Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vince Callahan RIP

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Saturday on the death of former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.:

"Cessie and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Vince Callahan. I was fortunate to call Vince a friend and am grateful for the time we spent together in the House of Delegates. A gentleman and statesman, Vince dedicated his life to serving the Commonwealth. In addition to his time in the House of Delegates, Vince held a number of positions of service in the community working to improve the lives of his fellow citizens. Vince's great sense of humor and legislative independence earned him friends on both sides of the aisle. On behalf of the entire House of Delegates, I send my heartfelt condolences, thoughts, and prayers to Vince's wife, Yvonne, and his family during this difficult time."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Statement of House Speaker William J. Howell on Special Session

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Tuesday on the upcoming special session of the General Assembly:

“The General Assembly will convene at Noon on Thursday, September 18 to consider budget legislation, elect judges, and debate Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Throughout the budget stalemate along with other House Republican leaders, I promised to hold a full and fair debate on Medicaid expansion during a separate special session after the budget was passed. I announced in July my intention to do that by reconvening the House this week.

“In order to ensure that every member of the House of Delegates has an opportunity to participate in this debate, I will refer all Medicaid-related bills to the House Committee on Rules. They will be moved to the floor without a specific recommendation. Then, all legislation will be vetted, debated, and acted on through the regular course of business.

“Since January, every member of the House of Delegates has had the opportunity to hear from his or her constituents on this issue. The public has had months to offer input and make their opinions known to legislators. This special session will afford every member the opportunity to represent their constituents and make their own position on this issue very clear.

“This process is completely consistent with what I and other House leaders called for this spring and what we announced in July.

“My position on Medicaid expansion has not changed. Medicaid needs to reformed, not expanded. Virginia cannot count on Washington to foot the bill indefinitely and Virginia taxpayers will eventually be stuck with the tab. Expansion would dramatically change Medicaid from a safety net for the most vulnerable to a government-run, welfare entitlement program at the cost of nearly $2 billion per year.

“House Republicans are committed to reforming Medicaid, improving access to quality health care, and strengthening the safety net. We look forward to continuing to discuss these ideas down the road, but the primary purpose of this session is and always has been to debate Medicaid expansion. We promised the people of Virginia a full and fair debate and that is what they deserve.

“In addition to this important debate, the General Assembly will also act on the bipartisan budget agreement that Governor McAuliffe, Majority Leader Kirk Cox, Chairman Chris Jones, Vice Chairman Steve Landes, the Senate, and I announced yesterday. As I said then, acting sooner rather than later is important for Virginia’s economy and necessary to protect our state’s Triple-A bond rating. The General Assembly will also act to fill vacant judgeships in accordance with our constitutional duty.

“Altogether, the Medicaid expansion debate, the budget, and judges make this special session very necessary. These are all important tasks worthy of our time and attention. Anyone who says otherwise is being counterproductive in an attempt to score political points.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Statement of RPV Chairman Pat Mullins on the 13th Anniversary of 9-11

RPV Chairman Pat Mullins issued the following statement:

"It seems like so very long ago that we all woke up on a beautiful, clear September morning and watched our world change forever. No one who saw that day with their own eyes was ever the same.

"And yet the scars, physical for some, mental for many, and emotional for us all, remain fresh and unchanging. I watched as classmates from Columbia vanished in a flash of tragedy, huddled with an assistant and dear friend as we waited to learn if her husband's meeting at the Pentagon had left her a widow."

"The windows rattled at our Annandale church as the day reached its awful climax, as a memorial service for one of our fallen veterans yielded to the day's events - a funeral on hold as we all waited to see how many more funerals this horror would create."

"Time has passed. Broken buildings have been repaired, and memorials now mark what became hallowed ground, a pilgrimage made by many of us more than once. But the pain of that day will never completely heal, even as the memories of those we lost will never truly be absent. We remember those who left for work but never came home, and those who ran toward the sound of danger, hoping to save lives, only to lose their own. We remember a day when uncommon heroism was common, with thankful hearts and tearful eyes."

"Those who would do us harm sought to destroy the fabric that knits us together as a nation -- what Lincoln called the 'mystic chords of memory.' They sought to hurt us, wound us, and make us weaker. And while they did hurt us, they failed utterly. They made us stronger. For the first time in many of our lives, all differences were set aside. We were neighbors, even if we'd never met before. "

"When the call went out for help, we responded as one. In attempting to destroy us, they reminded us of who we are. They showed us that underneath all of our differences, we are one people, who were and remain ready to answer the calls of our country, our Commonwealth, and our neighbors."

"We are all Americans. And we will always remember. "

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The McDonnell Verdict

Well it is a sad day for Virginia. For the first time in history a Virginia Governor has been convicted of a crime. Of course we still will need to get several more Governors’ convicted to catch up to Maryland, New Jersey and Illinois..

But all jokes aside, it is sad.

No matter your party affiliation, as Virginians we must acknowledge that it is a dark day for our great commonwealth. Our state has been free of corruption since our first settlement in Jamestown.

In addition it is a tragedy for the McDonnell family. I have had the pleasure of talking to Bob and Maureen McDonnell on a number of occasions. I chatted with the Governor a couple times at the Governors mansion, and the first lady even did an interview on my blog. I will admit I have tremendous respect for him. As a public servant he was first rate. As a Governor he was one of the best.

I am sure for years people will second guess the defense strategy of blaming it all on the wife, and will question McDonnell’s decision not to take a plea deal, which reportedly would have had him plead guilty to one felony charge, with his wife not being indicted, and no trial.

The jury has spoken, but I must say I was a little shocked by the decision. It was a weak case based on one witness, who, received immunity from the prosecution on another case. Williams got nothing from McDonnell. McDonnell did nothing for Williams.

But in the wake of their decision I have two concerns. First, will this decision emboldened the Department of Justice to go after other Governors and state officials they don’t like on “corruption” charges? Probably.

It is easy to at least get an indictment. Just look at Rick Perry in Texas. It seems that the Governor vetoed an appropriation that he didn’t like. Hardly an abuse of power, but in this day and age of the public hating politicians almost any grounds to indict or even convict will work.

The second concern I have. Virginia Governors, for that matter all Governors, are supposed to promote their state’s businesses and industries. Well, now might future Virginia Governors avoid any promotion of a Virginia business for fear of a possible indictment from an over zealous federal prosecutor?

My guess is it will always be easy for a prosecutor to find some spurious connection between a business and a Governor who has in the past said a few nice things about the company. Perhaps a cousin worked for the company, a contributor; maybe an executive gave money to the Governors campaign.etc

When you think about it, getting an indictment or even a conviction isn’t that hard. Especially when a politician is the defendant. Juries have no sympathy for politicians.

The McDonnell’s will no doubt appeal. Perhaps justice will prevail after all. And the fact that neither of the McDonnells have criminal records should mean little jail time.