Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Progressive Propaganda: this is egregious even for the GOP

Robert -- We often bring you news from larger states undergoing redistricting like Texas and Georgia. But today we thought you should see this headline from Tennessee:
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Robert -- We often bring you news from larger states undergoing redistricting like Texas and Georgia. But today we thought you should see this headline from Tennessee:

The Tennessean:
"House redistricting to eliminate five Democratic incumbents in urban Tennessee"

FIVE DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENTS in the Tennessee House. The article continues: "The plan... would further solidify the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly and diminish Democratic influence."

Appalling? Yes. And it's a good reminder that what happens in every state matters -- not just for the state's residents, but also on the national level.

Because remember –- states are drawing both state legislative and congressional lines right now. As Vox put it:

The Jefferson Journal: Dominion Removes Reliable Power; Trimmed Energy Costs Still Going Up

The Jefferson Journal
Dominion Trims Clean Energy Conversion Cost
By Removing Reliable Power from Its Plan
By Stephen D. Haner
12/28/2021 -- The projected consumer cost of Dominion Energy Virginia’s conversion to wind and solar power rises steeply in the utility’s latest capital spending plan. Although slightly reduced from earlier estimates, the utility told the State Corporation Commission its residential customers may see prices jump more than 50% by 2030 and 70% by 2035. 
The higher consumer energy costs expected from going “green” became a political talking point during the last election. Another effort is expected in the 2022 General Assembly to revise or repeal the Virginia Clean Economy Act. That 2020 legislation mandated the coming move to wind and solar and the end of fossil fuels, but it passed only narrowly on largely party-line votes.
In 2020, the Commission staff reviewed the company’s capital plan and predicted that by 2030, a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month would pay up to $808 more per year. In this recent review, the projection using the SCC staff assumptions comes out to $733 more per year ($61 per month) by 2030, still a 53% increase above 2020 levels.
What changed? 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Your December 19th Sunday Summary ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
We ended last week urging prayers for the victims of the Kentucky tornados. We begin this week by letting you know how you can help.
Meanwhile …

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

York County District 5 Report - December 2021 by Supervisor Tom Shepperd

Dear Neighbors,

The purpose of the District 5 Report is to keep you up to date on activities
in and around our area. Residents and homeowner associations are encouraged
to share the information with others in their communities. For those who do
not receive the report, I will gladly add you to the distribution list upon
request to either tgshep@cox.net or shepperd@yorkcounty.gov. Please include
your name and address in the request. Comments and questions are always
welcome. You can reach me at the phone numbers and email addresses listed
below my name.* I greatly appreciate your help in disseminating the report
to other residents of our communities.



Thomas G. Shepperd, Jr.
District 5 Representative
York County Board of Supervisors

(C) 757-903-1875
(H) 757-868-8591


........................June 2021 District 5 Report.................

1. Announcements:

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Jefferson Journal: Northam Blinks: Tax Cuts Coming!

The Jefferson Journal
Northam Blinks: Tax Cuts Are Coming.
By Stephen D. Haner
12/14/2021 -- Virginia’s leaders are no longer debating whether to cut state taxes. The argument now will be over how to cut state taxes.
Outgoing Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that his final introduced budget will include $2.1 billion in lower taxes, created by a one-time rebate to all taxpayers, a one-time tax break for certain businesses, and two small changes with long term benefits.
Incoming Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, on the other hand, has proposed a similar one-time tax rebate to all taxpayers. But his other tax proposals are far broader and deeper than Northam’s and will probably require some trimming in parts of the introduced budget coming from Northam. The actual budget proposal is released later this week. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

A Marathon with Hills Ahead ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
Will you join us in a victory lap?
Yesterday, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced his intention to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a “Green New Deal” program that has already raised energy costs on Virginia consumers by $228 million.
Senior Fellow Steve Haner has the story here. He’s been warning about RGGI since 2017, in a multitude of publications.
So, for the Thomas Jefferson Institute, withdrawal from RGGI is a victory. So, too, was November’s death of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), which Steve also warned about and about which we produced this video, warning 30,000 rural Virginians about higher gasoline prices.
Would Glenn Youngkin have pulled out of RGGI without the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s work to educate the public? Knowing Youngkin’s principles, the answer is yes.
But if you believe this is over, you would be mistaken. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Jefferson Journal: Youngkin To Withdraw From RGGI, End Carbon Tax

The Jefferson Journal
Youngkin to Withdraw from RGGI,
End Carbon Tax
By Stephen D. Haner
12/8/2021 -- Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin told a business group audience Wednesday afternoon that he intends to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. His decision came two days after Dominion Energy Virginia filed a petition to increase the RGGI tax on its bills by 83 percent next year. 
“RGGI describes itself as a regional market for carbon,” Youngkin told a meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. “But it is really a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers. It is a bad deal for Virginians. It is a bad deal for business and as governor, I will withdraw us from RGGI by executive action. I promised to lower the cost of living in Virginia and this is just the beginning.”
The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy sought to dissuade the state from joining RGGI and imposing this carbon tax and has reported on the development and imposition of Dominion’s bill added to collect it. We applaud this decision, knowing that Youngkin may face a struggle to implement it. 
Virginia has been part of the interstate tax, cap and trade compact for a year now. Every large electrical generating facility in the state must buy allowances in a multi-state auction equal to the number of tons of carbon dioxide its operations will emit. With the only large fleet of Virginia coal and gas generators, this is basically about Dominion Energy Virginia and its 2.6 million customer accounts.
During the four RGGI allowance auctions held in 2021, Virginia collected about $228 million from the sale of CO2 allowances.  Dominion has been buying them since 2020, but in September of this year added a cost line to all of its customer bills to collect that money back from customers, with interest and even some profit. 
The State Corporation Commission reviewed and approved an initial charge of $2.39 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage, starting this past September, but that was always a backward-looking figure. Allowance costs have been far higher than originally projected by the Governor Ralph Northam administration when it peddled this idea to the General Assembly. The knowing underestimate is also something the Jefferson Institute warned about years ago. 
Looking at the 2021 RGGI allowance costs, on December 6 Dominion sent the SCC its first annual update for the special charge on its bills. It wants to increase that $2.39 per 1,000 kWh to $4.37, an 83 percent jump in just one cycle. Even that may not be enough for Dominion to have fully recovered the cost of RGGI allowances it will have used in its first two years.  
The first auction in 2021 set a price of $7.60 per ton of CO2 emitted, and by the fourth and final 2021 auction last week that has risen to $13 per ton.  Dominion’s new request is based on a projected $10.53 per ton. That won’t cover the full tab going forward and they know it.
All customers pay this tax, of course, not just residential users. All customers of any size pay the same amount, with no volume discount. So $4.37 per kWh represents an even higher percentage of the typical bill for a large industrial or commercial user.  The SCC’s process for reviewing this will have to proceed despite Youngkin’s announcement, which at this point is just a proposal. If he succeeds with the withdrawal, Dominion will likely still recover its costs to that point. 
The previous governor, Terry McAuliffe, started the process of requiring electric utilities to pay for carbon allowances as a proposed air pollution regulation. The General Assembly split on partisan lines on the proposal with Republicans throwing up roadblocks when they had the votes. Once the Democrats won full control in the 2019 election RGGI proceeded.
The 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act and other bills “authorized” the executive branch to participate in RGGI and implement the regulation, but no law mandates that Virginia remain in RGGI and continue to require the allowances. The Memorandum of Understanding behind the interstate compact allows for withdrawal by member states upon notice. Regulations can be amended or appealed within the executive branch. 
Youngkin’s exact plan or timetable for extraction was not detailed. Other laws passed under Governor Northam create broad goals for reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels throughout the Virginia economy, including for power production, and if those transformations take place as planned those higher costs are also coming the way of Virginia consumers. 
First out of the box with a comment today was future Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, praising Youngkin’s decision while also pointing out that Virginia was already reducing its CO2 emissions before any RGGI tax was created.
"When a policy costs the public a significant amount of money for no tangible benefit, that policy should be examined carefully, and if practical, rolled back. Governor-elect Youngkin's announcement is a perfect example of the common-sense decision making we've been missing for the past 8 years," Gilbert wrote. 
Stephen D. Haner is Senior Fellow for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. He may be reached at steve@thomasjeffersoninst.org.
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Monday, December 6, 2021

The Jefferson Journal: Workplace Heat Rule Gets Cold Shoulder

The Jefferson Journal
Workplace Heat Rule Gets Cold Shoulder
                                                             By Stephen D. Haner
12/6/2021 -- Virginia’s Safety and Health Codes Board on Friday voted down a proposed workplace heat protection standard, strongly opposed by the state’s business community but ardently sought by organized labor and farmworker advocates.
The Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) was seeking to push the proposed rules out for a final round of public comments. Abiding by the standard schedule for regulatory adoption would have meant final approval rested with incoming Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin. Perhaps the December 3 vote was an early sign attitudes toward the regulatory state are expected to change. 
As is always the case with these proposals, a massive amount of staff work had been put into preparing the draft standard, including several industry and labor stakeholder groups meeting throughout 2021. According to public comments made before Friday’s votes, those stakeholder groups had divided along similar lines.  
The briefing document for Friday’s meeting exceeds 350 pages, with the actual proposed standard covering pages 177 to 199. The first round of public comments is also reproduced in the document or can be found here. The early, written comments were heavily favorable to the rules, but the oral testimony Friday was dominated by opponents. 
No one disputed the dangers of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and the related risks of working in a hot environment, whether inside or outside. But serious issues are rare. According to the DOLI data, Virginia deaths from work-related heat exposure happen less often than once per year, and industry speakers noted that deaths and injuries have been on the decline as working conditions improve. 
In October, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began its own effort to develop a national workplace standard around heat exposure. Opponents of the Virginia effort suggested Virginia defer to that, to prevent any confusion, but worker advocates complained it will take years to create such a rule at the federal level, if it succeeds at all. 
The proposed Virginia work standard would have been activated whenever the workplace heat index (not just the air temperature) reached 85 degrees Fahrenheit. With modest or high humidity, that could happen well below 85 degrees of air temperature, and for outside workplaces would be common many months in Virginia. The first iteration of the rule kicked in at 80 degrees in heat index. 
When workplaces – inside or out -- are at that ambient heat level, and employees spend 15 minutes or more per hour in the warmth, employers would be required to provide shaded cool-down locations which employees could seek out “when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating.” Once employees went there, the employer had a duty to check on their condition.
After the public hearing but before the vote Friday, a Department of Environmental Quality representative in the room asked about their folks out on boats doing their jobs for long periods. “Are you expecting staff to have shade on the vessel? Or return to shore?” she asked. The meeting was being monitored on a phone line (the visual link was an issue) so her name escaped this listener.
It was probably the sheer impracticality of the proposal that sank it, as various employer groups complained it seemed aimed at protecting farm workers in the sun but had little application to waitresses working out on a patio, repair workers in a welding shop or a truck driver unloading his vehicle.  Yet it was to be basically universal with no industry-specific adjustments.
Dale Bennett of the Virginia Trucking Association told the board that during this pandemic period, some drivers have been told they couldn’t enter the facility where they were making a delivery. That would be the most logical method for a cooling or water break for them. 
At the 85 degree level, employers would be required to provide each worker a full quart of water per hour, at specified water temperatures. Specific periods of time were mandated for new employees, or those returning from a week off, to be “closely observed by a supervisor or designee” while they become acclimated to the warmth. How closely? Observed for what signs?
At 95 degrees of heat index, mandatory rest periods in a cool down area of ten minutes every two hours would supplement the ability of the employee to head there on their own initiative. On those warmest days, a buddy system would be implemented, and additional communication steps required to facilitate everybody being able to contact emergency services. 
The paperwork and training requirements in the rules were extensive. And it ended with prohibitions against any employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee exercising their rights under the rules or “who raises a reasonable concern about heat illness hazards to the employer, the employer's agent, other employees, a government agency, or to the public such as through print, online, social, or any other media.”
Prior to DOLI taking on this task, legislation had been introduced in both the 2020 and 2021 General Assembly sessions. All the bills quickly died before any committee vote on their merits, even as other regulatory matters popular with organized labor were advancing. As has been typical with many new rules, the heat standard bill also created a private right of action for any employee to sue the employer for alleged failures to meet this standard.
A regulation also adds legal liability risk along with compliance risk for employers. But as several business speakers pointed out, they are already highly motivated to prevent workplace injuries or deaths, prodded by their workers’ compensation providers or other regulatory bodies. The “general duty” clause requiring safe workplaces applies to preventing heat issues.
Unraveling the regulatory structure added since Democrats took full control of Virginia government has been a promise from Governor-elect Youngkin. The six-to-five vote Friday (with three board members absent) removed one of the likely targets in advance. 
Stephen D. Haner is Senior Fellow with the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. He may be reached at steve@thomasjeffersoninst.org

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