Senator Black on Article V

Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015

Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015

VC Note:  Earlier today, Senator Dick Black (R-Loundon) sent out the following message regarding an Article V Convention.

Virginia will vote to change the Constitution of the United States in a few days!

This is called an Article V Convention and the purpose is to rewrite parts of the Constitution of the United States. Two thirds of the states must apply for a Convention and there is confusion about whether Virginia will complete the tipping point because other states that passed it decades ago have since attempted to rescind that vote.

3 SIMPLE FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • Article V Convention Supporters include:

George Soros, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, Occupy Wallstreet, New Progressive Alliance and 100 other liberal groups are pushing for this.

  • We can’t control who will amend the Constitution.

This is the most troubling aspect because there is no law that states how delegates to the Convention are chosen. Congress could appoint themselves. Even if Congress allowed states to choose their own delegates, the Republican establishment leadership in Virginia’s House and Senate would never choose a conservative to amend the Constitution.

  • We cannot limit what parts of the Constitution can be changed.

No matter what limited rules are put on the Convention regarding what parts of our Constitution will be changed, the delegates themselves can vote to change the rules at the Convention. The First Amendment, Second Amendment, etc. could be changed if delegates at the Convention vote to change the rules.

Please contact your state delegate and senator and ask them to vote no and protect our Constitution! Find out who your representative is here and tell them not to gamble with the Constitution of the United States.

Want to learn more? Read on:

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Burger said history shows us we can’t control what parts of the Constitution will be changed.

In a letter to the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly (who opposes calling a Convention), former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger wrote, “The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. The Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress ‘for the sole and express purpose.’ With George Washington as chairman, they were able to deliberate in total secrecy, with no press coverage and no leaks. A Constitutional Convention today would be a free-for-all.

A new Convention could plunge our Nation into constitutional confusion and confrontation at every turn, with no assurance that focus would be on the subjects needing attention. I have discouraged the idea of a Constitutional Convention, and I am glad to see states rescinding their previous resolutions requesting a Convention…

Whatever may need repair on our Constitution can be dealt with by specific amendments.”

We have never had an Article V Convention. In 1787 we had a Constitutional Convention for the sole purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation. History shows us that although limitations were put on these delegates, they came out of that Convention with a completely different form of government. Thankfully, we had selfless men of character in that Convention who crafted a Constitution that has withstood the test of time. However, do you think today’s Congress would send similar selfless men/women of character to a modern-day Convention? Do you think Congress today has similar values as those who crafted our Constitution?

What does Article V say? Here it is in its entirety (it’s very short):

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Now that you’ve read Article V, ask yourself some questions:

Where does it say how the delegates to the Convention are chosen? Where will it take place? Will delegates be bound to vote on behalf of their state or as individuals? How many delegates will there be? Can Congress appoint themselves as delegates? ANSWER: No one knows. It’s similar to what Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

You Cannot Control Who the Delegates Will Be at a Constitutional Convention:

The makeup of the delegates to the Convention is the most troubling aspect of this entire endeavor, and it is the one thing that is guaranteed to go AGAINST those hoping for a conservative outcome.

There is no law or statute that binds Congress or the states on who will be selected as delegates to a Constitutional Convention, or how they will be chosen. There is not even a requirement that a delegate to the Convention representing Virginia be an actual Virginia Citizen. All we have are historical precedents of how other conventions have chosen delegates, but precedent is NOT binding.

The most likely scenario is that a slate of delegates would be put forward by the General Assembly, voted on by both Houses, and approved by the Governor. Governor McAuliffe is not likely to approve a conservative delegation, nor would the Republican establishment choose conservative lawmakers. This would guarantee that the delegates from Virginia would NOT be conservative and would most likely be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

With the need to secure Democrat support for any slate of delegates, do you think there is a chance that Virginia will send a group of people dedicated to reining in the size and scope of government? Absolutely not. Frankly, it was the Republican establishment that gave us the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history and they would never choose a conservative to amend the Constitution of the United States. The most likely scenario would be moderate Republicans joining with the Democrats to select a slate of centrist, left-leaning individuals, and that’s just in Virginia. Imagine what states like California and New York would do.

In states controlled by Democrat legislatures, you can be assured of getting only a slate of liberal lawmakers without a single conservative voice among them.

You Cannot Limit the Scope of a Constitutional Convention:

Proponents of a Constitutional Convention argue over and over that they can keep the scope of any convention focused on a narrow subject. They are wrong. Just like any other political convention ever held in this country, the delegates to the convention set their own rules.

No matter what limited rules any Congress, State Legislature, or anyone else may seek to impose on the Convention, the delegates themselves are the ones that vote on these rules. They can easily dismiss any limits placed upon them and set their own rules governing what amendments they can consider, as well as how those proposed amendments are considered. They can even do away with the “one state, one vote” notion put forward by Convention proponents and institute “proportional representation” giving liberal states like New York and California the ability to run roughshod over smaller, more conservative states.

Imagine what harm a Constitutional Convention, packed with left leaning delegates, could do to the Constitution? If the left were able to amend the Constitution of the United States, they could change Freedom of Religion to say certain teachings from the Bible are hate speech, they could take away our right to own a gun, etc.

Planners Are Already Moving to Loosen Restraints on the Scope of a Convention:

“Assembly of State Legislatures” is a group of legislators planning the Article V Convention. About fifty state legislators met December 9, 2014 in Washington DC. Notes from this meeting show that lawmakers tabled a motion to restrict the scope of the Convention to only the subject matter of the state applications, and also rejected a motion which would have prevented congressmen and senators, federal judges and governors from serving as delegates to the Convention. This is an early indication that politicians want to have a more open process and may want to appoint members of Congress, the US Senate and federal judges to amend the Constitution.

We Don’t Get a Second Chance to Get it Right:

The supporters of a Constitutional Convention are well-meaning people who, like us, want so badly to get our country back on track. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to our problems. Our form of government was never meant to be on autopilot.

Proponents of a Convention say that they know the rules. But how can anyone know the rules for something that has never been done before? There has never been a Constitutional Convention called under Article V of the US Constitution , and with good reason. Most people understand the dangers to our liberties a Constitutional Convention represents. At a time when our rights are being redefined by activist judges and the Constitution is being ignored by our President and his supporters in Congress, why would we place our most sacred document into the hands of the same corrupt leaders who are trampling it in the first place? The fact is that there is no way around bad leaders. The only way is to replace them with good leaders. We would be delusional to think these bad leaders would choose good leaders to amend our Constitution, no matter how badly we need them to.

Please contact your state delegate and senator and ask them to vote no and protect our Constitution! Find out who your representative is here and tell them not to put the Constitution of the United States of America AT RISK: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

I will be in my Richmond office until February 28 and welcome you to stop by. Our office is in Room 308 of the General Assembly Building. You can contact me at District13@senate.virginia.gov or 804.698.7513. You can also follow me on Twitter @SenRichardBlack and on Facebook where I will do my best to bring you the most up to date information on the session.

Warm Regards,

Senator Dick Black

Obenshain vs. Petersen on Party Registration

Senators Obenshain & Petersen from their respective Facebook pages

Senators Obenshain & Petersen from their respective Facebook pages

On Tuesday, SB 1060 came to the floor of the Virginia Senate.  Sponsored by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham), this bill would bring the state voter registration by political party.  Doing so would create closed or semi-closed primaries where only declared members of a political party (and perhaps independents) could participate in a given party primary.

A fair number of liberty-minded Republicans and Libertarians have taken to Facebook to oppose SB 1060; some of us have contacted Senator Obenshain’s office as well.  I listed my objections to this idea in a piece last week.  In addition, both Deb Fitzgerald, the Chairman of the Harrisonburg Democratic Party, and I offered our concerns in Wednesday’s issue of the Daily News Record.

On the Senate floor, Senator Obenshain was the lead proponent of the bill while Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) was the most vocal opponent.  Senator Obenshain declared that by passing party registration, Virginia would conform to a majority of other states.  In addition, doing so would grant political parties the power to “choose who gets to participate in that…process.” As Senator Petersen stated, “there are two winners from this bill.  One is the Republican Party, the other one is the Democratic Party.  The parties are going to get so much more power if this bill passes.  But let me tell you who is going to lose.  It’s going to be ordinary people that just want to participate in elections.”  As Senator Petersen goes on to say, those who are outside the two major parties (such as Libertarians), or others who desire to switch political parties could find themselves completely excluded from the process.  Unfortunately, the Republican Party of Virginia has already moved in this direction, reviving the much reviled loyalty oath and changing their party plan last year by expelling members who participate in the nomination process of other parties.  In addition, Senators John Watkins (R-Powhatan) and Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax County) also explained why they would not support party registration.

The vote that followed was exceedingly close, 19-21, following mostly along party lines.  Every Republican voted in favor except Senators Watkins and Walter Stosch (R-Henrico) who joined with the Democrats to defeat SB 1060.

HB 1518, Delegate Steve Landes’ (R-Augusta) party registration bill also died yesterday as the Privilege and Elections subcommittee failed to recommend reporting it to the floor of the House of Delegates.

Below is the full debate on SB 1060.  Thanks to Blue Virginia for posting this video to YouTube.

Hutcheson Announces

IMG_2791Today, at noon at the Panos restaurant on Route 11 in Harrisonburg, Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson officially announced his re-election campaign.  About two hundred people were on hand.

He spoke briefly of his experiences over the last four years, including reading three thank you letters that the sheriff’s office had received during his time as chief law enforcement officer.

Although additional candidates for sheriff are rumored, so far none have stepped forward either to challenge Hutcheson for the Republican nomination, or in the general election.

 

Huckabee in Lynchburg

IMG_2780Today, Mike Huckabee concluded his book tour of Virginia with stops in Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Richmond.

Unlike just about every other political event, the book signing at the bookstore of Liberty University began early, about a half an hour before it was scheduled.  The line snaked through the building as readers purchased one, two, or perhaps a whole stack of books and brought them to the former governor to sign.  Each had his or her picture taken with the former governor as well.  Some folks drove from a great distance to be there; One woman remarked that she lived in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Many of the people who were a part of the tour wore stickers encouraging a 2016 presidential campaign for Mr. Huckabee.  Although there are strong rumors of the formation of a campaign, nothing has been announced officially thus far.

Outside, one could find a tour bus emblazoned with the image of Mike Huckabee’s latest book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.

Although the book signing in Lynchburg seemed to be pretty well attended, one of the organizers mentioned that the gathering in Roanoke had an even higher turnout.  Should be interesting to hear how many people made the trek to Richmond to attend The Family Foundation’s event this evening.

The Looming Con-Con

Picture from bobmarshall2012.com

Picture from bobmarshall2012.com

According to an email from Delegate Bob Marshall sent a few moments ago, tomorrow two pieces of legislation regarding a constitutional convention will come before the Rule Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates.  They are HJ 497 sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and HJ 499 by Delegate Jim LeMunyon.

Although many of us would agree that the federal government has grossly exceeded the authority granted to it by the U.S. Constitution, we have considerable reservations about a constitutional convention.  Given that the 9th and 10th Amendments are routinely ignored, why would the federal government decide to honor some new amendment that would limit its power?  Unfortunately, an Article V Convention, as proposed by these bills and others, could end up merely legitimizing the century and a half of usurpation that has already taken place.

As Delegate Marshall writes, “Once called by Congress, the Convention cannot be stopped or limited and will have complete authority to change any part of our Constitution!   The only other convention, held in 1787, re-wrote the Articles of Confederation, and changed the ratification requirements from unanimous to three fourths!  Yes, it gave us our present Constitution, but we had many statesmen of moral conviction who fought the War of Independence leading the nation at that time.  Madison said he trembled at the thought of a second convention after witnessing the first!”

He goes on to add, “The state legislators planning the Article V Convention rejected a motion that would have prevented Members of Congress, the US Senate, federal judges and governors from serving as convention delegates.  They also tabled a motion to restrict the subject matter of the convention.”

Anyone who cares about a constitutionally limited government certainly can be sympathetic to the aims of those proposing an Article V Convention.  However, so far the case has not been sufficiently made to do so.  It seems a far better remedy is to demand that our legislators in Washington adhere to the Constitution and replace though who have failed in this duty.  In addition, we need to elect representatives to the General Assembly in Richmond who are not afraid to draw the line and say no to the federal government, show how the feds have violated the Constitution, and fight against any and all encroachment when necessary.

Delegate Marshall concludes his email by saying, “Please also urge your own state delegate and senator to OPPOSE ALL APPLICATIONS ASKING CONGRESS TO CALL AN ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.”

Registering for the Party!?

Senator Obenshain

Senator Obenshain on Lobby Day 2015

For those who don’t know, Virginia is an open primary state.  That means that when a political party holds a primary, any registered voter can participate so long as he or she does not vote in the primary of more than one party for a given office.  Whether you consider yourself to be a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, Socialist, something else, or an independent, you can vote in most every primary.  Well, that situation may be about to change.

This year, there are two bills before the General Assembly that create party registration.  They are HB 1518 patroned by Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta) and SB 1060 by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham).  Presumably the purpose in crafting this legislation is to prevent members of an opposing party to participate in primaries.

In general, most grassroots activists I have spoken with thus far are opposed to party registration.  Some cite the fact that they don’t want to officially be a part of any political party while others have concerns what would happen if these party lists ended up in the wrong hands.  Some compare it to the idea of gun registration.  They argue that if we don’t believe it is appropriate for the government to have a gun registry, why would we allow them a political registry?  I oppose it too, but for different reasons.

In response to these bills, I have spoken directly with Delegate Landes and with a staffer for Senator Obenshain.  As mentioned, on Lobby Day, I encouraged several members of the General Assembly to vote against these bills as well as speaking at length with my senator’s political director about my concerns.  Although I was informed that they would send me information as to why the senator is proposing such legislation, the only answer I have been given after several days is that “this bill provides either party, Republican or Democrat, greater control over who can participate in their party’s nominating process.”  Unfortunately, I expect that I shall hear nothing further.

Therefore, let me share my objections with you.

We live in a country grounded in political freedom.  With the exception of felons who have not have their voting rights restored, everyone eighteen years or older who has properly registered to vote is allowed to do so regardless of race, religion, gender, or political preference.  Here in Virginia we can enjoy this freedom in primaries as well.

As a result, I’ve voted in just about every primary that I can.  This has included voting in: the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, the 2006 Democratic senatorial primary, the 2008 Republican presidential primary, the 2012 Republican presidential, house, and senatorial primary, and the 2013 Democratic statewide primary.  Some people vote for the weakest candidate in the hopes to defeat him or her in the general election.  Others do so in order to vote for the candidate whom we believe most closely aligns with our values.  But whatever the reason, positive or negative, many of us appreciate the ability to cast our vote freely and according to the dictates of what we think is best.  Unfortunately, these bills for party registration would chip away or completely eliminate that freedom.

Did you know that party primaries are not paid for by the political parties that hold them but rather the Virginia taxpayers?  Given that information, can you, in good conscience, support a bill that forces a citizen to pay for a primary and also forbids them from taking part in it?  In what universe is that considered just?

Another objection stems from the political demographics of the state.  In some places, like Rockingham or Augusta County, the Republican nominee will almost certainly be the winner of the general election.  In others, like Williamsburg, Charlottesville, or Alexandria, the Democratic candidate is a near certainty for victory.  Imagine yourself as either a Democrat living in a Republican area or as a Republican living in a Democratic stronghold.  Assuming you wish to have any voice in who represents you in government, your best and perhaps only hope is to participate in the primary of the opposing party so that you can vote for the most like-minded candidate.  These bills would ensure that if you were part of a political minority your opinion, no matter how small, could be completely ignored.

Also, it should be pointed out that primaries are unjustly applied.  Although the Democratic and Republican Parties can hold primaries at taxpayer expense, others such as the Libertarians or Greens cannot do so as they are not officially recognized political parties.  In fact, there are a considerable number of laws in place in Virginia to keep new and existing parties from being recognized, such as the onerous 10% hurdle.  Senator Obenshain’s bill, SB 1060, adds yet another layer stating that it “allows an official political party to retain that status as long as at least 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s registered voters are registered as affiliated with that party.”  It is exceedingly difficult to create new political competition through starting up a new political party when the current ones have laws to keep them firmly entrenched.

Given the poor job the Republican Party’s leadership has done in recent years through enacting the largest tax increase in Virginia history, continuing to expand the authority of the government, and creating rules that erode our political freedom to support the candidate that best supports our values and voting in any primaries that we are forced to pay for, why in heaven’s name would Delegate Landes and Senator Obenshain propose bills which give the two major political parties even more power?  Without competition, there is no incentive to become better, more principled, or more responsive to the people who entrusted you with power in the first place.

On the last page of my political memoir (which I hope to get published one of these days) I quote Richard Obenshain, father of Senator Obenshain, who stated that “the most important goal in my life is to have some significant impact in preserving and expanding the realm of personal freedom in the life of this country.”  Will enacting party registration in Virginia further this goal of expanding freedom in politics?  And, if not, grassroots activists have the right to know why in the hell our legislators are proposing such a plan!

Lobby Day 2015

IMG_2729Today, in an annual tradition, citizens from across Virginia converged at the state capitol in Richmond for Lobby Day.  The morning and afternoon consisted of rallies, protests, sitting in on sessions of the state government, and meeting with elected officials.

The day started relatively early as I traveled from the Shenandoah Valley with two local Republicans, Kaylene and Laura.  My first stop was to the General Assembly Building.  As I walked through the grounds, the Virginia Citizens Defense League was preparing for an event at the bell tower, passing out their traditional orange stickers proclaiming that “guns save lives.”  Many in the gathering crowd also wore stickers in support of Susan Stimpson, as she is seeking to unseat Speaker of the House of Delegates William Howell.

After making my way through security, I came across several local faces, such as Delegate Mark Berg (R-Winchester) as well as Dan Moxley and his daughter, Hannah.  Mr. Moxley is challenging Senator Emmett Hanger for the Republican nomination in the 24th district.

One of my first stops was to see Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke).  He has proposed a bill that lowers the threshold for a political party to achieve official status in Virginia from 10% of a statewide vote to 4%.  As I believe doing so would allow for greater choices in elections, I wanted to learn more.  While there, I discovered that he has sponsored another bill that would change redistricting so that legislators would no longer be able to choose their voters.  It is a bill which requires further study.

Although many of the delegates and senators were not in their offices, I did set up an appointment to speak with Delegate Gordon Helsel (R-Poquoson).  I very much enjoyed my conversation with his aide, Ashley.  In addition, I ran across Virginia Libertarian Party Chairman Bill Redpath and later Virginia Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Robert Kenyon.

IMG_2730When I approached the capitol entrance, a group marched outside protesting student loans.

Inside, both the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates were in brief sessions.  I found it curious that one had to go through security a second time in order to watch the Senate; it seemed completely unnecessary.

After briefly speaking with a number of legislators including: Senator Obenshain (R-Rockingham), Senator Vogel (R-Fauquier), and Senator Hanger (R-Augusta), I made my way back to the General Assembly Building.  Outside stood a group advocating greater food and farming freedom.  There I ran across additional legislators including: Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham), Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge), Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), and a second brief encounter with Delegate Berg.

Although I was tempted to visit the office of recently re-elected and convicted Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico), I decided against it.  I would have also liked to speak to Delegate Pogge (R-York).  Even though I saw her outside, I could not find her in the building, instead meeting with her legislative assistant.  I also said hello to Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) and his aide, Savanna.

Next, I spoke with Delegate Helsel.  I sought him out as I was interested to learn his opinions of the proposed changes in the party plan of the Republican Party of Virginia.  Now serving as a Republican delegate, in 2009 Helsel ran as an independent against the Republican nominee.  If the proposed changed had been in place at that time, Delegate Helsel would have been ineligible to run as a Republican in 2011 or participate in any of their party politics until the year 2017.  We also discussed the surprisingly differing responses from Republicans regarding former Delegate Phil Hamilton and freshly sentenced former Governor Bob McDonnell.

Afterward, I visited my state senator’s office to try and understand why he would push for party registration as well as to voice my objections and concerns about doing so.   I firmly believe that registration would lead to disenfranchisement and would further erode political freedom in Virginia.  I’m told that I should have a response from his office within a day.

Lastly, I met up with Robert Sarvis and a handful of fellow Libertarians who also came to Richmond for Lobby Day.  Apparently they spoke in a Senate committee in favor of a bill that would decrease signature requirements for ballot access, but I’m told the bill was killed 2-4 along party lines as all of the Republicans in the committee voted against it.

I must say that as I walked through the halls of the capitol today, I felt a return of excitement and enthusiasm that I first experienced during my early days of political involvement.

All in all, Lobby Day 2015 was another fun event here in Virginia and I was glad to be a part of it.

No Freedom to Dissent

Photo from Noah Berger of the AP

Photo from Noah Berger of the AP

Last year, the Republican Party of Virginia modified their party plan to restrict who may participate in Republican Party nominations.  Specifically, part 2 of section A reads that “a voter who, subsequent to making a statement of intent, publicly supports a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee shall not be qualified for participation in party actions as defined in Article I for a period of four (4) years.” and part 4 adds “in addition to the foregoing, to be in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, unless otherwise stipulated by the appropriate Official Committee, a person otherwise qualified hereunder shall not have participated in Virginia in the nomination process of a party other than the Republican Party within the last five years.”

So, if you believe the GOP nominates a poor candidate you have no choice but to support him or her.  And although your tax dollars funds both Democratic and Republican primaries, if you decide to exercise your political free will to vote in another party’s contest, you are booted from the GOP.  So much for the freedom to think for yourself and be able to support whichever candidate most closely aligns with your views in both the primary and the general election.

Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?

Well, now it may get even worse.  According to Race to Richmond, the party is considering yet another restriction on participation adding, “any individual who within the last eight (8) years was a candidate for public office as the nominee of a political party or as an independent in an election for public office where there was also a Republican candidate for said office, shall be disqualified from participating as a candidate, delegate or otherwise in a convention, mass meeting or party canvass of the Republican Party at any level.”

So maybe you run as a Democrat, Libertarian, or independent and later decide that the GOP is the party for you.  Assuming this restriction is passed, you wouldn’t be allowed to join the Republican Party of Virginia or participate in any contests for eight years, even if the only choices available to you in an election were Republicans!

Karen Kwiatkowski, the leader of the Shenandoah County Republican Women and 2012 Republican challenger to Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) was quick to offer her thoughts on Facebook saying, “The GOP is trying to fix a problem that originates in the Party’s noticeable lack of adherence to principle, and its frequent inability or refusal to run solid conservatives under the GOP mantle. This will drive not only those who ‘bolted’ away forever, who will take with them their supporters.  A better approach is to follow Rand Paul’s style of bridge-building, and treat disloyalty to a GOP candidate as a sign of the party itself doing the wrong thing.

So, I have to ask, what comes after this rule?  Expelling a person for ten years for criticizing an elected Republican legislator?  Or how about forcing Virginia citizens to register by party?  Oh…wait…there are two bills coming before the General Assembly that will do just that!

With the exception of the 2009 sweep, no Republican candidate has won statewide in Virginia in a decade.  Rather than running better campaigns, recruiting more principled candidates, or insisting upon adherence to the values found in the RPV Creed, the RPV is instead circling the wagons and heavily restricting who can call themselves Republican.  As Kwiatkowski says, it is an exceedingly poor decision and will only result in further GOP losses and greater exodus from the party.  Shouldn’t you support Republican candidates because they are the best choices and not simply due to the fear that you’ll be kicked out of the party if you do not?

Like the man in the above picture, do you call yourself a Republican and are ashamed of these ideas?  Should the RPV reverse course and allow its members the God-given freedom to say no when it or its candidates stand in opposition to our values without fear of multi-year retribution?  And, if they continue along this path, would liberty be best served if the RPV were allowed to die of this self-inflicted wound in the hopes that a political party bound by principle instead of unquestioned party loyalty could take its place?

After reading this proposed addition to the Republican Party Plan, I was reminded of a verse from the Bible.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone.  But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” John 12:24 (NLT)

Bell’s Freedom of Information

Image from Delegate Bell's Facebook page

Image from Delegate Bell’s Facebook page

Transparency in government is something that every legislator and every citizen should work to enhance.  Therefore, it is always encouraging to find government officials push for greater public awareness.

Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton has introduced a bill in the 2015 session of the General Assembly that furthers this goal.  According to Virginia’s Legislative Information System, Bell’s HB 1696 “Makes a public service corporation subject to the public records provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act with respect to any project or activity for which it may exercise the power of eminent domain and has filed or prefiled for a certificate or other permitting document.”

Although we can certainly argue the merits and proper uses of eminent domain, I believe that land owners should have clear knowledge of who desires their land, for what purpose it may be used, how much land is in question, and what are the costs and benefits to the land owner, the public, the government, and the group attempting to acquire the rights to the property.  All of this information should be common knowledge before eminent domain can be employed.

As many already know, Dominion Power is pushing for a natural gas pipeline through Highland, Augusta, Nelson, and a multitude of other counties as they make their way through Virginia to North Carolina.  Many citizens who live in or near the pathway have expressed concern or outright opposition to this project.  One cannot travel to Highland County via Route 250 without seeing a multitude of yard signs speaking against a pipeline.

Hopefully, Delegate Bell’s bill will shed greater understanding and communication regarding the Dominion pipeline and future plans.  And, if I’m understanding this piece of legislation correctly, it is my desire that the members of the General Assembly will support HB 1696.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XIX)

10830442_10152668871936915_7499696485359192187_oToday, at our new time slot of 9 AM, Andy Schmookler and I (Joshua Huffman) discussed recent political developments.  In another new development, the hour was broadcast on both 550 AM and 92.1 FM.

Topics today included developments in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, yesterday’s re-election of Delegate Morrissey, America’s prison system, and more.

If you missed it, you can find a podcast of the show here.