Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth
Editor’s note: Paul Goldman, a Richmond attorney and former chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, asked us to publish the letter below, which he sent last week to state Sen. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, a fellow Democrat who serves as president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate. As of today, Sen. Lucas has not responded.
TO: State Senator Louise Lucas
RE: Why Richmond citizens, long concerned about the decrepit, shameful condition of the school facilities serving the city’s overwhelming black and brown public-school students, deserve to be allowed to have a Second Casino Referendum in 2023 as promised them by last year’s budget deal.
I write today not merely because you are the Pro Tempore of the State Senate. Not merely because you are the key to any new Senate action on the Casino issue. But I write today because you and I have long fought hard, against great odds, to remedy the many injustices suffered by the poor children of Virginia from the legacy of segregation. Especially the Black and Brown kids in cities like Portsmouth and Richmond. Continue reading
by Bill O’Keefe
With the two chambers of the General Assembly politically divided, there is no hope for a bipartisan compromise on changing the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Without change, we are stuck with a radical energy policy that will enrich Dominion and leave consumers holding the bag. VCEA will stand as a monument to hubris.
There is one course of action that the Democrat-controlled Senate might be willing to accept, and that is subjecting Dominion’s approach to a “Red Team” review. If the GA can’t agree to do that type of review, the SCC could undertake it on its own.
The “Red Team” concept was developed by the Department of Defense to provide a means to realistically validate the strength and quality of strategies or policies by employing an outside perspective. A Red Team’s review evaluates whether a proposal is robust and complete. The use of red teaming has expanded broadly within government and the private sector.
Dominion and the Democrat Senate are by now so deeply committed to the offshore wind farm and to the VCEA mandates that it is impossible for either to take a fresh, objective look at either.
There are a number of reasons why a “Red Team” analysis is needed. Continue reading
by Chris Saxman
Here’s a General Assembly Retirement Tracker with estimated years of service:
Retirements thus far – 7 Senators and 14 Delegates. Combined years of service? 363. I’m putting the Over/Under at 30 members of the General Assembly and 480 years of service that will not return next year. So far not returning:
Senator Dick Saslaw – 48
Senator Janet Howell – 32
Senator Tommy Norment – 32
Senator John Edwards – 28
Senator Jennifer McClellan – 18 (Congress start date March 7)
Senator Jill Vogel – 16
Senator John Bell – 8
Delegate Ken Plum – 44
Delegate Kathy Byron – 26
Delegate Rob Bell – 22
Delegate James Edmunds – 14
Delegate Margaret Ransone – 14
Delegate Roxann Robinson – 13
Delegate Kathleen Murphy – 9
Delegate Mike Mullin – 8
Delegate Jeff Bourne – 7
Delegate Dawn Adams – 6
Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler – 6
Delegate Wendy Gooditis – 6
Delegate John Avoli – 4
Delegate Tim Anderson – 2
Not included in this list are the nomination battles between sitting incumbents or the incumbents who face challenges in their new districts. Sixteen incumbents face off which will add another eight to the list of non returners and there are five House members plus eleven Senators facing nomination battles. Possibly 24 could be added to the current 21.
Chris Saxman is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates. This column first appeared on his blog, The Intersection, and is republished with permission.
by Kerry Dougherty
Word of warning to Virginia State Senate Democrats: paybacks are hell.
Your gleeful construction of a “brick wall of resistance” to the governor who was elected by the majority of Virginians may come back to crush you.
Maybe not this year. Or next. But eventually you’ll be back where you belong — in the minority — and the GOP will remember what you did in February 2023.
Have you heard?
Earlier this week the Dems flexed their muscles and rejected three of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s appointees. They tried to block the appointment of Bert Ellis to the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors because he arrived on “Grounds” a couple of years ago with a tool that he intended to use to remove the “F*** UVA” sign some snotty, disrespectful undergrad had plastered to her door on the Lawn.
The president of the university should have ripped it down the day it appeared, but he’s far too woke.
Democrats were unsuccessful in trying to boot Ellis. He was approved on a tie vote.
So the UVa board now has at least one member willing to stand up for the values that once were the hallmark of the commonwealth’s flagship university.
One of the Democrats’ dubious successes this week was the sinking of Colin Greene, Youngkin’s pick for Health Commissioner.
“On a party-line vote, the Senate blocked the appointment of Health Commissioner Colin Greene, Virginia’s top public health official, over comments he made downplaying the significance of racism as a driver of health disparities,” reported the Virginia Mercury. Continue reading
by Scott Dreyer
In a bold move, Valley legislator Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt/Roanoke) has called on controversial judge Adrianne Bennett to resign her position.
Bennett was formerly the Chair of the Virginia State Parole Board. During March and April 2020, when most people were distracted if not paralyzed by fear from the new Covid pandemic, Bennett led the Board to release an unprecedented number of prisoners and broke countless laws and procedures by doing so. As news of that scandal began to go public, The Roanoke Star ran an August 19, 2020 commentary.
However, before the news became public, Bennett resigned from the Parole Board and was appointed by the General Assembly to be a state judge in Virginia Beach, a position she still occupies. However, for unknown reasons, Judge Bennett has recently not been hearing cases or presiding over trials. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
The Virginia Senate has voted 24 to 15 to approve SB 842, the so-called “second look” bill. If it becomes law, inmates who have been in prison for 15 years or more could ask to be released, or ask for a reduction in their sentences. Originally, the bill applied to inmates of all types, but it was amended in the Senate Finance Committee to exclude first-degree murderers. Inmates released under second look legislation tend to be murderers (such as second-degree and first-degree murderers), although Oregon’s second look law excludes a few “aggravated” murders.
In 2022, the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate passed an earlier version of the second look bill by a 25 to 15 vote, but it then died in a subcommittee of the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. That earlier bill was broader than this year’s bill in one way (it did not exclude even first-degree murderers such as serial killers) but narrower in another respect (it required inmates to meet specified “behavioral standards” in prison be released, which is not true of SB 842).
This bill faces an uncertain future in the House of Delegates. On the one hand, the bill is supported by many well-funded progressive interest groups with multi-million-dollar budgets, such as the ACLU, and supporters of the bill have massively out-lobbied opponents of the bill. On the other hand, it is opposed by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, which most House Republicans pay attention to. And most Republicans already oppose the bill. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
What do you do if you’re a soft-on-crime Democrat legislator in a no-parole commonwealth?
You get creative.
You find ways around the no-parole law that took effect back in the mid-1990s when Virginia was experiencing a crime wave similar to the one sweeping parts of the commonwealth now.
Democrats in the State Senate are once again trying to circumvent Virginia’s “Truth in Sentencing ” law. You see, it makes them sad to know that violent criminals now serve almost every day of their sentences.
“No fair,” they cry.
First, they elected Democrat governors who appointed self-described “bleeding heart” parole boards that found loopholes in the law that allowed them to spring murderers.
Then, when voters struck back by electing Republicans to top state offices, they began to introduce bills that circumvent the current law.
Meet SB842. The brainchild of Sen. Chap Petersen of Fairfax County. Continue reading