Monday, August 30, 2021

FOIA Records Issues Subcommittee Meeting -- Agenda

Good Afternoon,

Please see attached for a copy of the proposed agenda for the Records Issues Subcommittee meeting scheduled for Thursday, September 2 at 1:00 pm in Senate Room A of the Pocahontas Building (Richmond, VA). 

The Subcommittee has received and heard extensive public comment at its previous two meetings, and as such, will not be taking oral public comment during Thursday's meeting. You may, however, email written public comments to Any such comments will be posted on our website and will be provided to all Subcommittee members. 

The meeting will be a work group session in which the Subcommittee will discuss the bills before them, keeping in mind prior public testimony, and make any necessary recommendations. 

Please let us know if you have any questions!


Alan Gernhardt, Esq., Executive Director 
Ashley Binns, Esq., Attorney
Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council

900 East Main St., 10th Floor

Richmond, Virginia 23219

(804) 698-1810 

1-866-448-4100 (toll free)

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. Please be advised that any staff advisory opinion delivered by e-mail is based solely upon the facts and information presented in your attached e-mail inquiry.

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NEWS: Statement on Gubernatorial Candidate Glen Youngkin's Tax Proposal

News ... News ... News
 Statement of
Stephen D. Haner
Senior Fellow, State and Local Taxes
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
On Gubernatorial Candidate Glenn Youngkin’s
                                       Tax Proposal
8/30/2021 -- “Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to double the standard deduction that most Virginia income taxpayers use will remove hundreds of thousands of low-income working Virginians from paying state income tax.  This hardly makes their lives tax free, but the income tax was never intended to prove a burden on people earning minimum wage. The federal government gives a working couple a $25,500 standard deduction and moving it to $18,000 in Virginia would be an excellent and overdue reform. For those millions not totally removed from paying income tax, what they continue to pay will be significantly reduced. The lower their income, the more significant the tax cut.
“Virginia’s current $2.6 billion general fund revenue surplus and $400 million transportation revenue surplus were built in large part by tax increases since 2018. After the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act pushed the federal standard deduction so high, millions of Virginians gave up taking state itemized deductions in order to enjoy that higher federal deduction. That one change produced the largest piece of the bonanza of additional state revenue that politicians are now plotting to spend in January. It was a back door, unacknowledged tax hike and it should now be reduced by taking this step with the standard deduction. This is where the money came from so this is how the tax cut should be delivered.
“Changes in sales tax rules, a doubling of the gas tax in much of Virginia, and an unfortunate decision to collect tax on pandemic job-maintenance grants also contributed to the surplus. Youngkin is also correct to end the policy of imposing income tax on the federal Payroll Protection Program and state Rebuild Virginia Grants, something we sought to prevent during the 2021 General Assembly session.” 
Stephen D. Haner

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Your August 29th Sunday Summary ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
“As a direct result of his decisions about Afghanistan, Americans are stranded, our allies are outraged, our reputation is diminished, and the Afghan people have been left once again at the mercy of a cabal of cut-throat tyrants. In response, Biden has insisted that all of this was inevitable, despite his having promised precisely the opposite beforehand….”
-- Charles C.W. Cooke
Meanwhile …
1.) Russell Berman in The Atlantic agrees (here). From the Right, National Review political columnist Jim Geraghty, a former foreign correspondent (and former Thomas Jefferson Institute speaker) has offered daily columns, detailing “What It’s Really Like on the Ground in Kabul” (here) and the Biden Administration’s abandonment of American allies (here). In the same publication, former assistant secretary of defense Bing West observes that on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 the Taliban will fly over the abandoned American Embassy where a bit of the Twin Towers is buried, and asks the question “Who Will Trust Us after Afghanistan” (here). The “Forever War” will still be forever; just larger.
2.) Closer to home, Institute Senior Fellow Steve Haner reports on a lawsuit in Nantucket, Massachusetts challenging the approval of 100 wind turbines (to be followed by 500 more), asking “Could the Vineyard Wind Challenge Impact Dominion’s Virginia Project?” (here). The Thomas Jefferson Institute is part of a loose coalition of organizations challenging windtowers up and down the East Coast due to negative impact on the environment, economy, and ecosystem (here).
3.) Windfarms, along with the Virginia Clean Economy Act and the Transportation and Climate Initiative, will be just part of the discussion at a September 16 in-person and virtual conference hosted by the Jefferson Institute, Virginia Manufacturers Association, and the Virginia Energy Consumer Trust from 9:30 to 11:30 am. To register, click here.
4.) Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control stores reported $1.4 billion in sales last year, an increase of $163 million over the previous year’s record sales. This translates into a $71 million increase into the state General Fund (here), derived largely from higher taxes imposed by Governor Ralph Northam and the General Assembly and creating a $2.6 billion General Fund surplus. The Jefferson Institute, of course has proposed that it be given back in the form of a doubling of the standard deduction (here). It is unlikely the current state leadership will do anything to reduce your taxes, which we suspect will lead to even higher liquor sales next year as taxpayers commiserate.
5.) The statewide Standards of Learning exam results came out last year. Not surprisingly, the scores tanked with a student population that did not have in-person classes. Over at Bacon’s Rebellion, Jim Bacon took a look at the data here, here, and here. In the same publication, John Butcher, who has looked at the data for years, does a deeper dive here. Regaining ground will take years, and those who suffered the worst learning loss were low-income students and those with disabilities. This is precisely why Republican legislators proposed using federal funds to provide grants to help parents help their children. The proposal was opposed by the teachers unions, and a lockstep General Assembly turned it down without debate.
6.) Teachers who disagree with the politics of the teachers union often belong anyway, in order to obtain liability insurance. There are alternatives, and the Thomas Jefferson Institute has re-started a campaign to let those teachers know their choices (here and here).
7.) There is an “ideal” population for each Congressional, State Senate, and House of Delegates District. The decennial census is intended to rebalance those districts more evenly. VPAP helpfully offers you the chance to see if your district needs more people, fewer, or is close to “just right” (here).
8.) “The bulk of the constitutional scholars say it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” said President Biden of his new eviction moratorium. Constitution be damned, he signed it anyway. At that point, unable to spend it fast enough, only $3 billion of a federal $45 billion relief package had gone to renters and the landlords they owe money to. Biden was buying time until the Supreme Court could strike it down (which it did last week). Virginia has one of the most efficient systems for distributing rent assistance, but the vice chair of Charlottesville’s Management Services Corp. says even repeated attempts to connect renters to the money have been unsuccessful (here).
9.) The result means landlords have gone without payments, even as their expenses (repairs, utilities, and taxes) continue. This especially hurts smaller landlords without the resources to drag renters to sign the paperwork – landlords like Raj Sookram, with 13 properties (here), Lincoln Eccles with 14 units (here), or Rebecca and John Faulkner with just one (here). Those of us who grew up in New York recall passing entire apartment buildings owners had abandoned after being crushed between rising costs, rent controls, and other “helpful” government programs. While much is made of renters who may be evicted, there will be even fewer places for them to live if the eviction moratorium were to continue.
10.)               The “conventional wisdom” is that Texas, Florida and Georgia are states run by Republicans advocating white supremacist policies. Then why, asks Tim Carney, at the American Enterprise Institute, when Black Americans have a choice they choose those states over New York, Illinois, and California? (here)
Finally … in a week of horrible news from the other side of the world, a bright note.
Happy Sunday, Everyone.
Sometimes you need to color outside the lines to succeed.

Chris Braunlich
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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Friday, August 27, 2021

Afghanistan: What can YOU do?

Our prayer and action can make a difference!

Tragedy in Afghanistan Grows--We Can Pray and Act.

It's heartbreaking. The most recent news out of Afghanistan is truly heartbreaking. 12 U.S. Service members dead from ISIS-claimed blasts in Kabul.

Although we have shared stories of miracles and God's hand in rescues, the situation is dire and dangerous.

Our prayer is vital. Keep interceding. Here's a guide to help.

Also, it is time to message our elected officials and let them know that we are looking for strength, leadership, and resolve in dealing with the Taliban and Isis. 

Send your message today! And pass this link to others so they can also PRAY and take action.


You may be interested in the webcast on Thursday that featured former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli with insights for prayer about this unfolding situation.

Thanks for praying and acting!

Dave Kubal


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