Important Legislation for a Short Session

Virginia has “short” and “long” sessions of its legislative session.  This is a “short” year, when legislators tell you they haven’t much time, and must deal with the most important issues.  Here is just a sampling of some they apparently put in that category.

 

HB 1420
Newborn screening; Krabbe disease. Requires the screening tests conducted on every infant born in the Commonwealth to include a screening test for Krabbe disease and other lysosomal storage disorders.

This is not the first time the Virginia legislature has dictated what tests must be run on newborns.  whether or not a person with an actual medical degree believes it necessary.

HB 1515

Information for maternity patients; safe sleep environments for infants.  Information for maternity patients; safe sleep environments for infants. Adds information about safe sleep environments for infants that is consistent with current information available from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the list of information that licensed nurse midwives, licensed midwives, and hospitals must provide to maternity care patients

Not only does the legislature want to practice medicine; it also wants to dictate what information your pediatrician or other health professional must provide you, removing all discretion based on medical knowledge and individual cases

HB1548

Revocation of concealed handgun permit; delinquency in child support payments. Provides for the revocation of an individual’s concealed handgun permit if such individual (i) has failed to comply with a subpoena, summons, or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings or (ii) is delinquent in the payment of child support by 90 days or more or in an amount of $5,000 or more. If the obligor remedies the delinquency, reaches an agreement with the obligee or Department of Social Services to remedy the delinquency, or complies with the subpoena, summons, or warrant, he may reapply for a concealed weapons permit.

Because the two are so closely related.  Doesn’t matter that you can’t afford your child-support payments, your life is not worth maintaining. Fortunately, does not note that one may carry a firearm in Virginia without a Concealed Handgun Permit.  This is a nose under the tent to removing firearms eligibility.
What happened to “punishment should fit the crime”?

HB1566

Grading system for individual school performance; star number scale. Requires the Board of Education to develop an individual school performance grading system and assign a grade or a series of grades to each public elementary and secondary school using a five-star to one-star scale, five-star being the highest grade. Current law requires individual school performance to be reported by October 1, 2016, using five letter grades from A to F.

Uh, excuse me?  The current six-letter scale uses A-F, but apparently we think our students and parents can’t understand the same grading method we use to grade them.  Let’s make it a five-star scale.  What?  Are we rating hotels?  Is this really an issue?

HJ593

Losing Loved Ones in a Tragic Accident Month

Who doesn’t want a “Losing Loved Ones in a Tragic Accident” Month?

HB2331

Definition of fur-bearing animal.  Defines the fisher as a fur-bearing animal in hunting and trapping provisions of the Code of Virginia. The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a small carnivorous mammal native to North America. It is a member of the weasel family.

Apparently, Virginia law has to mirror wikipedia, which lists 70 references for the animal..  Never mind that there is an entire branch of science devoted to Mammalogy, and that scientific documentation of species identifiers already exists.  I doubt (though I can’t be certain) that any members of the General Assembly are members of the American Society of Mammalogists, but perhaps they should be?

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An open letter, and a promise, to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Governor McDonnell, you have the power to stop this atrocity.   The government of Virginia is poised to retrogress to a patronizing, sanctimonious mass of social laws designed to step on women.

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject in whatever form the “personhood” bill and the “ultrasound” bill reach you.  Reject them outright.

I am so repulsed by the ideas espoused in these bills that I will make a promise.

I will promise, should these bills pass with or without your signature, that I will not cast a vote for a Republican in Virginia until they are repealed.  Nor will I cast a vote in a national election for any ticket with which your name or your endorsement is affiliated.

I will do what I can to get other women and others who value individual freedom to join me.

I seem to have missed the logic here.

Delegate David Englin (VA-45) is concerned about tax credits that eat up the revenue Virginia should be collecting, and in fact has submitted a bill  (HB1032) that: “Prohibits any committee of the General Assembly from reporting any bill that establishes, increases, or expands a state or local tax exemption, credit, deduction, or any other reduction in tax liability, unless the bill contains a sunset date not to exceed five years.”

So ponder this.  Why is he introducing

HB 1023 Income tax, state or corporate; tax credit for hiring certain individuals.

and co-patroning

HB 1041 Income tax, state and corporate; tax credit for hiring veterans.

HB 922 Real property tax; exemption for disabled veterans.

I guess it’s not tax credits he’s against, just credits he doesn’t like.

I’m not necessarily opposed to tax credits for disabled veterans, in limited circumstances.  But you can’t oppose tax credits, and then introduce them, without questions being asked.

Protect me? Oh, really?

In Warren v. District of Columbia, DC’s highest court ruled it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”

The Supreme Court has upheld such decisions.  Police have no duty to protect individual citizens.  (See here for several citations; the Wikipedia citation is down on SOPA protest day.)

So why do they rule that speed traps and drunk-driving checkpoints are legal?  Aren’t those designed to protect individuals?  Some states get it right, and either prohibit them or don’t conduct them because police lack the statutory authority.     I like this page about the legality of the checkpoints, noting the “DUI exception to the Constitution.”

What could possibly be the states’ vested interest, other than – wait for it – protecting individuals?

So what the courts are really telling us is that governments (police forces) don’t have to protect individuals unless they can potentially make money from it.

Politicians sure do tend to “assume” responsibility

I have been reading a lot of political material lately.  Surprising, eh?

Recently it struck me that politicians – well, in truth, a lot of “leaders” – tend to issue statements in which they “assume” responsibility.

Seems that seldom do they “accept” responsibility*.  Even less often do they admit culpability.

“Assuming” responsibility lets them be magnanimous.  In effect, it says “I’m not responsible – that poor schmuck over there is – but I’m such a big person I’ll assume the responsibility from him and let him off the hook.”

It goes hand-in-hand with issuing non-apologies — you know, the ones that say “I’m sorry you were offended.” rather than “I’m sorry I said something offensive.”

___________________

*Note:  this statement is based on my impressions; I certainly did not do any kind of research to tell whether one or the other word was more popular.

Fairfax County Supervisor Gerry Hyland sent out an interesting “invitation”.  In it, he noted something new — an admission charge of canned goods for United Community Ministries.

I wrote asking whether he was simply promoting a very tasteless joke or actually charging admission to an audience with a public official — a serious lapse of ethics and an electoral issue, in my eyes.

Later he sent out a notice stating:

Some folks have challenged my “tongue in cheek” requirement that admission to the event is a can of food for the hungry.  Not to worry, this was my erstwhile attempt to emphasize the desperate need to help United Community Ministries feed the less fortunate.  Obviously, I have no legal right or desire to deny anyone admission to the Town Meeting, nor would I ever do that.  Lest there be any doubt, there is NO requirement for anyone to bring food for admission to the Town Meeting.  However, any help you can give will be sincerely appreciated.

Now, let’s apply junior-high-learned analysis.  The fact that “tongue-in-cheek” is contained in quotation marks can say one of two things — one, that the quote comes from elsewhere, or two, that it does not have the meaning one would normally associate with it.

How many of us really believe this was a tongue-in-cheek request?   I don’t, because the original message also said that if you “forgot”, you could promise to make that donation within a week.

Make a stupid mistake, such as requiring a donation – even for such a good cause?  Forgiveable.

Implying that is not what you meant?  Typical politician.

The 2011 Scott and Toddy Show: or Let’s Not Define Civil Discourse in VA-36 or VA-44

(I’m having difficulty uploading the recording I made.  It may have to follow.  Maybe that’s what I get for using Windows Media Player instead of a real audio program.  I can hear it fine on my machine. Where I reference time hacks on my recording, the time is very rough.  For some reason, I can’t see the time hacks on my playback. )

Today was the 2011 Annual Town Hall Meeting sponsored by Senator Linda (Toddy) Puller (VA-36) & Delegate Scott Surovell (VA-44).   (I’ve linked to both sites, but Puller’s is, as of today, 29 January, woefully out of date). It should have been titled differently.   I came away feeling as if I’d just attended a report on a Democratic Committee strategy session, and not a report of legislation.  This is the third such town hall I’ve attended – two under Surovell’s predecessor Kris Amundsen, and one with Surovell.  I presume there was one last year, but I never heard about it.  Probably because I’m not on the Democrat’s mailing list.  I don’t know why—I’m on the Republican’s list, and I give them exactly zero percent more credibility than I give the Democrats.

I simply cannot understand how an elected official can stand in front of constituents and vilify “the other side” while barely defending positions on budget, transportation, education, child care, health care, redistricting, and other issues.

Toddy spoke first.  After  lamenting that she was in Richmond during the storm and came home last night to find her driveway not shoveled (in all fairness – she can’t do it, but it doesn’t seem to me it’s her constituents’ worry that whoever was supposed to have done it did not), she whined that the legislators only had a week to submit bills.  Not that they follow that rule; she did note that every day someone asks unanimous consent to submit another bill.  Why have a rule you’re not going to follow?  And how on the planet of the gods can a legislator not know what legislation s/he intends to submit in a given year.  What are they waiting for?

Since 1994, Toddy has been fighting for studies of one form or another for US-1 – that glorious highway that defines Virginia east of I-95 from Prince William County to DC.  It’s poorly constructed, with little to no capability to handle the number of cars that traverse it each day, and sadly in need of work.  However, the other side of that issue is that there is apparently no will on the part of the County or the State to enforce laws on the highway, either.   I’m almost convinced there are massive magnets built into intersections for the 6-or-so-mile stretch, given the number of people who think intersections are THE place to change lanes.  And for that stretch of highway, people seem to have forgotten that if you miss a turn, you go down, turn around, and come back.  No, on US-1 you cut across three lanes of traffic, right-of-way be damned.  I’m personally convinced that vigorous enforcement of existing laws on just the 4-mile stretch from the beltway to Ft Belvoir would easily solve both traffic problems and the lack of funding for transportation.  At about 19:00 on the link (audio of the townhall) she starts talking about it.

Then she complains about lawyers arguing over the meaning of law.

Toddy then spoke about how she, as Chair of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, is holding the governor’s privatization plan hostage (starting about 23:00 on attached).  Governor McDonnell proposes to privatize alcoholic beverage sales in the state, but the Democrats in the state see alcohol as a revenue producer and don’t want to give it up.  I’m not sure where “retail sales” is a governmental function in anyone’s constitution, but there you go.  Toddy should assign the proposal to the Alcoholic Beverage Control subcommittee (there is no other appropriate subcommittee), but has to date not assigned it, nor has she scheduled any action on it.  She bragged that she won’t do anything with it before the House does, since the House is controlled by the governor’s party.   Her words – that way he can’t blame the Senate Democrats for voting it down.  At least she admits to being a coward, and brags about stymying the bill.

She dismisses the governor’s transportation plan, but claims that transportation is her #1 issue.   Apparently his plan involves general fund monies, which she opposes.

I’m not sure what Scott spoke about.   He starts about 26:45 on the attached, and rails against Republicans for a while.  This is a guy who was formerly Chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, so one expects partisanship, but this is ridiculous.   I felt he was giving his presentation in that Chairman role, and not as a state Delegate.  Maybe it is just his mannerism, but every second or third sentence, he looks at Toddy as if for approval.  He sure seems like a Toddy clone.  At least his predecessor – you know, the one who didn’t decide to retire until after the Republicans ran someone against her, and after primaries, so the County committee could name the nominee – was her own person.

First, he complained that he’s not in the Senate, then that he’s not in the majority.  Then he bitches about the press (about 29:58).  And the governor’s definition of “surplus”, referring to the governor’s “budget gimmicks”.   On transportation, he admits that looking at only one’s district is parochial and small-minded, but then complains that he didn’t get enough in the 44th.  Listen about 36:13 – one of the problems in the House is the Tea Party.  Apparently he doesn’t like states’ rights, from the way he dismisses them “or whatever”.  Actually, that’s probably right – he doesn’t think the state should tell the county how to live its life.  Not sure what kind of a reading of the Bill of Rights leads one to think that if the states have primacy over the federal government, then counties should have prmacy over states.  I don’t read it that way.

Redistricting was a big deal.  But my delegate has absolutely no say in anything, if you listen to him.  It’s someone else’s say.  Listen to Toddy starting about 53:25.  Listen carefully. “I have to lose 10K people and probably in PWC.  The growth is in PWC and Lorton.  We will be trying to redraw the PW lines to help Sen Colgan’s district ‘cause his is very very Republican and he’s the only one who could win that district.”  Then Scott says “Toddy left out the part where the AG sues somebody.”  Neither the senator nor the delegate admitted to having a clue how redistricting works.  When asked if it follows a formula or is it a partisan heyday, Toddy blamed politics.  She swears the House of Delegates doesn’t want to be nonpartisan.  She says the Senate will be fairer, implying that the House will not.  They both claimed that “both sides” have hired lawyers.

Then there was the Cuccinelli bashing.  Mind you, if any politician ever needed bashing, it is Cuccinelli, but this was not the place for it.  This was the place, I thought, for talking about issues.  Apparently I was in the minority today.  He blasted the AG opinion that says the state may not appropriate monies to charity.   Much as I dislike Cuccinelli, I do agree that the state has no business providing my tax dollars to charity.  At 44:51, he states the AG is not very popular.   In fact, the statements on the questionnaire didn’t ask about the AG.  At about 45:10, he states the Senate is considering legislation to restrict the AG power for the next three years.  (Addendum;  this post in the Washington Post addresses it.)

Surovell spoke about his survey.  He noted the 283 (46.2% of respondents) who want to raise taxes rather than cut government.   However, 283 respondents of the 8000 surveys sent out is 3.5%, so the real answer is probably somewhere between 3.5 and 46.2%.

Neither individual spoke about any issues s/he had not specifically introduced bills for.  Surovell lamented the fact that he’s limited to 15 bills, but his 15 include solar tax credits, funding  a local charity (a GREAT organization, by the way, but still a charity) and providing credit for students who study piano.  Notwithstanding that he apparently doesn’t give a rat’s ass about cello players, or tuba players, or harpists, can one honestly and with a straight face lament one can’t do enough, while simultaneously sponsoring legislation for piano credit at the high-school level?   At least his constituent survey showed him that of the 2.25% of his constituents who even gave the question any credibility, 48% oppose it.

Toddy was masterful at finishing up the remarks with redistricting, so the initial questions all dealt with redistricting, and they got to electioneer while ostensibly answering questions.
Now, I’ve not been to town halls in other districts.  I only became involved in state issues after moving here to Virginia.  If most town halls go this way, it’s no wonder people blew up at them.

Cuccinelli the politician

The saint of the social busybodies, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, sponsored a brief in the DiGiacinto v. the Rectors and Visitors of GMU case. The wording in the brief came eerily close to a page from the Brady Bunch’s playbook.   It went so far as to assert that preschoolers would be at risk if a gun owner carried into a campus building.   This after he told the Virginia Citizens Defense League last year the case was “indefensible.”

Well, yeah, it was indefensible, thus the emotion-laden, “think of the children” far-out scenarios.  This is the page from the Bradys — if you can’t use logic, then scream with emotion, invent situations, and portray gun owners as idiots who turn from polite citizens off campus to raging lunatics the moment they step on campus.

Guess the Brady’s made a bigger campaign contribution.

There’s one good from this, albeit a small one.  Cuccinelli’s silent.  That is also unusual.

NRA being hypocritical AGAIN

We’d been talking about perhaps heading to Charlotte, NC for one day of the NRA annual meetings.  After all, we’re both life members.

Then we learn the NRA has contracted to hold its annual meetings in a place that does not allow the carry of firearms.

What hypocrites.

The NRA is supposed to be fighting working for the rights of law-abiding, gun-owning Americans.  Unless it’s inconvenient.

Ted Nugent, supposedly a fighter for our rights, is quoted in the latest issue of America’s First Freedom as saying Americans have to make their voice heard.  Yeah, right.

THIS American will be letting the NRA know what I think.

I’ve come to the realization that the NRA’s greatest strength is it’s propensity for self-promotion.  Second is it’s ability to try to guilt its members into sending donations.

Politicians, again …..

Politicians (less perhaps some local officials) seem to want to perpetuate the idea of stupid voters.

Just got a call from “Votertalk2010”.  Call sponsored by Pat Herrity, candidate for Congress.  Claims to be the only candidate with a record of cutting spending, and asking if I would support sending him to Congress to cut spending.

Like he can do it himself.

If I really thought he both would and could, sure, I’d send him.  I’d probably have to fight him on several of his other issues, the ones he doesn’t address in this phone call, but I’d vote for him.

However, the survey “will end without a “yes, no, or repeat” answer”.

Guess it ended.

Why do candidates sponsor such polls.  These polls measure one thing, badly, and assume voters will be forthcoming.  But since most of the calls I get require yes/no answer to questions that don’t have yes/no answers, or that are so poorly worded as to defy such a response, I have to wonder what on the gods’ planet they’re trying to accomplish (besides wasting polling money).