The Fog of Political Campaigns

Del. Kim Taylor (R) Photo Credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

During the campaign season, I often get so frustrated with the pronouncements of candidates that I wish I could publicly pose questions that they would have to answer. The most recent example comes from a story in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch about the highly competitive House race in the Petersburg area.

The incumbent, Del.  Kim Taylor (R) says she “wants harsher punishments for opioid dealers.”  To be fair to the delegate, that is a common refrain among a lot of politicians.  I have two questions:

  1. The type of opioids that are primarily abused are Schedule I or II drugs. The current statutory penalty for the distribution of Schedule I or II drugs is a sentence of five to 40 years.  For the second conviction, the sentence range is five years to life, with a three-year mandatory minimum sentence.  If the possibility of a 5 to 40-year sentence is not enough of a deterrent, what sentence would you propose?
  2. You have been in the legislature for two years. Why haven’t you introduced a bill to increase the sentence for opioid dealers?

The three top priorities of her Democratic opponent, Kimberly Adams, are

Kimberly Adams (D) Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

“building affordable housing, keeping the community safe from violence and preserving abortion rights.”  Who could argue with building affordable housing and keeping the community safe from violence?  The question I would ask is: What specific actions do you propose to accomplish these goals?  As for abortion rights, she was specific on that.  She supports the current law.

Data to Ponder

According to the websites of the State Compensation Board and the Department of Corrections, the starting salary for a correctional officer or deputy sheriff is $44,100.

Based on information submitted to the Department of Education by local school divisions, the starting salary for teachers in 34 school divisions in school year 2022-2023 was lower than $44,100.

Jeanine’s Memes

From the Bull Elephant

Bacon Meme of the Week

Which Party?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

I was at the Virginia State Fair this morning.

The state Republican Party has this “booth.” It is a good idea. I don’t know if the Democrats have one because I did not walk around the whole area. The Republicans have a good location—right next to the main Commonwealth Pavilion, where there is a lot of foot traffic and there are bathrooms.

I was struck by how many yard signs did not identify the candidate as a Republican. A few did say “Conservative” but left off any party affiliation.

I chatted with the nice guy who was manning the booth. He is chairman of the Westmoreland County Republican Party. He said that he, too, had noticed the lack of party identification on the yard signs. He said he did not understand it and had no explanation for it.

Of the scores of yard signs displayed, only four candidates were willing to admit they were Republicans.

Eternal Betting

by Jon Baliles

Two weeks ago, you probably heard the news about the vote promise scam from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney  and the casino advocates that they would put 2/3 of the annual casino tax revenue towards early childcare for kids in Southside. This week, you might have heard about the press conference that the unions held that said they reached an agreement with the casino advocates that would promise hundreds or thousands of new union jobs and “paths into the middle class” for young people and families.

While it is unconfirmed at this time, there are several rumors going around that in another few weeks that casino advocates will hold a press conference promising eternal life for seniors if they vote for the casino referendum on November 7th.

Who knows, at this rate of promising anything and everything for your vote, the casino advocates might have Oprah in RVA by late October offering new cars for any remaining voters as long as they have a mail-in ballot marked Yes. So, don’t vote too early!

The second casino referendum has become a leveraged buyout of the voters and there is no dollar amount or offer that won’t be matched by the casino advocates to get the referendum across the line the second time around. They have already raised and committed $8 million to buy your vote, and that total will almost certainly go up.

But alas, these and the other yet-to-be-revealed voting scams are just a way to hoodwink voters into believing that the casino will exist to do more good for the community than it will for the owners and investors. Which is clearly not the case. It isn’t the case in Bristol, or Danville, or Portsmouth or any casino in the country. Continue reading

Glenn Youngkin. The GOP’s Red Vest Savior?

by Kerry Dougherty

To properly judge the level of disillusionment after Wednesday’s GOP debate, get a load of this bright red headline on Drudge Thursday:

That teases to a Washington Post opinion piece, “GOP Donors Yearn For a Trump Alternative. They Think They May Have Found One.”

According to Post reporter Robert Costa, high-roller Republican donors are meeting in two weeks at the Cavalier Hotel for a two-day closed meeting dubbed, “Red Vest Retreat.” The well-heeled donors assured the writer that the money is there, the only question is whether the governor is willing to jump in.

Some of the biggest Republican donors in the country will converge next month at the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach for a two-day meeting to rally behind Gov. Glenn Youngkin. The closed gathering, named the “Red Vest Retreat” after the fleece Youngkin wore during his 2021 campaign, will begin Oct. 17 and be focused, officially, on the Republican effort to win full control of the General Assembly in Virginia’s upcoming elections. But unofficially, several donors tell me, it will be an opportunity for them to try to push, if not shove, Youngkin into the Republican presidential race.

It’s worth remembering that the Cavalier is Virginia Beach developer Bruce Thompson’s baby. In 2013, Thompson was Terry McAuliffe’s Hampton Roads finance chair. In 2021 he switched sides, serving as Youngkin’s state campaign finance chief.

The choice of venue for this political retreat is no accident. Continue reading

The Transgender Contagion

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Abigail Shrier

by James A. Bacon

Abigail Shrier deserves a Pulitzer Prize for her 2019 work of journalism, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” She’ll never get the recognition she deserves from the literary establishment, though, because her conclusions transgress some of the holiest orthodoxies in the progressive canon. Despite the outcry that greeted her book, it became a best seller and transformed the way many people think about transgenderism. I am one of them.

Anyone reading the book, as opposed to imbibing the mischaracterizations of her critics, will readily see that Shrier is no “transphobe.” She is highly empathetic to the struggles that transgender people undergo, and she respectfully refers to them by their transgendered names and pronouns. She also acknowledges that gender dysphoria is a real (but exceedingly rare) phenomenon that occurs mainly among boys as young as three or four who believe that their minds and bodies are mismatched.

Shrier is reviled because she regards the unprecedented surge of transgender identity among adolescent girls as a cultural contagion, and she sees “affirmative” practices of hormonal treatment and breast removal as one step removed from medical malpractice. She criticizes teachers, psychiatrists and medical professionals who automatically “affirm” transgender identity rather than inquire about other potential explanations of emotional distress.

One critic described her work as “a fear-filled screed, full of misinformation, biological and medical inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and propaganda.” Perhaps. I’m no expert. But I found her credible.

Virginians can hear Shrier speak for herself when she appears at the University of Virginia October 11, Room 125 of Minor Hall, at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by The Jefferson Council and the Common Sense Society. Register here. Continue reading

Miyares Seeks Dismissal of Suit to Save RGGI

The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative tax compact.

By Steve Haner

Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) is defending the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s decision to exit a multi-state carbon cap and tax compact as within the regulatory agency’s authority. He has also claimed to the circuit court hearing an appeal of that decision that the plaintiffs were not affected by the action directly and thus have no standing to sue.

The four plaintiffs, all associations, filed a 138-page petition in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County in late August. Miyares’ office used just ten pages total for two responses dated September 13.

As is common practice, the Attorney General’s Office requested that the court dismiss the case right away for lack of merit or on the issue of standing or both. It also challenged the plaintiff’s choice of Fairfax County and sought a change of venue.

The issue involves the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which Virginia joined in 2020. The key question facing the court is interpretation of 2020 legislation. Did that statute as written mandate Virginia’s membership in RGGI or did it merely authorize it? Did that statute, which contemplated the Air Board would join RGGI via a regulation, preclude a future Air Board from withdrawing that regulation? Continue reading

DOE Response to Average Teacher Salary Issues

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

My article on average teacher salaries must have struck a nerve. This morning I received an answer to my inquiry from the Department of Education (DOE).

In short, DOE disavows any responsibility for the accuracy of the data in the report it submitted to the General Assembly.

The Office of Communications declares, “All data in the teacher salary survey report is based on data certified by school division superintendents. VDOE staff tries to identify as many of the variances as possible and obtain corrections from school divisions within the time-frame available each fall.” Continue reading

Principles for Virginia’s Energy Future

NOAA data for Virginia, 1900-2020, showing no rising pattern in the number of days with an average high above 95 degrees F.

By Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Energy is our economy. Energy is the basis of wealth and a comfortable life. As Virginia chooses a new set of legislators to wrestle with the old and new energy issues facing the Commonwealth, here is a review of some of the key points the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy has been stressing and writing about over recent years.

Candidates in either party would do well to adopt them. Continue reading

LaRock Launches Senate Write-In Campaign

by Jeanine Martin

A message from Republican Del. Dave LaRock:

“I believe people are tired of Democrats destroying our Country and our communities and trying to run our lives. The people of Senate District 1, me included, deserve to be represented by a reliable conservative, someone who shares their values and can be trusted to represent them well, to serve the people, not the special interests.

“I’m extremely honored to have served the Northern Shenandoah Valley in the House of Delegates for ten years. SD-1 is already losing the influence and experience of Senators Jill Vogel and Mark Obenshain and Delegate Webert.

“If we go forward without the strong conservative voice I bring to the legislature, many conservative leaders are convinced that we are going to miss out on meaningful reforms and see our rights further eroded. Continue reading

Doesn’t Anyone Read These Things To See If They Make Sense?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In preparing my recent article on tax cuts, I was going to include a section on the need for increases in teacher salaries. In researching the issue, I discovered that the Department of Education (DOE) submits to the General Assembly a survey of teacher salaries in Virginia.

I was delighted because that was exactly the type of data I needed. However, as I went through the numbers, I came to the conclusion that I could not use them. There were so many anomalies that I could not trust the numbers. Continue reading

Virginia Conservatives Need Political Infrastructure

By Chris Braunlich

Governor Glenn Youngkin can take satisfaction from passage of the long-delayed Virginia budget.

As my colleague Steve Haner points out, during his term of office Youngkin’s fight to increase the standard deduction will save the average Virginia couple up to $1,265 over three years, provide $900 in tax rebates, and eliminate the state share of the grocery tax (another $115 million in savings last year).

These results reduce taxes for nearly all Virginians from Dollar One.

But there must be some measure of regret at being unable to push through a more robust tax reform of the kind that made North Carolina the number one state for business, a state where the top corporate tax rate is 58 percent lower than in Virginia and the top personal tax rate is nearly 20 percent lower.

In the competition for economic growth, lower taxes attract more businesses, more jobs, and more taxpayers to work at those jobs.  It is at least one reason North Carolina had a net in-migration of nearly 100,000 out-of-state residents. Virginia? Nearly 24,000 more left the Commonwealth for other states than arrived here. Continue reading

Whose Water Is It?

The Rappahannock River. Photo credit: Va. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There are some issues that seem to be baked into public policy and, because they affect sensitive and important areas, tend to lead to controversies periodically.

Many years ago, one of the hottest controversies was the “inter-basin transfer of water.” Because Virginia is a “riparian rights” state, folks who live next to rivers can withdraw water from the river, but are not supposed to divert it to use by other people who do not live on the river. To do so would diminish the water available for those other riparian landowners. The Virginia Supreme Court in the 1942 case of Town of Purcellville v. Potts declared a per se prohibition against inter-basin transfer:

While a riparian owner is entitled to a reasonable use of the water, he has no right to divert it for use beyond his riparian land, and any such diversion and use is an infringement on the rights of the lower riparian proprietors who are thereby deprived of the flow. Such a diversion is an extraordinary and not a reasonable use.

The field of water law is a very complex one and that is as far as I am willing to dip my toe into it. Suffice it to say that inter-basin transfer of water is an important concept. For a more in-depth discussion, see here. Continue reading