RICHMOND — Lawmakers in Virginia moved forward Thursday with legislation that could make it the first state in the country to allow parents to block their children from reading books in school that contain sexually explicit material.
The bill would require K-12 teachers to identify classroom materials with “sexually explicit content” and notify parents, who would have the right to “opt out” their children and request that the teacher give them something less objectionable to study.
Opponents call it a slippery slope toward book banning; advocates say it is a parent’s right to control their children’s exposure, even if the books are considered classics.
It all started with Laura Murphy, a Fairfax County woman who said she was horrified to discover that one of her sons, a high school senior, had been assigned to read the 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved.”
The seminal work of fiction, by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, is about a former slave after the Civil War, and it contains scenes of bestiality and gang rape and an infant’s gruesome murder.
Legislation to allow 151-proof clear grain alcohol to be sold in Virginia liquor stores has moved through the General Assembly with the speed of, well, white lightning, prompting public health officials at colleges and universities to ask Gov. Terry McAuliffe to veto the bill.
The Virginia College Alcoholic Leadership Council warned McAuliffe this week that House Bill 143, which is on its way to the governor after gliding through the legislature with little opposition in either chamber, poses a health threat to students because it would allow the sale of low-priced “extreme strength” alcohol that is tasteless, odorless and colorless.
“These beverages are very low cost, and their unflavored nature makes the level of alcohol difficult to detect,” said Steven Clarke, the council’s executive director and director of the Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center at Virginia Tech, in a letter to the governor.
Clarke warned that the consequences could include an increase in alcohol-related sexual assaults, including use as a weapon by sexual predators. “Further, this would likely result in increases in negative consequences for our campuses, such as personal injury, property damage, and academic non-performance,” he told the governor.
Legislative leaders said the swift passage of the bill, sponsored by Del. Barry D. Knight, R-Virginia Beach, was not influenced by $5,500 in campaign contributions that Luxco made to legislative political action committees in December.The St. Louis-based company produces Everclear, a neutral grain alcohol product that can be sold at 151 and 190 proof in Virginia only to holders of special permits for industrial, commercial culinary and medical uses, not in state Alcoholic Beverage Control stores.
RICHMOND — A House panel on Thursday advanced a bill that would allow any individual, business or organization to discriminate against someone for having sex outside of marriage.
The bill says state agencies cannot punish discrimination against anyone who is in a same-sex marriage, is transgender or has sex outside of wedlock.
The legislation advanced 13 to 7 along party lines in the GOP-controlled committee, except for Del. Joseph R. Yost (R-Giles), who voted no. The provision about sex outside of marriage was added to the bill minutes before lawmakers voted.
It is headed for likely passage by the full House next week; Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has said he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
The Virginia state Senate is expected to vote Monday on a measure that would weaken a land-use tool used for decades by local governments to get builders to add roads, parks and other improvements to new home developments.
The bill, which calls for placing restrictions on what local officials can ask for in development negotiations, is one of two measures working its way through the General Assembly. A House version of the bill passed 68-27 last week.
Both measures are generating strong opposition from local officials in Northern Virginia, where development deals have helped shape the character of some of the region’s fastest-growing communities.
Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William county officials say that changing the legislation would hamper their ability to negotiate for extra amenities from developers that, in the past, have been crucial to community support for new housing in places like Merrifield or Woodbridge. Officials also argue that amending the land-use tool would open them up to lawsuits if builders whose projects were rejected argued that they were denied because of their refusal to agree to “unreasonable” proffer requests.
Reprinted with permission from Jill Palermo
An unauthorized investigation aimed at uncovering possible voter fraud might cost Prince William County Electoral Board Chairman Guy Anthony “Tony” Guiffré his job.
The Virginia State Board of Elections took a rare vote Friday to initiate steps to remove Guiffré from the county electoral board over allegations he compromised voter privacy and might have broken state and federal laws. The allegations stem from his efforts to determine whether absentee ballots were improperly requested for the Nov. 3 election.
The three-member state board, which includes two Democrats and one Republican, voted along party lines during a meeting in Richmond to ask Attorney General Mark Herring (D) to begin the removal proceedings.
Guiffré’s fate will ultimately be decided by the Prince William County Circuit Court.
Virginia Republicans concoct a highway horror story about I-66 tolls
By Editorial Board
TURN ON the World Series these days and, at the commercial break, you’ll be subjected to an onslaught of political advertising, courtesy of Republicans running for the Virginia state legislature. Like many political ads, these are crass, misleading and pitched toward exploiting voters’ fears — in this case, about the costs of commuting.
The bogeyman invoked to strike terror in commuters is the specter of punishingly high tolls on Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia — specifically $17 tolls, as scary as any Halloween fright. The 30-second spots suggest that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) plans to impose that levy on all drivers who use I-66, a major artery for commuters in Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties.
That’s false. In fact, rush-hour drivers who drive legally on I-66 now — meaning those with at least one passenger — would be untouched by the governor’s plan. They drive the road for free now and would continue to do so.
RICHMOND — Former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder on Wednesday blasted Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s handling of an appointment to the state’s Supreme Court, saying his fellow Democrat had made political missteps that hurt him with Republican legislative leaders and black voters.
Wilder said McAuliffe failed to follow basic Richmond protocol by not running his pick by House and Senate leaders. He also dismissed as “silly” McAuliffe’s claims that the GOP was bucking his nominee because she is a woman. And he said McAuliffe had offended African Americans by choosing a white circuit court judge over a black jurist on the state’s appeals court — a perceived snub that he said would hurt McAuliffe’s friend Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
“McAuliffe being the majordomo for the Clinton campaign in Virginia, this doesn’t help her,” Wilder said. “Some of us are not going to forget it. . . . The real question is, who in the hell was advising the governor?”
Wilder made the remarks during an interview with The Washington Post about an upcoming special session of the General Assembly, during which Republicans plan to take the rare step of removing a sitting Supreme Court justice.
So basically this is all about race. Wilder wants a black judge and the Republicans want to get their brownie points with the potential black voters. Wilder is rarely subtle.
RICHMOND — Virginia Republicans say they will reject Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s pick for the state’s newest Supreme Court justice and install their own choice — an unprecedented move in modern Virginia history.
The decision added another layer of tension to the already fraught relationship between McAuliffe (D) and the GOP-controlled legislature, with the governor accusing legislative leaders of throwing “a political temper tantrum.”
“This woman is highly qualified, and I’ve got to tell you, it doesn’t send a good message to women around the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said about the GOP decision not to back his appointment of former Fairfax Circuit Court judge Jane Marum Roush.
“This is the same group of individuals who have tried to roll back women’s rights and tried to hurt women’s rights in the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) said lawmakers will elect Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. to the Supreme Court when they convene in Richmond on Aug. 17 for a special legislative session.
Shame on Virginia Republicans. Rossie D. Alston might not be the best person for the job. He used to be a circuit court judge right here in Prince William County and some of his decisions were very questionable in high-profile cases. Alston is known for his “designer sentences” that are light on crime.
After the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are preparing to push back in what they call a culture war aimed at destroying religious freedoms.
Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said protections of religious liberties are going to be the primary focus for House Republicans in the 2016 General Assembly session, which begins in January.
“My concern is that the ultimate goal of the far left is not to secure rights for gay individuals but to tear down religious institutions and the belief systems that support them,” Gilbert said this week.
Asserting that this is the “next frontier for the far left,” Gilbert said he believes it is “more important than ever that we ensure that people’s deeply held convictions” are protected.
“If we are truly going to live in a world where everyone is afforded their rights to live their lives precisely as they please, then surely that has to include people of faith as well,” he said.
While GOP leaders in both houses of the legislature have acknowledged they will abide by the high court ruling that made same-sex marriage the law of the land, House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said the most pressing concern now is protecting religious liberty.
“We will need to carefully evaluate how this ruling will be applied and make sure we take steps to protect faith leaders, churches, nonprofits and individuals,” Howell said in an email. “The House of Delegates will fight vigilantly to protect religious freedom.”
Gilbert was tapped to take the lead in reviewing current law and what other states are doing to determine what actions Republicans may take during the 2016 session.
I get it that some people feel gay marriage is wrong. That’s OK. They can have their beliefs. The question isn’t what they believe, it’s how they behave. Gilbert and Lingamfelter apparently want to legalize discrimination. How well I recall Del. Lingamfelter pontificating in front of the General Assembly against a Richmond prosecutor being appointed a general district court judge because he was gay. Actually, the delegate used every reason in the world other than he was gay. His message was still very transparent.
Someone please help me understand how religious rights have been violated or will be violated. Gilbert and Lingamfelter are both known for extreme right positions that border on the ridiculous. Unless Virginians are going to be lined up and forced to marry someone of the same sex, there are no violations. People are still entitled to believe what they want to believe. No one is suggesting that a “thought police” be formed.
Virginians need to send a strong message to Lingamfelter and Gilbert that Virginians do not discriminate. Since Virginia is for Lovers, that should include its elected representatives. Both legislators need to understand that people don’t choose who they love. They need to SDASTFU. Maybe they need to get busy and work out some Medicaid legislation. That issue is far more pressing for Virginians than who someone else marries. It isn’t hurting them.
I guess this is the only way either man can appeal to his base. How pathetic.
RICHMOND — The newly elected chairman of the Virginia Republican Party on Saturday promised to stick to GOP principles of fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.
John Whitbeck, a 38-year-old lawyer from Loudoun County, ran on a platform of healing a fissure within the party and expanding its reach through a renewed focus on fundraising.
To underscore the point, he also announced former Texas governor Rick Perry will give the keynote address Feb. 24 at a fundraising dinner.
Dick Black’s statement regarding Senate Bill 722:
There is a Federal Statute that says that if you give in-state tuition to unlawful immigrants then you must give in-state tuition to Americans from other states. It just makes sense that Americans should receive as much consideration as people here illegally. Giving in-state tuition moves illegal immigrants to the front of the line. For every unlawful person who get in-state tuition, there will be an American who can’t go to college in Virginia and that’s unfair. Any time you give something free to a person here illegally, you have to take it from an American.
I would like to see a copy of that law. I find it hard to believe that there is a law stating such bullsh!t.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said he would veto a bill barring undocumented immigrant students from receiving in-state tuition at state universities, which passed a Senate committee Thursday.
A spokesman for the governor called the legislation, put forward in the House and Senate by two Loudoun County Republicans, “counterproductive and mean-spirited.” The Senate version advanced Thursday morning out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on a party-line vote of 8 to 7.
McAuliffe “is focused on expanding economic opportunity to Virginians from all walks of life, not targeting some for discrimination,” spokesman Brian Coy added.
In his first State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night, McAuliffe called for passage of a state version of the so-called Dream Act that would grant in-state tuition to some students who were brought to the country illegally as children. Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) has already ruled that students who qualify for deferred action under President Obama’s recent executive order can apply for the tuition discount.
“The Senators who voted for this measure should meet some of the young people they are trying to punish,” Herring said in a statement Thursday.
Herring is right. Black and Ramadan should have to meet some of the kids they are attempting to discriminate against. I think they would feel like worthless dogs if they ever met some of these kids that have worked so hard to become something.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a package of proposed gun control measures Monday, saying Virginia should reinstate its one-handgun-a-month rule and tighten restrictions on who can carry a gun to target domestic abusers.
He also called for new background check requirements on private gun sales at gun shows.
The bulk of McAuliffe’s proposals are sure to bring criticism from gun advocates, and a spokesman for Speaker of the House William Howell criticized the governor’s proposals shortly after their announcement.
RICHMOND — The anything-goes gift culture that once dominated Virginia’s Capitol is giving way to a game of legislative limbo, with state lawmakers and the governor competing to take the value of acceptable handouts ever lower.
Republican leaders of Virginia’s House of Delegates made their move Wednesday, proposing a $100 cap on gifts of any sort, including meals and travel. That standard would be tighter than what the legislature imposed on itself earlier this year — and what an ethics panel appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) recommended just nine days ago.
The announcement prompted McAuliffe to declare that he, too, would propose a $100 gift cap — and to suggest that the Republicans had gotten the idea from him.
All of these proposals and counterproposals stem from a gifts scandal involving former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen. McAuliffe and legislators made an initial series of reforms in the General Assembly session that began last January. Now comes a second push, triggered by the shock of the McDonnells’ conviction on federal corruption charges in September.
As of 12:30 am, incumbent Senator Mark Warner seemed to be the apparent winner of the senate election. No one really expected this election to be so close. Prince William County, included cities, and Fairfax seemed to save the day for Warner. Northern Virginia prevailed, once again. Albemarle, Charlottesville and Nelson County also helped pull off a Warner win, as did some of the southside counties. At last glimpse, Warner was ahead by about 18,000 votes.
The Republicans will take over the Senate. That fact changes the dynamics of the country a great deal, although it isn’t really apparent how it will change things. The different factions in the Republican party may decide to battle each other rather than to continue sparring with the President. Who knows. They also probably will not have a super majority so bills wont just go sailing through. then there is also the presidential veto. I feel certain that President Obama will enjoy using that presidential option quite a bit. I know I sure would.
This is the first time that the Republicans have controlled the Senate in 8 years. Will we move forward or will we revisit all the social issues? That’s what the Republicans seem to concentrate on most of the time these days. Abortion, personhood, same sex marriage, Planned Parenthood funding, school prayer…the list goes on.
What do you predict?