Column: Virginia Assembly—From Bad to Worse

Column: Virginia Assembly—From Bad to Worse

Last year, our legislators exemplified the ethically-challenged behavior so commonplace in Richmond. Several turned up in France sipping fine wines claiming to be studying uranium mining, all expenses paid by a corporation seeking Assembly approval to mine uranium and make billions. A classic conflict of interest you’d think would be illegal, but not in Virginia!

The 2012 session is now underway. Let’s see how the people’s business is going. One example from the Richmond swamp is Republican males busily writing bills to regulate women’s reproductive health decisions. The latest requires a woman making the painful decision to end a pregnancy to first watch and listen to a description (presumably by a certified Republican) of an ultrasound fetal image before being allowed to have an abortion. Our own Senator Janet Howell, not to be outdone, wants to amend the bill to require men to have intensive rectal exams before getting prescriptions for Viagara!

In a state with a long record of devising all manner of tests to block voting by African-Americans, Republicans seem to be at it again. Despite the fact that there are no known organized efforts at fraudulent voting, Republicans in Virginia (and other states) propose to "protect" the process by creating new hurdles for people attempting to vote. They currently have more than a dozen bills to do so in the hopper in the swamp. In an environment where we continue to experience distressingly low voter participation in elections, the Republicans are working to further depress voting, especially by certain people.

Another non-existent threat being dealt with by the Republicans is the menace of equal rights for gays and lesbians. While they are eligible to fight and die for us in our armed forces (many thousands of whom are stationed right here in Virginia), they certainly should not have the right to marriage or to non-discrimination in employment. Next we can expect Republicans to propose adding sexual preference checks as prerequisites to voting.

It seems the Republicans are out to restrict rights and regulate the behavior of millions of Virginians, but not for everybody. If you like to drink alcohol and carry it in open containers when travelling in your car or truck, that’s OK. And, gun owners it turns out are God’s chosen ones. Watch Republicans writing a boatload of bills to make it easier to obtain, carry, and presumably use more and more deadly firearms. One new one strikes down the outrageous law limiting Virginians to just one new AK-47 per month. Indeed, how can one build a statewide militia if you can’t properly arm them?

And, we run around the world teaching others how to govern!