Sunday, February 21, 2021

Your February 21st Sunday Summary

Dear Friend of TJI,
In early 1989, we were privileged to be counting the votes in a local canvass for a House of Delegates nomination when one of the counters looked up and said “I have two write-in votes here. Who’s Rush Limbaugh?” On the air for only a few months at that point, it was possibly the last time anyone would utter those words. Limbaugh would not only excel in his field, he would be the one to create it, before FOXNews, before the Internet, before social media. After reading all the commentaries written since last Wednesday, only one expression can come to mind -- and he created that one, too: Ditto. RIP.
Meanwhile …
1.) The House and Senate bills conforming Virginia’s tax code to the federal tax code are not in conformity. Employers who took Payroll Protection Plan grants to keep their employees on the payroll (and off the unemployment rolls) during the pandemic have been told by Congress they won’t be taxed on those loans ... but Governor Northam had a different idea, wanting to grab the state’s six percent off the top – hardly necessary since its now projected the state will get $730 million more than expected over the next two years. 
The Senate disagreed, choosing to exempt the first $100,000 of those loans; the House will only exempt $25,000. Jefferson Institute Senior Fellow Steve Haner has the story here. Conferees have now been appointed: Senators Howell, Barker and Newman in the Senate; Delegates Watts, Torian, and Knight in the House. With four liberals and two conservatives on that conference committee, the only way for the General Assembly to see the light is for them to feel the heat. We laid out the case and encouraged our friends and supporters to fire it up here. It is still not too late.
2.) “Politics makes strange bedfellows,” and a newly-strange one is the alliance between fiscal conservatives and environmentalists over electric vehicle school buses promised school divisions by Dominion Energy Virginia … compliments of their ratepayers. Sponsored by Senator Louise Lucas, SB 1380 was defeated in the House by 34-53, resuscitated through parliamentary maneuver, but has been “passed by” each day since as those willing to spend your money on overpriced buses continue to scramble behind the scenes. “It has become very clear to us who are trying to decarbonize our power and transportation sectors that we cannot do that successfully if we are not mindful of the costs it entails,” said Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center. Common ground, at last. Haner has this story, too, in Bacon’s Rebellion here.
3.) On the other hand, there are limits. If you think its cold now, you could be living in Texas where an overreliance on “decarbonized” energy has led to a deep green freeze and rolling blackouts. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page analyzes the conditions that led to it – conditions that sound suspiciously like Virginia Clean Energy Act and more -- here, here, and here. Fortunately, President Biden is riding to Texas’ rescue with … oil (here).
4.) In any event, it was not a good week for Senator Lucas. Her bill to increase diversity at Virginia’s Governor’s Schools was “passed by indefinitely” (a General Assembly euphemism for “killed”) on the motion of Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, backed by three other Senate Democrats. (here“I can tell you my emails were ... overwhelmingly against it,” Saslaw said of his constituents’ concerns about the potential impact on Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST). “Many of these are parents, many a large percentage who came here as immigrants and have done everything they can to improve their situation, and they consider this bill highly offensive.” The vote puts the Fairfax County School Board (and many other education elites), which recently abandoned an admissions test for TJHSST admission, outside the mainstream.
5.) Nor is it the only place where the General Assembly’s majority has abandoned the needs of parents and children, as the Roanoke Times points out in its editorial “House Democrats Turn Their Backs on Rural Virginia” here. So, too, in new legislation that now assumes Virginia’s schoolchildren may not even get back to in-person classes by September, despite the overwhelming science. Over at Bacon’s Rebellion, Jim Sherlock dissects that bill here.
6.) Perhaps their reluctance to follow the science is because they are too busy following their political benefactors in the teachers union. FOIA requests have revealed how the teachers union is putting themselves over the interests of children by targeting thousands of emails to responsive legislators (here).
7.) That influence will most assuredly grow – not only in the schools but in county and city governments. Collective bargaining is coming to Virginia this May. Alexandria Living reports on the opening shots fired in Alexandria City here. Of particular note: The cost of increased wages and benefits could go as high as $22 million, and have a negative effect on the city’s credit rating. Coming to a county or city near you …
8.) We’ve previously noted how a $15 federal minimum wage would lead to a loss of 1.4 million job (here), a fact which seems not to perturb those who passed that same minimum wage here in Virginia where it will have even greater impact vis a vis surrounding states. But would it help if we mentioned it started as a form of "Jim Crow" law? Jason Reilly notes here that the feds created a minimum wage at the behest of labor unions that excluded blacks as members: “During debates in Congress, lawmakers complained openly about the ‘superabundance’ and ‘large aggregation of Negro labor’ and cited complaints by whites of black Southerners moving north to take jobs.” Among the bits of history the Left will try to re-write will be that one.
9.) The latest COVID-19 rankings: The state now ranks #6 for percentage of Covid-19 vaccines administered (here). The White House Coronavirus State Profile Report as of last week (here), ranks Virginia #10 for highest number of new cases, #5 for highest test positivity, #6 for highest number of admissions per 100 beds, and #38 for highest new deaths per 100,000 residents.   To be clear: On those last four rankings, the higher you rank the worse off you are; while Virginia is improving, other states are improving more.
10.)               Our rankings may have something to do with the state’s administration of health care. In Sussex County, where the health department shut the doors and have kept them closed, “they basically abandoned us” reported one resident (here). Over at Bacon’s Rebellion, Jim Bacon points out the systemic racism of government incompetence (here).
Finally … one last goodbye.
Happy Sunday, Everyone.
… and Happy Anniversary, Eileen!

Chris Braunlich
Support the work of
The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

No comments:

Post a Comment