Virginia

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Concealed firearms, Common Core, independent congressional and legislative redistricting, and mandating union wages

Check out these key votes made by elected officials in Virginia during the most recent legislative session, and go to www.votespotter.com to signup and see how your elected officials voted on these and other issues that impact your daily life.

 

House Bill 145, Prohibit “prevailing wage”: Passed 66 to 32 in the House on February 1, 2016, and 21 to 19 in the Senate on February 25, 2016. Vetoed by the governor on March 11, 2016.

To ban state agencies from requiring that contractors pay the “prevailing wage” on public works projects. “Prevailing wage” is based on the union pay scale of a region.

Senate Bill 48, Allow concealed carry without a permit: Rejected on a tie vote, 20 to 20, in the Senate on February 1, 2016

To allow anyone to carry a concealed firearm without a permit if that person is legally eligible to carry a concealed firearm.

Senate Bill 191, Establish independent redistricting commission: Passed 31 to 9 in the Senate on February 1, 2016.

To place an advisory question on the November ballot on whether Virginia should establish an independent commission that would draw district lines for the House of Delegates, Senate, and congressional seats.

House Bill 259, Prohibit use of Common Core: Passed 77 to 22 in the House on January 27, 2016, and 24 to 16 in the Senate on February 22, 2016. Vetoed by the governor on March 1, 2016.

To prohibit the state from replacing the current education standards with Common Core State Standards without prior approval by the General Assembly.

House Bill 1163, Recognize out-of-state concealed handgun permits: Passed 72 to 26 in the House on February 10, 2016, and 29 to 11 in the Senate on February 22, 2016.

Allows someone with a concealed handgun permit issued by any state who is at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun in Virginia. This bill requires the Attorney General to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states to do this.

Should Virginia’s Constitution Protect Right to Work?

 

Election Day is fast approaching, and Virginians are being asked to vote on a variety of offices and measures. One of those measures would enshrine in the state constitution the prohibition on mandating union membership as a condition of employment.

 

This provision, known as “right to work,” is already state law, so approval of this ballot measure would not change business practices in the commonwealth. However, if placed in the state constitution this measure could not be overturned by legislators in the future. Rep. Richard Bell, who sponsored the bill to put this question to a vote, said it is important to give the right to work constitutional protection. According to him, “we are protecting it from the whims of the legislature and thus ensuring it can remain in place for generations to come.”

 

Others, such as Senator George Barkers, disagreed, saying, “This amendment is downright unnecessary. Right to work laws have been on the books in Virginia for over 70 years. It is ironic that Republicans frequently accuse Democrats of government overreach, and yet they feel it appropriate to reflect in the Constitution something that has been practice for so long.”

 

If approved by voters, this section would be added to Virginia’s constitution:

 

“Any agreement or combination between any employer and any labor union or labor organization whereby nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, or whereby such membership is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or whereby any such union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any enterprise, is against public policy and constitutes an illegal combination or conspiracy and is void.”

 

The first resolution to place the measure on the ballot passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 64-29 and the Senate by a vote of 21-17. However, legislators must pass resolutions in two successive years to place a question on the ballot. The final resolution to do so passed the Senate by a vote of 21-19 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 64-34.

 

Do you support amending the state constitution to ban mandatory union contracts?

The Saga of Felon Voting in Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe is determined to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Virginians with felony records. It appears he will get his way prior to Election Day.

He first attempted to do so in April, when he announced a blanket order to restore voting rights to over 200,000 felons, saying, “There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans — we should remedy it.”

Republicans said that the governor was overstepping his constitutional powers. Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment said, “Gov. McAuliffe's flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law must not go unchecked.” By a 4-3 vote, the Virginia Supreme Court sided with the Republicans and invalidated the governor’s action.

That did not deter Governor McAuliffe, however. He vowed to restore voting rights on a case-by-case basis to comply with the court decision. He is in the process of doing that, already restoring rights for 13,000 individuals.

Some Republicans claim the governor is playing politics by focusing efforts on felons who primarily live in Democratic areas of the commonwealth. Supporters of Governor McAuliffe point out that the man who preceded McAuliffe in the governor’s mansion, Republican Bob McDonnell, also restored the voting rights of some felons.

If McAuliffe were governor in most other states, this would not be an issue. Virginia is one of only 9 states that do not grant felons voting rights. Most states restore voting rights to felons after they serve their sentences. Some restore these rights to felons even while they are on probation or parole. Two states, Maine and Vermont, even allow prisoners to vote.

What do you think? Should felons be able to vote?

Would a Redskins Stadium be Worth It?

The Washington Redskins may be coming to Virginia. Would the state benefit if taxpayers shelled out for a new stadium?

Virginia Governor Terry McCauliffe is having what he calls “very serious negotiations” to persuade the Washington Redskins to move to Northern Virginia. While the Redskins’ current lease in Maryland is not up for another decade, the team is already looking at its options for future stadiums.

Governor McCauliffe would like the state to use its resources to persuade the team to move across the Potomac River. However, he also says, “It’s got to make sense for the taxpayers of Virginia.”

Will such a deal make sense for taxpayers? It may be possible, but it will be difficult. The academic literature on the economic impact of stadiums and the return to taxpayers is summed up by researchers from the Brookings Institution:

A new sports facility has an extremely small (perhaps even negative) effect on overall economic activity and employment. No recent facility appears to have earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. No recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues. Regardless of whether the unit of analysis is a local neighborhood, a city, or an entire metropolitan area, the economic benefits of sports facilities are de minimus.

Virginians may gain some pride from having the Washington Redskins located within their commonwealth. However, as Governor McCauliffe works to lure the team, he should be aware of the ways that stadium subsidies can go wrong.

Do you support using taxpayer dollars to subsidize sports stadiums?

Sen. Mark Warner: How Brexit Threatens American Trade

According to Virginia Senator Mark Warner, “Regardless of the Brexit vote, global trade remains essential to America’s economic durability and leadership in the world.” But he also says that the government should do more to assist those negatively affected by trade. What do you think? Is global trade a net win for the U.S.?

http://time.com/4382313/brexit-american-trade/

 

Tim Kaine is sitting pretty in Hillary Clinton’s veepstakes

 

 

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine could be Hillary Clinton’s choice for vice president. He is seen as a “safe” pick – a mainstream Democrat who is from a potential swing state. Do you think Sen. Kaine would make a good vice president? Or should Clinton choose someone else? https

://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/24/tim-kaine-is-sitting-pretty-in-hillary-clintons-veepstakes/

 

City Council voices support for gun control measures

The city of Charlottesville is weighing in on the debate over federal gun control laws. Is it useful for local politicians to pass symbolic resolutions on national issues? Or should city council members focus on city issues, leaving national issues up to members of Congress?

http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/city-council-voices-support-for-gun-control-measures/article_89a40b2a-517f-5d1a-9a6d-767c7c51537e.html

At VMI, Kaine makes renewed push for war powers vote against Islamic State

Sen. Tim Kaine is calling on Congress to authorize military action against the Islamic State, or ISIS. President Obama has already ordered some attacks on ISIS without congressional approval. Do you think Sen. Kaine has the right idea? Or should the U.S. end military action in this area?

http://www.roanoke.com/news/education/higher_education/at-vmi-kaine-makes-renewed-push-for-war-powers-vote/article_c661e7dc-99b9-58eb-8a8e-42b45f5ce281.html

Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine ask for LGBT guidelines for schools

Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have joined other Democratic senators in asking the federal government to enforce policies affecting gay and transgendered college students. This is partially in response to North Carolina’s law that mandates transgendered students use bathrooms according to their biological sex. Does the federal government have a place in policing school policies on bathroom use?

http://wavy.com/2016/05/04/senators-mark-warner-tim-kaine-ask-for-lgbt-guidelines-for-schools/

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