Skip to comments.Guns, gaming, budget highlight session as Democrats take charge (Virginia
Posted on 01/04/2020 8:03:22 PM PST by Perseverando
The start of a new decade is propelling Virginia into a new era of political control, a reality that will be on full display Wednesday when lawmakers return to Richmond for the start of a 60-day General Assembly session.
Democrats who will take over the House and Senate are eager to move ahead on their agenda, as Republicans work to push back while exploring how they might chart a return to power.
It will be the most racially and ethnically diverse legislature in Virginias history, and for the first time, a woman will be at the helm of its lower chamber.
Heres a look at some of the key issues lawmakers will grapple with in the session.
Democrats enter the session with what they perceive as a mandate from voters to take broad action on gun control. That has sparked furor from some conservatives who have moved quickly to decry some of the proposals as unconstitutional gun bans.
As gun rights activists warn of far-reaching measures, Gov. Ralph Northam has said without deviation that he plans to back what he terms eight common sense proposals that have broader support. The day after the Nov. 5 elections, Northam said he plans to reintroduce measures he proposed after a Virginia Beach city employee fatally shot 12 people May 31.
One measure is the expansion of background checks, which even some Republicans back. So-called red flag laws that would allow courts to quickly remove guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others have been enacted in dozens of other states, including some under Republican control.
Northam is also proposing a ban on assault weapons to include suppressors and bump stocks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and to restore a state law, repealed in 2012, to restrict handgun purchases to one a month, among other measures.
Expect tension among Democrats regarding proposals outside of the ones backed by Northam, like training requirements for firearm purchases, firearm prohibitions in more places and events, and an expanded definition of assault weapon.
Dont expect gun activists to go along quietly. Motivating their base are highway billboards and signs warning about the governors gun control efforts, and Second Amendment sanctuary proclamations adopted in more than 100 counties, cities and towns.
Leaders of gun rights groups are banking on the tension to yield a massive grassroots demonstration that they say will draw tens of thousands of people to the Capitol grounds on Jan. 20, the legislatures lobby day.
We are going to pound them like theyve never been pounded, Philip Van Cleave, head of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said recently.
The centerpiece of the legislative session will be the passage of a two-year state budget setting spending priorities under Northam and the new Democratic majority. That includes $200 million the governor proposed for the legislature to spend as it likes. The proposal is part of the $135 billion budget that he unveiled last month, including $47.5 billion in general fund spending for core state services such as public education, safety and health care.
Northam has proposed two tax increases, one on motor fuels and another on cigarettes in a state in which tobacco was a mainstay of Virginias economy dating to the Colonial era.
The motor fuel tax would rise 4 cents per gallon annually for three years for a total increase of 12 cents per gallon and then be tied to inflation. The increase would bolster the states transportation trust fund against a projected decline in fuel tax revenues because of electric and hybrid vehicles that use less gas but still rely on Virginias road network.
Northam is betting that Virginians will support the tax increase to see improved roads and less traffic, but theres also a sweetener.
The gas tax increase would be partly offset for Virginia residents by the governors proposals to eliminate annual state vehicle inspections and halve the yearly vehicle registration fee. Northam says those measures would save consumers $280 million a year, while shifting more of the cost of transportation improvements to out-of-state drivers.
The governor proposes to double the states 30-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes the second-lowest in the country and use the money to lower health insurance premiums through a new state insurance marketplace and a reinsurance program to cover high-cost health care consumers.
Henrico County-based Altria, the largest tobacco company in the country, already came out in opposition of the plan. Expect it to wield its influence as the plan moves through the legislature.
Northam and state lawmakers are also looking to protect existing sources of state revenues, such as the Virginia Lottery, which contributed more than $600 million in profits last year for public education. Northam called for state regulation and taxation of unlicensed electronic skill games that have proliferated across the state and cut sharply into lottery sales, revenue that he wants to offset by $125 million over two years in new taxes.
Northam is leaving it up to legislators to figure out exactly how.
The assembly also will consider banning the machines entirely, even as it debates legalizing casino gambling in Virginia. Legislation already has been filed to re-enact measures adopted last year to allow casinos in as many as five cities Richmond, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol but a new state study shows the biggest potential payoff in Northern Virginia. If casino gambling is allowed, the lottery is likely to be tasked to devise a system for licensing the operations, regulating and taxing them, and potentially sports betting and online gaming.
The gaming debate also will require the state to consider how to protect vested interests such as Colonial Downs, which was first out of the gate in opening gaming parlors in Richmond and three other localities for historical horse racing devices that look like slot machines. The Pamunkey Indian tribe also is looking to protect its ability to operate a casino in Norfolk or Richmond under federal law.
As Virginia schools continue to face funding levels below what they were before the Great Recession, legislators will consider increasing education spending and making community college free for some students.
Northams budget calls for a 3% raise for teachers, free community college for low- and middle-income students pursuing careers in high-demand fields, and raising the number of state-funded preschool slots for 4-year-olds, among other things.
Beyond funding, lawmakers will weigh how to address the disproportionate discipline rates students of color face and the decrepit nature of many school buildings.
A Democrat-led effort to prohibit students from being found guilty of disorderly conduct for actions in school was killed last year and is again proposed this year. Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, is renewing his call for a special state fund for schools to repair or replace roofs, as well as his push for a statewide referendum on whether the General Assembly should take out $3 billion in bonds in the name of improving school facilities roughly 60% of which are more than 40 years old.
Ahead of the 2021 redistricting process, lawmakers are due to take a second stab at a proposed constitutional amendment that would shift power over the drawing of legislative and congressional districts from the General Assembly to a 16-member commission of legislators and citizens.
In order to take effect, a proposed state constitutional amendment has to pass the legislature in separate years, then pass in a statewide voter referendum.
When in the minority, many Democrats championed nonpartisan redistricting and majority Republicans opposed it, but a compromise measure passed overwhelmingly last year. Some members of the Legislative Black Caucus opposed the proposed amendment, saying that the measure does not require any of the members on the redistricting commission to be African American or from other minority communities.
The future of the amendment which had seemed like a done deal, or a likely possibility is now anyones guess. House Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn wont say where she stands on the measure. Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker proclaimed on Twitter, We want non-partisan redistricting but this is not it.
Advocates of the measure say a messy approach could push the amendment through with a mishmash of Democratic and Republican support strung together on the House and Senate floors.
If the measure is tossed for good, Democrats could pitch legislation to create a bipartisan process that addresses concerns from some members and isnt as binding as a constitutional amendment.
Expect Northam to pay close attention to the wheeling and dealing, since he has a campaign promise to live up to. On the campaign trail in July 2017, he pledged: I will not sign a map unless it is drawn by a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
Didn’t learn from watching the Democrat destruction of California???
You voted for it Virginia....now live with it.
It’s unlikely that any Virginian on Free Republic voted for it. We’re just stuck with it. We’ve been overwhelmed.
To the liberals in virginia= enjoy becoming Los Angeles- Invest in pooper scoopers- you’ll need them
Very unhappy here in Virginia. I am trying to figure out what to do to protect my second amendment rights. One thing is for sure, there is no way I will give up high capacity magazines.
Virginia has been overwhelmed in the North by legal and illegal immigration. Causes more districts to be created in blue areas. Need to eliminate non-citizens from the count when redistricting.
First, stop using the terminology of the left which is false.
What they call “high capacity magazines” are actually standard capacity magazines.
You’ve no doubt seen me post this before from buckeyefirearms, but if not- these are some great quotes by our founding fathers on the right to, and the need to, bear arms:
Gun Quotations of the Founding Fathers
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined...”
- George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
- Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776
“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785
“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824
“On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
“To disarm the people...[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.”
- George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adooption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788
“I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.”
- George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
- Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”
- James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”
- James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789
A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves
and include, according to the past and general usuage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms
“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
- Richard Henry Lee, Federal Farmer No. 18, January 25, 1788
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.... The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.”
- Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778
“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty.... The right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
- St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1803
” The balance ofpower is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one-half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.”
- Thomas Paine, “Thoughts on Defensive War” in Pennsylvania Magazine, July 1775
“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
- Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788
“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833
“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.”
- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, I Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789
“For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, December 21, 1787
“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28
[[I am trying to figure out what to do to protect my second amendment rights.]]
Your only hope IF the people aren’t willing to take a stand, is the Supreme Court- but don’t put much faith in that- NY ‘Safe Act’ which is unconstitutional, cited an ‘Imminent Need’ as their catalyst to taking guns away from law abiding citizens- The NY courts deemed the law legal, but for some reason, the case has not made it to the Supreme court as an obvious violation of our inalienable right-
The only choice left will be to either comply, OR defy the law and become a felon in the sight of the government there-
Tough choice though when God says to obey the laws over you- UNLESS they directly violate His word- Decisions like this are where the rubber hits the road- Do we try to justify civil disobedience over this issue as a necessity due to government law violating God’s word? Claiming inalienable rights are endowed by the Creator, and can’t be taken away by government without a fight a person feels is justified? - Or do we comply in obedience to God? Trusting that it is He who appoints leaders, and knew this gov would violate their inalienable rights? The bible tells us not to be surprised when stuff like this happens in the end times, because it must- in order for end time events to take place-
Let each man’s conscience guide his decisions=- There is a case to be made for both positions- which is the stronger? That’s for the individual to decide
Virginia schools continue to face funding levels below what they were before the Great Recession, legislators will consider increasing education spending and making community college free for some students.
With $600 million in lottery ticket sales for public
education? Just how big were the school budgets before
the great recession?
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