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URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Also: War On Religion --- Preschool-to-Prison-Pipeline --- Business and Climate Change

Dear friends,

This has been a full week! Our second to the last week is wrapped up and we have covered the spectrum on issues - from guns to religious liberty to property rights. It’s been the usual uphill battle, but we have had a few moments of reprieve when moderates left the liberal camp to come alongside the conservative side of the aisle. See a few examples in this Virginia Mercury article.

 

THE TRUTH COMES OUT: UPDATE ON SOGI BILLS

“You can have religious liberty as long as you keep it inside the four walls of your church.” 

This statement may hold true in Virginia if the Governor signs the sexual orientation non-discrimination bill SB868, which passed the House on Monday. Virginia Democrats are at war against 2nd Amendment rights, businesses, and people of faith. When the bill came up for a vote, I offered a floor amendment to add religious liberty protections to SB868. Del. Marcus Simon (D, Dist. 53), speaking against the amendment, made it emphatically clear that the primary purpose of this SOGI bill is to prevent religious groups, including churches, synagogues, and schools from operating in accordance with their core faith tenets in the areas of sexual conduct and identity.

You can watch the approximately 5-minute exchange here. And read more here at The Family Foundation blog post: Shocking Honesty: VA Democrats Really Are Targeting Churches.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

"Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax, talks with Del. David LaRock, R-Loudoun, regarding amendment to SB 868"

This legislation could have far-reaching impact on many individuals who live out their religious beliefs and convictions, as well as faith-based businesses and organizations of all kinds.

Here’s one example from a similar restriction imposed on an organization in New York: Why This Adoption Provider in New York May Have to Shut Its Doors

Pastors and Christian school leaders came from across the state on Thursday to take a stand for these bills that will infringe on religious freedoms established in our nation’s Constitution: Pastors Packed the Room 

“At the very least, we ask for more explicit protections for religious organizations that make clear churches and schools can continue operating

according to their deeply held religious tenets on marriage and sexuality,” say the authors of this article: Legislators about to force the state into the church — that will seriously harm our Christian schools

Following this effort, I did an interview with the Washington Examiner.... "LaRock told the Washington Examiner that he offered his amendment to protect religious organizations from the “hefty fees” that they might face, either through fines or legal action in the case of a discrimination complaint. According to the bill, first-time offenders face a $50,000 fine. The fines go up to $100,000 for subsequent offenses."

 

UNCONSTITUTIONAL UTILITY EASEMENTS BILL VIOLATES PROPERTY RIGHTS

My constituents know I've been working hard for many years to improve broadband access in rural areas. I introduced legislation to further this cause again this year, but the Democrats voted it down in favor of a deeply-flawed bill from Del. Carroll-Foy. I worked with a broad coalition of concerned stakeholders, including a former member of congress, to try and fix the most grievous parts of that bill and the Senate companion bill, but Del. Foy refused to budge, so both bills are going to the Governor. Add these to the long-and-growing-list of AG Herring's summer homework of unconstitutional bills he will likely have to defend in the courts.

 

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING HAS AN UNEXPECTED BITE

This is another bill that is a bad idea that looks good on the surface: HB582 (and companion bill SB939), which would allow public employees to collectively bargain with their local government employers. While looking good on the outside, time and time again collective bargaining has crippled local governments, forcing them to go into debt or to reduce important services to local residents. The Wall Street Journal does a good job of summarizing why this is not good for anyone but the unions! The Center

 

GERRYMANDERING: A BIG WORD AND A BIG PROBLEM

Republicans have urged House Democrats to vote on the proposed Constitutional amendment that would end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia. In order for nonpartisan redistricting to be up for referendum in 2020 and become law for the 2021 election cycle, the Senate resolution must be approved by the House. But liberals are tempted to defeat the resolution in order to control redistricting and maintain control for years ahead. With only one week of Session left, time is narrowing. During the committee hearing on Friday a vote was again postponed until Monday. 

URGENT: Please contact the House Privileges and Elections Committee

Before Monday urging them to pass SJ18 and send it to the voters!

 

CLIMATE CHANGE 1: RISING SEAS AND FALLING SKIES

This week the Virginia Clean Economy Act passed the Senate. (It passed the House earlier in February, the same day the Green New Deal Act was left in committee.) For all the urgency in creating mandates for clean energy and remedies to climate change, many lawmakers seem to have overlooked the cost-benefit calculations. 

There are costs to their answer … and cost it will. Efforts to enter Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative isn’t without a price tag for Virginians. The “mad rush” to put Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is nothing more than an effort to hide a tax increase, according to an editorial by The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press Editorial Board

And benefits are questionable. “But RGGI does not, as Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler claimed last year, set 'the commonwealth on a path to slow global warming.' That would be physically impossible. It’s fine to think of Virginia as a grand and wonderful place (it certainly is), but it does not have the global heft to affect the world’s climate.”

According to an AP article, “The State Corporation Commission has estimated the typical monthly bill could increase by $2.00 to $2.50 for the years 2027 to 2030.” “This whole concept of buying credits is a con game, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think it’s good public policy, and it’s not going to change the world,” said GOP Sen. Frank Ruff. More in this Virginia-Mercury article

In the midst of all the doom and gloom of climate change, read this report posted by Texas Public Policy Foundation for a different perspective: The Debilitating Pessimism of Climate Change Alarmists

 

CLIMATE CHANGE 2: THE RISING COST OF BUSINESS IN VIRGINIA

Virginians have more important things to worry about than climate change in the environment. How about the business climate in Virginia? Some of the legislation coming out of the 2020 Session has business owners - and employees - worried. Here are some articles about how new laws on issues like minimum wage, taxes, and regulations will impact the business climate in Virginia.

The Roanoke Times: “It was with great dismay that I read of Norfolk Southern’s decision to relocate over 100 jobs out of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Admittedly, they are confronting a changing business model — but when facing the choice of remaining in Virginia or Pennsylvania, Virginia lost out. ...Virginia’s business-friendly climate is on the line as bills raising the minimum wage, attacking right-to-work, and increasing taxes soar through both chambers on their way to the Governor’s desk.”

Bacon's Rebellion Blog: If Virginia enacts a minimum wage increase, how many employers will respond by cutting fringe benefits like medical insurance?”

 

NUMEROUS BILLS LOOSEN UP FOOD AND CASH HANDOUTS

In The Virginia Mercury: Virginia lawmakers vote to loosen restrictions on welfare, end ban on assistance for drug felons. “The bill addressing felons easily drew the most debate, with Republicans arguing convicted drug dealers should not be eligible for public assistance and Democrats arguing the law punishes children for their parents’ crimes.”

 

SOME LAWMAKERS WANT TO TAKE AWAY YOUR VOTE

On Tuesday, HB177 effectively died in committee when members voted to continue the bill to 2021. The bill would guarantee that Virginians’ electoral votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote, effectively relinquishing Virginians’ voting power to states such as California and New York. This blog provides a brief explanation as to why the national popular vote would hurt Virginians. Technically the bill can be revisited next fall, which The Family Foundation explains in a blog post here, so it would be worth keeping an eye on this issue. 



PRESCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE

Democrats are bent on opening up a preschool-to-prison pipeline. It’s as though they want to set traps for law-abiding citizens. SB71 passed on a near party line vote even after Democrats were repeatedly warned by 1000s how horrible this bill is. Drive on the property of a church that has a preschool or daycare during hours of operation possessing a knife with a blade 3 inches or longer and this new law will make you guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you have a gun with you in your vehicle when picking up

a child, or just entering the property, that will be a felony offense. That means no staff except a paid, professional security officer can carry protection on grounds of a church, synagogue or business where there is daycare or school in progress. This is exactly the wrong way to go with recent attacks on religious assemblies.

According to the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), since 1950, more than 90% of all mass killings occur in “gun-free zones.” Read the VCDL article on gun-free zones and stay informed about gun-related legislation and local affairs: Subscribe to VCDL alerts here.

Democrats passed several gun bills this week. These bills include the so-called “Red Flag law” that would allow law enforcement to confiscate firearms from individuals reported to pose a substantial risk to themselves or others. Republicans raised several concerns over this law. In particular, we worry that the threat of having their guns confiscated may discourage people with mental health concerns from seeking the appropriate help, or that individuals may abuse this law to confiscate a person’s guns out of retribution.

For more information on gun laws that passed the Senate this past week, read The Center Square article "Virginia Senate committee advances slew of conformed gun-control bills."

 

PARENTAL RIGHTS: A WIN... AND A LOSS

WIN: This week the Senate passed HB1394, which requires local school boards to make available online to every parent a copy of the Family Life Education (FLE) - sex-education - materials. Currently the law requires only that a hard copy be available for parents to make an appointment to view. The law gives parents easier access to the material so they can be aware of what is being taught to their children on this subject.

LOSS: On the other hand, this week a bill that tramples parental rights, and also targets the careers of faith-based counselors and wields another blow to religious liberty, passed the House. The bill, SB245, prohibits parents from seeking therapy for their own children who are experiencing unwanted or unnatural sexual desires and it puts licensed counselors and physicians at risk of having their license revoked for providing talk therapy to a child struggling with sexual identity. 

You can read more about SB245 in this blog post: Bill Targeting Faith-Based Counselors Up Tomorrow! (The companion House Bill, HB386, has also passed the House and Senate.)

 

SAFETY STANDARDS REMOVED = LIVES OF WOMEN PUT AT RISK

Sadly, this week the House passed the Senate abortion bill, HB980, and the Senate passed the House version, SB733. Both bills remove health and safety standards in place to protect a mother seeking an abortion. Now no ultrasound is required, no wait time is required,

and not even a doctor is required - a nurse practitioner can now perform an abortion. As stated by The Family Foundation, the bill “sends a clear message to mothers who are contemplating having an abortion – that political agendas, convenience and profit are more important than their health and safety.” See the full article here.

 

FINAL DAYS

We are now approaching the home stretch of the 2020 Session - our ninth and final week! As I press on in this final lap, I hope you too will keep engaged with the issues before the General Assembly. We still have several important matters to address, including redistricting, massive tax hikes, and the state budget, that will greatly impact our Constitutional and God-given rights. You can also track all legislation in the General Assembly here.

As the delegate representing the 33rd District, I hold your concerns as my highest priority. If ever I may be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov. You can also follow me on twitter @LaRock4Delegate or like my Facebook page to keep up to date with what I’m doing in Richmond

Thank you for the honor and privilege you have entrusted me with. Please keep me and all our legislators in your prayers as we prepare to adjourn on March 7.

Sincerely,

EVENTS AND VISITORS THIS WEEK

Last Saturday, I joined Troop 953 in Hamilton for six exceptional young men's Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

Congratulations to Samuel Lambert, Spencer Davis, Truman Abbe, Elliott Petersen, Joshua Ericksen and Jared Martin!

Their Eagle projects will benefit our community for years to come.

Tuesday of this week was the Virginia Governor’s Cup Celebration, and once again, Loudoun County and 33rd District wineries scored very well. Loudoun County’s 868 Estate Vineyard was awarded the 2020 Governor’s Cup for its 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito; 868 Estate Vineyards was co-founded eight years ago by Peter and Nancy Deliso with winemaker Carl DiManno and Wendy Charron.

The entry from 868 marks the first winner made entirely from Loudoun County fruit.

Nine wines from Loudoun wineries earned a gold medal for scoring 90 points or higher in the competition; 21 Loudoun wineries and vineyards received recognition at some level in the 2020 competition.

They were among 40 wineries across the Commonwealth to meet the top (Gold) scoring threshold after four weeks of judging by 19 experts who evaluated 530 entries in the 28th year of the program.

Breaux Vineyards took home two gold medals, for its 2015 Nebbiolo and its 2016 Merlot.

Other gold medals awarded to Loudoun wines are 868 Estate Vineyards’ 2017 Vidal Blanc; Greenhill Vineyards’ 2016 Mythology; Lost Creek Winery’s 2017 Cabernet Franc; Sunset Hills Vineyard’s 2017 Mosaic; The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards’ 2017 Meritage; Winery 32’s 2016 Thoroughbred Blend; and Zephaniah Farm Vineyard’s 2017 Friendship. Three Loudoun wineries each brought home seven medals in total. The full listing of awards is here.

Each year the House Pages draft legislation to debate in mock committees and a floor session - these pages are introducing a bill that would prohibit local school boards from infringing on the right to homeschool, and asked me to help them some!

 

Martha Semmes, Carolyn Unger, Allen Cochran, and Elizabeth Evans from the Goose Creek Friends Meeting in Lincoln delivered the invocation to start the floor session on Wednesday of this week, at the request of Del. Wendy Gooditis.

Round Hill Constituent Joe Luppino-Esposito was in town, and we discussed some local concerns I've been helping him and the Round Hill community work through, as well as some good discussion on Criminal Justice Reform. We were able to get this picture with Senator Bill Stanley, whom I've been working with for years on the legislation to repeal automatic Driver's License suspension for court fines and fees .

The House unanimously passed Sen. Vogel's bill, SB 903. Congrats to Julie Funkhouser who did so much to make this bill, known as Danny’s law, possible, as a tribute to her late husband Danny.

It is intended to better serve those in crisis who seek treatment on our hospital Emergency Departments.

 

A few hundred people visited the Capitol to demand full Drivers Licenses for illegal immigrants; they aren't even satisfied with the "Drivers' Privileges" cards being proposed.

Loudoun County Senator Jennifer Boysko was one of their keynote speakers supporting their rally.

 
 
 
 

Get in touch and stay connected:

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DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov

District Office: P.O. Box 6, Hamilton, Virginia 20159 (540) 751-8364

Paid for and authorized by Dave LaRock for Delegate


Paid for and Authorized by Dave LaRock for Delegate
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