It was a pro-life, pro-family sweep today at the reconvened “Veto” session of the General Assembly tonight. In addition to a dramatic abortion limiting 21-20 vote within the last hour, the Virginia Senate earlier voted by the same margin to concur with Governor McDonnell and the House of Delegates to restore abstinence education funding that former Governor Tim Kaine cut out of the state budget. As with the vote to ban taxpayer dollars from use in elective abortions in the ObamaCare state run health insurance exchanges, all 18 Republicans were joined by pro-life Democrats Phillip Puckett and Chuck Colgan to get to the magic number of 20 votes and a tie in the chamber allowing pro-life Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie in favor of the amendment.
The funding, match money corresponding to a federal grant, was initially presented in the House budget but, in the final days of session, Senate conferees stripped it out in budget negotiations. But today, the House reiterated its position by a 69-29 vote, which sent it to the Senate. Senator Colgan (D-29, Manassas), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the amendment and urged its passage. Pro-abortion Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington) rebutted the argument, parroting Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League, which claim abstinence education is ineffective (despite an Obama administration study that says otherwise).
The Family Foundation thanks Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, and the members of the House and Senate who ensured the success of these two important pieces of legislation that soon will become law, as well as all committed pro-life, pro-family Virginians who answered our call to contact their state legislators this week. More to come tomorrow about today’s exciting developments.
Within the last few minutes, in a reprise of its stunning vote to regulate abortion centers in the waning days of the General Assembly’s regular session, the Virginia Senate approved by a vote of 21-20 Governor McDonnell’s amendment to HB 2434 that bans taxpayer funding of elective abortion coverage when (or if) the state run health care insurance exchanges begin in 2014 as mandated by the federal health care law. Throughout the day it looked like the amendments would die in the Senate, perhaps by a 21-19 margin. But, in a vote that came up in the latter stages of an all day and night annual “Veto Session,” all 18 Republican senators and pro-life Democrats Chuck Colgan and Phillip Puckett voted to add the amendments. The other 20 Democrats voted to reject them leaving the tie-breaking vote with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling who, as he did in February, voted in the affirmative. Early on in the intense debate, pro-abortion Senator John Edwards tried to have the amendments ruled non-germane, but Lt. Governor Bolling, who presides over the Senate, ruled that they were. His ruling was upheld on a 21-19 vote. Earlier in the day, the House of Delegates concurred with Governor McDonnell with about 60 votes.
Thanks to all who contacted their senators for this incredible win for Life. Because of your dedication and commitment, we have won significant pro-life legislative victories in Virginia during the past three months. More on this story to come.
There will be more about this story and hopefully it will lead to some good somewhere down the road. At the very least, it may be the most significant evidence yet that discredits the idea that massive (unchecked) spending by the government works, that the government knows what it is doing, and that the answer to every ill is a knee-jerk reaction to siphon off families’ hard earned money for centrally planned, government-run schemes. Somehow, we think, they’ll still come back for more next year, having either still not learned their lesson, or displaying about $500 million worth of chutzpah.
We hope everyone has a long, relaxing and safe holiday weekend, while remembering to give appropriate pause and reflection to those, throughout the decades, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of America. To bide over you news junkies, some who may have an even longer weekend than others, we have an expanded edition of the News Stand (including links to audio and video) to bide you over the rest of the weekend. We hope you enjoy your holiday reading.
Virginia news is pretty slack today, but we are mentioned yet again in the media, this time by Washington Jewish Week, about the state police chaplain prayer policy. People can’t seem to stop writing about us. It’s because we are making an impact and — to the shock of a startled elite — social conservatism is not out of favor with Americans.
Except for those here watching over the impending European implosion, the major news nationally deals with a Supreme Court nominee and one who will vote to confirm her. President Barack Obama selected Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill the spot of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Meanwhile, one who will vote to confirm her, U.S. Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), didn’t even qualify for his party’s primary ballot, the first Tea Party scalp this year. Infiltrating a Republican nomination process may sound predictable, and cheered by liberals who think GOP divisions may stave their pending November doom, but you may be surprised at the next incumbent Tea Party scalp in the queue: Democrat Representative Allan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), a senior appropriator, who has a primary challenge from a state senator gaining traction because of Rep. Mollohan’s pork barrelling ear marks and questionable ethics.
Finally, the health care law has come up short. Already. Again! According to the AP, that guaranteed “kid” coverage (up to age 26!) has run into a snag. Government efficiency and liberal utopia at its best.
Former U.S. Representative Virgil Goode not only shocked the political world yesterday, he confused it as well, saying he joined the Constitution Party, but will remain a Republican. A new twist on political double speak?
I encourage you to take a gander at all that’s here. It’s one of our best News Stands ever, with lots of state news, including a fair interview with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli from WSLS-TV, and the reporter Jay Warren’s observations of the AG in his blog. In the “What is our country coming to?” category, check out Phil Klein in Commentary. Some students were sent home from school for wearing USA shirts on Cinco de Mayo. We also have columns from such stars as Michael Barone, who discusses the important elections in Britain; Larry Kudlow on the debt crisis (here and abroad); and Michele Malkin on terrorists gaining U.S. citizenship.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has reminded us of a move by then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002, who had the topless female Spirit of Justice statue covered in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice. In Mr. Cuccinelli’s case, he wanted to issue a new lapel pin with a modified Seal of the Commonwealth, which features an exposed breast of the Roman goddess Virtus, that would be fully clothed. He said it is a replica of an old version of the seal. Knowing the AG’s love of history, that must be true. Yet, the ensuing media racket persuaded him to revert to the standard issue. Unsurprisingly, the same people who have created this disproportionate distraction over this incredibly minor deal are the same ones hammering him for “distracting and frivolous” actions fighting the EPA and ObamaCare, though that is what he is sworn to do — uphold Virginia law. But blowing up minutia to cover for a lack of substance is never a consideration for the left.
In the News: The prayer State Police Chaplain prayer policy continues to make news, even nationally, and we’re along for the ride in the three of the first four links below. The AG makes headlines for other reasons, as well. He has a 100-day review in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (where you’ll find more Family Foundation quotes) and he’s made more national headlines requesting — under Virginia law — documents from a former U.Va. professor who may have been involved in deceptive “science” and defrauded the commonwealth out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money.
In Analysis, Erica Werner of the AP may not have a job tomorrow after the White House reads her piece documenting what it says about its actions on the Gulf oil spill aren’t exactly the truth. Also, according to the AP, as many as 80 Dem Congressional seats now are in play; and Marc Thiessen reports that Senator Jim Demint (R-S.C.) is leading a conservative revolution in GOP Senate primaries. In Commentary, it’s Larry Kudlow on money and Star Parker on Life. If that doesn’t sum it up, nothing does.
It’s almost like it’s a holiday weekend — there’s not much going on. Maybe it’s a collective political sigh. After all, it’s been an eventful week. So, today brings us more reflection on all of the good news on the cultural front as the media still can’t get enough of it. Leading the News, again, is coverage of Governor Bob McDonnell’s reversal of the Kaine administration’s gag order on Virginia State Police chaplains not to pray according to their faith tradition. We’re mentioned in both articles linked below.
The Kaine administration based its policyon a flawed understanding of a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding prayer policy in Fredericksburg. That decision determined that a discriminatory prayer policy that silences people of faith is constitutional, but the decision also clearly stated, “We need not decide whether the Establishment Clause compelled the Council to adopt their legislative prayer policy because the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer.”
In other words, the policy is not required. Anti-religious organizations like the ACLU continue to deceive people by arguing that so called “non-sectarian” prayer is required by the Constitution at “government meetings.” That simply is not true.
We are thrilled that Governor McDonnell has fulfilled his campaign promise to restore the religious liberty rights of state police chaplains (see Roanoke Times article, vote in poll). His action reverses the discriminatory policy of the previous administration and ensures that chaplains can remain true to their faith at public events. The gags on State Police chaplains, six of whom resigned after the Kaine policy went into effect (out of 17 at the time), must now come off. (State Police chaplains are voluntary positions among active troopers; those who resigned maintained their trooper jobs.)
There was no legitimate reason for the policy change in the first place. This was an act of discrimination by the Kaine administration, plain and simple. No court anywhere requires the Kaine policy. Governor McDonnell is completely within his authority and has the constitution on his side.
The censorship of state police chaplains is yet another example of the growing anti-Christian sentiment among many in the political class in Virginia. It is evidence that more must be done to protect our right of conscience. The Family Foundation is working with several national experts on ways to further protect your religious liberty rights. We look forward to rolling out our plans in the coming months.
A short edition today, which gives you no excuse for not reading every article. Leading the news is the landmark pro-life budget amendment passed last night by both chambers of the General Assembly. We’re quoted and mentioned prominently in the lead link below. This may only be the start. Nationally, states are moving toward using a provision in the government health care takeover law that allows them to opt out of paying for abortion in health care. Ashley Horne of CitizenLink.org has an in-depth analysis of the hows and whys of federal government funding of abortion in this new law, despite the so-called prohibitive language in the legislation and President Obama’s executive order supposedly prohibiting it. Speaking of executive orders, Peter Sprigg of FRCBlog explains the impact of the president’s order allowing “same-sex partners” hospital visitation rights and such.
While most of the ink is about yesterday’s “Veto Session,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch highlights yesterday’s “Virginia Annual Political Rite of Spring,” The Shad Planking in Wakefield. Former governor and senator George Allen was the keynote speaker and about 1,200 attended, less the 138 (two House seats are vacant) from the General Assembly. You’d think they could schedule it on a day when Virginia’s princes and princesses could attend. On the other hand . . . maybe that’s the point?