Read the Bills Act Coalition

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spending more money we don't have on things we'll never see

In the wake of the fiscal sustainability summit at the White House yesterday, The House DEMS unvelied a $410 billion spending bill......If anyone had any doubt, our taxes are going up, up, up...those in congress (who follow a seperate tax code than us) their taxes won't be going up so much if they pay them at all. From AP:

House Democrats unveiled a $410 billion spending bill on Monday to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year, setting up the second political struggle over federal funds in less than a month with Republicans....The measure includes thousands of earmarks, the pet projects favored by lawmakers but often criticized by the public in opinion polls. There was no official total of the bill's earmarks, which accounted for at least $3.8 billion....The legislation, which includes an increase of roughly 8 percent over spending in the last fiscal year, is expected to clear the House later in the week...Democrats defended the spending increases, saying they were needed to make up for cuts enacted in recent years or proposed a year ago by then-President George W. Bush in health, education, energy and other programs...Republicans countered that the spending in the bill far outpaced inflation, and amounted to much higher increases when combined with spending in the stimulus legislation that President Barack Obama signed last week. In a letter to top Democratic leaders, the GOP leadership called for a spending freeze, a step they said would point toward a "new standard of fiscal discipline."...Either way, the bill advanced less than one week after Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that all Republicans in Congress opposed except for three moderate GOP senators...Apart from spending, the legislation provides Democrats in Congress and Obama an opportunity to reverse Bush-era policy on selected issues....It loosens restrictions on travel to Cuba, as well as the sale of food and medicine to the communist island-nation....The legislation covers programs for numerous Cabinet-level and other agencies, and takes the place of regular annual spending bills that did not pass last year as a result of a deadlock between the Bush administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress....Congressional expenses are included. The bill provides $500,000 for what is described as a Senate "pilot program" that will defray the cost of mass mail postcards to households notifying them of a nearby town meeting to be attended by any senator

Read Here:http://finance.yahoo.com/news/House-Democrats-propose-410B-apf-14450221.html

Monday, February 23, 2009

SENATOR KEN STOLLE's LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Posted by MAXIMUS


February 23, 2009

With just one week remaining in the 2009 General Assembly session, the most important and perhaps most difficult matter has been addressing the Commonwealth’s budget, which has succumb to drastically slumping revenues at the onset of a recession.

Governor Kaine announced in December that Virginia was facing a $2.9 Billion shortfall. Just two months later, revenue projections indicated that the shortfall had grown to $3.7 Billion. The reality is that Virginia’s economy is as unstable and unpredictable as it is across America.

I have said before that we are facing some of the greatest fiscal challenges I have seen since I was first elected to the Senate. Only time will tell whether we will walk or crawl out of this recession. Nevertheless it is imperative that we continue to show fiscal discipline in our budgeting and make government live within its means.

We have had to make deep cuts in core services. No one area has been held harmless; however, k-12 education has faired the best of them all. At the same time public safety cuts are deep, and first responder layoffs are imminent. Unfortunately along with these budget woes, transportation continues to be left on the table.

The federal stimulus money has been hailed by some as a saving grace to our budget mess, but I urge caution. This money should be spent only on one-time programs that will truly improve our economy—not for re-occurring expenses. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply not being honest. Virginia's long-term fiscal integrity will continue to be my priority.

So while we have just a week left in the session, I still encourage you to give me your input on the issues that you care about most. You can reach me in Richmond by phone at (804) 698-7508 or by email at info@kenstolle.com. Senator Ken Stolle
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According to The Virginian-Pilot, many of the proposed cuts restored in the revised Senate budget include:

—About $8.4 million to keep the Southeastern Virginia Training Center in Chesapeake open. The facility is home to 163 mentally disabled residents and employs 460 people. Kaine's budget had called for closing the facility.

—Nearly $600,000 in funding to Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center.

—Roughly $3.3 million to fund State Police trooper training. The Senate's initial budget cut more than $7 million for new trooper training, meaning there would not have been an academy for State Police recruits until 2011.

—About $27.5 million in school construction grants and nearly $333 million to remove educational support staff funding caps. Restoring the money would mean that support personnel such as librarians and school nurses whose jobs were in jeopardy will be spared.

—Funding for local law enforcement, including police departments, sheriff's offices and jails.

Click here for the 2/19/09 Virginian-Pilot article entitled, “Va. senators add stimulus money to their plans.”

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In Other News…

Amendment to Protect Virginia’s Right-To-Work Status Fails…Again
Over three weeks ago I reported that SJ 347, a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would have added Virginia’s right-to-work law to the state Constitution, was defeated by a straight party-line vote. The joint resolution, of which I was a co-patron, would have been the first step towards granting Constitutional protection to Virginia’s coveted right-to-work law.

The House version of SJ 347—HJ 640 (Del. Chris Saxman)—met a similar fate in the Privileges and Elections committee last Tuesday.

For the last three years in a row, Forbes.com has named Virginia the “Best State for Business,” citing the Commonwealth’s outstanding regulatory environment, low unemployment rate, prime location for new businesses, low tort atmosphere, and low tax burden.

Recently, efforts at the Federal level have begun which would essentially remove secret ballot votes in union elections. It is my hope that we not let Congress jeopardize Virginia’s right-to-work status. It is imperative that in these uncertain economic times that we do everything possible to make sure our actions are in line with Virginia’s tradition of pro-business fiscal policy.

In order to amend the Virginia Constitution, identical legislation must be passed during two separate General Assembly sessions with an election in between. It must then pass a statewide voter referendum.

Restaurant Smoking Ban Easily Clears House and Senate
On Thursday the Senate joined the House in passing HB 1703 (Del. John Cosgrove), also known as the Indoor Clean Air Act. The Senate version of the statewide restaurant smoking ban, SB 1105 (Sen. Ralph Northam) passed both bodies over a week earlier. Both bills received bipartisan support, in particular Speaker Bill Howell, and passed with votes of 27-13 in the Senate and 60-39 in the House.

According to The Virginian-Pilot (Restaurant smoking ban OK'd, awaits Kaine's signature, 2/20/09, the following is a summary of the final legislation:

Terms of the Smoking Ban
—Applies to general areas inside restaurants and bars, including restrooms, except in designated rooms.

Smoking Permitted
—In rooms segregated from the nonsmoking area of the restaurant and ventilated separately so that cigarette smoke can't mingle with air outside the designated smoking zones.
—On outdoor patios, sidewalks or decks where food or drink is served. However, smoking is banned if the outdoor area is enclosed by tent-style side flaps that can be lowered when outdoor areas are used in winter or bad weather.
—In private clubs such as lodges or Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.
—In tobacco stores or manufacturing facilities or restaurants within them.

Punishment
—A $25 civil fine for patrons or restaurant proprietors for each violation.

Effective Date
—After Gov. Timothy M. Kaine signs it, the bill becomes law on Dec. 1.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Che Obama


Posted by MAXIMUS..........No further explanation required.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sen. Chap Peterson represented by Drag Queen

WE LOVE CHAP!
GMU HOMECOMING QUEEEN 2009

Posted by MAXIMUS

George Mason University, located in Virginia Democratic Senator Chap Peterson's District, has provided the Senator with a new pin up poster he can use for Democratic Caucus Meetings. A Drag Queen won the Homecoming Queen contest. Can we expect Sen. Peterson to introduce a resolution commending "REANN BALLSLEE" before the General Assembly adjorns on Feb. 28th?


George Mason picks drag queen as homecoming queen

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — George Mason University senior Ryan Allen dresses in drag and doesn't mind being called a queen — homecoming queen, to be exact. Allen, who is gay and performs in drag at nightclubs in the region, said he entered the homecoming contest as a joke, competing as Reann Ballslee, his drag queen persona.


But he considers the victory one of his happiest moments and proof that the suburban Washington, D.C., school famous for its run to the Final Four a few years back celebrates its diverse student body.


"I was very touched by how Mason was so supportive through the whole process of allowing a boy in a dress to run for homecoming queen," Allen said in a phone interview. "It says a lot about the campus that not only do we have diversity but we celebrate it."


The senior from Virginia's Goochland County won the pageant Saturday at a sold-out Homecoming basketball game against Northeastern University.


Large portions of the crowd cheered as Allen, wearing a gold-sequined top, accepted the tiara and the Ms. Mason 2009 sash.


The school, known for racial diversity and a basketball team that pulled off a string of upsets to advance to the Final Four in 2006, was selected the nation's top "school to watch" in the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.


Allen's selection does not appear to have caused much consternation among the school's 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. An online article in the student newspaper prompted only two comments, both positive.


Alyssa Cordova, an officer with the school's College Republicans, said she didn't pay much attention to Allen's election and is suprised by the media attention it has received.
"I just think it's kind of silly," she said.


Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equity and a former adjunct professor at Mason, said the lack of controversy "shows that the students and the George Mason community have a good sense of perspective."


University spokesman Dan Walsch said the school is "very comfortable" with Allen's selection and the contest rules are not sex-specific.


"It's just that if you're a man who runs for Ms., you've got to dress the part," Walsch said.
The contest was half talent judging and half voting by the student body. Allen received the most votes but doesn't know how he scored in the talent competition, in which he performed in zebra-print pants and lip-synched to Britney Spears.


He said his drag queen persona is fairly popular and well-known on campus — he has hosted events as Reann for the school's Pride Week, as well as HIV charity shows and an amateur drag night cabaret.


"Reann is very sassy, very silly. She's an entertainer throughout. She's not afraid to do a high kick if that's what it takes," Allen said. "She's got a little camp but is not as campy as some queens." link here:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Listen to Rusty McGuire's podcast on Bearing Drift

Posted by MAXIMUS

The Bearing Drift Blog has a podcast up featuring Rusty McGuire who is running in the GOP nomination to fill the House of Delegates Seat held by the retiring Delegate Frank Hargrove in the 55th House District. Click here to listen in http://bearingdrift.com/2009/02/09/vpod-50-rusty-mcguire-candidate-house-of-delegates/

...and click here to visit Rusty McGuire's website: http://www.rustymcguire.com/

This made a grown man cry

Posted by MAXIMUS

I have seen and one a lot over my life. Not much moves me these days. This story did. It moved me, a grown ass man, to tears. I admit it. Will you after you read it? This story is one of the most symbolic acts of reverence, compassion, and respect that I have ever read. The ancient Greeks would define this story as a combination of AGAPE and PHILOS.

Once you read it, if you well up inside (or on the outside), just click YES or NO in the comments section. You don't have to leave your name, just yes or no. Link here for the story:
http://highschool.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=914609

Thursday, February 19, 2009

They're going to have to pay the debt, they might as well have a say

I feel a real conservative youth movement is on the way in the U.S. (true political conservative principles of tax cuts, small government, free enterprise and less governmental intrusion cause by liberal "Nanny State" policies etc. not rhetorical conservatism that has no backbone) that may change politics greatly in the next decade or so. As the youth of today begin to see the costs of big government spending that is out of control (both the previous administration's spengin habits as well as the the new administration)and the shear lunacy of trying to spend your way out of a deficit (trying writing a check to the store when you have zero money in YOUR bank account)they will begin to grasp the concept that tax cuts, smaller Federal government, free enterprise principles, and responsible spending across the board is the only way to run a government as big as ours........teenagers want the truth and they want to know what works, as they get out in the world and realize that 1.) They want a chance to succeed on their own and 2.) Once they succeed they want to enjoy that success and not give it all to the government but keep it for investment and long term savings (something teens have limited understanding of living at home.) These youngsters will then begin, as we all have, to look for more long term solution, conservative solutions, for their country to succeed. Whether this manifests itself into a rebirth of a GOP currently in shambles or the rise of a new more Libertarian movement, remains to be seen, but a conservative movement is a foot with our searching youth......as in the late sixties when the youth rallied to enact social change they saw as just, the youth of today with band together to enact fiscal change....since with this stimulus package, pork and all, it's their debt now, our politicians are leaving it up to our children to come up with viable solutions to fix our financial woes since we can’t count on the current group (Reps and DEMS alike) in Washington to take a hard look at what they need to do to fix this issue like cut spending drastically and give significant tax relief to all tax payers for starters ....From Drudge:

A Dobson High School Advanced Placement government class with strong opinions about Barack Obama watched the president's speech Wednesday on a small, grainy TV in the corner of their classroom.....Some of the students attentively watched the speech, giving questioning looks and comments, shaking their heads and laughing at some of Obama's words. Other students listened, occasion ally glancing up to watch, while texting on their cell phones, reading a book or finishing school work....The gymnasium's events were shown simultaneously in rooms throughout the Mesa school, and teachers were given discretion on whether to show the speech, the students said. The students in the class were hopeful things will work out but questioned whether Obama's plan would actually work to dig the country out of its economic woes. They also expected a longer speech.....Senior Syna Daudfar took some notes during the speech and was among the most vocally opposed to Obama's words.....At one point, when he talked about the costs of his stimulus plan, senior Maaike Albach and Daudfar looked at each other and said, "uh-oh."...."Overall I think it's a good idea, but he's not addressing the issues of the economic crisis," said Daudfar, a John McCain supporter who added he leans more toward being a moderate conservative. "The spending bill he just passed is just progressing the Democratic agenda rather than addressing the economic issues in the country."..Daudfar thinks Obama's plan is backward and deals with the "less important stuff" first. "Bailing out businesses" and "providing better regulatory systems for giving out money to businesses" should have been first, he said...."If businesses can't afford to hire people, then people won't be able to work and pay off their mortgages," he said. "It's kind of like putting money into20a funnel." Albach, who is also a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good but questioned how Obama can want to rely on "people's responsibility" when that is "what got us in this economic crisis in the first place.".."This puts us more into debt," said Albach, 18. "It's a horrible situation we're in."..Senior Brandon Miller wore a shirt with the words, "Hitler gave great speeches, too" above a picture of Obama....Miller said he had been an Obama supporter "because of his speeches," but after debating the issues in this class and looking more into Obama's policies, his vote was swayed toward McCain....He showed a video on his camera he had just taken of the president's minutelong motorcade and talked about what a "great experience" it was to watch it. Miller had also spent a couple of hours in front of the school, hanging out and watching the protesters...."Even though I don't support him, I think it's cool he's here," said Miller, 18. "I just don't believe all the things he's telling us. His goal is just too big and broad."..Miller wanted to hear more about the costs and guidelines the stimulus bill entails....Senior Katelyn Meyer, who also leans more toward being a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good, "but it's easier said than done."..."I like the refinancing part, and I like the part about mortgages, but I'm afraid we're going to put the money in but won't s ee any effect," said Meyer, 18, who still thought it was "cool" to say the president was at her school, even though she didn't get to see him live....The students also questioned why Obama chose their school for his speech since he wasn't talking about education and wondered how much money the district spent on beautifying the campus while district positions and services are being cut....District officials noted this week that the landscaping project completed over the weekend at Dobson was already in the works and was just expedited by the president's visit. Funding came from voter-approved bonds....New sod was laid in front of the school Tuesday, and Daudfar said, "The joke at the school is they're going to take it away when he (Obama) leaves."


Read Here: http://www.drudgereport.com/flashosk.htm
http://thecontemporaryconservative.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling participates in Senator Ken Stolle's Legislative Day


Posted by MAXIMUS

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM SENATOR KEN STOLLE

As I reported in last week’s newsletter there was a desire on behalf of the Senate Democratic leadership to move ahead with the Budget despite considerable uncertainties relating to revenue forecasts and the federal stimulus package. It had always been my hope that we would delay a week or two until we had the updated figures from Governor Kaine. As you may recall, Governor Kaine’s proposed budget, which provides for $2.9 Billion in cuts, was based on revenue numbers from over two months ago.

Well, I have good news to report. On Thursday, the Senate came around and agreed with me that we needed to extend the budget process into this week. Agreeing to this delay permits us time to see the latest revenue estimates, to know the final stipulations of the federal stimulus package and to base a budget on these realities.

At present the Budget Bill assumes that Virginia will be out of the recession by July 1, 2009. We all know that this is a false assumption. If the recession continues into the next fiscal year, we would see revenues reduced by at least another $850 Million for just the first quarter alone. Slumping revenues could result in another year with up to a $4 Billion shortfall.

While we all face some of the toughest financial times at home and at work, government is not immune. Today, Governor Kaine is expected to release January’s revenue forecast numbers. The Associated Press reported on Sunday indicated that tax collections for January “fell 15 percent, forcing the worst year-to-date crash in state revenues on record.”

It is not easy for me to continue to share bad news with you in my weekly reports. I do thank everyone who has contacted me with their concerns. We still have two weeks left in the session—so I encourage you to continue to give me your input on the issues that you care about most. You can reach me in Richmond by phone at (804) 698-7508 or by email at info@kenstolle.com.
With warm and personal regards, I remain
Senator Ken Stolle

Eric Cantor - A conservative to be proud of

Congressman Eric Cantor from right here Virgnia is an excelent politician, and effective in politician, a great guy and the future of the GOP. Hearing Cantor speak on numerous occasions you know that Cantor's effective leadership will make the GOP minority in Congress more effective than their numbers would indicate they should be.......From the Herald Tribune:

The last time congressional Republicans were this out of power, they turned to a college professor from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, to lead the opposition, first against President Bill Clinton in a budget battle in 1993, and then back into the majority the following year....As Republicans confronted President Barack Obama in another budget battle last week, their leadership included another new face: Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, who as the party's chief vote wrangler is as responsible as anyone for the tough line the party has taken in this first legislative standoff with Obama. This battle has vaulted Cantor to the front lines of his party as it tries to recover from the losses of November....As Republican whip, Cantor succeeded again on Friday in denying the White House the support of a single House Republican on the stimulus bill. That was a calculated challenge to the president, who, in his weekly address on Saturday, hailed the bill as "an ambitious plan at a time we badly need it."....Cantor said he had studied Gingrich's years in power and had been in regular touch with him as he sought to help his party find the right tone and message. Indeed, one of Gingrich's leading victories in unifying his caucus against Clinton's package of tax increases to balance the budget in 1993 has been echoed in the events of the last few weeks........"I talk to Newt on a regular basis because he was in the position that we are in: in the extreme minority," he said.....The Republicans can certainly count some victories, although symbolic ones. Even White House aides said Cantor and his team had been successful in seizing on spending items in the stimulus bill to sow doubts about it with the public....The fact that House Republicans have stood firm against Obama suggests just how unified the caucus is, though Gingrich, in an interview, said Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, did more to unify Republicans than anything Republicans did....."I'd like to tell you Cantor did a brilliant job, but the truth is that Pelosi and Obey pushed the members into his arms," Gingrich said. But, he added, "They have been good at developing alternatives so they don't leave their guys out there chanting no."....The Republican Party is arguably weaker today than it was in 1993, given Obama's popularity and the enormous weight Republicans are carrying after eight years under President George W. Bush. Even as Cantor was urging Republicans to oppose Obama on this signature plan, he offered praise of the president, suggesting that Republicans should be careful to avoid being labeled obstructionist....."I think people out there across the country elected this president because he inspired the notion that we can change," he said. "Not to be so trite as to invoke his campaign slogan, but I do think there was some substance behind it in terms of what people thought in voting for him......"Banking off that mood of the country right now, I think it's incumbent upon us to reach out to him and see if we can work together."....Cantor, along with the House minority leader, Representative John Boehner of Ohio, faces the challenge of trying to lead a shrinking and increasingly conservative caucus. The party also faces the burden of trying to advance what Cantor describes as its bedrock value — smaller government — in the face of considerable evidence that the American public wants an increasingly active government to deal with the economic crisis......And it is Cantor who is pushing the party in a direction that Democrats, and some Republicans, say is risky: almost lock-step opposition to Obama's economic plan. Democrats have already made clear that they intend to use those votes against Republicans in 2010, and sooner, with advertisements noting the middle-class tax cuts included in the bill....Cantor's increasing prominence is in many ways a reminder of the difficult time the party faces after losing the presidential election and in the absence of any high-profile Republican leaders in the House or the Senate. Boehner routinely defers to him at news conferences, reflecting the concern of Republicans that they put forward new and relatively young faces. ( Cantor is 45, but looks younger.)...Cantor, who has exhibited an eye for winning attention, has rushed in to fill the leadership vacuum with a daily diet of news conferences, interviews, speeches on the House floor and television appearances. "ALERT: Cantor Holds Economic Recovery Roundtable," a news release from his office announced, in describing an economic forum he will hold on Wall Street this week.



Read Here:http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/02/15/america/15cantor.php

Friday, February 13, 2009

SENATOR STEVE MARTIN GENERAL ASSEMBLY UPDATE


The 2009 session has passed the halfway point with Crossover day coming and going this past Tuesday. The Senate is now only dealing with House Bills and House action on Senate Bills. In some cases we have already passed similar bills, but some of these bills will bring new issues before us.

Of course the budget continues to be priority number one. According to this session's procedural resolution, Thursday was to have been the day that each legislative body passed their respective budget amendments to the Governors proposed budget. Thursday morning, Senate leadership from both parties reported that they thought they had an agreement that the House would join with the Senate in amending the procedural resolution. This amendment would have allowed both bodies to wait to see the adjusted revenue projections we will receive Monday. The expectation is that the projected tax revenue will be $5-600 million down but Federal contributions up.

The House decided to proceed with the adoption of their budget amendments with an understanding that they can address the adjustments in conference with the Senate. The Senate chose to defer action on it's amendments until after we have had time to review the revised revenue estimates. Those estimates will probably also include consideration of decisions made as to expenditures by the federal government. The action by the Senate allows those of us who will not be conferees to continue to be more actively involved in the amending of the budget. Regardless of the date of passage, the respective body's versions will have differences so conferees will be appointed from each body to work out the differences.

One of the bills that I introduced, SB 1072, was the subject of much debate and some controversy this week. Approximately 30,000 petition signatures were submitted in support of our efforts to protect the right to pray according to the dictate of one's own conscience when asked to do so in a public forum. Prayer, in and of it's self, is an act of faith and, as such, is sectarian. To try to force someone to pray within the confines of an indefinable, non-existent, non-sectarian prayer, is a violation of both freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The bill had the support of the Attorney General, Bob McDonnell. The Solicitor General and two well established attorneys who had argued these issues before the U.S. Supreme Court and a couple of state supreme courts testified as to its constitutionality, but it failed to be reported from The Committee on Courts of Justice. It was a fairly close vote with two votes cast as proxies in the committee's last meeting before crossover, so it could not be reconsidered.

This was disappointing, but is indicative of the legislative process, in which good bills sometimes do not make it into law while bad bills do.

Speaking of bad bills; though I cannot vote on the federal "Stimulus Package," I have grave concerns for it. As you look really closely at what is being funded greater concern develops as it is a massive spending bill that brings about major policy changes. The legislation itself is massive and as of this moment I have not been able to see the bill as it exists since the House and Senates negotiated agreement. I would hope that it could be held for public review before its final adoption, but I understand it is to be passed by both bodies by the first of next week. I want to communicate with you further on this, but will hold my expanded comments them until I am more certain as to the package's contents.

I will say that printing this much new money reduces the value of our dollar, making our imported products that much more expensive, and as debt causes us to sell that much more of ourselves to foreign investors. With that in mind the money had better be spent on things that can actually grow a stronger economy for the long term and not just spent on paying for things we would simply like to have provided.

I have no doubt that you have been following the debate over this year's version of the Indoor Clean Air Act. The House placed a number of amendments on the Senate bill and it has been returned to us for consideration. The patron has asked that it be passed by for several days with an expectation that it be addressed Monday.

It is my belief that our businesses and citizens can best handle these decisions on their own. Many businesses and employers have chosen to become smoke-free workplaces with about 70% or so of the state's restaurants already being totally smoke free. They have made these choices based on the clientele they wish to accommodate and serve. Those who do not want to accommodate my sensitivities and interest do not get my business. Consumers will decide what businesses to patron based on how well their needs are accommodated. That is how the marketplace is to function. If businesses do not accommodate me I neither go there nor do I seek employment there.

Groups of visitors and advocates continue to crowd the elevators and hallways of the General Assembly building. Members of the AFL-CIO, the Central Virginia Chapter of the Autism Society of America, employees of Virginia Dominion Power, and a very large group from the Southside Virginia Association of Realtors came by to talk with me. I also visited with an even larger group from the Richmond Association of Realtors and receive visitors from State Farm Insurance, Bon Secours and Chippenham-Johnston Willis Hospitals and many more. In addition I was privileged to have guests who shadowed me for a legislative day. I enjoy the opportunity we have to host those who choose to shadow me. It provides them with greater insight into the work that is so important to your representation. We have always gotten very positive feedback from this program.

I hope you have a great weekend and a Happy Valentine's Day!

--Steve Martin
martindistrict@comcast.net
www.senatorstevemartin.com

Sen. Judd Gregg - A RINO comes to his senses

When I was in Africa I only saw 1 Rhino, when I came back home to the U.S. I saw many more more running around the Capital in D.C. and the General Assembly here in Richmond.....at least one has come to his senses. The odd thing in Gregg's statement was that he sighted philosophical differences with the President as one of the reasons he has backed out of the appointment to which I reply DUH!! What did you think would happen going in to this? That President Obama would automatically agree with you even though his record would dictate otherwise? Gregg is either a man with a HUGE ego or one that is more naive than he should be (he is a Senator for God sake and should know that true bi-partisanship does not and I repeat does not exist.) This is further evidence that our representatives in Washington are becoming their own class in America, willing to give up on the ideals that got them elected in office if it means gaining more power...I don't think Washington is trying to create a bi-partisan government as much as it is trying to create a ruling class which is just what the founding fathers warned us against letting happen...from the WSJ :

New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew from consideration as Commerce secretary Thursday, saying his differences with the Democratic White House ran too deep.....The announcement was a fresh embarrassment for an administration rocked by a number of setbacks. While his recent predecessors each lost one or two early cabinet nominees, Mr. Obama has lost three less than a month into his term. And Mr. Gregg's withdrawal comes two days after a bank rescue plan was widely panned by financial markets and lawmakers from both parties, partly because of its lack of detail......Mr. Obama was able to celebrate this week a victory with a congressional agreement over his economic-stimulus plan, but his goal of attracting widespread bipartisan support has faltered, and the Gregg move means his cabinet can no longer claim a trio of Republicans....."It's better we discovered it now than later," said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, in a meeting with a dozen reporters. "If I said it wasn't a disappointment, that would lack credibility." Mr. Obama told reporters aboard his plane late Thursday that he was glad Mr. Gregg had "searched his heart" before he had officially joined the cabinet......The surprise announcement followed days of an intensifying public campaign by fellow Republican lawmakers highlighting the differences between Messrs. Obama and Gregg, and showed how quickly Mr. Obama's pledge to bridge party lines has gotten bogged down in classic arguing across the aisle.....Mr. Gregg said he and the administration "did not adequately focus" on policy disputes, citing the handling of the census and the stimulus package. But in his news conference, he said he considered the blame for the short-lived nomination to be largely his. "The bottom line is this was simply a bridge too far for me," he told reporters. "The president asked me to do it. I said yes. That was my mistake, not his." He added: "I should have focused sooner...on the implications of being in the cabinet."....Mr. Gregg was Mr. Obama's second choice for Commerce secretary; earlier, Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson pulled out following word of a grand-jury investigation into contracting practices in his office.....Mr. Gregg, 61 years old, said he will remain in the Senate until his third term expires but won't run for re-election in 2010....When his choice was announced on Feb. 3, the White House hailed the naming of a third Republican to the cabinet as a sign of commitment to bipartisanship. But on Monday, Mr. Gregg called Mr. Emanuel to ask for a meeting with the president, hinting at second thoughts, Mr. Emanuel said. On Wednesday, Mr. Gregg expressed his growing concerns to the president at the White House, though Mr. Obama said he wasn't aware of the decision until Thursday....In his statement, Mr. Gregg cited "irresolvable conflicts," including the stimulus package, which most Republicans have deemed bloated. Still, its outlines were well known when Mr. Gregg accepted the nomination....Sen. Judd Gregg pauses as he announces he is withdrawing as President Barack Obama's commerce secretary nominee....Mr. Gregg also cited issues involving the Census Bureau. That appeared to be a reference to reports that the White House, responding to concerns from black and Hispanic lawmakers, would be highly involved in the political decisions surrounding the decennial count. The parties have battled for years over how to carry out the survey, with Democrats tending to favor methods that would increase the number of minorities, giving them greater clout in redrawing the congressional map. Mr. Gregg has been critical of those approaches


Read Here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123447333424979131.html

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who's Playing Who?

From Politico:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played a little high-stakes chicken with each other at the tail end of Wednesday’s shotgun stimulus talks.....It’s not clear who won – or who blinked.....According to a half dozen Congressional aides and members, Reid went before the cameras Wednesday to announce a stimulus deal before Pelosi had agreed on all the details of school construction financing. ....“It’s ruffled feathers, big time,” said a House Democrat speaking on condition of anonymity. “The speaker went through the roof.”....Added one House Democratic aide: “He tried to roll her and she knew it.” ...A few minutes after Reid announced the deal, Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) convened a public meeting of the House-Senate conference committee.....It was supposed to be a glorified photo op. But there were no House Democrats in the room – and Inouye hastily announced the meeting would be scrapped pending a Pelosi “briefing” of members on the details. ....The problem, according to people familiar with the situation, was that Pelosi hadn’t completely signed off on the Senate’s approach to restoring some of the $21 billion in school construction funding. House Democrats are pushing to have school-repair funding listed as a recurring expense; Senate Republicans want such an allocation to be a one-time-only deal....The approach adopted by the Senate still infuriates many members of her caucus, and Pelosi had yet to fully make her case to dissenters, a source told Politico....The result: Pelosi summoned Reid to her office – her turf – to hash out unspecified modifications to the package prior to a 5:15 re-convening of the conference committee....People close to Pelosi painted a different picture – one that portrays Reid as the one being rolled. Pelosi, they say, strategically permitted Reid to make his announcement – and then held up her approval to extract a slightly better deal. ....Contradicting other sources who said that Pelosi had been blindsided, a House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Reid had placed a “head’s up” phone call to Pelosi before announcing the deal.....A Senate aide concurred, saying that Pelosi "wasn't blindsided" and "didn't say no" when Reid announced he was going public. The staffer added that Pelosi spent much of the day trying -- unsuccessfully -- to convince the three Senate Republicans to make changes.....Pelosi told reporters late Wednesday that she had some success selling the Senate on unspecified legislative language "that spoke to the purpose of school construction." ....Whatever the real story, Pelosi’s members were more than a little bewildered and headed into Wednesday’s night’s negotiation singing their Kumbayas through gritted teeth.....“[Senate Democrats] don’t know everything that’s in the bill,” said a laughing Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Ways and Committee. “So I’m afraid to go to that damned conference.”...Even Senate Democrats seemed a little flummoxed. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), briefing reporters after the Reid presser, stopped short of actually saying he was 100 percent sure a deal had been cut



Read Here: http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0209/Did_Pelosi_get_rolled.html?showall

Who's Playing Who?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ever seen the movie Scanners?

...you know the scene where the guy is freaking out and then his head explodes…this is the frustration I am feeling in explaining the failed premise that this stimulus package is taking in its attempts to revive our economy. To artificially create jobs, bailout businesses that have fundamentally failed, without replacing those responsible for the failure, spending money we do not have (printing more is not the answer) on programs to help people from themselves and their poor decisions is not long term thinking but just prolongs a bigger fall.
A bill full of earmarks, no matter who is the author, is not what the American people want to pay for with their hard earned money. Most taxpayers want and need a bill that will help facilitate their long term plans and a chance at success and the pursuit of happiness.
The Pork in the stimulus bill alone should send every citizen to lap for their phone and call their Senator and Congressman but more than that, the fundamentals of artificially creating “stimulus” to an economy that ebbs and flows is flawed in itself. Porky stuff in the Stimulus package:

Transportation Security Administration to buy 100,000 uniforms from U.S. apparel makers , insurance exemption for companies that work on recreational boats longer than 65 feet, $50 million for habitat restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area (Pelosi’s home Turf), $500 million for biofuel makers, $198 million to compensate Filipino World War II veterans (whether they live in the U.S. or not and most do not) , $1 billion for community-development block grants (ACORN), $650 million for digital-TV coupons; $90 million to educate “vulnerable populations”, $6 billion for university building projects, $150 million for the Smithsonian, $448 million for constructing a new Homeland Security Department headquarters, $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building, $350 million for Agriculture Department computers, $850 million for Amtrak, $87 million for a polar icebreaking ship, $150 million for “producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish”

…..while it is debatable whether these programs are worthy programs, on their own merits, they do not provide economic stimulus and thus shouldn’t be in this bill.
Free enterprise dictates that businesses come and go based on effective management, competition and the support of the consumer so in American where we are, at least currently, under a modified Free-enterprise system or “capitalism” businesses will fail and succeed everyday. For the government to, in essence, decide what companies fail and what companies succeed based on there infusion of cash to those businesses they deem worthy is taking the power away from the consumer and giving it to the government which is always a scary proposition. The government will always be as big as it’s citizenry allows it to be and will always grow in one of three ways: through military action, through giving the citizens something they want in return for power over that thing given or by convincing the citizens that the growth is temporary so the government can fixed a perceived crisis. Over the course of history, rarely does a government ever give back power once it has that power and this is why in America we need to always stay vigilant as to our government’s aspirations to grow and control enterprises of the people. To even hear from our Congressman that this stimulus bill “is not perfect” but good enough for us given the circumstances, is an outrage….Congress’s job is to create bills that will help American not some Hodge Podge of pork barrel spending that will not do anything for the economy, business as usual back room deals and payoffs, half baked theories and more regulation on businesses. We the American people deserve a “perfect” bill; for God’s sake we’re the ones paying for it in the short term and long term.
……Now if only I could stop that sinking feeling that my head is still going to explode

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FALSE ALARM in the Virginia State Senate

Posted by MAXIMUS

FALSE ALARM.....reports are that at the last minute, a certain Democrat State Senator Physician from Hampton Roads backed out of voting to change the Partisan makeup in the State Senate.....DEVELOPING

I Smell Piggy By-Products

Growing up in Iowa I have a keen nose for smelling pork and pork by products, so please don't say the stimulus package has no pork (good or bad) when anyone can read it and see that it is full of frivolous and non stimulus related add on spending to get votes.....Washington needs to change the way they do business to prevent pork barrell spending in these bills since we, the people, are always the ones that pay and pay for it in the end. From the AP:

At least Route 31 is a road to somewhere....President Barack Obama had it both ways Monday when he promoted his stimulus plan in Indiana. He bragged about getting Congress to produce a package with no pork, yet boasted it will do good things for a Hoosier highway and a downtown overpass, just the kind of local projects lawmakers lard into big spending bills.....Obama's sales pitch on the enormous package he wants Congress to make law has sizzle as well as steak. He's projecting job creation numbers that may be impossible to verify and glossing over some ethical problems that bedeviled his team.....In recent years, the so-called Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska came to symbolize the worst excesses of congressional earmarks, a device that allows a member of Congress to add money for local projects in legislation, practically under the radar....Nothing so bold, or specific, as that now-discarded bridge project is contained in the stimulus package. That's not to say the package steers clear of waste or parochial interests. Obama played to such interests Monday, speaking at one point as if he'd come to fill potholes....A look at some of Obama's claims in Elkhart, Ind., in advance of a prime-time news conference called to make his case to the largest possible audience:OBAMA: "I know that there are a lot of folks out there who've been saying, 'Oh, this is pork, and this is money that's going to be wasted,' and et cetera, et cetera. Understand, this bill does not have a single earmark in it, which is unprecedented for a bill of this size. ... There aren't individual pork projects that members of Congress are putting into this bill."....THE FACTS: There are no "earmarks," as they are usually defined, inserted by lawmakers in the bill. Still, some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork - tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects....For example, the latest version contains $2 billion for a clean-coal power plant with specifications matching one in Mattoon, Ill., $10 million for urban canals, $2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars, and $255 million for a polar icebreaker and other "priority procurements" by the Coast Guard....Obama told his Elkhart audience that Indiana will benefit from work on "roads like U.S. 31 here in Indiana that Hoosiers count on." He added: "And I know that a new overpass downtown would make a big difference for businesses and families right here in Elkhart."...U.S. 31 is a north-south highway serving South Bend, 15 miles from Elkhart in the northern part of the state...OBAMA: "I've appointed hundreds of people, all of whom are outstanding Americans who are doing a great job. There are a couple who had problems before they came into my administration, in terms of their taxes. ... I made a mistake ... I don't want to send the signal that there are two sets of rules."...He added: "Everybody will acknowledge that we have set up the highest standard ever for lobbyists not working in the administration."....THE FACTS: Two of his appointees, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services and Nancy Killefer as his chief compliance officer, dropped out after reports they had not paid a portion of their taxes....Obama previously acknowledged he "screwed up" in making it seem to Americans that there is one set of tax compliance rules for VIPs and another set for everyone else. Yet his choice for treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, hung in and achieved the post despite having belatedly paid $34,000 to the IRS, an agency Geithner now oversees.....That could leave the perception that there is one set of rules for Geithner and another set for everyone else....On lobbyists, Obama has in fact established tough new rules barring them from working for his administration. But the ban is not absolute....William J. Lynn III, tapped to be the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. William Corr, chosen as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, has lobbied as an anti-tobacco advocate. And Geithner's choice for chief of staff, Mark Patterson, is an ex-lobbyist from Goldman Sachs....OBAMA: "The plan that we've put forward will save or create 3 million to 4 million jobs over the next two years."......THE FACTS: Job creation projections are uncertain even in stable times, and some of the economists relied on by Obama in making his forecast acknowledge a great deal of uncertainty in their numbers....Beyond that, it's unlikely the nation will ever know how many jobs are saved as a result of the stimulus. While it's clear when jobs are abolished, there's no economic gauge that tracks job preservation.




Read Here: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090209/D968BMTO0.html

Saturday, February 7, 2009

STIMULICIOUS

Posted by MAXIMUS


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Speaker Bill Howell Disappoints

Posted by MAXIMUS

Today, Speaker Bill Howell signaled that he will support a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. In fairness, there are some exclusions that would actually enable smokers to smoke. Bearing Drift broke the story with this:

“I am pleased to join in announcing a reasonable compromise on an issue important to Virginians. The compromise strikes a fair balance between the rights of smokers who choose to enjoy a legal product and the rights of other individuals who want to enjoy a smoke-free environment when eating at a restaurant. This legislation is all about finding opportunities for cooperation and compromise where possible. And, where state leaders can find and share such common ground, we should.” http://bearingdrift.com/2009/02/05/speaker-howell-statement-on-smoking-ban/

and Bearing Drift went on to say this:

"The release detailed the legislation as banning smoking in nearly all restaurants across the Commonwealth, allowing narrow exceptions for private clubs and restaurants with a designated smoking room that is physically separated and independently ventilated from non-smoking dining areas." http://bearingdrift.com/2009/02/05/speaker-howell-statement-on-smoking-ban/

Speaker Howell is an innate consensus builder--those skills were key as to why Howell was selected as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates after the resignation of former Speaker Vance Wilkins. Speaker Howell is a good man, a decent family man, however, through the fog of compromise, Speaker Howell has thrown principals under the bus for the sake of a solution. In so doing, Speaker Howell has:

1.) forsaken decreased regulation in favor of increased regulation;
2.) forsaken freedom of choice in favor of curtailing freedoms enjoyed in Virginia for over 400 years;
3.) forsaken lais·sez faire practices of Capitalism where the market determines new policies to adjust to market desires/conditions in favor of Governmental Dictation.

Smoking kills. No question. So does drinking and driving (which laws have not stopped, prevented somewhat yes, but not stopped).

Who at the state level will enforce this new non Restaurant smoking policy of the Speaker and Governor Kaine? The Speaker does not tell us.

With public education and law enforcement being cut into the bone in this years budget, WHERE will Speaker Howell find the money to fund an Enforcement Program to support this ban? The Federal Bailout funds coming from the Obama Administration? If Speaker Howell does this, he would be diverting those funds from legitimate core functions of Virginia Government that are being cut or reduced due to the recession at the state level.

Is Speaker Howell's ban on smoking really a core function of state government or just Nanny State Elitism gone wild? Under this Speakers watch, Maryland has now officially annexed Virginia.

For the uninformed, by definition, this is what Speaker Howell has really forsaken with his smoking ban compromise:

lais·sez faire also lais·ser faire (ls fâr, lz) KEY NOUN:
An economic doctrine that opposes governmental regulation of or interference in commerce beyond the minimum necessary for a free-enterprise system to operate according to its own economic laws. Noninterference in the affairs of others.


What can we expect next? The Speaker trotts out Delegate Clark Hogan to claim that the restaurant smoking ban was really his idea?

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TALKS ABOUT THE STIMULUS PLAN

Posted by MAXIMUS

To help guide the way of Congressmen Rob Whitman, Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Congressman Eric Cantor, Congressman Frank Wolf, and Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner on the "stimulus" package before Congress, lets hear the thoughts of Benjamin Franklin, truly the wisest American of all:

"All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse."
Benjamin Franklin

"If you would know the value of money, go try to borrow some; for he that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing."
Benjamin Franklin

"There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government."
Benjamin Franklin

"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
Benjamin Franklin.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rusty McGuire talks about protecting children on the Internet

Posted by MAXIMUS

In this youtube video, Rusty McGuire---candidate for the GOP nomination in the 55th House of Delegates District in Hanover County---discusses Internet safety with children.

Hanover County is indeed fortunate to have a 21st Century Candidate running for the GOP nomination. McGuire understands the importance of protecting children from predators on the interent. More importantly, McGuire has a proven track record to back it up. Take a listen:

Rusty McGuire walks the walk on Veteran Issues

Posted by MAXIMUS

It is refreshing to witness a candidate running for the GOP nomination in the 55th House of Delegates District to actually possess a proven track record of honoring and supporting Virginia Veterans. Rusty McGuire is that candidate. McGuire, along with the retiring Delegate Frank Hargrove (R-Hanover)are both politicians with solid verifiable records in support of Virginia Veterans.

Check out this youtube video of McGuire's efforts to honor Virginia Veterans of the Iraqi War:

Senator Ken Stolle prevents Democratic Bail Out Plan for Criminals on Interest payments

Posted by MAXIMUS

Senator Ken Stolle Stops Virginia Democrats from giving criminals Get-Out-of-Interest-Free card.....prevents a Washington Style bail out plan for undeserving folks--who happen to be convicted criminals.

The Senate Democrats in Virginia may hold a slim majority (21-19), but the edge on knowledge of the law and procedure clearly goes to the Republican leadership. Recently Senator Stolle won the fight over electing competent judges. TODAY, Democrats in the Virginia Senate tried to pass another pro-criminal bill by supporting Senator Marsh’s SB 844.

Senate Bill 844, if passed, would have given an incarcerated defendant a waiver on accrual of interest on all of their criminal or traffic fines or costs. An interest Bailout for Crooks in Virginia? You bet. Washington style bailouts for the undeserving have crept into the mindset of the Democratic majority in the Virginia State Senate. Current law provides for the interest waiver only for the case for which the defendant is incarcerated. Link to the bill here:
(http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=091&typ=bil&val=sb844&Submit2=Go)

Marsh’s bill, supported by all of the Democrats in the Courts Committee, essentially would have given jailed criminals a get-out-of-interest-free card. While law-abiding taxpayers have to live within their means and meet their responsibilities, Marsh and the Democrats wanted to make it easier on the criminals who can’t afford to pay interest because they broke the law.

Thanks to Stolle, this unfair bill initially failed on the floor today (19-20 vote). However, the Democrats, who realized how damaging their vote could be come election time, reconsidered the bill later in today’s floor session and then ALL Democrats voted against it (except Yvonne Miller). Nevertheless, we all know what their original intent was. NO VIRGINIA BAIL OUT PLAN FOR CRIMINALS!!!

$500K spent on Dem caucus retreats

From The Hill.com:



$500K spent on Dem caucus retreats
By Susan Crabtree
Posted: 02/03/09 07:10 PM [ET]
The House Democratic Caucus spent more than $500,000 in taxpayer money over the past five years for its annual retreats at resorts in Pennsylvania and Virginia. ...On Thursday, Democrats will head to the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in historic Williamsburg, Va., for the three-day planning powwow. The resort boasts multiple championship golf courses, a full-service spa and six restaurants. ...Individual lawmakers pay for most of the expenses related to retreat lodging through their campaign committees, but the Democratic Caucus subsidizes some of the costs for what aides consider “official business” — to the tune of nearly $100,000 each year, according to a Democratic aide involved in retreat planning. ....For instance, the caucus picks up the hefty transportation tab, as well as the thousands of dollars in expenses each year for guest speakers, food and entertainment, according to financial disbursement records. ...Democratic leadership sources were reluctant to talk about any aspect of the trip, but they defended it as an important planning session for the entire country. ...“This retreat is strategic planning for the country,” said Democratic Caucus spokeswoman Emily Barocas. “The president, vice president and three Cabinet secretaries will be meeting with the caucus to plan the direction we are taking the country in.” ....The topic is particularly sensitive this year after several Democratic lawmakers slammed American International Group (AIG) executives for spending more than $440,000 at a company retreat in Monarch Beach, Calif., just days after the federal government bailed the company out with $85 billion in taxpayer funds. ...Several Democratic lawmakers also excoriated banking and financial companies for flying in corporate jets to Washington to testify before several committees about their need for billions more in bailout money. ...Williamsburg hardly compares to a balmy beach destination, but in the past five years, some of the retreat expenses jump off the page. ...In 2004, for instance, the caucus paid more than $27,000 to Executive Jet Management for a chartered flight for Bill Clinton, who addressed the issues conference. A Democratic aide said costs soared for Clinton’s travel because there was a “horrible blizzard” that caused his plane to become stuck two days longer than expected and the caucus had to spend extra money for de-icing and storing the plane. ..In 2005, the caucus cut a $1,100 check to retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s consulting firm for a speaking fee. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s firm received $864 in 2003 for her retreat address. ...Besides Obama, Biden and three other Cabinet secretaries, Democrats this year are hosting Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who will talk about stimulating the economy through technology and innovation. ....In the past, the caucus has also paid for food and after-hours entertainment. In 2003, for example, the Caucus spent $11,200 on food and $6,900 on entertainment. Costs for renting conference rooms at the resorts also make up a large chunk of the total. In 2004, the caucus spent at least $15,000 on space rental. ...Democrats spend the most money, however, on transportation. ...Since 2005, the caucus has chartered an Amtrak train to ferry members to the Kingsmill resort. It costs roughly $70,000 each year for the Amtrak charter. Democratic aides argue it’s necessary so that members can spend time together and not end up taking separate cars and arriving at staggered times. Traveling by train also helps ensure the safety of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is second in the line of succession to the presidency and requires constant security detail. In this case, the source said, security helicopters fly above the train. ...In 2003 and 2004, the caucus used chartered flights and rented cars and buses to transport members to the Nemacolin resort in Woodlands, Pa. The chartered flight cost more than $10,000 and the buses were $6,500, but the hassles weren’t worth it: One year, a Democratic aide recalls, the buses broke down and closed down an entire highway. ..Democrats and Republicans have criticized each other for the way each party pays for its annual retreat. Republicans huddled at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., last week. The Congressional Institute, a nonprofit that pays for activities at least in part through dues from lobbyists, subsidizes the GOP retreat. Republicans also allow members of the institute’s private sector advisory board, many of whom are lobbyists, to travel to the resort each year for a dinner with the members. ...Democrats don’t allow lobbyists at the retreat, but Republicans criticize the use of taxpayer dollars for expenses for retreats at resorts, especially during the economic downturn. ...Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, said she believes it’s useful for members to gather in a setting away from Capitol Hill once a year. Still, she said, when the economy is suffering and people are losing their jobs, members must be mindful to scale back and not use taxpayer dollars for luxury items....“I actually think there is utility in meeting together once a year to concentrate on getting everyone to row their oars in the same direction,” she said. “But how much money is spent this year and the scope of it and how many frills there are is important. It sends a message on how seriously members are taking the economic problems when people are being laid off left and right. Unlike Michael Phelps, [lawmakers] are indeed role models.” ....Common Cause’s Sarah Dufendach said she would rather have taxpayer money than special-interest money funding retreats. But she said this year, both Republicans and Democrats would have been better served by having their retreat locally at a place such as the Library of Congress. ...“It would have been really good PR for both sides to stay home and bring a box lunch,” she said.

Cheney talks to Politico

Vice President Cheney sat down with Politico's John F. Harris, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen.


.... Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration's support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects. And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the county at risk in ways more severe than most Americans-and, he charged, many members of Obama's own team-understand. 'When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,' Cheney said.

His comments made unmistakable that Cheney-likely more than former President Bush -- is willing and even eager to spar with the new administration and its supporters over the issues he cares most about. 'If it hadn't been for what we did-with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth-then we would have been attacked again,' he said.

CHENEY ON 'THE ULTIMATE THREAT TO THE COUNTRY' 'a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter – a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind' that is deployed in the middle of an American city. 'That's the one that would involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, and the one you have to spend a hell of a lot of time guarding against,' he said. 'I think there's a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States.'

CHENEY ON THE REPUBLICAN FUTURE – 'I'm not nearly as pessimistic about the party as some of my friends. ... We've been through these cycles before. We've had a hell of a run ... over the last nearly 30 years, since Ronald Reagan got elected. So the pendulum will swing back. It's part of a normal cycle that's probably basically healthy for the country, long term. ... In adversity, there is opportunity.' Cheney said recent routs in elections will help 'clean out a lot of the old underbrush.' He added with a droll smile, 'That's probably me, this time around.' ....Without prompting, Cheney listed what he called 'bright and talented' up-and-comers in the party: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman, a U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio who served in the House and was President George W. Bush's budget director and U.S. trade representative.

Are Lobbyist really evil

Ruth Marcus Op-Ed column in the WashPost:

'Lobbyists are the Hester Prynnes of Barack Obama's Washington, scorned for the sins of a complicit city.' Ruth twice mentions her 'misigivings' about Obama's lobbying rules: 'The rules treat all lobbyists as equally reprehensible; they make no distinctions based on the nature of the lobbying client. Obama's rule-writers considered separating 'good' lobbyists from 'bad,' but concluded that was an impossible task. ... As with Puritan New England, it is in the nature of Washington to punish its Prynnes even as it remains, or pretends to be, oblivious to the Dimmesdales all around.'

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is Judd a good Republican choice?

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R-N.H.) AS COMMERCE SECRETARY TODAY --

Politico's David Rogers says it gives 'President Obama a fresh independent voice in his Cabinet ... at a huge cost to Republicans and the larger Senate': 'Obama, while talking a good game about bipartisanship, is draining the Senate of the very talent he needs to achieve this goal. To a remarkable degree, Gregg has served as a trusted, behind-the scenes consigliore for every leader since the mid-'90s ... He is that Washington rarity: someone who thinks-often out loud- about issues but can also operate privately in giving advice and respecting the discretion of leaders. ... For Gregg to cross over now and join the administration will make it harder for his fellow Republicans to demonize Obama and refuse to give the new president the running room he needs to put together his economic recovery plan.'

A 'new era of responsibility' has yet to be ushered in

From the NYTimes:

'Obama's Promise of Ethics Reform Faces Early Test – Waivers Are Criticized,' By Peter Baker: 'During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a 'new era of responsibility.' What he did not talk much about were the asterisks. The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists. ... [W]hen faced with the perennial clash between campaign rhetoric and Washington reality, Mr. Obama has proved willing to compromise. ... 'This is a big problem for Obama, especially because it was such a major, major promise,' said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. 'He harped on it, time after time, and he created a sense of expectation around the country. This is exactly why people are skeptical of politicians, because change we can believe in is not the same thing as business as usual.' And so in these opening days of the administration, the Obama team finds itself being criticized by bloggers on the left and the right, mocked by television comics and questioned by reporters about whether Mr. Obama is really changing the way Washington works or just changing which political party works it.'

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE NEW TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN

From Politico:

OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE NEW TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN LATER THIS WEEK (PERHAPS TOMORROW) -- 'Secret report urges new Afghanistan plan,' By David S. Cloud: 'The Pentagon's top military officers are recommending to President Barack Obama that he shift U.S. strategy in Afghanistan - to focus on ensuring regional stability and eliminating Taliban and al-Qaida safe havens in Pakistan, rather than on achieving lasting democracy and a thriving Afghan economy, officials said. The recommendations to narrow U.S. goals are contained in a classified report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that is likely to be shown soon to Obama as part of a review of Afghanistan strategy announced by the new administration. ...'Obama is expected to announce later this week his decision on a request for additional forces from the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan. Several officials said they expected the president to approve sending three additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, totaling roughly 10,000 to 12,000 troops. But a decision by Obama about whether to approve a more far-reaching shift in U.S. objectives in Afghanistan will be made later as part of the strategy review.'

Monday, February 2, 2009

Senator Ken Stolle's Legislative Update

Posted by MAXMIUS

SENATOR KEN STOLLE'S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

February 2, 2009

While Governor Kaine’s initial budget projections show nearly a $3 Billion shortfall, I personally believe that the shortfall could be in excess of $4 Billion. We will have a better idea this week after the January revenues are released. Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to present their budgets on February 8.

As a Senate Finance Committee member, I have been carefully reviewing Governor Kaine’s proposed cuts. In next week’s newsletter I plan on highlighting the almost $75 Million in cuts to public safety. Virginia is well-known as being at the forefront of law enforcement initiatives and a model for the rest of the country. These cuts could mean at the very least drastic reductions in direct funding for fighting crime coupled with the loss of hundreds of existing sheriff’s deputy, police officer and state trooper jobs.

In this week’s newsletter I wish to highlight legislation that I am strongly supporting, including protecting Virginia’s right-to-work status, improving mass transit in Hampton Roads, and defending the property rights of landowners.

As always, if there is anything my office or I can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact me. With warm and personal regards, I remain

Very truly yours,

Ken Stolle

Amendment to Protect Virginia's Right-To-Work Status Fails
Sen. Stolle was co-patron of SJ 347, a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would have added Virginia's right-to-work law to the state Constitution. Unfortunately this resolution was defeated on Wednesday by a straight party-line vote. The joint resolution would have been the first step towards granting Constitutional protection to Virginia's coveted right-to-work law.

For the last three years in a row, Forbes.com has named Virginia the "Best State for Business," citing the Commonwealth's outstanding regulatory environment, low unemployment rate, prime location for new businesses, low tort atmosphere, and low tax burden.

Recently, efforts at the Federal level have begun which would essentially remove secret ballot votes in union elections. It is my hope that we not let Congress jeopardize Virginia's right-to-work status. It is imperative that in these uncertain economic times that we do everything possible to make sure our actions are in line with Virginia's tradition of pro-business fiscal policy.

In order to amend the Virginia Constitution, identical legislation must be passed during two separate General Assembly sessions with an election in between. It must then pass a statewide voter referendum.

Improving Mass Transit in Hampton Roads
Amidst a Budget-dominated session and with transportation dollars scarcely available, Sen. Stolle offered a budget amendment that will help acquire the Norfolk Southern right of way in Virginia Beach for future public transportation use.

It is strategically important to Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth that this land be purchased, which will be used at least as a multi purpose trail for Virginia Beach and could be used as extension of The Tide light rail line, a bus rapid transit line or a future transportation corridor. The Norfolk Southern rail line runs from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road near the Oceanfront, roughly paralleling Interstate 264.

The amendment does not allocate new funding to the Mass Transit Fund but simply uses existing dollars from cancelled projects to help purchase the land. If approved, the money would be added to $10 million the City Council agreed two weeks ago to spend on it, $10 million set aside by the State two years ago, and $5 million in utility easement payments.

If the City does not purchase the land, it is likely to be cut up in smaller, unconnected portions that will be of little use. Additionally, cost analysis of transportation materials and land values have shown that the transportation project's cost will dramatically increase if not started now.

Defending the Property Rights of Landowners
As a co-patron of SJ 290, Sen. Stolle makes it clear that eminent domain cannot be used for economic development in Virginia. Since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo v. New London decision, the General Assembly has debated the application of eminent domain. It is Sen. Stolle's hope that his colleagues in the Senate will join him in securing the rights of land and property owners by supporting this amendment to Virginia's Constitution. SJ 290 has yet to be heard in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee.

The Bolling Report



The Bolling Report
GETTING OUR ECONOMY GROWING AGAIN: THE RIGHT WAY!

January 31, 2009

In last week’s edition of The Bolling Report, I discussed my 2009 Legislative Agenda, which begins discussing some of the New Ideas For A Better Virginia that emerged from my 100 Ideas For The Future Of Virginia initiative.

My 2009 Legislative Agenda focuses on two things: finding realistic, workable solutions to some of the most important challenges facing Virginia; and beginning the process of reforming state government to make it work for the people of Virginia.

The major emphasis of my 2009 Legislative Agenda is looking for responsible, targeted proposals that will help get Virginia’s economy moving again and better position the Commonwealth to take advantage of future economic growth once the national economy starts growing.

For example, my 2009 Legislative Agenda includes proposals that would increase the amount of money we put into the Governor’s Economic Opportunity Fund. This fund is used to provide incentives to new businesses that want to locate in Virginia.

Our Economic Opportunity Fund currently receives $15M per biennium. This is far less than those of the state’s we compete with for new business, industry and jobs. We have proposed increasing the Fund to $25M per biennium, which would better position Virginia to compete with other states in the southeastern United States.

I have also proposed restoring the budget cuts that Governor Kaine made to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Tourism Council. These agencies are on the front line of our effort to recruit new businesses and attract tourists to Virginia. This is a time when we should be investing in these agencies, not reducing their budgets.

We have also proposed an aggressive series of recommendations that would position Virginia to be the nation’s leader in developing traditional and alternative sources of energy.

By moving forward with the exploration and development of Virginia’s offshore energy resources we can help the nation achieve a greater level of energy independence and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties every year, money that can be used to help build a transportation system for the 21st century.

We have also introduced comprehensive legislation that would position Virginia to be a leader in the development of wind energy. Together with Governor Kaine’s proposals to advance the development of solar energy in Virginia, this could make the Commonwealth the nation’s leader in advancing renewable sources of energy

We have proposed a tax credit for wireless and broadband equipment purchased by telecommunications providers for use in rural areas of the Commonwealth. This tax credit will make it more financially feasible for these companies to bring broadband to rural Virginia, where it is desperately needed to spur economic development.

And last but by no means least, we have proposed a Constitutional Amendment that would give constitutional protection to Virginia’s right to work law, which is the cornerstone of our economic development efforts. Unfortunately, the right to work is under assault at both the state and federal level.

In Washington, congressional Democrats are working to undermine the right to work by passing a horrendous piece of legislation called “card check.” This legislation would eliminate the right of workers to vote in a secret ballot before they are forced to join unions.

In Virginia, all three Democrat candidates for Governor recently walked a picket line in Northern Virginia supporting a union strike against one of Northern Virginia’s largest hotels. They were also joined by Jody Wagner, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. This is the first time in memory that a major party candidate for statewide office has walked a union picket line in support of a strike against a Virginia business.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my effort to propose the right kind of economic development solutions in Virginia. Earlier this week, Speaker Bill Howell and Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates released their Economic Recovery And Prosperity Agenda.

In introducing the House GOP economic recovery plan, Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico) said, “House Republicans understand the financial challenges Virginia families and businesses are facing during these distressing economic times. The initiatives we are outlining today cut straight to the issue of how state government can serve a sensible role in promoting sorely needed economic development.”

The economic recovery proposals advanced by House Republicans include:

Expediting the completion of five significant higher education projects worth over $230M in construction costs. These five projects at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, James Madison University and Christopher Newport University were included in a $2.6B bond package approved by the General Assembly last year, but their completion will be advanced pursuant to amendments that will be included in House GOP budget recommendations.

Extending for an additional ten years the major business facility tax credit that was created by former Governor George Allen. This tax credit was scheduled to expire in 2010. In addition to extending this tax credit, House Republicans will also work to allow businesses to receive the benefits of the tax credit over a two year period, as opposed to the current three year requirement.

Expanding the use of existing innovative financing mechanisms for “mega” economic development projects to site and other related improvements. By permitting these innovative financing options to be used for site and other improvements it is estimated that we will spur an economic investment of at least $250M in the Commonwealth and create an additional 400 full time jobs.

These are just some of the recommendations included in the House GOP Economic Recovery And Prosperity Agenda. For additional information on the House GOP economic recovery plan please click here.

My economic growth proposals, as well as those advanced by House Republicans, show how government can properly help get our economy moving again and better position Virginia to take advantage of economic growth once the national economy starts growing.

Unfortunately, at the federal level President Obama and congressional Democrats are pursuing a very different agenda. Under the guise of economic stimulus they have proposed massive government spending of $850B, most of which would not result in any real economic stimulus.

While there are some good recommendations in the President’s plan, the vast majority of his spending proposal is directing toward the largest expansion of social programs in America in 40 years. That will not result in economic growth. It will only create more dependence on government and a greater deficit for our grandchildren.

This week we were advised that the Obama spending plan could result in an additional $4B in state funding for Virginia. Already, Democrats in the Senate and House of Delegates are trying to figure out how they can incorporate this money into the state budget and avoid making the spending cuts that Governor Kaine has recommended.

In next week’s edition of The Bolling Report, I will discuss the federal economic spending plan in greater detail, with an emphasis on what it means for Virginia and why we should not rely on this money to balance our state budget.




Lieutenant Governor William T. "Bill" Bolling | bill.bolling@billbolling.com
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