Newsletter #4

FEBRUARY 25, 2022

The Virginia General Assembly completed “Crossover” yesterday. The House of Delegates reviewed the bills that the State Senate had passed and the State Senate reviewed the bills that the House of Delegates had passed. Bills that survived the process will eventually go to the Governor for to be signed into law or vetoed.  

The fact that the State Senate is Democratic has been such an asset (to us) in that they could vote down House bills that they find inappropriate. Since the House is Republican, they could vote down what they deem inappropriate to them. The next state election for the General Assembly will be in November 2023 and it is very important to us that we keep the majority in the Senate and regain control of the House of Delegates.

The General Assembly is now working on the budget.

As a reminder, we have the federal election for Congress this November 8, 2022.
 

  1. Save the Dates
  2. Articles and Sites of Possible Interest
  3. Armchair Activist
Save the Dates

Mon., Feb. 28 – General Membership Meeting, 1 pm
Wed., Mar. 2 – Racism Focus Group, 10 am
Wed., Mar. 2 – Events Committee Meeting, 1 pm
Mon., Mar. 7 – Public Relations Committee Meeting, 1 pm
Tue., Mar. 8 – Steering Committee Meeting, 1 pm
Sun., Mar. 13 – Deadline for St. Patrick’s Day RSVP
Thu., Mar. 17 – Pints & Politics: St. Patrick’s Day, 6 pm
Wed., Mar. 23 – Road Clean Up, 10 am
Fri., Apr. 1 – Deadline for Opting Out of Club Directory
Tue., Apr. 5 – Book Club: The Lincoln Library by A. Towles, 10 am

Articles and Sites of Possible Interest    

VPAP Visual Crossover 2022
The Virginia Public Access Project

Just over half of bills introduced this year survived Tuesday’s deadline for legislation to pass its chamber of origin. Some 1,344 measures now “cross over” to the other chamber for consideration before the adjournment of this year’s truncated session on Thursday. This two-part visual includes the success rate so far by political party and chamber. It’s no surprise that Republicans are finding it easier to get their legislation passed in the House now that they control the chamber.

Virginia Senate Democrats kill slew of GOP voting bills
apnews.com

 A Democrat-led Virginia Senate committee defeated a broad range of Republican-sponsored voting reform measures Tuesday, including bills that would have reinstated a requirement to present a photo ID before casting a ballot. The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee made swift work of its agenda, voting to pass by the House bills with minimal discussion since the panel had already voted down Senate versions of some measures earlier in the session.

The Senate’s Democratic Brick Wall was back on Tuesday

Senate Democrats blocked several pieces of legislation from the House that was aimed at rolling back voter access. The following bills were killed by the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Tuesday:

  • HB34 (Campbell) – Repeals availability of ballot drop-boxes
  • HB39 (P. Scott) – Restricts early in-person voting to the two weeks before Election Day
  • HB46 (Ware) – Reinstates photo ID requirements and repeals the permanent absentee voting list
  • HB185 (Ransone) – Repeals same-day voter registration opportunities
  • HB196 (Webert) – Repeals the permanent absentee voting list
  • HB956 (LaRock) – Requires absentee ballots to be returned to the registrar by closing of the polls on Election Day to be counted, removing the ability to postmark the ballot by Election Day
  • HB1090 (Webert) – Reinstates photo ID requirements

“Virginia Republicans continue the false narrative of preventing election fraud to institute restrictive and unfair blocks to the ballot box,” Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said. “Bolstered by the Big Lie, the attacks on voting rights come from a place of exclusion instead of inclusion. Killing these bills today signifies Senate Democrats’ resolve to a fair and free democracy.”

Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said: “Restricting access to the ballot box has been a tool used for over a century to keep certain communities from participating in their government. Making sure every Virginian can vote uninhibited resulted in record election participation, and makes us a more whole democracy where each and every one of us can be represented in our government. I’m proud Senate Democrats’ progress over the past two years will be preserved for future elections in the Commonwealth.”

Franklin County supervisors pass resolution supporting volunteerism that doesn’t mention militia
By Jason Dunovant, Roanoke Times

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution supporting volunteerism, but left out any recognition of the county’s militia. Members of the Franklin County Militia have attended meetings for months asking supervisors give a vote of support. Last month supervisors agreed to pass a resolution on volunteerism, but stopped short of saying if support for militia would be included.

Few changes but plenty of political sparring as General Assembly adopts competing budgets Richmond.com

The real budget battle is about to begin, and it’s all about tax cuts. The House of Delegates and Senate adopted competing budgets on Thursday with few changes but plenty of political sparring over billions in proposed tax cuts that separate the spending plans and the money available for public services. The proposed two-year budgets are $3 billion apart. The Republican-controlled House followed the “day one” game plan of new Gov. Glenn Youngkin to carry out the promises of his gubernatorial campaign last fall, while the Democratic-run Senate drew a line over how much tax relief it’s willing to provide, while investing more in public education and other core services.

Senate Democrats draw battle lines with Youngkin over economy and budget 
Richmond.com

Senate Democrats drew clear battle lines with Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday over the state of Virginia’s economy and the next two-year budget. In a sometimes testy exchange with Secretary of Finance Steve Cummings, leaders of the Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee made clear they regard funding of essential public services as a higher budget priority than the governor’s aggressive plan for cutting taxes.

Legal victories against Mountain Valley Pipeline make completion unlikely
appvoices.org

Prospects for the future of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are grim for the company and its investors after recent decisions by judges at the federal level and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit stopped MVP from crossing a section of the Jefferson National Forest. The court ruled that the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service had failed to adequately consider the real sedimentation and erosion impacts from the construction of the pipeline and willfully ignored the Forest Service’s own internal requirements set out in a 2012 planning rule. This is the second time MVP has lost the ability to cross through Jefferson National Forest.

Hold the line. Our future depends on it
virginiamercury.com

As a climate advocate in Virginia, the election of Gov. Glenn Youngkin was a disappointment of immeasurable proportions. For me and so many of my fellow Virginians, it was tragic that someone with some extreme policy positions is now at the helm of our state after years of great progress. Based on how Youngkin ran his campaign, though, how he is working to undo good policies for Virginia is not unexpected, even when constituents across party lines support them, as is true of reducing pollution. What is unexpected, however, is how our Democratic state legislators aren’t pulling out all the stops to, well, stop him. 

New poll throws a major wrench into the storyline on Glenn Youngkin and education 
dailykos.com

Republicans are on the offensive over education, seeking to use a schools-focused culture war to take Democrats down in the 2022 midterms, and Democrats are predictably fumbling the response. But while some polls suggest that Republicans succeeding at dragging Democrats down on the issue, they’re also making themselves downright toxic. Take Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, supposedly swept into office by parents angry about mask mandates and teaching about race in schools. A new poll from Christopher Newport University finds Youngkin’s approval rating under water, with 41% of Virginia voters approving and 43% disapproving just over a month after his inauguration. “We have some history being made today. Glenn Youngkin is the first Virginia Governor to ever poll with a majority disapproval rating anytime in his first year in office,” Democratic state Sen. Louise Lucas gleefully noted. “He did it in just over a month!”

House pushes for $2 billion to fund school construction needs
cardinalnews.org

House Republicans propose to make available $2 billion for school construction needs in Virginia – which is four times the $500 million proposed by former Gov. Ralph Northam in his two-year budget that he sent to the General Assembly in December. “To put this in perspective, this would build 80 new elementary schools,” Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said during the presentation of the House of Delegates budget amendments Sunday.

Youngkin’s ‘lab school design challenge’ revives an old push 
vpm.org

Shortly after his inauguration, Youngkin gathered students and representatives from Virginia universities. He pressed the General Assembly to approve $150 million to help colleges and universities set up lab schools. “I don’t care whether you call them charter schools or lab schools, it’s time for us to innovate in K-12 education,” Youngkin said last month. Youngkin didn’t go into details about his “lab school design challenge.” But emails sent from Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera to university presidents ahead of the Jan. 27 kickoff event give a little more insight into the plans. The emails, which were obtained by VPM through a public records request, show Youngkin hopes to have at least 20 lab schools up and running by the 2023-24 school year.

ICYMI: House GOP Votes Against the Teaching of Nearly a Dozen Historical Events & Figures 
bluevirginia.us

House Republicans voted to kill nearly a dozen floor amendments to HB 787 offered by Delegates Schuyler VanValkenburg, Dan Helmer, Clint Jenkins, Kathy Tran, Don Scott, and Sally Hudson. The amendments would have ensured educators can teach students important and valuable lessons from United States history without the fear of political backlash. The bill’s patron defended the legislation saying it would “prevent teachers from taking sides” on issues like the Lost Cause of the Confederacy and the Three-Fifths Compromise.

Millions to cut gun violence hinges on Republicans and Democrats making a deal 
Virginia Mercury

After a steep rise in murders, former Gov. Ralph Northam and new Gov. Glenn Youngkin both proposed committing millions of dollars to reducing gun violence in Virginia. But the divided General Assembly still has to reconcile differing philosophies on how to intervene in violence-stricken communities to stop shootings before they happen.

Defend our progress on environmental protection in Virginia 
actionnetwork.org

The Virginia Senate is now considering a long list of bills that will roll back our progress on environmental justice, climate action, and clean air and water in the Commonwealth. We need the Senate to stand strong against attacks on our environment.

State of the Commonwealth 2022 
cnu.edu

Summary of Key Findings. A majority of Virginia voters prefer spending the state budget surplus on underfunded government services, such as education, public safety and social services (59%), rather than providing tax cuts or tax rebates (38%). Voters overwhelmingly support cutting the 2.5% grocery tax, either by a total repeal (47%) or by giving low-income Virginians a tax credit (25%). Voters support teaching how racism continues to impact American society (63% to 33%) and oppose a ban on the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools (57% to 35%). Virginia voters support vaccine mandates for first responders (58%), teachers (57%) and medical providers (61%), while opposing mandates for elementary students (55%) and middle school students (51%). On masks in schools, voters say health data should be used to determine mask requirements (56%) versus leaving the decision to parents (41%). Voters strongly support stationing a police officer in every school (70%). On abortion, a plurality oppose a 24-hour waiting period (49% to 44%), while a majority oppose requiring an ultrasound (57% to 36%) and a ban on abortions at 6 weeks (58% to 33%). Voters support the state’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon cap-and-trade program (67% to 26%) and the Virginia Clean Economy Act (67% to 28%), a law requiring the state to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050.

What Redistricting Looks Like In Every State (Virginia)
fivethirtyeight.com

An updating tracker of proposed congressional maps — and whether they might benefit Democrats or Republicans in the 2022 midterms and beyond.

His journalist daughter was killed. Now he wants to ‘fix’ big tech in Congress 
theguardian.com

Andy Parker says he is ‘honoring’ his daughter Alison Parker’s death by fighting for a congressional seat to regulate big tech In the years since Alison Parker, a 24-year-old TV journalist in Roanoke, Virginia, was shot and killed during a live broadcast in 2015, her father has made it his mission to remove the footage from the social media platforms where it continues to resurface even after being taken down. Volunteers help him flag the content to YouTube and Facebook. He has appealed to the companies directly, testified before the Senate, even filed complaints with federal regulators, alleging the platforms were violating their own terms of service by hosting the videos. After years of pleading his case as a grief-stricken father, Parker now believes a seat in Congress may be his best recourse. “I always wanted to honor her life with action,”

To expunge his daughter’s murder from the Internet, a father created an NFT of the grisly video
WaPo.com

Andy Parker is fighting to get copyright over video of Alison Parker’s shooting in a bid to remove it from social media. It starts as a routine TV news segment: an interview with the head of the local chamber of commerce. Suddenly, a shot rings out, startling the two-person film crew. As a gunman enters off-camera, reporter Alison Parker reacts to the sound, her jaw dropping wide. A steady wave of shots roar as Parker screams. She runs, desperately, as the camera tumbles to the ground. The clip cuts: the final scene is the legs of the shooter as he advances. Andy Parker has transformed the clip of his daughter’s murder into an NFT in a complex and potentially futile bid to gain ownership over the videos and remove them from the Internet. The grisly 17-second clip was recorded by videographer Adam Ward on Aug. 26, 2015, as he and Parker were fatally shot by a disgruntled former colleague while reporting near Roanoke. Broadcast live, the horrifying footage quickly went viral, viewed millions of times on Facebook, YouTube and other sites. Six years later, it still gets tens of thousands of views, despite the efforts by Parker’s father, Andy, to eliminate the clips from the Internet.

The Dirty Secret of Inflation: Corporations Are Jacking Up Prices and Profits 
thenation.com

President Biden and his fellow Democrats need to learn to talk about inflation if they hope to maintain congressional majorities in this year’s midterm elections. They can’t deny that costs for consumers are rising at a jarring rate—up 7.5 percent compared to a year ago, according to the latest figures. But they can, and must, make the connection between surging prices and surging corporate profits.

This is how we defeat Putin and other petrostate autocrats
By Bill McKibben, The Guardian

After Hitler invaded the Sudetenland, America turned its industrial prowess to building tanks, bombers and destroyers. Now, we must respond with renewables.

By attacking the rule of law, Republicans are helping Putin and Xi
By Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dan Schwerin (theatlantic.com)

Russian president Vladimir Putin pines for the old Russian empire and takes Ukraine’s independence as a personal affront. But the invasion of Ukraine is not a limited regional dispute between neighbors. Putin is also motivated by a deep opposition to democracy more broadly. That is why he has waged a long-running shadow war to destabilize free societies and discredit democratic institutions in the United States and around the world. Ukraine is one flash point in a larger global struggle between democracy and autocracy—one that stretches from the steppes of Eastern Europe to the waters of the Indo-Pacific to the halls of the U.S. Capitol. 

House GOP strips elections department of voter education funding; Senate Democrats block GOP election bills
by Mel Leonor, Richmond Times-Dispatch

A budget proposal from House Republicans is seeking to slash $2.7 million in proposed funding for the Virginia Department of Elections to pay for a voter education campaign seeking to dispel misinformation about the integrity of the state’s elections.

Following baseless claims from Republicans that the 2020 election was rife with fraud, the department last year launched an education campaign to inform voters about how the state’s elections are conducted, to refute false information and answer common questions about the voting process.

The National Association for Gun Rights Political Action Committee is endorsing U.S. Representative Bob Good in Virginia District 5

“The National Association for Gun Rights PAC is proud to endorse Bob Good for re-election to United States House of Representatives District 5 in Virginia. Good has crafted and sponsored multiple pro-gun bills currently under consideration in the 117th Congress. He relentlessly defends the Second Amendment and fights back against gun control schemes coming out of the D.C. swamp. Bob fearlessly speaks out in defense of gun rights and the value of the right to keep and bear arms in opposing tyranny,” said Dudley Brown, Director of NAGR-PAC.

Mountain Valley Pipeline investor NextEra Energy reevaluating project
By Matt Harvey, WV News

NextEra Energy Resources is taking an $800 million impairment charge as it re-evaluates its investment in Equitrains Midstream Corp.’s Mountain Valley Pipleline. The news comes as another setback for developers of the $6.2 billion pipeline…from Wertzel County, West Virginia to Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The news from NextEra followed two Fourth Circuit opinions that were adversary to the project. “While NextEra Energy Resources continues to evaluate options and next steps with its joint venture patners, these events caused NextEra Energy Resources to re-evaluate it’s investment in Mountain Valley Pipeline,” NextEra Energy said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Virginia attorney general moves to withdraw from ERA lawsuit
By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares moved Friday to withdraw the state from a lawsuit that seeks to force the federal government to recognize Virginia’s 2020 vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and add the text to the Constitution. In a court filing, Miyares asked that the commonwealth be dismissed as a party to the lawsuit, which was initiated by his Democratic predecessor and is currently on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

VA-07 Republican candidates tout the hiring of Youngkin and Sears campaign architects
by Brandon Jarvis

Congressional candidates in Virginia are touting the hiring of successful 2021 Republican consultants and staffers to try and gain some extra momentum heading into primary season. Two prominent challengers against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07) recently announced which GOP consultant firms will be running their campaigns to defeat the two-term congresswoman. All of the firms mentioned were heavily involved in the Republican statewide sweep last year that also included taking the majority in the House of Delegates.

West Virginia Senate Approves Resolution to Rescind State ERA Amendment
https://www.com/news/local-news/2022/02/a-forgotten-era-west-virginia-senate-approves-resolution-to-rescind-state-equal-rights-amendment-ratification/

Armchair Activist

Defend our progress on environmental protection in Virginia
actionnetwork.org

The Virginia Senate is now considering a long list of bills that will roll back our progress on environmental justice, climate action, and clean air and water in the Commonwealth. We need the Senate to stand strong against attacks on our environment.