Monday, January 31, 2011

FLS jumps on our bandwagon

...as does Hap Connors, apparently hoping we don't notice he's been around for 8 years and done nothing about these problems until we raised them!

Hap feigns concern about the School issues he has presided over

Hill should have left when he was indicted for election fraud

Delegate Cole's amendments would restrict new taxation wanted by Hap Connors

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reason #2 for not re-electing Edd Houck: Good government Republican ideas

Reducing the Cost of Government
HB1681 - Zero Based Budgeting (Bell, Richard P.) - Requires all state agencies prepare their budget requests for the 2012-2014 biennial budget by utilizing a zero-based budgeting methodology.

HJ540 - Limits On Appropriation (Cole) - Limits annual increases in state spending to the rate of inflation plus population increases. The General Assembly may exceed this limitation only by an affirmative vote of at least three-fifths of the elected members.

HB2196 - Government Transparency Act (Comstock) - Establishes a searchable database website that would allow persons to search information including but not limited to (i) individual or specific appropriations or budget items, (ii) state agency spending and procurement data, (iii) financial disclosure statements, (iv) audit and state agency performance reports and (v) contact information for public records access purposes.

HB2416 - Accountability & Performance Review Commission (Stolle) - Establishes the Accountability and Performance Review Commission to review all state agencies on an eight-year cycle and advise the General Assembly on the elimination of waste, duplication and inefficiency on the part of such agencies and determine whether or not the agencies and their individual programs can be eliminated or reduced.

SB912 - Biennial Appropriation Act (McDougle) - Provides that the Commonwealth's biennial appropriations shall start on July 1 of odd-numbered years beginning with the biennial appropriation act for the period July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015. The bill would require that the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, would not be a part of any biennial appropriation act (i.e., it would be a single-year transitional budget).
Making Government More Accountable

HJ542 / SJ 280 - Constitutional Amendment - Providing for the repeal of certain laws passed by the US Congress (LeMunyon/McDougle)
- Makes application to the United States Congress to call a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of proposing an amendment that permits the repeal of any federal law or regulation by the vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures.

HB 2052 / SB 1125 - Right To Vote By Secret Ballot In Union Elections (Hugo/Stosch) - Declares that in any election providing for the establishment of a labor organization to represent employees, the right of an individual employee to vote by secret ballot is a fundamental right that shall be guaranteed.

HJ 500 / SJ 280- Constitutional Amendment - Right to Work (Bell, Richard P./McDougle) - Provides that any agreement between an employer and a labor union that denies persons not members of such union or organization the right to work is against public policy and illegal.

HB1566 - Legislators Recorded Votes Online (LeMunyon) - Provides that all votes cast by members of the General Assembly shall be recorded on
electronic information system (LIS) that is readily available to the public.

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Reason #1 why Edd Houck needs to be replaced

Faced with Tough Votes, Democrats Break Rules
-- Senators on P&E Committee choose to ignore rules, rather than cast votes on
Repeal Amendment, Right to Work, other common-sense bills --


Being a Senator isn't easy. Sometimes it means casting difficult votes, and then explaining those votes to your constituents... unless you decided to break the rules, like a group of Senate Democrats did on Tuesday evening.

Faced with the prospect of casting difficult votes which make them choose between their hard-core liberal base and the overwhelming majority of Virginians, Democrats of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted en masse to break the rules of the Senate.
Under Senate rules, sub-committees may not kill a bill - they can only recommend that action to the entire committee.
Yet when asked by Republicans to consider legislation like the Repeal Amendment, which would let 2/3rds of states overrule Congressional action, or bills that would protect Virginia's Right to Work laws, Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston, ruled the motion out of order, as seen in this video.

When pressed for an explanation of why the motion was out of order, the Democrat had nothing to offer.

From The Washington Post:
"Upon what basis does the chair rule the motion to add the bill to the agenda out of order?" Obenshain asked Howell not long before the committee's vote. "I believe it's out of order," Howell responded after a pause. "I don't know what the problem is in voting on a simple motion to add a bill to an agenda," said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg. "The majority were unable to articulate any basis whatsoever for ruling that motion out of order. The chair, with great respect and deference, has abandoned the the traditions and the rules of this body."

"Senators will be counted on votes," added Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Mechanicsville, speaking at an impromptu press conference after the votes. "That's what the people sent them here to do. Whether they agree with the issue or not, we have legitimate debate. Senators should vote on bills."

Virginia Democrats: Committed to the Rule of Law... Unless it makes them cast uncomfortable votes.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Attention property rights advocates!

With housekeeping measures and session-opening pomp behind them, Virginia’s lawmakers now are at full pace in the “short session” of the General Assembly and there is no time to lose on a paramount issue that affects our freedoms — the protection of private property. On Friday morning, the House Privileges and Elections Committee will consider a constitutional amendment that will safeguard your property rights from state and local government and corporations, as well as ensure just compensation in circumstances when land must be taken for legitimate public uses HJ693.

I know that all of you are interested in seeing the Property Rights Constitutional Amendment passed by the General Assembly. We have our work cut out for us this week. We are hoping to have a strong turnout at Friday morning’s House Privileges and Elections Committee at 9am.

Many of you have requested the attached talking points. Please feel free to use and distribute them, as you see fit. Thanks in advance for any time you can spend making calls or lobbying the House and Senate Privileges and Elections committees


Property Rights Constitutional Amendment Talking Points

The Constitution is the proper place to protect the fundamental right of private property ownership. HJ693 needs to be passed to protect Virginians’ private property rights.

THIS BILL WILL BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES & ELECTIONS ON FRIDAY JANUARY 28, 2011 AT 9 AM.

The General Assembly’s action in 2007 to enact meaningful statutory protections for property owners was commendable and significant, but these protections are only good until the next General Assembly decides that it wants to change them.

Every year local governments, VDOT, housing authorities, and other condemnors lobby the General Assembly to chip away at citizens’ right to private property ownership and to make the use of eminent domain easier and more expansive. The only way to halt the attack on private property rights is to enshrine their protection in the Virginia Constitution.

Please contact the Delegates and Senators listed below and remind them that:

· Private property rights are fundamental to individual liberty

· Private property rights guarantee the free exercise of our other civil liberties

· We need to make sure that Kelo-type takings can never happen in Virginia because it’s wrong for the government to take property from one person and give it to someone the government prefers

· Owners should be compensated for the full impact of a taking

· We need an amendment to make sure the protection of private property is permanent

· Passage of this amendment is necessary to bring stability and predictability to the right of Virginians to own private property free of overreaching uses of the power of eminent domain.

When you make contact with an office, remember that ALL 140 members of the General Assembly are up for election in November 2011 – remind them that you will be holding them accountable for their votes on property rights.
House Privileges and Elections Membership: Cole (Chairman), Putney, Ingram, Jones, Albo, Cosgrove, O'Bannon, Bell, Robert B., Miller, J.H., Landes, Janis, Hugo, Gilbert, Cox, J.A., Phillips, Scott, J.M., Alexander, Joannou, Sickles, Howell, A.T., Dance, Spruill






Mark L. Cole (R) – Fredericksburg (Chairman)
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1088
DelMCole@house.virginia.gov
Lacey E. Putney (I) – Bedford
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1019
DelLPutney@house.virginia.gov
Riley E. Ingram (R) – Hopewell
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1062
DelRIngram@house.virginia.gov
S. Chris Jones (R) – Suffolk
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1076
DelCJones@house.virginia.gov
David B. Albo (R) – Springfield
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1042
DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov
John A. Cosgrove (R) – Chesapeake
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1078
DelJCosgrove@house.virginia.gov
John M. O’Bannon, III (R) – Richmond
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1073
DelJOBannon@house.virginia.gov
Robert B. Bell (R) – Albemarle
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1058
DelRBell@house.virginia.gov
Jackson H. Miller (R) – Manassas
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1050
DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov
R. Steven Landes (R) – Weyers Cave
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1025
DelSLandes@house.virginia.gov
Bill Janis (R) – Henrico
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1056
DelBJanis@house.virginia.govTimothy D. Hugo (R) – Centreville
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1040
DelTHugo@house.virginia.gov
C. Todd Gilbert (R) – Shenandoah
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1015
DelTGilbert@house.virginia.gov
John A. Cox (R) – Ashland
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1055
DelJCox@house.virginia.gov
Clarence E. “Bud” Phillips (D) – Castlewood
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1002
DelBPhillips@house.virginia.gov
James M. Scott (D) – Merrifield
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1053
DelJScott@house.virginia.gov
Kenneth C. Alexander (D) – Norfolk
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1089
DelKAlexander@house.virginia.gov
Johnny S. Joannou (D) – Portsmouth
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1079

Mark D. Sickles (D) – Franconia
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1043
DelMSickles@house.virginia.gov
Algie T. Howell, Jr. (D) – Norfolk
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1090
DelAHowell@house.virginia.gov
Rosalyn R. Dance (D) – Petersburg
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1063
DelRDance@house.virginia.gov
Lionell Spruill, Sr. (D) – Chesapeake
General Assembly Office: (804) 698-1077
DelLSpruill@house.virginia.gov

In the Senate the House version of the amendment will go to the Senate Privileges and Elections committee – THIS IS WHERE OPPONENTS OF PROPERTY RIGHTS INTEND FOR IT TO DIE.

Senate Privileges and Elections Membership: Howell (Chairman), Martin, Deeds, Whipple, Obenshain, Puckett, Edwards, Blevins, McEachin, Petersen, Smith, Barker, Northam, Vogel, McWaters

Janet Howell (D): 804-698-7532
*Stephen Martin (R): 804-698-7511
*Creigh Deeds (D): 804-698-7525
*Mary Whipple (D): 804-698-7531
Mark Obenshain (R): 804-698-7526
Phillip Puckett (D): 804-689-7538
John Edwards (D): (804) 698-7521
Harry Blevins (R): (804) 698-7514
*A. Donald McEachin (D): (804) 698-7509
Chapman Petersen (D): (804) 698-7534
*Ralph K. Smith (R): (804) 698-7522
George Barker (D): (804) 698-7539
*Ralph Northam (D): (804) 698-7506
Jill Vogel (R): (804) 698-7527
*Jeffrey McWaters (R): (804) 698-7508

*= member of subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments where the House version will be sent

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Statement of Chairman Steve Thomas on the comments of Marty Wilder

Last night the Spotsylvania School Board, in the person of Chancellor rep Marty Wilder, finally gave a response to community criticism of the handling of the censure of Amanda Blalock. While the response was welcome, its content was somewhat misdirected.

"Mr. Wilder misquoted me as saying he was 'unamerican'. I said no such thing, and would not say such a thing.", said Chairman Steve Thomas. "I said their action was unamerican. Mr. Wilder later confirmed this analysis by noting in his comments that the whole matter was 'revealed', supposed evidence shown to the School Board members in Mrs. Blalock's absence, and then 'tried' in a questionable procedure- all in the span of 10 days right before the Holidays. By way of comparison, trying a speeding ticket takes two months. This matter was flawed in its handling, rushed in its judgement and unusual in its punishment. It should not have happened in that manner, and the community was nearly unanimous in its disappointment."

"Mr. Wilder also stated that I said it was a 'political hit job'. I said it 'appeared to be a political hit job'. This appearance was confirmed by Mrs. Blalock losing her Vice-chairmanship to the ever-absent Don Holmes, while last night Mr. Seaux himself reasserted the politicization by his attacks on Governor McDonnell and the Republicans in the General Assembly and his effusive praise for Democrat Edd Houck."

"All in all, the School Board majority could have made amends by using the two words we all teach our kids to use: "I'm sorry". We are disappointed they did not."

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Statement of Chairman Steve Thomas on the candidacy of Don Holmes

Today, Salem School Board member Don Holmes announced he was not going to run for re-election, instead running for Salem Supervisor. Spotsylvania Republican Committee Chairman Steve Thomas immediately denounced the move.

"Don Holmes is the worst possible candidate to be supervisor of the Salem District", Chairman Thomas said. "He has a blatent disrespect for the law and for the safety of others, as evidenced by his two DUI convictions. He also has a blatent disrespect for openness and transparency in government, as evidenced by his voting for a promotion for his wife in 2008- without even informing the Board that he has a conflict of interest, as required by law."

"He followed up these actions by missing 50% of the School Board meetings in 2010, then supplanting Amanda Blalock for Vice Chair of the School Board the very week before announcing for Supervisor. This action accompanied his now-infamous comments that he didn’t even see the supposed incriminating emails of Amanda Blalock’s, but supported her censure anyway."

"Don Holmes is the consummate political insider who has now abandoned any pretense of ever working for the children of Spotsylvania, instead choosing to seek more power. This is the exact sort of politician that gives politics a bad name, and voters should resoundingly reject his attempt at an unearned promotion".

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More on the illegal censure of Amanda Blalock

A wonderful LTE by a HS senior in Spotsy

Good summary of my comments to the School board Monday night

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Hap Connors blames Arizona shootings on the right

...putting him in league with the Daily Kos, Jim Clyburn, Paul Krugman and the idiot sheriff of Pima County.

"If you hear about a mass murder and your first thought is how you can pin it on somebody you disagree with politically, there is something very wrong with you"- Jim Treacher, Daily Caller

"I'd hate to be an apologist right now for Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and anyone who makes a living generating hate and fear. They may not have pulled the trigger, but they helped load the weapon." -Hap Connors, January 10, 2011

Keep in mind, this is the same individual who has called Republicans, "fascists", "trained monkeys", "Shiites", and "crazy", clearly generating as much hate and fear as anyone. This type of name calling and demonizing has no place in our politics, and Hap Connors deserves censure for clearly violating the county code of ethics.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Statement of Spotsy GOP Chairman Steve Thomas on the shootings in Arizona

"Today I speak for my family and for the Spotsylvania GOP Committee in offering our prayers for Congresswoman Giffords and her family, as well as for the 18 other victims and their families. This was a senseless tragedy not only for them but for the nation as a whole.

We pray that this episode does not discourage men and women of good conscience from running for public office, which is so important for our country. We hope and expect the spirit of the American people to shine through in this difficult hour, not only to support the victims and their families but also to participate, with courage, in our democratic process."

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Time for Liberal Virginia Senator Edd Houck to Retire

How is it that a man can rise to the top of the Virginia Senate over a CAREER in one seat that spans back to the early 1980's, vote for as many as THIRTEEN tax increases in ONE DAY, and goes unnoticed?
...WE THE PEOPLE let him get away with it...
  • When he campaigned hard for Obama, we didn't to speak up, fair enough, they're both of the same agenda.
  • When he stood tall with Tim Kaine as he became chair of the DNC, we watched idly.
  • When he voted to fund abortions in Virginia under a healthcare bill, we ignored it.
  • When he publicly stated he supports the unconstitutional Obamacare, we tolerated it.
  • When he voted to impose more gas taxes to fund VDOT when he knew there was $1.4 BILLION dollars found lying around, we shrugged.
  • Now he's putting out 4 page newspaper tabloids and giving speeches repeatedly calling himself "A CONSERVATIVE".
Edd Houck is anything BUT a conservative whether socially, personally, politically, or fiscally.

He's a LIBERAL through and through.

The 17th Virginia Senate District comprises some or all of the following areas: City of Fredericksburg, Counties of Spotsylvania, Orange, Culpeper, Madison and Louisa. If you know anyone who votes in this area, you have to help educate them about the DANGEROUS LIBERAL in their state leadership. His 26-year-long voting record will be all it takes to convince someone of this truth, but it takes a little bit of research and a little bit of energy to make your point.

That's what I'm asking you to do, please invest a little bit of your time and energy to help save Virginia and tip the often 20-20 partisan voting stagnation of the Virginia Senate.

Remember, every state senator votes on laws and policies that affect EVERY VIRGINIAN. This isn't only a 17th District problem, if you're a Virginian, Edd Houck is YOUR problem too.

I'm proud to be a part of retiring and defeating liberal VA Senator Edd Houck (Dem-17th) on November 8, 2011!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Speaker Boehner's Remarks to the Opening Session of the 112th Congress

REFRESHING!!


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Monday, January 3, 2011

RE-post: Del. Mark Cole's GA update

- General Assembly Session Starts Soon
- State Budget
- Higher Education Proposal
- Transportation
- Virginia Retirement System
- Campaign Contribution Deadline

GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION STARTS SOON
The 2011 General Assembly session will start on 12 January. Thousands of bills and resolutions will have to be expeditiously dealt with in a matter of weeks. These bills and resolutions will include everything from mundane technical corrections or updates to the Code that will hardly be noticed by most Virginians, to broad policy issues that could affect the pocketbooks of every family and business.

It is probably no surprise that our biggest challenges this session will be money related. Fortunately for Virginians, our state Constitution requires us to keep the budget balanced, no running up huge deficits or printing money as they do in Washington.

STATE BUDGET
Virginia’s economy has shown some signs of recovery, which has led to a small increase in tax revenues; the first such increase in two years. Unfortunately the recovery has been anemic and not produced the amount of revenues that were projected. This will require us to reduce spending by nearly $ 150 million. While that is significantly less than the $ 4 Billion shortfall we had to close last session, it still presents challenges in light of previous spending reductions and the budget priorities outlined by Governor McDonnell.

Governor McDonnell’s budget proposal includes cost-savings strategies for state agencies, targeted use of tax dollars where there’s a solid potential for return on investment and innovative reforms to government. Economic development and job creation will remain a primary focus. The Governor is hoping to improve Virginia’s competitiveness to encourage companies to invest and expand here. A continued commitment to fiscal discipline, government reform and business-minded solutions should create an environment that speeds economic recovery and provide greater prosperity for all Virginians. Keeping taxes low is essential to grow the private sector.

HIGHER EDUCATION
One of the Governor’s key priorities to expand economic opportunities for Virginians is to increase access to a college education, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math degrees, and encouraging colleges and universities to operate more efficiently. The Governor’s $50 million proposal is driven by his desire to award 100,000 more degrees in the next 15 years. In the 21st century economy, more Virginians will need affordable access to quality higher education to help them find and keep good-paying jobs.

TRANSPORTATION
Transportation continues to be a high priority, especially for our area. Prior to the economic recession, the General Assembly, spearheaded by the House of Delegates, had significantly increased transportation funding; yet it seemed the more we spent, the further behind we fell. We were getting little bang for the taxpayers’ bucks. This spurred the House to push for additional scrutiny of VDOT’s use of funds including an audit; which was one of the first things that the McDonnell administration did.

The performance audit revealed $1.4 billion in previously authorized funds that were not being spent on needed highway maintenance and new construction. Many of these dollars are being redirect to long overdue transportation projects. Another positive development came when Governor McDonnell announced $1.1 billion in construction and maintenance projects for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2011.

More recently, the Governor unveiled an ambitious $4 billion transportation initiative as part of his budget and legislative package. With interest rates and construction costs at record lows, many believe now may be the best opportunity to get roads built in modern Virginia history. The challenge here will be balancing the need for additional roads financed by bonds, with the Commonwealth’s debt burden.

In order to preserve our AAA bond rating, Virginia has maintained a relatively low limit for debt payments. The temptation is strong for politicians to run up debt when times are hard. Doing so would be penny wise but pound foolish if it were to hurt our bond rating.

VIRGINIA RETIREMENT SYSTEM (VRS)
VRS will be one of the toughest challenges faced next session. The state retirement fund, which was more than fully funded a few years ago, now faces a $ 17.6 Billion dollar shortfall after the market crash of 2008/2009. While the state failed to make its recommended payment to the system this year - something that Governor McDonnell now admits was a bad idea and that I opposed - that is not to blame for the bulk of the shortfall (even if the state had made its full payment the shortfall would still be around $ 17 Billion).

Public retirement funds are heavily invested in the stock market, just like IRAs and 401Ks, and are subject to market fluctuations and adjustments. When the market is booming, as was the case several years ago, the fund appears to be in great shape; when the market is in decline, the fund needs help.

It would cost more than $ 6,500 per household to make-up this shortfall. Obviously it would be unfair to ask the taxpayers to make the system right. What is needed is long term reform of the system.

We took the first steps towards reform last session when we lowered retirement benefits for new employees hired after 1 July 2010 and required them to contribute 5 percent of their pay to their fund. Further reform is needed to keep the system solvent.

Governor McDonnell has proposed increasing state employer payments to VRS while requiring all state employees to contribute 5 percent of their pay to the fund, something that has not been required of them since 1983. While this will help the fund’s balance sheet, the long term solution is to transition away from the current defined benefit plan and move towards a defined contribution retirement plan for new employees.

Defined benefit plans have become costly dinosaurs that are nearly extinct in the private sector, being replaced by defined contribution plans such as 401Ks where both the employee and employer can contribute to an individual fund. These funds are not only less costly but are portable and can be transferred to a new job with the employee without loss of value or vesting.

CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING REQUEST
I do not normally solicit campaign contributions via email, but we have a fundraising deadline rapidly approaching. 2011 is an election year for the General Assembly and once we go into session, I am prohibited from receiving campaign contributions – so I need to raise funds quickly, before we go into session (I need to receive the donation by 10 January).

If you can help it would be greatly appreciated. To make a donation, please visit the following web page:

Donate here

Thank you for your help and support!

If you have any questions or comments regarding the upcoming General Assembly session, please feel free to contact me.

Happy New Year!
Mark L. Cole
Delegate, 88th District
Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Fauquier Counties

Web page: www.MarkLCole.com

Authorized and Paid for by Mark Cole for Delegate

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