Virginia’s 2015 Libertarian Bills

283996_10150239890381651_2358105_nA guest piece from Charles Frohman

For the second year in a row the grassroots organization Our America Initiative (OAI) found in Virginia’s legislature the good bills – those that restrain government power and honor personal liberty –  that need your support before adjournment later this month.  Below I’ll share how you can send an email to get your opinion registered before the state legislature closes down for the year.

Admittedly some of these bills already have passed or been defeated, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send an email to get your opinions heard.  If your email is the last thing your representative or senator reads before locking the Richmond office, he or she will remember the unfinished business for next year.

Our America Initiative divided the supported-bills among five categories:  (1) cutting taxes and red tape (regulations); (2) rolling back over-criminalization; (3) expanding choices in education and health; (4) respecting personal liberty; and (5) opening and limiting government power.  Each category is described below.

On the first category Our America Initiative listed bills to study moving away from taxation of income and businesses, as well as cutting our corporate rate.  With eleven states raising sufficient revenue from sales or property values, there’s no reason for Virginia to let other states steal our businesses because we’re too greedy with the citizens’ money.  On regulations we support bills to exempt from inspection food sold directly by farmers to customers.  Requirements to install industrial kitchens to sell homemade dishes or raw milk limits healthful options for families looking for local, superior options.  Two constitutional amendments made the list, one to allow the right to work and another to allow majority votes in the Assembly to strike burdensome regulations.

The second category has some chance since Republicans are facing remorse for their unreasonable “tough-on-crime” hyperbole and carte blanche gifts to the Security State.  Bills include ones to respect the 4th amendment’s prohibition on searches without warrants, forbid asset forfeiture by police until a defendant has exhausted all appeals, prohibit arrest quotas, and study how to reverse the over-criminalization epidemic.  Other bills would require bureaucracies to use the police for enforcement actions instead of creating their own SWAT teams; clarify the sheriffs’ role as a locality’s top enforcement officer; impose regulations on privatized, local cops; raise the reckless driving speed to 85 mph; and end the prohibition on the cannabis and hemp plants (the prohibition of which are the driving force for the over-criminalization disease).

While Common Core and ObamaCare merely piled on national rules to already over-regulated education and health markets, Virginia’s politicians have introduced at least a few bills that achieve OAI’s goal to grant parents more choices in both areas.  One bill would prohibit local school boards from blocking charter choices for parents dissatisfied with their required, local government school, and another bill would block the Common Core federalization of state K-12 standards.  Health freedom bills include one to allow unregulated direct access to local farm food; another to disclose when a product has been genetically modified; a third to allow self-selecting states to replace ObamaCare with an interstate compact to regulate the health market; one allowing dying patients to access drugs that haven’t completed FDA safety reviews; a bill expanding diseases qualifying for doctor-recommended marijuana; and a bill immunizing good samaritans helping over-dose victims.

A smorgasbord of bills made it onto the “Respecting Personal Liberty” category of OAI-supported bills in Virginia’s legislature.  Most would also address the over-criminalization epidemic, by stopping government searches of property without having to get a judge first to issue a warrant identifying what needs to be searched and why.  Other bills would compensate victims of government sterilization crimes in the 20th century; return voting rights to felons who’ve served their time; grant provisional licenses to those refusing DUI road tests; and propose an amendment to clarify the 2nd Amendment prohibition on government interference with the right to armed defense.

The final category of supported-bills includes those that open the government to scrutiny and limits its power.  Two bills would limit the ability of the dominant Parties (Republican and Democrat) to keep out competition from third parties – thus giving voters the choices polls show they demand.  Other bills include those to forbid bureaucrat actions that violate notice requirements; forbid public universities from ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests; limit the revolving door between government employment and working for government contractors; reduce budget gimmicks in spending bills; and call for a constitutional convention but for only amendments that limit government spending or power.

Our America Initiative didn’t capture all the libertarian-leaning bills in these five categories, and not all of the bills on the list are without some risk to liberty.  When you could click here (http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/), then, to get the email address of your state representative and senator, and email them the OAI handout (https://www.ouramericainitiative.com/virginia.html), feel free to emphasize the bills you believe are most important to liberty.  With adjournment later this month or in March, now is the time to show our Virginia politicians that a constituency exists not just for handouts, but also for personal responsibility.

Charles Frohman directs grassroots for www.OurAmericaInitiative, a 501(c)4 chaired by Governor Gary Johnson to advocate libertarian changes in the law, nationally and through the organization’s 50 state affiliates.  After earning a B.A. in Government in 1988 from the College of William and Mary, Frohman went on to work for members of Congress, financial trade associations, the Cato Institute, and, later as a sole proprietor with a large number of small nonprofit clients as well as one of the nation’s largest security guard companies.  For a few years he tried his hand at teaching high school history, earning his M.Ed. in 2010 from the George Washington University.  Residing in Williamsburg, Virginia, Frohman grew up in Suffolk and also is a certified kundalini yoga teacher.

The Good and Bad Bills in Virginia’s Legislature

Guest Post by Charles Frohman

Virginia’s Our America Initiative (OAI) affiliate reviewed most of the legislature’s 2,000 bills and divided the relevant ones among them – pro and con – through 6 issue areas:

1. Cutting taxes and regulations;

2. Making Law Enforcement comply with the law;

3. Restoring Health Freedom;

4. Expanding School Choice;

5. Respecting Personal Freedom; and,

6. Strengthening Constitutional limits to government.

Virginia Conservative’s readers should take a look at the bills on OAI’s handout – to be used during Lobby Day this Monday, and throughout the 60-day session.

If you agree with these positions, print out a copy of the 1-pager, here (https://ouramericainitiative.com/virginia.html), and share it with your delegate and senator, either by email or in on Lobby Day this Monday in Richmond.  For all the details on Lobby Day, click onto OAI’s Facebook events page, https://www.facebook.com/events/774014455961027/.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He is a regional fundraiser for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.

How Do Virginia’s National Politicians Respect Economic and Personal Liberty?

Guest post by Charles Frohman

Since 1989 the Liberty Index (http://www.scribd.com/doc/199483758/Liberty-Index-2013) has rated politicians based on fiscal issues such as cutting taxes and regulations, and personal social issues such as respecting privacy and due process, among other issues.  One might think Republicans may do better economically and believe Democrats would succeed on the social issues.  Let’s look at Virginia’s members of Congress and see how well they keep government out of our wallets and personal lives, remaining aware over the weakness of this and all surveys:   the limitation imposed by the available votes.

That is, votes were scheduled on only a limited number of issues under each category.  Had more votes been available on a wider range of issues, scores could have changed at least marginally.  Click the link above to look at the actual votes.  Meanwhile, for the votes the politicians actually submitted, they could have made better choices, as reflected in the overall low scores of Virginia’s politicians.  Remember these scores next time you vote at the ballot box.  Overall, House Republicans scored a solid 86, with their counterparts in the Senate disappointing with a 42, while Democrats in both houses came in at zero, on average.  In Virginia our top scorer was Congressman Griffith, representing southwest Virginia, at 84.  The rest of our congress-critters deserve primary challenges.

Name                           Econ Liberty   Personal Liberty         Average=Score

Senators

Kaine, Tim                              15                                       5                                  10

Warner, Mark                        15                                      24                                19

Representatives

Cantor, Eric                           95                                     26                                61

Connolly, Gerry                     20                                     35                                28

Forbes, Randy                        80                                    40                                60

Goodlatte, Bob                        95                                    50                                73

Griffith, Morgan                     90                                    79                                84

Hurt, Robert                          100                                    53                                76

Moran, Jim                                0                                    55                                28

Rigell, Scott                           100                                    53                                76

Scott, Robert                           10                                    68                                39

Wittman, Rob                         95                                    40                                68

Wolf, Frank                             85                                    47                                66

Again, click the link above to look at the limited number and range of votes on which our congress members are ranked.  But also wonder why when given a vote, they chose government control over personal liberty.  Virginia, the home of our nation’s founders, deserves better.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He is a regional fundraiser for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.

What’s the Liberty Vote Tuesday?

IMG_2133Guest post by Charles Frohman.

A Virginia libertarian can vote Tuesday for Attorney General Cuccinelli and feel comfortable, despite his unwillingness to contemplate removal of government from women’s health care, private behavior, gun purchases or immigration. That’s because the “Cooch” – as some in politics call the Republican candidate for governor – will focus on the changes needed in the state for progress: cuts in government taxation, cuts in bureaucratic spending and cuts in job-stifling regulations. Certainly McAuliffe, the Democrat, offers no reason for a vote, given his “government-first” answers for any Virginia problem. What about the third choice, Libertarian Sarvis? Doesn’t he offer an investment for Virginia’s long-term future that combines the fiscal responsibility of the Cooch without the social interventions saddling the AG?

Yes, only Sarvis offers the combination of fiscal responsibility and social tolerance favored by most Americans; if ten percent of voters Tuesday invest in the Libertarian, that party will have no signature threshold to get onto future state-wide ballots through the next several elections – guaranteeing a libertarian choice and, perhaps most importantly, pressure on the Republicans to stop offering candidates that are only partially acceptable, as the Cooch is only acceptable fiscally.

Conservatives may have noticed the GOP smears against Sarvis floating around the interwebs over the past week. They claim Sarvis isn’t as libertarian as the Cooch on spending, healthcare reform or transportation funding. These distortions of the Libertarian’s record have properly been debunked by the Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia Conservative and Virginia Right – all faithful conservative media organs and none in the pocket of Sarvis. The truth on taxes is that while the Cooch helpfully would marginally cut income taxes, Sarvis would seek abolition of the hated tax and move to a consumption tax (making us competitive with the growing number of states that rely for revenue solely on a sales tax). Let’s abolish the income tax.

On taxpayer-funded health care for the poor, Sarvis never said he disagreed with Cuccinelli on holding the line on expanding Medicaid –the core access expansion provision of ObamaCare. Sarvis, however, has called for reform of government health care, moving to a cash-support model (touted famously in 2012 by Congressman Paul Ryan) whereby the poor could receive a voucher to buy any health plan instead of having a one-size-fits-all plan shoved onto them. Further, only Sarvis wants to get government out of women’s health care; Cuccinelli doesn’t. Libertarians – and Sarvis – want government out of health care period.

On Transportation funding, Sarvis is accused of supporting a privacy-violating mileage tax to fund road building. The Libertarian does not endorse this tax and instead merely included it in a list of suggested ways to undo the damage done by Cuccinelli’s administration that moved away from user fees. Further, only Sarvis has mentioned the libertarian dream of devolving road building decisions to local governments away from Richmond. Local control is the way to fix those potholes and build more lanes to get rid of congestion.

Staying on the privacy-threatening implications of the car mileage tax, it’s striking that the Republicans making this warning fail to see the way Cuccinelli already has violated this warning with his support for mental health gun bans. For the government to deny 2nd Amendment rights to mental patients, the government must violate health privacy. And who doesn’t suspect the definition of mental disability will expand as the government tries to deny more Americans – including civil dissidents – this ancient right of armed defense? The 2nd amendment is not to be trifled with.

The Cooch deserves a vote Tuesday for his generic fiscal conservatism and judicial activism against ObamaCare, Real ID and those unfairly prosecuted. However, to keep the pressure on Virginia to keep moving in a libertarian direction – including to protect the gun rights of all Americans, to get government completely out of healthcare, to get government out of private behavior and to improve transportation with more local control – withhold support for un-libertarian choices and invest in an “open-minded and open for business” future for Virginia with a vote for Sarvis.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He now directs development for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.