Virginia political news

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Ballot news from Virginia.



Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Honored with November Lilburne Award

John Lilburne

LAKE RIDGE, Virginia: Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with the November 2009 John Lilburne Award. Governor Schwarzenegger is being honored for vetoing four bills from the California Assembly and Senate during the 2009 session that would have restricted the initiative process in the state.

“The initiative process in California regularly comes under attack by the political bureaucracy, special interests and a misinformed media; but 2009 has seen a marked increase in these attacks.” said Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge Foundation. “Despite the attacks and attempts by politicians to restrict the initiative process, Governor Schwarzenegger defended the rights of those who elected him to serve them– the citizens of California.”

The bills that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed were Assembly Bills 6, 436, and 1068, as well as Senate Bill 34. Each bill represented a different restriction on the initiative process.

The three Assembly bills Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed would have made the initiative process in California much more difficult through additional fees and regulation. The Senate bill he vetoed was a ban on paying signature gatherers per signature, which would have made the process of getting a measure on the statewide ballot more difficult for the average citizen.

“It is important to have leaders like Governor Schwarzenegger who defend the initiative process,” adds Jacob. “Attempts to restrict the process will continue, and it’s good to know the people of California have a Governor willing to protect their right to an open and accessible process to petition their government.”

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans. John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse.


David Schlegel Honored with September Lilburne Award

John Lilburne

Lake Ridge, Virginia:

Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Auburn, New York citizen David Schlegel with the September 2009 John Lilburne Award. Mr. Schlegel is being recognized for standing up for the rights of citizens and actively pressuring his state representatives to enact a statewide process of initiative and referendum.

“Thank goodness for David Schlegel,” said Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge Foundation. “Schlegel and others like him all across America are working to re-connect government with the people by bringing initiative and referendum rights to their state.”

Earlier this year, David Schlegel wrote to his state representative and state senator asking for their positions on initiative and referendum. Neither legislator even bothered to respond. But that didn’t stop Schlegel, who brought his message to a wider New York audience by publishing opinion pieces in a local media outlet, calling out his so-called representatives and urging his fellow citizens to engage their representatives and press for initiative and referendum rights.

“That Mr. Schlegel’s representatives have refused to even respond simply dramatizes the sad state of our politics,” Jacob said. “But serious reformers like Schlegel won’t stop until New York citizens are back in charge of their government.”

The Lilburne Award specifically recognizes David Schlegel for his active pursuit of initiative and referendum rights and his commitment to spreading the message to other citizens.

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans. John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse.



Virginia Gubernatorial debate centers around taxes

RICHMOND, Virginia: The Virginia gubernatorial election is less than 4 months away and with difficult financial times front-runners Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds and Republican former Attorney General Bob McDonnell are facing questions on taxes. This month McDonnell voiced his support for reducing government control from the business sector. McDonnell said,"As Republicans, we believe you create jobs by keeping taxes and regulation low, and litigation at a minimum. Americans succeed when government puts in place positive policies that encourage more freedom, and more opportunity."[1] On the other hand, Deeds said that he would support legislation boosting "revenues" for transportation, but never explicitly stated that he would support increasing/decreasing "taxes."[2] Some Virginia officials, however, said that in order to continue maintenance of streets and other state infrastructures, taxes will have to be raised.[3]


John Fund wins John Lilburne Award for August

John Lilburne

Lake Ridge, Virginia: Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund with the August 2009 John Lilburne Award. Mr. Fund is being recognized for standing up for the rights of citizens and defending the initiative process from attacks.

In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal entitled, “California is Still Not Out of Its Budget Hole,” Fund defended California’s initiative and referendum process, and proposed more citizen-led reform as part of the solution to California’s budget problems.

“John Fund has been a tremendous supporter of citizen action and the initiative and referendum process,” said Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge Foundation. “Since voters defeated the five legislative measures at the ballot box May 19th, California’s initiative and referendum process has increasingly come under attack. Mr. Fund has strongly and consistently reminded people how important the right to initiative and referendum really is.”

In addition to defending the process in print, Mr. Fund also spoke at the recent American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Meeting. In several addresses, Fund underscored the importance of the initiative and referendum process throughout the country.

John Fund is a columnist and author of numerous books. In addition to the Wall Street Journal, he also writes for the WSJ Political Diary and the American Spectator. His columns have appeared in numerous other publications including: National Review, Esquire, Reason and The New Republic.

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans. John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse.



Judge rules against housing referendum in Virginia

ARLINGTON, Virginia: On June 30, 2009, Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick ruled that the proposal for an Arlington housing and redevelopment authority did not meet legal requirements to get on the ballot. The issue is likely to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, mainly because backers of the proposal did in fact get enough petition signatures to bring the measure to the voters. Unfortunately, around the same time the Virginia General Assembly changed the rules, most importantly requiring significantly more signatures in support of a referendum and limiting them to once every five years in a community.

Backers of the measure (supported in court by John Reeder) said the old rules should apply, noting that the new legislation didn't go into effect until after the petition was certified by county authorities. The county attorney's office (represented by Stephen MacIsaac) argued that the date of the actual election was the key factor, not the date the signatures were certified; Kendrick agreed with the latter.[4]


Virginia housing-authority referendum encounters difficulty

ARLINGTON, Virginia: A fall referendum calling for the establishment of a redevelopment and housing authority to be activated in Arlington County has been met by court officials with accusations of possible illegality. County attorney Stephen MacIsaac said that despite the fact that supporters met the requirements for a referendum when they submitted signatures, their petition does not satisfy new regulations put in place by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year.

MacIsaac said the referendum "appears to be unlawful based on the plain language [of the amended Code of Virginia]...which prohibits a referendum being held within five years of the November 2008 referendum. If this is so, the court would be without authority to order a referendum."[5] The new legislation does more than add a five-year waiting period between referendums; it also greatly increases the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot. The old rule called for 100 signatures, but now about 30 times as many as that are required.

If the initiative does indeed get on the ballot and is passed, an independent governmental unit (called a "housing authority") separate from the county government would be set up. Specific criteria for the creation of such an institution include "the elimination of blight and redevelopment of blighted areas, the prevention of further deterioration and blight, and the promotion of the availability of affordable housing for all citizens of the Commonwealth and in particular to provide safe, decent, and sanitary housing for those citizens with low or moderate incomes." Despite these responsibilities, the housing authority would have no access to new sources of revenue or financing. Instead, it would have more direct involvment in operating and managing rental housing. The exact differences, however, remain ambiguous, even to legislators.[6]


References

  1. WDBJ7,"McDonnell wants government to step back, Deeds wants tax credits for businesses," August 9, 2009
  2. The Washington Examiner,"Va. Dem gubernatorial candidate would back new roads 'revenues' bill, but offers no details," August 13, 2009
  3. The Washington Post,"It's Time for Deeds to Step Up to the Plate on a Tax Increase," August 9, 2009
  4. The Sun Gazette, "Judge Rules Against Housing Referendum," July 1, 2009
  5. The Sun Gazette, "Court Showdown Set on Housing-Authority Referendum," June 28, 2009
  6. "Arlington, Virginia Housing Authority Referendum," April 3, 2009