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Results tagged “State Senate”

A battle won in the budget war

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March 27, 2012

The Roanoke Times reports that yesterday, "The politically divided Senate voted 35-4 to pass its own version of a two-year $85 billion budget, something it failed to do during the regular legislative session that ended March 10. Senate Democrats had twice blocked passage of a budget bill before winning some concessions on funding for schools and health and human services programs, and on provisions to mitigate tolls for major transportation projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads."

Progressive Point: Yesterday, after weeks of negotiations, the State Senate passed a budget that responds to the needs and priorities of Virginia's families. While not perfect, this budget represents a progressive step forward from the conservative proposal that would have left many of our students and seniors behind. While it should never be partisan politics to protect the essential community services represented in the state budget, yesterday's overwhelming agreement is a victory for our shared Virginia values.

As the budget heads to conference committee, it is essential to remember that we are not done fighting for progressive priorities in the budget despite yesterday's victory. Our representatives must stand firm in putting Virginia families first and protect their constituents over corporate special interests.

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  • Today the House of Delegates will likely formally reject the State Senate's budget and representatives from both will begin to negotiate a compromise. Localities are urging timely action as the budget takes effect on July 1.

  • The Senate compromise will restore $1 million to poison-control centers and almost $500,000 for teen pregnancy prevention "as well as money for nursing homes, child-care services and programs that help people with physical disabilities find employment." It also adds $60 million hto help Northern Virginia schools hire staff. (Washington Post, March 26, 2012)

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March 5, 2012

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "Thirty-one women's rights demonstrators were arrested Saturday in a state Capitol protest that drew hundreds of people and a police response including officers in riot gear. The rally was the latest held in opposition to contentious General Assembly bills that have drawn attention far beyond the state, including a measure that would require women to undergo a transabdominal ultrasound before having an abortion."

Progressive Point: For years, the national conversation about Virginia was that we were the best place to do business and raise a family. But just a few short months after the conservative takeover in Richmond, our Commonwealth is better known for a conservative, anti-family agenda.

Mr. Jefferson's capitol used to be a place to debate solutions to the problems that affect people's lives: jobs, education, transportation, the social safety net. In less than two months the Republicans have turned it into a marketplace for extreme anti-woman, anti-voter, anti-middle class policies that leave many Virginians with no other recourse but to march on the capitol that they pay for and to which they send representatives to serve them.

It's time for Governor McDonnell to show the courage to resist the extreme agenda of his political allies and get back to work on Virginians' priorities.

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  • Conservative legislation in Richmond would require women seeking to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, be given an opportunity to view it, and then keep it in the their medical file at the facility. "The legislation is a priority for social conservatives and has support from Gov. Bob McDonnell, who called it an 'appropriate measure' during a morning radio interview." (Virginian-Pilot, February 1, 2012)
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March 2, 2012

The Washington Post reports that Virginia State Senator Don McEachin said, in a recent statement, "This budget leaves gaping holes in the area of public education, transportation and the needs of Virginia families... Dollars for public education are below 2007 levels and the budget allows for 5 students more per classroom than SOQ [Standards of Quality] levels... We are taking monies out of our struggling public school system, the system that serves the vast majority of Virginia children and prepares them for the 21st century economy, and giving those dollars to wealthy private academies... We still await a longterm sustainable solution to the transportation crisis, not band-aid patches that simply steal funds from other critical needs... Finally, this budget throws 4,500 seniors out of nursing homes, reduces respite hours for caregivers and reduces salaries for first responders and teachers."

Progressive Point: Conservatives in Richmond continue to insist that a budget that leaves so many behind and fails to fix our urgent needs is good for Virginia. As we have highlighted throughout the week, the conservative budget is balanced on the backs of Virginia families. It fails to fund real transportation solutions. It cuts care for our seniors. It steals federal money designated to help Virginians get out of the housing crisis and tragically underfunds our students and schools.

We cannot allow conservatives in Richmond to pretend that corporate tax loopholes are more important than the needs of Virginia families. We cannot allow them to push a cuts-only approach that doesn't have real answers to our needs and leaves so many of our neighbors behind. Our representatives on both sides of the aisle must work together to find real and solvent solutions to our budget challenges. We can't accept a conservative budget that passes the buck. 

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  • McDonnell's transportation proposals would result in "decades of austerity for public education, universities, safety net programs and state troopers," and, even if enacted, would not meet Virginia's road maintenance needs. Previous failures to meet maintenance costs have resulted in $2.8 billion in construction budget shortfalls since 2005. (Roanoke Times, December 12, 2011)

  • Virginia ranks 7th in the country in per capita income, but 47th in per capita spending on transportation. The reason for such a large imbalance is because the majority of Virginia's transportation funding comes from the fuel tax which currently sits at just 17 cents per gallon. However, the gas tax would be "35 cents today had it been indexed for inflation." (Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, Daily Press, December 9, 2011)

  • "'I voted against the proposed budget because it did not fund education at the appropriate level,' he [State Senator Mark Herring] added... Herring noted that the budget on the table would have kept the average per-pupil funding in Virginia's schools to below 2007 levels, and that public education took a huge blow in the last two-year budget cycle with $1.6 billion in cuts." (Leesburg Today, February 25, 2012)

  • Virginia loses $12.5 billion in revenue a year through credits and giveaways that receive little-to-no scrutiny and accountability. (JLARC)

  • According to the Department of Justice, direct state payments in the National Mortgage Settlement were intended to provide "fund housing counselors, legal aid and other similar public programs determined by the state attorneys general." (Department of Justice February 9, 2012)

  • "Medicaid cuts will also have an impact on nursing homes, because 61 percent of those residents in the state are on Medicaid. The Virginia Health Care Association, which advocates for nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, is asking legislators for an additional $15 million a year, to restore $5 a day from the average of $13.22 that nursing homes lose on Medicaid residents. Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia would lose $371,000 a year in the governor's budget." (Virginian-Pilot, February 17, 2012)

  • "In his two-year budget, Gov. Bob McDonnell proposes cutting ['safety net' health services] by 2 percent starting July 1 and by 50 percent starting July 1, 2013." (Virginian-Pilot, February 17, 2012)

  • "The governor's budget also withholds inflation payments to Medicaid, the federal- and state-supported health care program for low-income Virginians. The flat reimbursements are expected to have an impact on hospitals, community health clinics and nursing homes, because of the large caseloads of Medicaid patients they serve. Those health agencies' officials say they already are losing money on Medicaid patients, because reimbursements don't cover costs." (Virginian-Pilot, February 17, 2012)
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Share on TwitterTweet it: Worst of the Week: Pretending the Conservative Budget Isn't Bad for Virginia http://bit.ly/wy0XkB via @ProgressVA

February 27, 2012

The News Virginian reports, "Crowds at recent local government meetings have pleaded for more school funding, and their ardor has been matched by educators donning black on a recent Friday to mourn the lack of state funding for public education. Next Saturday, the Blue Ridge Uniserv of the Virginia Education Association plans a wake for education in downtown Charlottesville."

Progressive Point: Virginia's children need a world-class education to ensure they're ready to succeed in an increasing global economy. But the Senate Republicans' budget funds yesterday's education system, not tomorrow's.

While Virginia is stuck in the past, our competitors are racing ahead--lowering class sizes and investing in new technology. We are at an education crisis--the current Senate budget proposes to fund K-12 education at $40 million less than we spent in 2007, and when you adjust for inflation and enrollment increases you find that the Senate budget is down nearly $1.5 billion since 2007. Inflation has only continued and we know we have more students to educate. Conservatives now want our children do it with less than we had before. The Senate must pass a budget that prepares our kids to succeed by investing in their education and our future.

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  • "'I voted against the proposed budget because it did not fund education at the appropriate level,' he [State Senator Mark Herring] added... Herring noted that the budget on the table would have kept the average per-pupil funding in Virginia's schools to below 2007 levels, and that public education took a huge blow in the last two-year budget cycle with $1.6 billion in cuts." (Leesburg Today, February 25, 2012)

  • Virginia loses $12.5 billion in revenue a year through credits and giveaways that receive little-to-no scrutiny and accountability. (JLARC)
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February 10, 2012

The Virginian-Pilot reports the priority of conservative lawmakers the first half of Virginia's legislative session has been a social agenda including, "Mandatory ultrasounds before abortions. Tougher voter identification standards. Repeal of a limit on handgun purchases." This was despite the fact, "Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell warned his colleagues not to overreach now that they controlled both houses of the legislature, but to focus on the economy and jobs."

Progressive Point: Virginians want their representatives to focus on fixing the economy, creating jobs, and improving infrastructure and our transportation system. Conservatives campaigned on these issues, but instead of helping Virginia families they are choosing to support special interests. Introducing 34 bills on handguns and 12 bills interfering with women's private medical decisions is not helping create jobs. Pushing 32 different bills to increase tax giveaways and loopholes for big corporations is not helping our Commonwealth's economy--it's actually damaging Virginia by defunding our budget for schools, roads, and other important programs that serve us all.

Virginia's voters need their lawmakers to focus on finding economic solutions and stop spending their time on ideological issues. They have wasted the first half of the short legislative session on partisanship when they should have been pushing legislation that would support working Virginians. It's time for Richmond to start helping Virginia's struggling working families and stop trying to take away their rights. It's time to invest in a Virginia that works for everyone. 

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Get the Facts: Conservatives have spent the first half of Virginia's General Assembly session introducing:

  • 34 bills dealing with handguns, weakening Virginia's crime prevention tools

  • 12 bills interfering with women's private medical decisions, which should be left to a woman, her family, and her faith

  • 12 bills wasting taxpayer money on enforcing federal laws and making new immigrants feel unwelcome in the Commonwealth

  • 13 bills placing barriers between Virginians who have fallen on hard times and the help they need to get back on their feet, insinuating that being poor is shameful

  • 3 bills establishing some Virginians as second-class citizens, denying equal protection under the law to some Virginia families based solely on their sexual orientation

  • 32 bills increasing the tax giveaways and loopholes for big corporations

  • 9 bills attacking Virginia workers' rights and protections

  • 13 bills making it more difficult for Virginians to vote

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February 9, 2012

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "a state Senate subcommittee has bowed to the reality that no legislation will be approved in this General Assembly session to create a state exchange for health insurance benefits."

Progressive Point: Virginia families and business owners demand and deserve affordable health care solutions which makes the General Assembly's refusal to create a state health care exchange incomprehensible. Conservatives in Richmond are putting politics before people and bowing down to the will of insurance companies. This refusal to act is denying Virginia federal dollars and the flexibility to create a health insurance marketplace designed for Virginians' needs.

Virginians want a state exchange that is overseen by the consumers receiving the care, not by a biased industry more interested in making a buck. Small business want an exchange because it will save them money help them create jobs. Delaying the exchange's creation putting roadblocks in front of Virginians seeking affordable health care is moving our Commonwealth in the wrong direction.

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Get the Facts:

  • Virginia's health benefit exchange will enable more than 500,000 Virginians to acquire heath care

  • Virginia's health benefit exchange will save Virginians money by reducing the cost of uncompensated care for the uninsured by more than $800 million

  • Virginia's health benefit exchange will provide options to ensure sufficient choice of providers and information on provider availability

  • Virginia's health benefit exchange will protect consumers by requiring insurers to submit justifications for premium increases and making such justifications public

  • Virginia's health benefit exchange will help consumers by making the process of deciding on a health care plan easier

  • Virginia's health benefit exchange will help small business by providing a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to meet their unique needs.

Hindering crime prevention

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February 7, 2012

The Virginian-Pilot reports the Virginia State Senate voted yesterday to eliminate Virginia's limit to one handgun purchase a month, which has been in place for nearly twenty years. The House of Delegates has already passed their companion legislation, and Governor Bob McDonnell, "who supported the handgun limit as a Virginia Beach legislator, has said he will sign legislation to overturn it."

Progressive Point: Crime control and public safety are a top priority for all Virginians. Virginia's limit to one handgun purchase a month was put in place twenty years ago to combat gun traffickers--and today, the ban still targets illegal gun runners. Crime prevention is a laudable goal and gun trafficking is as real and serious a crime today as it was when the law was passed.

Gun violence is a major concern for Virginians, and our representatives must balance crime prevention with constitutional rights. The current law does not prohibit any Virginian from lawfully purchasing a handgun, but it does make it harder to illegally traffic in firearms. Crime prevention and stopping gun violence is a priority for Virginians across the Commonwealth, and removing this ban damages our ability to keep citizens safe.

Get the Facts:

  • Just two years after the one-gun-a-month regulation went into effect, it started to show serious success. The Virginia State Crime Commission reported that the odds of a Virginia gun being recovered in connection with a criminal investigation were down 36% across the country, down 66% in the Northeast Corridor (NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA), and 71% in New York. (Report of the Virginia State Crime Commission, Study of Virginia's Law on Handgun Purchase Limits, 1996)

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Senate Bill #1 - Voter Discrimination

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January 12, 2012

On Tuesday, State Senator Steve Martin told CBS 6 the requirement in his bill, SB 1 (the very first bill prefiled in the Senate), that voter registration cards no longer be an acceptable form of identification when voting, was a "mistake." But Sen. Martin introduced virtually identical language in 2010 and 2011, and pulled much of the legislative language from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He's one of ALEC's two Virginia state chairmen and has spent over $22,000 dollars in taxpayer money traveling around to their conferences to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors.

Progressive Point: State Senator Martin proposing legislation to make it harder for Virginia's elderly, low-income residents, and minority voters to participate in our Commonwealth's democratic process is not something that can be dismissed as merely a simple "mistake." And it is far more than a mistake considering this is the 3rd year in a row he has introduced this discriminatory language.

Our representatives should be encouraging our communities to vote and be engaged in our elections as diversity enriches us all. Bringing back regressive legislation to Virginia would be a sorry step backwards for our Commonwealth, and it has no place in Richmond.

Get the Facts:

  • Kent Willis, the executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, called Sen. Martin's bill "a clear violation of voter rights," and "any kind of restrictions you impose on ID disproportionately affect the elderly, low-income residents and racial minorities." (CBS 6, January 10, 2012)

  • At the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus's press conference on Wednesday, Sen. Yvonne Miller stated that the bill would take Virginia "back to the bad old days when there was a very small electorate, when only men could vote and only white men who owned property could vote." (Virginian-Pilot, January 11, 2012)

  • Sen. Mamie Locke describes the bill as an "effort to suppress the vote," and Sen. Donald McEachin stated, "These are solutions looking for problems. There is no problem with voter fraud in Virginia." (Richmond Times Dispatch, January 11, 2012)

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State Senator Steve Martin told CBS 6 yesterday that the requirement in his bill, SB 1 (the very first bill prefiled in the Senate), that voter registration cards no longer be an acceptable form of identification when voting was a "mistake." That's quite a mistake considering this is the 3rd year in a row he has introduced this language. Kent Willis, the executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, called Martin's bill "a clear violation of voter rights," and "any kind of restrictions you impose on ID disproportionately affect the elderly, low-income residents and racial minorities."

Sen. Martin introduced virtually identical language in 2010 and 2011. He also, coincidentally, pulled a lot of the legislative language from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He's one of ALEC's two Virginia state chairmen and has spent over $22,000 dollars in taxpayer money traveling around to their conferences to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors (View his ALEC profile here).

Attempting to pass legislation that would disenfranchise many Virginia voters once would indeed be quite a "mistake". File your "mistaken" legislation three years in a row and people might start to think your campaign for voter disenfranchisement was intentional.

Stop the power grab and get to work

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January 10, 2012

Virginia's part-time legislature will begin its short session tomorrow. Sadly, the Daily Press reports, "Republicans and Democrats will be at each other's throats from the opening gavel over whether Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling can use his tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate to organize the chamber and give the GOP control. As a result of last November's elections, the Senate is evenly divided with each party holding 20 seats."

Progressive Point: The conservative power grab in the State Senate ignores the will of the voters and distracts focus from the pressing issues facing Virginians. Virginians have real concerns about our economy, creating jobs, fixing our roads, and strengthening our families. Instead of tackling bipartisan solutions, conservatives continue to push their extreme agenda.

Virginians don't want the same political games in Richmond that the politicians play in Washington, D.C. Our legislators should be working for us, not an extreme Tea Party agenda. Virginia families are facing very real problems that our representatives can all agree on. It is their duty to respect the will of the voters, share power and serve all Virginians. Conservatives should stop their partisan power grab and get to work.

Get the Facts:

  • Research from Public Policy Polling show that the majority of voting Virginians support power sharing in the State Senate: "On one hand only 31% of voters think the Republicans should have full control of the chamber, while 55% think there should be some sort of power sharing arrangement. Predictably Republicans think they should have all the power and Democrats think it should be shared. Independents tip the balance by siding with the Democrats in support of power sharing by a 53/28 margin."

In the mid-90s, when the shoe was on the other foot, Virginia Republicans argued for the exact opposite for what they are saying today. Here are a couple of their quotes:

  • "There are 20 of them -- there are 20 of us... We are going to be equal partners." Sen. John Chichester, The Richmond Times Dispatch, November 30, 2011
  • "We've got parity we're entitled to 50 percent of the committee chairmanships and 75 of the 150 committee assignments." Sen. Joe Benedetti (R-Richmond), The Washington Times, December 13, 1995
  • "[the power-sharing pact] is consistent with what [voters] decided on during the election which was a 20-20 split" Gov. George Allen, The Washington Times, January 13, 1996
  • "I thought in 1996 that the power-sharing arrangement, which was good for four years, made for greater harmony in doing the business of the Senate... I think such would be true today if a sharing agreement could be worked out." Rep. Virgil Goode, The Richmond Times Dispatch, November 30, 2011

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The Republican Power Grab

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December 6, 2011

Conservatives in Virginia's State Senate are continuing to ignore the voice of voters, who chose a balanced legislature, in their attempt to grab power and establish one-party rule in Richmond so that they can push through their radical agenda. But yesterday, the Free Lance-Star reported, "Virginia Senate Democrats filed suit yesterday to stop Republicans from taking power in the state Senate. The lawsuit was filed by Sen. Don McEachin, D-Richmond, the caucus chairman, in Richmond Circuit Court. It seeks an injunction to stop Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling from voting with Republican senators to organize the Senate when it convenes next month and asks the judge to rule on whether Bolling has authority to vote on certain matters."

Progressive Point: Twenty equals twenty, despite conservatives' continued attempts to overreach. Virginia has a history of sharing power when there is an equal partisan split in the State Senate and agreeing to share power for the good of the Commonwealth. Virginia voters should expect no less of their leaders now. This conservative power grab is a blatant attempt institute one-party rule in Virginia so they can enact a radical agenda, including ending a woman's right to choose in Virginia, redoing redistricting, enacting anti-environment legislation, and many other bills that they would not be able to pass in a balanced legislative body. Virginians expect their leaders to respect their votes and respect their voice and come to a bipartisan solution in the Senate.

Tweet it: VA's leaders must respect the voice of the voters and stop the conservative power grab #vafightback http://bit.ly/s1Sm2x via @ProgressVA

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November 30, 2011

Jeff Schapiro in the Richmond Times Dispatch reports that both former Republican Congressman Virgil Goode and former Republican State Senator John Chichester are joining with Democrats and urging power-sharing in the Virginia State Senate. He writes, "Virgil Goode Jr., the guy who forced an evenly split Virginia Senate into power-sharing in 1996, argues that it should do the same in 2012 -- that giving both parties a say makes for 'greater harmony and a better attitude.'... John Chichester, a Republican for whom power-sharing was a steppingstone to the Finance Committee chairmanship, the most influential position in the Senate, all but says his party is guilty of a flip-flop by now claiming the lieutenant governor's tie-breaking vote gives the GOP a lock on power."

Progressive Point: Republicans and Democrats agree that power-sharing in State Senate is in the best interest of the Commonwealth and Virginia families. The only opposition to this balanced approach and bipartisan solution is from out-of-touch conservatives who won't even listen to reason from their own party. Imposition of an unelected Republican majority in the State Senate ignores the voice and vote of Virginians in a bald power grab to institute one party rule. This overreach is not in the best interest of Virginians, who voted for legislators who can work together, not for partisan politics.  

Get the Facts:
In the mid-90s, when the shoe was on the other foot, Virginia Republicans argued for the exact opposite for what they are saying today. Here are a couple of their quotes:

  • "There are 20 of them -- there are 20 of us... We are going to be equal partners." Sen. John Chichester, The Richmond Times Dispatch, November 30, 2011
  • "We've got parity we're entitled to 50 percent of the committee chairmanships and 75 of the 150 committee assignments." Sen. Joe Benedetti (R-Richmond), The Washington Times, December 13, 1995
  • "[the power-sharing pact] is consistent with what [voters] decided on during the election which was a 20-20 split" Gov. George Allen, The Washington Times, January 13, 1996
  • "I thought in 1996 that the power-sharing arrangement, which was good for four years, made for greater harmony in doing the business of the Senate... I think such would be true today if a sharing agreement could be worked out." Rep. Virgil Goode, The Richmond Times Dispatch, November 30, 2011

Tweet it: Democrats and Republicans Agree on Power-Sharing http://bit.ly/tjsuES via @ProgressVA

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right turn.pngConservative lawmakers did not waste any time in getting partisan legislative proposals started for the next session that starts in January. Some controversial proposals are already public, just two weeks since the election, and they include:

  • "Personhood" Anti-Abortion Legislation - Similar to legislation recently rejected in Mississippi, Del. Bob Marshall has already filed a "Personhood" bill for the upcoming session. (Washington Post, Virginia's Legislative Information System)

  • Ending Criminal Background Checks for Gun Purchases - The Virginian-Pilot reports, "Gun-rights advocates have lobbied Gov. Bob McDonnell to scrap the program... Efforts to cancel the state's 22-year-old background check system... could be debated in the upcoming General Assembly session." This will likely be just one of many pro-gun proposals from conservatives.

  • Undoing Compromise Redistricting - Conservatives led by Republican Leader Tommy Norment would redo this year's Virginia State Senate and House redistricting to be more favorable to Republicans. (Virginia Gazette) Conservatives are also trying to stall Congressional redistricting until January, in order to pass a map that will protect their 8 - 3 Republican Congressional majority and eliminate the creation of a second minority seat. (Washington Post)

  • Conservative Immigration Policy - New legislation, and legislation copied from other states, will have significant anti-immigrant impacts on Virginia law enforcement, businesses, social and medical services, education, and housing. (Change Servant)

  • Anti-Union Legislation - Del. Marshall has filed a bill to prohibit state revenue for the Dulles metro project if there is a project labor agreement. (VA Legislative Information System) Senate candidate George Allen also recently voiced opposition to Project Labor Agreements. (Progressive Point)

  • Removing a Ban on Uranium Mining - Conservative lawmakers will likely help the uranium industry remove Virginia's 30-year ban on uranium mining in the Commonwealth. (Keep the Ban)

  • Exempting VA Coal Companies from the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and All Federal Regulations - Last year, conservatives passed legislation in the House of Delegates that would exempt any products mined, manufactured, or produced in any other way and sold in Virginia from all federal regulations. That means coal companies would be exempt from the Clean Water Act and utilities would be exempt from the Clean Air Act if they were burning coal mined in Virginia. (Virginia Chapter Sierra Club) This will very likely be put forward again in January.

  • Major Budget Cuts and Layoffs - Gov. McDonnell will soon submit a budget that will likely include layoffs and cuts of up to 6% for Virginia agencies, as well as many changes disingenuously labeled "reforms" from McDonnell's commission that excluded Democratic members. (Richmond Times Dispatch Oct. 28, 2011; Richmond Times Dispatch Nov. 20, 2011)

Also likely to return is a proposal to change pension plans from defined-benefit to defined-contribution--a conservative plan to hand over teachers and firefighters' retirement accounts to Wall Street for them to gamble away. (Virginian-Pilot) We can expect many other conservative legislative proposals, such as school vouchers, anti-transparency measures, and a right-to-work constitutional amendment.

Following Republican gains in Virginia's State Senate and House, conservative lawmakers believe they will be able to force through ideological and controversial bills that had previously been stopped by the State Senate. These proposals are not in the best interest of Virginians and we cannot allow them to become law because we weren't paying attention.

ProgressVA will continue to keep this list updated as new conservative legislative proposals surface.

The Republican Power Grab

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November 22, 2011

Note: The Progressive Point will be on Thanksgiving vacation until Monday, November 28th, in order to consume large amounts of turkey and properly prepare for Saturday's UVA-VT game. Happy Thanksgiving to our readers!

The Senate Democratic Caucus yesterday asserted the 20-20 partisan split in the State Senate should result in a power sharing agreement and announced their intention to file suit to prevent Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling from voting on the organization of the Senate.

The Progressive Point: On November 8th, Virginia voters elected equal numbers of Democrats and Republican to the State Senate. Now, Republicans are attempting to ignore the voters and seize power in order to force through their extreme ideological agenda. This power grab is an appalling overreach that ignores Virginia tradition and law. Republicans are trying to overrule the will of the people and claim a majority they did not earn. Virginia's leaders must respect the rule of law and the decision of the voters and establish power sharing in the State Senate.

What the conservative power grab would mean for Virginia:

  • Senate Republican leader Tommy Norment declared his intention to reopen legislative redistricting in order to redraw his district to his own liking and punish a neighboring Democratic Senator. (The Virginia Gazette)
  • The State Senate has been the last line of defense for Virginians against bizarre and extreme conservative legislation. A Senate led by an illegitimate Republican majority would likely approve the radical legislation coming from the House of Delegates. Already, Delegate Bob Marshall has prefiled legislation that would:
    • establish legal protections for fertilized eggs a la Mississippi's rejected "personhood" amendment (The Washington Post)
    • eliminate state funding for the Dulles Rail extension if the project includes a project labor agreement (See our fact check on PLAs here)

Tweet it: No majority? No problem! Republicans in the State Senate plan to ignore your vote. http://bit.ly/rMefdw via @ProgressVA

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Twenty is not more than twenty

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November 18, 2011

On November 8th, Virginia voters chose to elect equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans to the State Senate. Now, Republican Senators are circumventing the voters' decision and Virginia's Constitution to declare a majority in order to push through their extreme agenda. Senator Tommy Norment, who has been selected to lead the Republican Senate Caucus, demonstrated his poor grasp of math yesterday when he declared "the people of Virginia voted to have Republicans lead the Senate of Virginia."

Progressive Point: Respect for the rule of law and the decisions made by voters are fundamental to our democracy. Republicans in the State Senate have chosen to disregard the Virginia Constitution, the verdict delivered by voters on November 8th, and apparently the basic rules of math. Ask any first grader whether 20 is greater than 20 and they will tell you no. This blatant power grab is an insult to Virginians. Republicans in the State Senate must respect the laws of our Commonwealth and establish power-sharing in the Senate. Running roughshod over the will of Virginia voters to push through their extreme agenda threatens our future and subverts our democratic traditions.

Get the Facts:

20 is not greater than 20. (Source: 1st grade math, Wolfram Alpha)

The Virginia Constitution states that "members elected" may vote on the rules and organization of the Senate. The Leiutenant Governor is not a member of the State Senate. (Source: Constitution of Virginia, Senator John Edwards)

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November 10, 2011

Tuesday's election resulted in the Democratic Party holding 20 seats in the State Senate, the Republican Party holding 19, and one race that is too close to call but will likely go to the Republicans. This will result in a 20 to 20 tie in the Senate, with Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling in the position to cast tie breaking votes.

Progressive Point: On Tuesday, you voted. On Wednesday, Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell decided it didn't matter. In a blatant power grab, the far right of Virginia, under McDonnell and Bolling's leadership, is attempting to seize control of the State Senate despite voters choosing to split power evenly between the parties.

McDonnell, Bolling and the radical right are trying to grab control while they only have 19 seats in the State Senate, with their own possible 20th State Senator refusing to declare victory. These brazenly partisan attempts, the first day after the election, signal a scary future for our Commonwealth if the Tea Party is allowed to take total control. Virginia needs leaders who will work together to secure a better future for our families, not supercede election results to push their own agenda.

Get the Facts:

"Virginia Republicans, who appear to have eked out a partisan 20-20 split in the 40-seat Senate in Tuesday's election, said Wednesday they will not share power with Democrats, who have held a two-seat majority the past four years... That's contingent, however, on Republican newcomer Bryce Reeves' narrow lead over 7-term Democratic Sen. R. Edward Houck surviving Wednesday's vote canvass in six localities that are part of the 17th Senate District, then a possible recount." (Washington Post)

"Republicans declared victory in the race between challenger Bryce Reeves and longtime Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania, despite a mere 86 votes separating the two candidates and more ballots left to count -- not to mention the likelihood of a recount. But don't include Reeves among those already assuming victory. Campaign manager Chris Leavitt said they're going to wait before they anoint themselves the winner." (Washington Examiner)

"In one of their first moves since Tuesday's election, Republicans said Wednesday they would wait until January when they are in power in both the House and Senate to redraw the state's 11 congressional districts... The decision virtually ensures the state would keep its 8-3 split of Republican vs. Democratic congressmen... The Democratic-led Senate passed a competing map which would create a new district in which black voters are a sizeable minority, in addition to another district in which they hold a majority. The House plan, like Virginia's current map, includes one minority-minority district." (Washington Post)

Tweet it: On Tuesday, you voted. On Wednesday, Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell decided it didn't matter. http://bit.ly/sQz3zs via @ProgressVA

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November 7, 2011

Today is Election Day across Virginia and your vote matters more than ever. No less than the control of our State Senate and the future of our Commonwealth are at stake.

Progressive Point: With the control of the Virginia State Senate and the future of our families on the line, every vote today is extremely important.  Please forward this message to all of your family members and friends who live in Virginia to remind them how important today's election is. Tell them what issue is personally important to you and why it matters that they get out and vote. Tell them you care about women's rights, that you want our legislature to stand up to discrimination of every kind, or that you want responsible approaches to Virginia's environmental and transportation future for our families.

On Election Day, polls are open from 6 AM to 7 PM. Look up your polling place and driving directions on the Virginia State Board of Election's website.

Tweet it: Today is Election Day. Did your family vote?http://bit.ly/rtFCYg via @ProgressVA

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