Author Archives: Dick Hall-Sizemore

A Mean-Spirited Amendment

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The 2021 General Assembly passed legislation that made students who fall into the “DACA” category (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), sometimes called the “Dreamers,” eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia institutions of higher education.

To be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of citizenship or immigration status, an applying student must have:

  1. Attended high school in Virginia for at least two years;
  2. Graduated from high school on or after July 1, 2008; and
  3. Filed Virginia income tax returns ( by the student or parents) for at least two years prior to the college application date.

Out of the funding provided for financial aid to students in higher education institutions in the budget bill it adopted, the General Assembly earmarked $5 million each year for DACA students.

Governor Youngkin submitted a budget amendment that “redirected” that funding to financial assistance for students attending Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Those institutions would be Virginia State in Petersburg and Norfolk State in Norfolk. Continue reading

Continuity in the State Finance Agencies

Stephen Cummings, Secretary of Finance

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The lead story in Tuesday’s  Richmond Times-Dispatch was a curious one. Its headline promised great drama, which was not delivered, and it missed the real story.

The headline, “Retirements Transform State Finance Agencies,” promises great drama. The primary agencies in the Finance Secretariat are the Department of Accounts (DOA), Department of the Treasury (Treasury), Department of Taxation (Tax), and Department of Planning and Budget (DPB). Since January, the directors of three of those agencies (DPB, DOA, and Treasury) have retired. At Tax, the long-time assistant commissioner for tax policy and the chief economist and director of revenue forecasting have retired.

One could speculate over the recent announcement of Manju Ganeriwala (Treasury), after 13 years as agency head and the earlier retirement of David Von Moll (DOA), since they had both been reappointed to their jobs by Youngkin. Why would one retire from a good position after being reappointed? On another level, Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch hinted that John Layman, the revenue forecaster at Tax, had been forced, or at least nudged, into retirement. Continue reading

The Rest of the Story: Other TJ Amicus Briefs

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Asra Q. Nomani recently posted an article listing several organizations that had filed amicus curiae briefs in the case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in which the Fairfax County School Board is appealing a district court’s ruling that the new admissions process for the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology is unconstitutional.

Lest readers of Bacon’s Rebellion get the impression that the School Board is out there all alone in its appeal, I thought a little balance was needed in this discussion. A look at the case file reveals a long list of amici filed on behalf of the school board. In addition to briefs from the United States, fifteen state governments, and several civil rights organizations, e.g. NAACP Legal Defense Fund and ACLU, there are three that are especially worth highlighting:

Asian American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development for Youth and Families — “supports low-income and underserved Asian-Pacific American youth with educational empowerment.” Continue reading

Lab Schools: An Experiment Worth Making

Lab School, Washington, D.C., affiliated with American University

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Governments fund the activities upon which they place priority. Budget is policy. A budget bill is chock full of choices and priorities. Analyzing an entire budget bill would be a long and tedious process, but proposed amendments to a budget provide an opportunity to focus on specific policy choices.

With that in mind, and before it fades too far into our collective memory, it would be beneficial to examine over the course of several articles some of the amendments proposed by Governor Youngkin and their reception by the General Assembly. Because Steve Haner has already discussed the amendments dealing with taxes, I will not include them in this discussion.

One issue that has been the subject of much discussion on this blog has been that of charter schools. A variation of charter schools was one of the primary issues addressed in the budget amendments. Continue reading

A Senseless Fight

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Sometimes I shake my head in dismay at the Democrats in the General Assembly.  They sometimes seem so eager to score points against Governor Youngkin that they end up shooting themselves in the foot.

Current case in point is Budget Amendment No. 9 sent down by the Governor.  Rather than summarize it, I will set in out in full:

  1.  As part of the biennial six-year financial plan required in the provisions of 23.1-306, Code of Virginia, each public four-year institution of higher education, Richard Bland College, and the Virginia Community College System shall include in its six-year plan and amendments to its plan submitted to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) an official commitment and set of policies and practices to support freedom of expression and inquiry, free speech, academic freedom, and diversity of thought.
  2. Each public four-year institution of higher education, Richard Bland College, and the Virginia Community College System shall also submit an annual report on freedom of expression and inquiry, free speech, academic freedom, and diversity of thought to the Secretary of Education, including related incidents and statistics from the prior academic year.

Continue reading

Let’s Get Out of Here

Petersburg Federal Correctional Institution

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that four prisoners escaped from the federal prison complex near Petersburg early Saturday morning.  No details were released on how they escaped.

Undoubtedly, it is important for federal officials to discover how the prisoners escaped and take steps to tighten security.  However, there is another question that is almost as important:  how did it come about that these particular prisoners were housed in that particular facility?

Three of the four had long sentences resulting from their convictions on drug distribution charges (fentanyl, cocaine, or heroin). Also included among the charges were possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of a stolen firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Their sentences ranged from 10 to 16 years.  In summary, these were serious offenders who had shown a tendency toward firearm violence. Continue reading

Picking the Wrong Fight

Buta Biberaj, Loudon County Commonwealth’s Attorney

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

One of the new Commonwealth’s attorneys in Northern Virginia has gotten into serious trouble.  Circuit Court Judge James Plowman, in a highly unusual move, has removed the office of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s attorney Buta Biberaj from the prosecution of a case.

In his order, Judge Plowman said that the prosecutor’s office had entered into a plea deal with a defendant without a “full review of the facts” of the case and was “deliberately misleading the court, and the public, in an effort to ’sell’ the plea agreement for some reason that has yet to be explained.”

Judge James E. Plowman, 20th Judicial Circuit, Loudoun County

In addition to removing and disqualifying Biberaj’s office from prosecution of the case, the judge rejected the plea agreement, appointed the Fauquier County Commonwealth’s attorney to prosecute the case, and recused himself from the case “unless the parties agree otherwise.”

The case involves a 19-year-old man charged with three misdemeanors (two counts of destruction of property and one count of providing false ID to law enforcement) and two felonies (burglaries).  The prosecution recommended a sentence of six months in exchange for guilty pleas. Continue reading

How Many Pieces Did You Say It Will Take To Build This Plant?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There is more good news for the Commonwealth.  As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Governor Youngkin announced on Wednesday that the Lego Group will invest at least $1 billion to build a new manufacturing facility in Chesterfield County.  It would be Lego’s only manufacturing facility in the United States.

The company projected that the 1.7 million square foot plant would create more than 1,700 new jobs over a period of ten years.

The company currently has a manufacturing plant in Mexico, but, because the United States is a key market, the company wants to shorten its supply chain issues and reduce its overall carbon footprint.  Along these lines, the plant will be designed to be “carbon neutral”.  To accomplish this, it will use some offsets.  According to the news report, “The factory will also be paired with a solar park, which will be built by 2025 and generate the energy needed for the plant to run.”  From the news report, it is not clear whether the electricity produced by the solar farm will be used directly by the factory or whether that is one of the offsets. Continue reading

More Legislating Through the Budget

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Since Governor Youngkin was successful in getting into the budget bill a provision establishing a criminal penalty for possession of more than four ounces of marijuana, he apparently has decided to go even  further in using the budget bill as a means to amend the criminal code without having to go through substantive committees.

The Governor’s proposed amendments to the budget bill include three provisions that would expand  existing criminal procedure and provisions related to offenders in prison and create a new felony offense.  None of the provisions has any relationship to state expenditures or revenues, which is the usual subject of the budget bill. Continue reading

The Continuing Transformation of Virginia Politics

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Toscano, David.  Bellwether:  Virginia’s Political Transformation, 2006-2020.  Lanham:  Hamilton Books, 2022

In this book, David Toscano, whose prior work was Fighting Political Gridlock: How States Shape Our Nation and Our Lives (2021), turns his focus on Virginia.  The author is a former Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates (2006-2020) from Charlottesville and served as the House Minority Leader from 2011 to 2018.

The book can be viewed from several perspectives.  At the highest level, it is an analysis of the changes in Virginia’s demographics and corresponding changes in its electoral politics in the first two decades of this century.  On another level, it is partly a political memoir.  Finally, it is an insider’s account of the legislative personalities and process in Virginia.

It needs to be said up front that this is not a nonpartisan account.  Toscano is a liberal Democrat and he does not try to disguise that fact.  He revels in the expansion of Medicaid, Democrats taking control of the House, and the legislation enacted in the 2020 and 2021 Sessions.  However, he does not demonize Republicans.  His attitude is that Republicans’ positions are legitimate and sincerely held, but generally wrong-headed. Continue reading

A History Lesson for the Governor

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In announcing the latest revenue collections (they are high), Governor Youngkin renewed his pitch for tax cuts, commenting, “This report confirms that the time is now to deliver meaningful tax cuts to Virginia families who are getting crushed by five-dollar gas and record-high inflation.”

That statement gave me pause.  “Record-high inflation”?  I am old enough to easily remember the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when mortgage rates were in the mid-teens and, I seem to remember, inflation was high as well.  (I realize that Mr. Youngkin was only 14 years old in 1980, so he probably was not paying attention to such things.)

A little research confirmed my memory.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), inflation peaked in March 1980, with the CPI 14.8 percent higher than it had been 12 months earlier.  Inflation was 11.35 percent for calendar year 1979 and 13.5 percent for calendar 1980.

The BLS data provides additional historical perspective.  During the period of July 1916-November 1918, the inflation factor was 19.1 percent on an annualized basis.  From November 1918-June 1920, it “dropped” to 17.3 percent.  For the 12-month period of March 1946-March 1947, overall prices increased 20.1 percent.  For the 24-month period of Dec. 1972-Dec. 1974, the annualized inflation rate was 10.5 percent.  There was the period in the late 1970’s and early ‘80s already mentioned.  Even as recently as Oct. 1989-Nov. 1990, the inflation rate was 6.3 percent over each 12-month period, not that much lower than today’s current rate.

Today’s price increases are causing hardship for many people.  However, that is no reason for politicians to exaggerate them for their own purposes.

A Proposal to Mitigate Gun Violence

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In an interesting development, one of the so-called “progressive” Virginia prosecutors has identified a direct link between someone committing misdemeanor offenses and later committing violent felony offenses.

The misdemeanor offenses that are predictors are gun offenses. After tracking  violent case histories, Ramin Fatehi, the commonwealth’s attorney for Norfolk, as reported by WAVY TV, “found it was often a pretty straight shot between low-level gun misdemeanors and violent gun felonies.” This applied both to folks pulling the trigger and those being shot.

Fatehi mentioned a number of gun misdemeanors, but said that a leading predictor was carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. In the several examples of violent crimes involving guns that he cited, all the perpetrators or victims had prior gun misdemeanor charges. Some of these charges had been dismissed or set aside. Continue reading

How Governor Youngkin Can Become the Most Popular Governor in History


To: Governor Glenn Youngkin

From: Dick Hall-Sizemore

Here is a sure fire way to become the most popular Governor of Virginia in history. It is two-pronged:

  1. Order all state agencies to eliminate the use of automated phone trees. The citizens of Virginia deserve to be able to talk to a real person when they have a question or need assistance;
  2. Ensure that all agencies have sufficient funding to hire enough people to answer the phones and assist people who call within a reasonable time.

I just tried to call a state agency for an answer to a simple question. I first had to negotiate a phone tree to get a central operator. That person referred me to a division within that agency. Upon calling that division, I had to listen for a minute or so while the automated voice tried to persuade me to deal with the agency on-line. I was then told by that automated voice to stay on the line if none of the on-line options were good for me.  hen another automated voice assured me that my call was very important, but all their agents were busy and I needed to stay on the phone line. The voice said the wait would be about 25 minutes.

25 minutes!!! How is that possible in the middle of a Thursday afternoon in early June?

By the way, it was not DMV or the Virginia Employment Commission.

Commonwealth Set for Major Broadband Expansion

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

One of the issues underlined by the pandemic was the need for all areas of the state to have access to broadband internet. Without access to broadband, kids (and adults) in rural areas cannot take advantage of courses offered online. To the extent that more people will be working remotely, rural areas need access to broadband in order for those people to move there. Broadband accessibility is necessary for almost all businesses and industries and rural areas will need to have such accessibility if they hope to convince private companies to bring new jobs to their areas.

Thanks to federal funding, the Commonwealth is well on its way to achieving universal availability. The source of most of that funding is the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enacted in early 2021 as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to offset the economic effects of the COVID pandemic. In July of last year, the Northam administration and the General Assembly announced an agreement to allocate $700 million of the state’s ARP funding to broadband expansion. Several months later, that amount grew by  $220 million as a result of an allocation from another section of the ARP. Finally, it is expected that Virginia will get $65 million for broadband expansion from the federal infrastructure bill passed last fall. Continue reading


June 6, 78 years ago