliffe now has less than three years to leave his mark. Howell, in concert with Senate GOP leader Tommy Norment, has only to wait out McAuliffe.")
*General Assembly: Mixed bag ("It's hard to say whether the ethics reforms currently under consideration deserve cheers or jeers. They're a slight improvement over the status quo, but the status quo is so woeful that doesn't qualify as much of a compliment.")
*America 'starving for leadership' Perry tells GOP in Richmond (Agreed, which is why Democrats need to take back Congress in 2016, because since 2011, Teapublicans have been an obstacled to said "leadership.")
*Editorial: Shrouding executions in secrecy isn't the answer ("Legislating secrecy is hardly the way to address an issue that merits straightforward debate.")
*Va. budget deal done (Not a good one, but yeah, it's done. Yay.)
*A number of bills are heading to the governor ("The General Assembly shipped a slew of bills to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday, just four days before the close of the legislative session." A bunch of them should be vetoed.)
*Cantor, now of Moelis bank, to seek defense clients in D.C. (Revolving door.)
*Is Brian Schoeneman "Ready for Hillary"? ("Sully District candidate for Supervisor Brian Schoeneman has voted in Democrat[ic] primaries twice in the last decade." In 2006 and 2008. Maybe time for Brian to join the Democratic Party?)
*Hilliard to run for Howell's House seat as Democrat (Good!)
*Bob McDonnell, children, asked leniency for Maureen McDonnell ("Many friends and relatives urged leniency from Judge James R. Spencer, pleading that the public humiliation was punishment enough.")
*Arlington board agrees to two new developments along Columbia Pike (OK, no what about the transportation component?)
*Winter storm watch issued south of Roanoke; heavy snow risk may yet edge northward
*Possible highs in the 40s today then a chance for snow tonight

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Ralph Northam: "I'm planning for the next step - planning to run for governor"

by: lowkell

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 21:10:05 PM EST

It's late, but just a few quick thoughts on this news. First, it's waaaaaaaayyyy too early to start a race for 2017, when we're just two months into 2015, and just over a year after Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring were sworn in as Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, respectively. I mean, I agree with Northam that "if you're gonna run for governor, you can't do it at the last minute," but February 2015 is far from the "last minute" for a Democratic primary in June 2017.

Second, our focus this year, now that the General Assembly session is winding down, needs to be on taking back the State Senate, with a secondary goal of picking up seats in the House of Delegates, not on starting a contest between Northam and Herring (and whoever else) for 2017.

Third, after 2015 we need to focus on making sure the Democratic nominee for President carries Virginia in 2016, and also on hopefully beating Barbara Comstock, maybe Scott Rigell and others as well. Again, we should NOT be focusing on the 2017 governor's race when we have other, more pressing things to worry about.

Fourth, it seems to me that the AG's office is a much stronger platform to get stuff done than the LG position, unless perhaps the Senate is evenly divided and the LG gets to break a lot of ties (which hasn't been the case this year). Thus, over the past year, we've seen AG Herring in high-profile cases dealing with immigration (e.g., Virginia attorney general declares 'dreamers' eligible for in-state tuition) and marriage equality -- issues with great appeal to the "base." Perhaps that factored into why Northam felt the need to jumpstart this race so soon?

Finally, I'm not sure it bodes well for a unified Democratic Party heading into 2017 that Northam hadn't "discussed my next step" with Herring. I don't get that one at all.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Virginia Republican Reboot: Celebrating the Failed Policies of Rick Perry

by: lowkell

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 15:56:05 PM EST

From the Democratic Party of Virginia:


RICHMOND -- If Virginia Republicans want to distract from the recent drama plaguing their ranks, hosting Rick Perry tonight is not going to help. The former Texas governor is the poster child for policies that throw working families under the bus, and has a disastrous record to show for his 14 years running Texas into the ground. 

What will Rick Perry talk about? Slashing over $5 billion from Texas education funding? Restricting voting rights? Vetoing equal pay? Maybe he'll give Delegate Bob Marshall a run for his anti-LGBT money and wax poetic about how homosexuality is like alcoholism

Will Rick Perry discuss the fact that just this morning, Texas cemented its dubious honor as home to the highest number of uninsured in the nation, with 24.4% of its population lacking healthcare? After all, Virginia Republicans and Rick Perry are two peas in a pod when it comes to denying quality, affordable healthcare to people in need. Perry even recently said that Texans "wanted" to be uninsured. Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans have consistently refused to close the coverage gap for over 400,000 Virginians, despite solid public support for doing so.

"If Virginia Republicans want to model themselves after Rick Perry's failed record in Texas, they're virtually sprinting down the wrong road for 2015," said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "Rick Perry never fails to put allies and special interests before working families. His dangerous policies have no place in a new Virginia economy. By hosting Rick Perry at their keynote event, Virginia Republicans are doubling-down on their commitment to extreme ideas that hurt Virginia families and the middle class." 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 06:28:55 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, February 24. Also, check out likely 2017 Republican candidate for statewide office Pete Snyder basically laughing off Rudy Guiliani's despicable remarks about President Obama ("I do not believe that the president loves America ... He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country." Giuliani also claimed his remarks weren't racist because Barack Obama "was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people." Oh, and Giuliani added, "From the time he was 9 years old, [Barack Obama] was influenced by Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist.") So...yeah, that's the vitriol and slime that Pete Snyder's defending.

*Republicans divided as DHS shutdown looms (Yep, Republicans are moving to shut down a part of the government - this time, the part that helps protect us from terrorist attacks and other threats. What a party!)
*Scott Walker's insidious standards (Again, what a party!)
*A deranged GOP ("Why Giuliani's burst of nonsense matters.")
*Washington Post: On Homeland Security funding, Republicans govern without logic (And on a lot of other things, too, from climate change to the Affordable Care Act to...you name it, pretty much.)
*Bill O'Reilly and Fox News Redouble Defense of His Falklands Reporting
*CBS Has Released The Falklands Protest Footage Bill O'Reilly Asked For. It Doesn't Support His Claims.
*VA secretary sorry for false special forces claim
*Va. lawmakers won't disclose income from other state jobs (They absolutely need to be disclosing this stuff, even if corrupt jerks like Tommy Norment don't like it.)
*Va. budget negotiators reach agreement ("The deal rejects fee increases and Medicaid expansion but embraces other McAuliffe spending priorities.")
*Va. lawmakers get more time to redraw districts ("The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia moved the April 1 deadline to either Sept. 1 or 60 days after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a pending appeal from congressional Republicans, whichever comes first.")
*Va. Senate defeats bill to require attorney general to defend state law (Crazy bill, good riddance.)
*Israel resolution sparks passion, controversy, in Va. House (The reason is not support for Israel, it's the language of this specific resolution, which is over the top, extreme, and in conflict with decades of official U.S. and Israeli policy, plus U.N. Security Council resolutions, about the future status of "occupied territories.")
*Amendment to solar energy bill aids Dominion
*General Assembly notebook: Senate panel backs extenstion of autism insurance mandate
*Public safety: Off the rails ("The recent derailment of a CSX train carrying volatile crude oil to Yorktown has raised a host of issues that need a better public airing - among them, where such trains are at any given time and where they are going.")
*General Assembly briefs: Senators welcome back Puller and Lucas
*Virginia in minority with lack of legislative video, audio archives (It's actually available, albeit with a delay, over at Richmond Sunlight. But yeah, it's nuts that the General Assembly doesn't just provide it, as do a lot of Virginia cities and counties.)
*Our view: No secret ballot for these voters
*Montgomery County supervisors quiz Mountain Valley Pipeline representatives
*Loudoun board member quits race for chairman after legal woes surface
*Virginia measure could put PETA out of the animal shelter business
*Extreme February cold ices over most of Chesapeake Bay in rare event
*Temperatures to remain 10 to 20 degrees below normal in D.C. area

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Feb 23, 2015 at 06:34:39 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, February 23. Also check out President Obama speaking to the National Governors Association Dinner at the White House yesterday.

*Things just got very hot for climate deniers' favorite scientist (What percentage of the tiny number of climate science deniers are on the take from the fossil fuel interest? Probably very high.)
*Congress split over battling Islamic State (Shocker.)
*Bill O'Reilly's implosion at CBS after Falklands War 'combat' reporting
*Homeland Security fight goes into crunch time (Republicans need to do their freakin' job and pass a clean funding bill for Homeland Security.)
*Paul Krugman: Knowledge Isn't Power ("And the reason this is an evasion is that whatever serious people may want to believe, soaring inequality isn't about education; it's about power.")
*Documents show costly tastes of Jeb Bush's wife (The McDonnells, Florida version?)
*Bad budgets hurt 2016 hopefuls ("Christie, Walker, and Jindal are caught between balanced budget mandates and flagging revenues.")
*Republicans Claim Net Neutrality Will Mean Billions in New Taxes. That's Incredibly Misleading.
*The Oscars are really f***ing boring this year (Unwatchable, as is the vast majority of the boob tube.)
*McDonnells' light sentences set stage for appeals
*McAuliffe: 'No need' for Clinton to start 2016 bid right away
*Letter: Gov. McAuliffe should amend or veto Dominion's sweetheart bill ("Much better still, the governor can add mandatory renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standards.")
*Our view: Some electrifying possibilities ("If the legislature can freeze rates, it could cut them, too. What's to stop some legislator from introducing a bill to force a potentially embarrassing vote on cutting electric rates?")
*Loosening up on Dominion ("... instead of adopting a smart strategy for minimizing costs, the General Assembly has approved a bad bill that would loosen regulation of Dominion Power, one of Richmond's most powerful lobbies, for five years. The bill is now with Gov. Terry McAuliffe...He should reject it, and then lawmakers should take more productive action.")
*State spending was below budget, but auditor finds oversight gaps
*Stone Brewing, public have right to know
*Loudoun County Republican Committee: 2015 Candidates and Nominees
*Washington & Lee subject of civil rights investigation over sexual assault case
*PETA lobbyist: Bill would force shelter's closure
*Redevelopment of Alexandria waterfront progresses
*Back into the deep freeze; slick spots likely on sidewalks and roads

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 06:53:37 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, February 22.

*Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher (Yet more evidence that fossil fuel money is behind mmost climate science denial. It also appears to have corrupted the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, big time).
*U.S. threatens new sanctions against Russia (Well deserved!)
*Walker says he is unaware whether Obama is a Christian (Walker is a demagogue, also utterly unqualified to hold public office.)
*Scott Walker's cowardice should disqualify him (Yep.)
*Bill O'Reilly's Argentina story challenged by ex-CBS News journalist (Still very little coverage of this story compared to the blanket, headline coverage of Brian William. Gee, I wonder why...)
*McAuliffe: 'Crass, partisan' DHS funding threat jeopardizes public safety
*Schapiro: Nothing tidy about Va.'s clean-government push ("But more insidious ethics issues are again being overlooked or ignored. That's a reminder of a constant in statehouse politics: Legislators are reactive, given to minimal remedies and inclined to denial.")
*After sweeping corruption verdict, McDonnells emerge with light sentences
*The McDonnell Saga Is Far From Over ("If the Robert McDonnell's appeal is successful, then it would have a big impact on his wife, as well as loosen the interpretation nationally of how far 'honest services' should go. If the government is successful, then expect a crackdown on public official hankie-pankie.")
*State budget deal to return money to local governments
*Northam: The gaping hole in Virginia's budget ("The most important investment we could be making has been discussed the least: Medicaid expansion.")
*In Virginia, little chance of raising more road revenue
*No known progress on new Virginia's 3rd Congressional District map (They've clearly got higher priorities in the Teapublican-controlled Virginia General Assembly, like legalizing "throwing stars" and stuff. Heh.)
*For now, McDonnell's legacy dominated by ethics reform ("Some of his work has withstood the past year. But parts have been chipped away, including key elements of his transportation deals and two education reforms.")
*Arlington to sell fiber optic access as part of economic development
*Fairfax prosecutor resumes probe in 2013 police killing of John Geer
*Roanoke County to consider Mountain Valley Pipeline committee
*Our view: Pipeline roulette
*Fighting federal rules, Va. legislators want sugary school bake sales back (Now THAT is a top priority! /snark)
*A slight reprieve today before another front puts us back in the deep freeze

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Turmoil at the Republican Party of Virginia: A Recap

by: lowkell

Sat Feb 21, 2015 at 12:34:42 PM EST

I realized yesterday that I hadn't really written anything here on the turmoil at the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), including the departure (aka, housecleaning) of pretty much the entire RPV staff. I thought it might be helpful to provide a summary to what I've read, and what I'm hearing from my own sources. Enjoy -- with or without butter on your popcorn! :)

*Earlier today, Lynn Mitchell reported that we should expect a complete housecleaning at RPV, which she calls "the St. Valentine's Day massacre," with pretty much everyone heading out the door. According to Mitchell, the end result of this will be that the RPV is going to be left with only "a state chairman and two staffers." Mitchell adds, intriguingly, "The interesting part is going to be the names Whitbeck comes up with for replacements." Note: Whitbeck, of course, is the anti-Semitic "joke" guy, now chair of the RPV. Charming, eh?
*In its story this past Sunday, the Washington Post emphasized that all of this adds more turmoil to "a party beset by infighting and financial trouble since then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat," as "the party continues to try to cope with a schism between business-centric Republicans, including Cantor, and a tea-party influenced coalition of conservatives who currently run the party's governing board." I know, I know, it couldn't happen to a better bunch. Heh.
*Also swirling around the past few months has been Tea Partier Susan Stimpson's primary of House Speaker Bill Howell, including Stimpson's accusation that "residents of [Howell's] Fredericksburg-area district recently received a four-page glossy mailer that gives the incorrect impression that the party has endorsed him." Not surprisingly, these accusations did not make powerful people like Howell happy. More broadly, what I'm hearing is that the House and Senate Republican caucuses (aka, the "establishment") are in no mood to give money to a party they see as controlled by the same Tea Partiers who are busy primarying their incumbents, and who apparently are more concerned with (far-right-wing) ideological purity than about winning elections. Hey, that works for me. :)
*As Norm Leahy of Bearing Drift wrote recently, "one thing is clear: this is now Ken Cuccinelli's party." Leahy even alluded to "the whole thing from evolving into a kind of French Directory," referring to a less-than-bright (not to mention bloody) period following the French revolution. Again, all I have to say is, "Republicans, please don't ever change!" LOL

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 554 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Feb 21, 2015 at 07:02:09 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, February 21. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, on "the importance of continuing to grow our economy and support good-paying jobs for our workers by opening up new markets for American goods and services." As a general rule, that may be true, but it's got to be FAIR trade, with strong environmental, human rights and labor protections. Hint hint.

*11th-hour deal extends bailout for Greece ("The accord averts a potentially catastrophic exit by Greece from the Euro zone, extending for four months the terms of a 2012 financial rescue that provided relief to Greece in exchange for a series of tough economic reforms.")
*Scott Walker's spineless silence ("Mr. Giuliani has dived off the deep end before, so there was nothing all that surprising in his latest poison. But as Post columnist Dana Milbank points out, his remarks presented an early test of character for Mr. Walker, and Mr. Walker failed spectacularly.")
*These Are the Questions Bill O'Reilly Won't Answer ("Why won't the Fox News host address the evidence he mischaracterized his wartime reporting experience?")
*Bill O'Reilly plays the victim after Mother Jones report: "This is a political hit job" (Hahahahaha, gotta love it when someone hits back at the bully and the bully demonstrates what a loser/coward he was all along.)
*Bill O'Reilly's "Combat Situation" Reporting, In His Own Words (Has this guy ever told the truth about ANYTHING?)
*In Remarks on Obama, Rudy Giuliani to the Core (Yes, he's scum.)
*For Immigrants, Fear Returns After a Federal Judge's Ruling (I'm just glad the right wing is howling about "activist judges" on this one. Oh wait, of course they aren't!)
*7 charts that explain why Hillary Clinton lost in 2008 - and why she's winning in 2016
*Terry McAuliffe: GOP will be blamed for DHS shutdown
*Crisis at RPV: Whitbeck Puts Staff on Chopping Block ("You could call it the St. Valentine's Day massacre.")
*Ex-Va. first lady gets prison term of a year and a day
*Maureen McDonnell's real mistake was always putting her husband first
*Va. House has no immediate plans to redraw congressional map ("Speaker Howell faces an April 1 deadline unless the court approves a request for an extension." Special session coming up?)
*Homeschool lobby wins special privileges (Gov. McAuliffe, veto this garbage.)
*An idea for helping Virginia foster kids lands in budget limbo
*Warner, Kaine urge faster action on new oil train regulations
*Taking Bets: Will Sen. Emmett Hanger announce his retirement by Tuesday?
*As temperatures rise today, rain and snow will fall. Up to 5 inches possible.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Innocent Until PROVEN Guilty? Virginia Senate Finance Committee Kills Asset Forfeiture Bill.

by: lowkell

Fri Feb 20, 2015 at 17:48:35 PM EST

Hat tip to Coy Barefoot on this one, which occurred earlier this week. Coy writes the following (bolding added by me for emphasis):
Members of the Virginia Senate Finance Committee killed a bill that would have made it illegal for police to seize your property UNLESS you've been found guilty of committing a crime. That's right, currently it's LEGAL. It's called "civil forfeiture" - which is quite Orwellian- it's more properly described as government theft. The police can seize your property if you're simply suspected of committing a crime, not even proven guilty- and then good luck getting it back. Conservatives are split on the issue: some, following their own principles, see this as government power run amok- while others see it as a way of empowering law enforcement (police make BIG BIG profits off of taking the privately owned property of citizens). Anyway, here in Virginia at least, right now "civil forfeiture" is alive and well.
The bill, HB 1287, passed the House of Delegates by an overwhelming, 92-6 vote. It then was reported from the Senate Courts of Justice committee on an 11-2 vote. Last but not least, it was "passed by indefinitely," on a 9-5 vote, in the Senate Finance committee. Huh? Can anyone explain to me how it's possibly constitutional for the government to seize your property when you're still "innocent until PROVEN guilty" of a crime? I really don't get it.

P.S. This article explains: "Police and prosecutors opposed the bill, while several conservative and liberal groups backed it. A letter in support of the bill on Monday was signed by Claire Guthrie Gastanaga of the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and two officials with the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm."

Discuss :: (2 Comments)
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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