Governor Bob McDonnell, no stranger to the television political talk shows since his 2009 landslide election, will appear on the granddaddy of them all Sunday with an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. He’ll have some atypical company in fellow guests left-winger David Axelrod, one of President Barack Obama’s closest and most trusted confidants, and Democrat-Turned-RINO-turned-independent left wing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Topics include the 2012 presidential race and the economy. Expect host David Gregory to ask Governor McDonnell, the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, about his interest in the 2012 GOP vice presidential nomination. The governor also has been vocal about the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration and eventual refusal to expedite the hearing of Virginia’s legal challenge to the federal health care takeover (see statement). Late last year, Federal Judge Henry Hudson ruled the law unconstitutional (as has a federal judge in Florida). The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the federal government’s appeal in Richmond next week. Check your local listings for the Meet the Press broadcast. Check back here for ObamaCare coverage next week.
Posts Tagged ‘Bob McDonnell’
The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s very opinionated chief political reporter, Jeff Schapiro (who doubles as a columnist and online pundit), must have had a writer’s block problem recently. How else to explain his pulling out the tried-and-true “anti-gay” attack on a social conservative? But seemingly out of nowhere, Mr. Schapiro’s latest video commentary at timesdispatch.com goes after Governor Bob McDonnell for his alleged “gay problem,” reciting votes and actions thoroughly vetted by the voters themselves who have never rejected Mr. McDonnell at the polls. Mr. Schapiro even dredges up the “thesis” and a crude question once asked to the governor when he was a candidate.
The spark that ignited Mr. Schapiro was the recent vote by the Social Services Board that rejected proposed regulations to allow homosexual couples to adopt children, which would have forced private and religious affiliated charitable services to comply with a rule that compromises their consciences and beliefs, or close down. The problem with Mr. Schapiro’s problem with Governor McDonnell is that the governor has no problem. He may want him to have a problem so much that he manufactured one, but no one is paying attention. It’s a right and just policy, popularly supported and, by the way, the law.
In fact, although the board retains a majority appointed to it by liberal former Governor Tim Kaine, it approved standards that omitted the original same-sex couple requirement by a lopsided 7-2 vote. No matter how often certain media (ahem, WRVA* in Richmond) misreported the issue as taking away a right (they never had), it’s no problem for officeholders to defend the sanctity of the traditional family. It may be a problem for Mr. Schapiro to understand that, but a gratuitous attack over a contrived problem on Governor McDonnell is only a problem for Mr. Schapiro to resolve.
* Not only did the station misreport the issue over a 2-day period, a producer chimed in on a locally produced show to call pro-family supporters “bigots.”
One of the most unsightly of all the sausage making that is the legislative process is redistricting. Every 10 years, all 140 General Assembly districts, as well as Virginia’s Congressional districts, must be redrawn to reflect population shifts as accounted for in the census. The districts can get pretty contorted, to say the least, with compactness and communities of interest giving way to snake-like shapes that slither from one end of the state to another (not that Virginia is an exception, either).
Complicating matters is that whatever the General Assembly and governor agree to must be approved by the Justice Department because Virginia falls under the Voting Rights Act. But there are several rare dynamics at play this year. For one, it’s the first time since Reconstruction that opposite parties control the two chambers during a redistricting year. As each chamber has prerogative over its districts, traditionally they don’t interfere with each other’s plan. However, with Governor Bob McDonnell as a GOP backstop to Senate Democrat mischief, Senate Dems laid down the law: Instead of two bills this year, anything coming from the House would be attached to the Senate’s bill as a way of safeguarding its new districts from the governor’s veto or amendments. If not, Senate Dems promised stalemate on the House plan. Interestingly, in this interview (read transcript) on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU-FM in March, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) was asked what the governor’s role was in redistricting and he replied, “sign or amend” the bill. No mention of the veto option.
Here’s more from the senator that day (hear audio), starting partisan, then trying to soften:
Well, if I lose a few seats as a result of redistricting, and I’m in the majority, I’m not doing a very good job. … And I would simply say, well, you know, our goal is to make the Democratic districts, particularly the marginal ones, a little bit better than they are now. I’m not greedy. I’m not trying to put all the Republicans out of business by any stretch. They didn’t do that to us 10 years ago. And we’re not gonna do that to them.
So much for that. Governor McDonnell vetoed the bill sent to him last week anyway, primarily because of the dysfunctional and obscenely drawn Senate districts that drew fire from groups as varied as Prince William County to the NAACP (see Jenifer Buske at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). While the House plan passed with all but 10 Democrat votes, the Senate plan — which could add up to three Democrat seats per the Richmond Times-Dispatch — was divided on party lines, 22-18. No wonder. None of this was a surprise.
More dynamics: While there is time to settle the Congressional districts because those elections are not until next year, all 140 General Assembly seats are up this year. Already, primaries have been pushed back to August to accommodate the readjusted districts. Candidates filing to run still don’t know where they are running. Even if the parties and governor come to an agreement, there’s this: This is the first redistricting since the Voting Rights Act with a Democrat president. Who knows what changes his Justice Department might demand. If all of this can’t be wrapped up by a time certain, the entire process for both chambers gets transferred to judges.
But today there is hope. After he bragged that he wouldn’t change “a dot or a comma,” declared with bravado he wouldn’t “surrender” and dared the governor to issue a second veto (Ros Helderman at the Post) for fear of sending it to the unelected judiciary, Senator Saslaw backed down. Now, Senators Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) are leading a bipartisan working group to come up with a new plan (the Post). But is it false hope? Senator Howell echoed Senator Saslaw’s original sentiments: “We won’t negotiate away our majority.” But then Senator Saslaw told the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, “There are some of us who are going to try to . . . get things worked out in an amicable fashion. We’re determined to try to make the process work right.” The whiplash changes in attitude are enough to require psychological testing. More on that in a second.
Senator Howell needs to understand that she doesn’t determine the majority. If she did, there would be no need for elections. Voters determine majorities. One wonders what she and Senator Saslaw fear. Only three years ago, liberals heralded Virginia as blue. The existing Senate districts were good enough to flip a one-time 24-16 GOP majority to 22-18 Democrat. If Senate Democrats are so confident in their ideas and performance the last four years as the majority, what’s with the gerrymandering that has split some localities into as many as eight districts?
Grossed out yet by the sausage making? Then you may or may not want to take this little test based on Senator Howell’s vetoed plan. The districts’ shapes are so contorted one might think they are ink blots on a Rorschach test. Click here to take the Is It Howell Or Rorschach? test. Disclaimer: Score does not correlate to actual state of mental health, but may indicate the insecurity of some Senate Democrats.
Proposed Adoption Regulations Contrary To Virginia Law And Constitution; Clarifying Where We Now Stand In Process
Just two months before leaving office, former Governor Tim Kaine left Virginians an unwanted present in the form of proposed changes to adoption guidelines for private agencies (see the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). These proposed regulations — by a Social Services Board still dominated by Mr.Kaine’s appointees — slowly working their way through the process, seek to force private adoption agencies to place children in foster care or for adoption with parents irrespective of faith or sexual orientation. It would force faith-based adoption agencies to either abandon their principles or cease providing adoption services (as did Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, after more than 100 years, when that state’s Supreme Court imposed such regulations by judicial fiat).
The proposal under discussion here goes far beyond any policy currently in Virginia law. The Virginia Code clearly details who is eligible to adopt. In § 63.2-1201.1, it plainly states:
Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any child to have more than two living parents by birth or adoption, who have legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, in the form of one father and one mother.
There is no mistaking Virginia’s intent. The current regulatory proposal, which includes prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation, contradicts the intent of the General Assembly.
Nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. While one may agree or disagree with the actions of individuals or private organizations that express their faith in these ways, their fundamental right to do so is at risk with these proposed regulations. Faith-based family organizations have assisted children for decades without unnecessary intervention by government entities. It is very clear that homosexual special interest groups have no concern with preserving religious liberty in pursuit of their political agenda.
Upon learning about these proposed regulations weeks ago, The Family Foundation immediately contacted the governor’s office. At that time, we were assured that Governor McDonnell does not support the current non-discrimination proposal and the current proposal would not stand. To ensure our voice was known where it needed to be, we submitted our official public comment and encouraged pastors to do so as well. After the public comment period closed, Governor Bob McDonnell publicly weighed in, telling the Washington Post:
I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws — which I think are good — the way they are now. … I don’t think we ought to force Catholic Charities to make [the proposed regulations] part of their policy or other similar situated groups. Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are. Current regulations that say you can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin I think are proper.
Since then, concern has mounted based on the circulation of incorrect information stating Governor McDonnell must act by April 15. However, this is an incorrect interpretation of a section of the Code (§ 2.2-4013) that details the time frame for the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action stage, not the proposed stage. The public comment website shows that the adoption regulations are completing the proposed stage, not the NOIRA stage.
A chart published by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget is extremely helpful in understanding how the circuitous regulatory process works: The proposed adoption regulations currently are in the bottom box of the middle column (not the second box of the first column). Correct reading of Virginia Code and regulatory process shows that the Board of Social Services has no less than 15 and no more than 180 days from April 1 (April 16 through September 28) to adopt the proposed regulations and submit them for full executive branch review. As displayed in column three of DPB’s chart, the proposed regulations must then pass several more reviews prior to final acceptance, including reviews by DPB, the corresponding cabinet secretary, possibly by the attorney general (see Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s stated disapproval in the Washington Post) and the governor, then go through at least one more public comment period. The Department of Social Services already has amended the regulations and will present these changes to the Board of Social Services at an upcoming meeting. During any of these stages, the governor can reject or make changes to the proposal.
This adoption proposal, which tramples religious liberty, is a significant overreach through regulation into uncharted waters prohibited by Virginia Code and Virginia Constitution and will not be tolerated. The Family Foundation has been actively involved in seeing that these proposed regulations are not adopted and will continue to monitor the issue very closely.
Wednesday morning a unique, and what will be looked back upon as a historic, event took place at Mr. Jefferson’s capitol. Citizens from across Virginia witnessed many of their state lawmakers officially form the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus. The VLPC is an outgrowth of the Congressional Prayer Caucus in Washington, D.C. founded by Virginia’s Fourth District U.S. Representative Randy Forbes. That caucus has been instrumental in bringing legislators together under the common denomination of prayer and devotion to God to guide them in their decision making. Now, members of several state legislatures are forming their own. Virginia’s is among the first.
Several hundred people joined Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and several senators and delegates to call on the Lord to heal our land and bless the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to the three statewide officials, speakers included Senator Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell), who led a prayer; caucus co-chairmen Delegate John Cosgrove (R-78, Chesapeake) and Senator Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach); and Congressman Mike McIntyre (R-N.C.), a co-founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who encouraged prayer for all those in authority as we are commanded in I Timothy 2:1,2. Congressman Forbes was scheduled to speak but could not attend because of a last minute Armed Services sub-committee meeting which he chairs. Instead, his wife Shirley, read his prepared remarks.
The event concluded with the announcement of each VLPC member’s name as he or she approached a desk on the capitol’s portico and signed the “Call to Prayer for Virginia” proclamation. The charter members include members of both parties with at least a half-dozen of them Democrats. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to sign their names to a replica versions. Virginia is the third state to create a Legislative Prayer Caucus, following Mississippi and Kentucky. Several other state legislatures are currently in the process of forming similar prayer caucuses.
With all a world seemingly aflame and in shambles by war, natural disaster and financial and economic turmoil, it was a refreshing event to see the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and numerous members of the legislative body take public pride in their faith and devotion to prayer, much as our founders did 235 years ago in the midst of a war for independence going wrong. Still, in the Declaration of Independence they noted their “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”
Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling and Attorney General Cuccinelli are the first to sign the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus’ Call To Prayer.
21-20, 21-20, 21-20: Pro-Life Bills Finally Pass Virginia Senate Roadblock To Become Law; Behind The Scenes At Last Night’s Drama!
Near the end of an already extraordinarily long annual “Veto Session” last night, at around 10:00, after intense debate and several failed parliamentary maneuvers by opponents, the Virginia General Assembly handed pro-lifers and Governor Bob McDonnell another big victory. After passing the House of Delegates by a comfortable margin, the Virginia Senate — whose committees long have been the burial ground for commonsense bipartisan pro-life legislation, deadlocked 20-20 on the governor’s amendments to HB 2434 — to restrict Virginia’s health insurance exchanges (when and if ObamaCare takes effect) from publicly funding abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother — allowing Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie and send the bill back to Governor McDonnell for his signature.
We long have stated that if certain measures could get to the floor, they would pass. This victory, another vote last night to restore the abstinence education funding eliminated by former Governor Tim Kaine, as well as the landmark vote the last week of the regular session to regulate abortion centers (all by 21-20 margins with Lt. Governor Bolling casting the tie-breaking vote each time), vindicates us. As represented by their legislators in Richmond, Virginians are decidedly pro-life.
The hard work began as lawmakers returned to the capitol Monday. Family Foundation lobbyists hit the ground running, going door to door to sure up votes and answer questions from legislators. Preceding that were efforts well before the reconvened session to educate lawmakers and their constituents. While the House looked secure, the Senate was always going to be close, with perhaps one or two senators leaning one way or another, but not fully committed.
Meanwhile, opponents in both chambers used several procedural motions to derail the votes. House members yielded their time from member to member in an attempt to control the debate and even moved to break up the governor’s amendments into separate votes. While that succeeded, all four passed. The bill then moved down the hall where Senator John Edwards (D-21) challenged the germaneness of the governor’s amendments. When Lt. Governor Bolling ruled them in order, opponents attempted to overturn the decision by a floor vote, but lost 21-19 (see vote).
After intense debate, the Senate voted 20-20, with all 18 Republicans and pro-life Democrats Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) voting yes. Interestingly, Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), who voted to sustain Lt. Governor Bolling’s ruling, voted no. When the clerk read the result, The LG decisively announced that “The chair votes aye.” Thus, the making of a law (see vote).
Despite the late vote, an early morning event may have had the most impact — the first ever meeting of the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus (more on the LPC in a future post). More than 500 Virginians, including many delegates and senators of both parties, gathered at the steps of the historic capitol to pray for God to shower His blessings on our Commonwealth. As Governor McDonnell reminded attendees, Matthew 19:26 says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The Family Foundation gives its overwhelming appreciation to Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, all 20 Senators who voted for this pro-life amendment, and to all who contacted their senator to urge their support. If you don’t think this has the grassroots excited, see our Facebook page!
In addition to Governor Bob McDonnell’s amendment to HB 2434, which would restrict Virginia’s health insurance exchanges under ObamaCare from covering abortion services, Governor McDonnell also added an amendment to reinsert abstinence funding in the Virginia budget. This funding was included in the House of Delegates budget, but budget conferees left it out of the final budget which the General Assembly approved and sent to the governor. Such funding was a regular line item in the budget until then-Governor Tim Kaine abruptly stripped it out in November 2007 as a political IOU to Planned Parenthood.
Tomorrow, the General Assembly reconvenes for its annual “Veto Session,” when it reconsiders gubernatorial vetoes and amendments to bills, and will have the opportunity to include this provision back into the budget. While it is likely the House will accept this amendment, the Senate will be an uphill climb. Please contact your senator today and urge support for Governor McDonnell’s abstinence funding amendment to the budget.
Planned Parenthood, and its ally NARAL, have made it their national agenda to stop abstinence education. Both groups consistently assail abstinence programs as being ineffective. One legislator, who works closely with Planned Parenthood and NARAL, said, “The reality is with teenagers, their hormones come into play, and abstinence-only doesn’t always work.” Work for who? The more teens postpone sexual activity, the less profit the abortion industry makes.
The pro-abortion lobby also asserts that “abstinence education doesn’t work,” “parents don’t support abstinence education,” and “it’s naive to think that teenagers can be abstinent.” None of those arguments, though, are correct according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, an October 2010 study paid for by the federal Department of Heath and Human Services found that abstinence education is highly effective and it is widely supported by parents and teenagers.
The HHS survey found that 70 percent of parents agreed that it is “against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage” and that “having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do.” Adolescent beliefs, according to the survey, were similar. In fact, there are federal abstinence education funds that Governor McDonnell has applied for that Mr. Kaine refused. So, even the Obama administration realizes it works.
Clearly, abstinence education is not only effective, but it is widely supported among both parents and teens. So, please contact your senator today and urge support of the governor’s amendment to reinstate abstinence funding in the budget.
Do you think Governor Bob McDonnell is perhaps just slightly perturbed at the Obama administration’s Department of Justice today? Here’s the entirety of his statement, released in the last hour, opposing DOJ’s brief opposing an expedited appeal of the health care lawsuit directly to the U.S. Supreme Court (and skip over the two U.S. Courts of Appeals that will hear the feds’ appeals in the Virginia and Florida cases). It’s terse and Hh doesn’t sound too happy:
I am extremely disappointed by the Obama Administration’s brief opposing Virginia’s request for an expedited review of pending federal healthcare lawsuits. The request for expedited review is one strongly supported by the majority of our nation’s governors. It is a common sense request to provide critically needed certainty and finality to this ongoing issue. The petition to oppose expedited review is detrimental to the federal government, the states, employers and families. The Administration’s opposition to this request is irresponsible and indefensible. A litigation process potentially taking years to resolve is bad for America, and will potentially cost the states tens of millions of dollars. To say to medical providers, business people, insurers, governors and ordinary citizens that costly litigation and delay is preferred over prompt finality is an affront to the common sense of the American people. Everyone knows that the case involves clear issues of constitutional law, which will be settled only in the U.S. Supreme Court. After a huge Democratic party rush to pass the bill on Christmas Eve, there now appears to be no sense of urgency from the Obama Administration to find out if the measure is constitutional. It is our continued hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider and grant expedited review as permitted by the rules of court for cases of such historic national importance.
With more than half the states now in court seeking relief from a law that two federal judges have ruled unconstitutional, and governors of said states asking for an expedited appeal because no new arguments or evidence will be submitted to the Appeals Courts, one might think the Obama administration might be willing to cooperate for its own good, if not the good of the people it represents. No doubt it wants to stall and keep the case out of the ultimate arbiters’ hands until after the 2012 election so as to not have to run on a single accomplishment that ultimately may be struck down as illegal. Of course, it’s only the DOJ’s brief. The Supreme Court may still decide to take the case straightaway, but the odds of such a rare occurrence are enhanced if both parties agree to the motion.
We’ll have more later, but within the last 30 seconds, after about 90 minutes of debate, the Virginia Senate voted 20-20 on SB 924, as amended by the House, to direct the Board of Health to promulgate regulations for abortion centers. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling immediately cast his constitutional tie-breaking vote in favor of the bill as amended. It now will go to Governor Bob McDonnell who has promised to sign it.
Today, a second federal judge in as many months ruled Obamacare unconstitutional (see Avik Roy at The Apothecary blog at Forbes.com). That’s two lawsuits involving 27 states against the federal government’s healthcare takeover and two rulings that it is unconsitutional.
Perhaps the most devastating aspect of Judge Roger Vinson’s decision is that he ruled the entire law is unconstitutional because the offending portion — the individual mandate that forces Americans, for the first time in history, to buy a product — is not severable. In other words, when the law was drafted, in its legislative sloppiness, the U.S. Senate did not include a clause that declared if any part of it was ruled unconstitutional, the remainder of the law remained in effect. Even Judge Henry Hudson, of the Eastern District of Virginia, who was the first judge to rule Obamacare unconstitutional, refused to go that far. But Judge Vinson did not enjoin the law (see 21StateLawSuit.com), either.
Much like Judge Hudson’s opinion, however, Judge Vinson said the law goes well beyond the limits of the Commerce Clause and any High Court precedent. He wrote:
The individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law.
Here is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s reaction:
I am heartened by the fact that another federal judge has found that the individual mandate forcing citizens to buy private health insurance is unconstitutional. The judge also found that the individual mandate could not be severed from the remainder of the law, so he declared the entire act invalid.
Constitutional principles have scored another victory today. Liberty has scored another victory today.
I congratulate Florida Attorney General Bondi, former Attorney General McCollum, and the attorneys general and governors who joined the Florida suit, on their victory.
Here is Governor Bob McDonnell’s reaction:
Judge Vinson’s ruling is yet another strike against the individual mandate specifically, and the entire federal health care law generally. For the second time in as many months, a federal judge has found that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by mandating that citizens of this nation purchase a commercial product or else face a penalty.
Judge Henry Hudson reached a similar conclusion in his December ruling on the Commonwealth’s challenge to the Act. However, Judge Vinson’s decision goes one step further. The Judge also ruled that the individual mandate component is not severable from the overall Act in which it is contained, meaning that this one unconstitutional provision renders the entire bill void.
I agree with both Judge Vinson and Judge Hudson that the individual mandate is clearly unconstitutional. However, this matter is far from settled. Today’s decision adds to the growing uncertainty surrounding federal health care reform. That uncertainty is leaving states, businesses and individuals unable to properly plan for 2014 and the scheduled implementation of this new law.
For this reason I reiterate my request that the Department of Justice join with the states to request fast tracking the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the final decision regarding its constitutionality will ultimately be determined. All parties involved, no matter where they stand on this measure, should support moving this issue to its final stage, and bringing finality to a complicated matter that will have an impact on every state, employer and citizen of this nation.