Sunday, October 25, 2020

Your October 25th Sunday Summary

Dear Friend of TJI,

Democrats are threatening to take away Senator Diane Feinstein’s ranking position on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the egregious act of hugging Chairman Lindsey Graham after the Amy Coney Barrett hearings and thanking him for the way it was conducted … acts once considered simply civil and polite. For them, the Left’s dogma does not live sufficiently loudly within her.

Meanwhile …

1.) The General Assembly’s special “Covid and Cops” session is all but over, with the result that many of their actions make economic recovery harder. Steve Haner, Jefferson Institute Senior Fellow for State and Local Tax Policy has the story here.

2.) On a nearly straight party-line vote, General Assembly Democrats passed a bill (here) prohibiting police for stopping anyone with a broken brake light or missing headlight, among other things. Governor Northam amended it to apply only if both headlights are out at night or all three brake lights are missing (here). Missing headlights on dark and stormy days are to be ignored. Steve Haner observes that it appears okay to masquerade as a motorcycle. To stay safe, perhaps it is best just play by your Mom’s rules: “Don’t go out in the rain and get home before dark.”

3.) The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Patrick Hope, says he didn’t know headlights were in the bill (here). This follows State Senator Jennifer McClellan and Delegate Rip Sullivan admitting they were unaware of changes raising the cost of their Clean Economy law by $2 billion (here). It's an excuse we've heard before (here). While it would be cumbersome for legislators to have to read every bill they vote on, they should at least have to read their own.

4.) Or they could just read the Virginia Public Access Project. It is an incredible and straightforward website, rich with data about elections and public policy in Virginia. Want to know how many people in your county have already voted? Click here. Want to know who is winning the “money race” in this year’s congressional elections (and, by clicking through, who gave it)? Click here. Want to know how much is being spent on political ads, for who, and what they say? Click here. We recommend it.

5.) After a state Inspector General’s report accusing the Parole Board of breaking the law was redacted, Republican leaders insisted on getting unredacted copies and then introduced bills to ensure more transparency … but Democrats killed them in the House and Senate (here). Now, the IG has found more problems with victim and prosecutor notifications … but those reports are redacted, too (here). Why? Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran suggests it’s because GOP leaders dared to make public the last reports. Veteran reporter Robert Zullo, writing in the progressive Virginia Mercury (here), says “Motives shouldn’t matter when it comes to FOIA requests,” and draws a comparison to Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn’s violation of FOIA law for which she was fined (here) – an extremely rare punishment pretty much ignored by the mainstream media. The much more conservative Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star (here) agrees with the Virginia Mercury, which brings together Right and Left and leaves those acting imperiously as they run the state outliers in the public’s right to know.

6.) Have conservatives lost sight of American aspiration? Ryan Streeter, of the American Enterprise Institute, argues we have … and its time to get back toward a politics of the American Dream (here).

7.) The American Dream is inextricably linked to an improving American economy, which is why you’re invited to our presentation on “Post-Election Economic Priorities” with the former Chairman of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors, Kevin Hassett. Offered in co-sponsorship with the National Review Institute, the online program is on Tuesday, November 10, from 7:00 to 7:45 pm. To register, click here.

8.) Last week, we reported that, in another example of censorship, Amazon blocked, without reason, distribution of Shelby and Eli Steele’s new film, What Killed Michael Brown (here). The suspicion by conservatives was that Shelby Steele’s position as a black conservative commentator made him unacceptable to the established orthodoxy. Backlash commenced, and the good news is that Amazon has relented, and you can now rent the film over either Amazon, where it has risen to the top of their list (here). Peaceful protests work; making the work of conservatives profitable to Big Tech works even better.

9.) Kyle Mann, editor-in-chief of Christian conservative satire site The Babylon Bee, observes that the bigger problem is algorithms that can’t distinguish and have no sense of humor, after Facebook demonetized their page for quoting lines from Monty Python (here). After becoming the subject of satire themselves (here), Facebook has now apologized (here). A reminder that not everything is a conspiracy, but sometimes a machine doing the thinking for us.

10.) The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted to allow public employee union organizers into their buildings to recruit. Current law prohibits collective bargaining, but that changes in May and local Boards (and School Boards) will be flooded with efforts to create collective bargaining agreements (which customarily raise the cost of local governments where they have been imposed). Many local supervisors and city councils are unaware this is about to happen. Union lawyers, meanwhile, have likely already written draft collective bargaining agreements. Jim Bacon, over at Bacon's Rebellion, has the story here.

Finally … Ever get the feeling that all the promises sound the same from The Candidates?

Happy Sunday, Everyone.

Go watch What Killed Michael Steele. Or subscribe to The Babylon Bee. Or both.

Chris Braunlich
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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Saturday, October 24, 2020

VPAP Weekly Update

Voter Resources for Elections 2020
VPAP has reimagined our homepage to put our varied election resources in one place. You can find who's on your ballot, see changes in the election results timeline, check out our early voting dashboard and more!
Sign Up: Election Webinar Wednesday
Join VPAP on Zoom Wednesday, October 28 at 2 p.m. for a webinar discussing important changes in the way Virginia will report election results in November.

Jessica Bowman, Chief Deputy Commissioner at the Virginia Department of Elections, will join us to explore the new laws and circumstances surrounding this unprecedented election.
Register Now
Registration is limited to 500 people. By registering now, you'll receive an email with the link on the day of the event. The confirmation email you'll receive upon signing up will have the option to add the webinar to your calendar.
Track Virginia's 1 Million+ Early Votes
More than three times as many early voters have cast their ballot this year than in 2016. By Thursday, 1.7 million Virginians had already voted in the November 3 election.

VPAP's interactive dashboard shows the mix of in-person and mail ballots and provides a snapshot of early voting in each of Virginia's localities.
VPAP's Latest Data Visualizations
Pre-Election Congressional Fundraising
VPAP charts money raised during the first two weeks of October by candidates running in Virginia's 11 Congressional districts.
"House Money" Drives Casino Initiatives
Gaming companies have invested more than $2 million to back Nov. 3 ballot initiatives in four Virginia cities.
Outside Groups Pass on Virginia Senate Race
Partisan and single-interest groups pouring billions of dollars into U.S. Senate races have largely bypassed Virginia's contest.
What We Know About Early Voters
See the age, gender and partisan inclinations of more than 1 million Virginians who have already voted in the November 3 election.
Biden Widens Lead in Virginia Fundraising
In the first two weeks of October, Democrat Joe Biden raised nearly $2.5 million from individuals with Virginia addresses. President Donald Trump reported $974,000.
Business Giving On Hold
Off-year giving by many business-related PACs to General Assembly members is down sharply through the first three quarters of 2020. VPAP shows PACs that gave at least $20,000 to legislators in the first nine months of 2018 and what their giving looks like this year.
Two Top 10 Lists: Local Candidates
What is considered a big pile of campaign cash is situational. That's why we made two lists, separated by population size, to rank candidates for local office who raised the most money last month.
VPAP on the Radio
This week's topics:
1. Amish Community Asks Richmond County to Allow Outhouses
2. Stafford County Considers Privatizing its Libraries

Each week, VPAP and RadioIQ team up to bring you a pair of human interest stories culled from the headlines of VaNews. The segments are produced by WVTF in Roanoke and carried on public radio stations across the Commonwealth.
Weekly Lobbyist Registrations
VPAP has posted 14 lobbyist registrations filed with the Virginia Ethics Council since last week.

12 New
2 Renewals

Invest in Transparency
VPAP is independent, nonpartisan voice that elevates public understanding of Virginia government and politics. Join the more than 1,400 individuals and businesses that support our work.
Donate Today!
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