Friday, May 29, 2020

Do as I say, not as I do


You’ve probably heard the age old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”


Typically we hear it from those older than we who are trying to pass on advice while clinging to the adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 


We do not typically hear it from those whom we elect to represent us and govern us. 


But this past week - Governor Northam ordered us to do as he says, not as he does. 


Even though the Governor was caught all over social media last Saturday hamming it up for cheek to cheek selfies with tourists along the Boardwalk in Virginia Beach – without a mask – he’s now mandated that starting today, the rest of us must start wearing masks in public indoor spaces.

He even threw into his new Executive Order the threat of business closures or arrest and up to one year in jail for willful violations of his Order.


The Governor says that the Virginia Department of Health will be enforcing his latest edict, he’s essentially placed the burden of enforcement on business owners across the Commonwealth. These business owners are already struggling from the stifling regulations and restrictions placed on them by the new Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly, and they are fighting for their very survival against the economic toll this pandemic has placed on our economy. 


The Senate Republican leadership called on Northam to rescind his order earlier this week. 


If you want to read his executive order for yourself, click hereThere is an FAQ sheet from the Administration which you can read here.


In other news, I was pleased to join the Virginia Public Access Project’s (VPAP) “What is the future of mail-in voting in Virginia?” Webinar to talk about the exponential increase in absentee voting in our recent municipal elections and what that means for November’s Presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress and countless local elections. 


I’ve always said that elections must be fair, free and open. All three tenants are crucial to maintaining a democracy. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue. 


One of my primary concerns about the expansion of mail-in voting is the lack of attention given to maintaining our voter rolls by election officials in many localities. I guarantee you in cities just like Harrisonburg - with huge college populations - that apartments across the city will receive 20-30 ballots from former tenants. Now hopefully the mailmen will have the sense to return some but it shouldn’t come to that point. On the webinar, even the Director of the National Vote at Home Institute conceded that Virginia lacks essential safeguards necessary to have a fair mail in election. 


We must do a better job maintaining voter records before we even consider further expanding mail-in voting in Virginia. 

You can watch the webinar here.


As a reminder, my legislative office remains open to address constituent questions and concerns surrounding state government.  If we may of service to you, please email me at or call (540) 437-1451.


Have a great week and stay safe!



Mark Obenshain

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Fwd: The Road To Higher Taxes ...

I forward this so that you can open the update on all of the new taxes and increased taxes that the demos passed in the last session.
Just for your information.  Tom F

Subject: The Road To Higher Taxes ...

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Dear Friend,
           Did you know that the newly empowered progressive majority in the Virginia General Assembly passed nearly two dozen changes to the tax code this year?
           All of those changes either raise existing taxes or create new taxes.
           Worse: These are the insidious kinds of taxes A little gas tax here, a cigarette tax there, an entertainment tax over there to go along with your meals tax ... and don't forget a "games of skill tax" and even a plastic bag tax! Very few people know these taxes are coming. And they start taking effect on July 1.
No single tax is overwhelming. But taken together, these taxes point the way down a new road in Virginia. And we believe the public needs to learn about them.
That's why the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy created The Road to Higher Taxes, a brochure explaining all 23 of these tax changes. Some are state-wide; some are regional.
And some authorize local counties to impose new taxes - which means the fight shifts from Richmond to 134 local jurisdictions throughout Virginia. That's why I hope you will re-email this brochure to your friends, family and neighbors.
You can also reprint your own copies and give them out. You can download your copy by clicking here.
This is what you and I are up against now. It is the future of the Old Dominion, and we want Virginians to know where the road is taking us -- and to be ready to fight against what is coming in the next General Assembly session.
We encourage you to download this copy of The Road to Higher Taxes and give it the widest possible circulation.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Chris Braunlich

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Fwd: Jefferson Journal: Enviros Say Only Good Pipeline is a Dead Pipeline

   a  good  decision  after  the read  . . .   tomf

-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy <>
Sent: Thu, May 21, 2020 9:51 am
Subject: Jefferson Journal: Enviros Say Only Good Pipeline is a Dead Pipeline

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The Jefferson Journal

Enviros: Only Good Pipeline is a Dead Pipeline
                                                     By Stephen D. Haner
To the modern environmental movement, natural gas is the Devil's own breath. It must be opposed in every form on every front.
This explains the existential battle being fought over what would otherwise be considered fairly minor capital enhancements to an existing gas pipeline connecting Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Virginia Natural Gas is seeking to increase the capacity of that line with a 6-mile extension to connect to the Transco pipeline near Quantico.
Those six miles are the only new section of pipeline in the Header Improvement Project. Elsewhere, the existing pipeline will see three miles of parallel pipe added to increase capacity in Fauquier County and 14 miles more north and east of Richmond. Three compressor stations are also proposed, one each at the northern and southern ends and one in the middle of the route near Ladysmith. The whole project is priced in at about $345 million.


The objections display hypocrisy. Opponents of the proposed multi-billion dollar Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines have often pointed to the actual or potential capacity of the state's existing lines. Those are sufficient for Virginia's needs, they say. The minor proposed improvements strengthen that argument, and logically should be embraced by those opposed to the mega-projects to the south.
Yet VNG's proposal is drawing the same level of heated opposition as the major projects, with their hundreds of miles of new construction. Even a six mile extension of an old pipeline is a path to perdition.
One reason, of course, is that some of the new capacity is proposed to serve a new natural gas electricity plant planned for Charles City County, just east of Richmond. The merchant generator, not owned by Dominion Energy Virginia, will sell power into the regional electricity market. That, of course, would put it in competition with Dominion's hugely expensive electricity from off-shore wind and far-less reliable electricity from solar panels.  
The dispute sparked a May 11 letter to the State Corporation Commission, which is considering the pipeline expansion application, from a dozen virtue-signaling Democratic state legislators, complaining of "inherent risk to human health, the environment, and ratepayers." They cite fears that with the project in place, seas will rise, droughts will increase, heavy rains will surge (no contradiction noted) and fisheries will disappear.  
Their silliest complaint? Because of COVID-19, there is now too much economic uncertainty, they write. This would be the economic uncertainty caused by the panicked economic lockdown, an economic calamity which they want continued.
The usual suspects are in the case as participants, citing similar concerns: The Southern Environmental Law Center, Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Governor Ralph Northam's Department of Environmental Quality has also weighed in with a series of demands it wants the SCC to impose on Virginia Natural Gas. There appear to be more than 1,000 public comments already on the record, in support and opposition.
Far too many electricity generation assets are held by monopoly utilities. Environmental activists want the maximum opportunity for private individuals or entities to make their own renewable energy, for their own use or for sale. Agreed. Yet, the idea that private enterprise would move forward with an independent fossil fuel plant on the same basis, undeterred by the new carbon taxes the General Assembly has approved, appalls them. This is more hypocrisy.
The real problem here is the key role natural gas will and must play in Virginia's energy future, whether the environmental purists can accept it or not. The same people exploded earlier this month when Dominion Energy Virginia filed an integrated resource plan which stated the obvious: Wind and solar generation will not power our economy by themselves, ever. Dominion also needs to keep its nuclear and natural gas fleets running into the foreseeable future or must import such power from some other state.
Rational Virginians need to cheer that admission from the utility unless they relish periods of cold and dark in their future. The environmental movement, according to Michael Moore's latest film "Plant of the Humans," is funded these days by the investors behind the wind and solar industries. They must fight the gas alternative to the bitter end. The only way to make wind and solar truly viable choices is to denigrate and shut down the cheaper and better alternatives.
Stephen D. Haner is Senior Fellow for State and Local Tax Policy at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. He may be reached at A version of this commentary originally ran in the May 21, 2020 issue of The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. 
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, 7011 Dreams Way Court, Alexandria, VA 22315
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