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Skepticism persists over new admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School

May 18, 2021

BY ANUJ KHEMKA / For InsideNoVa May 18, 2021

Krish Bommakanti spent two years preparing to apply to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.  Costly test prep courses and countless hours of studying would be worth it if it meant admission to the top-ranked public high school in the nation. 

But on Nov. 9, the Fairfax County School Board moved to remove the standardized test that students work so tirelessly to ace. Weeks later, the board decided that socioeconomic status and region would factor into the admission process. 

“The changes are a bit disheartening because I spent a lot of time preparing for the actual standardized test,” said Bommakanti, an eighth-grader at Longfellow Middle School in the Falls Church area.

As Thomas Jefferson – a magnet school attended by students from across Northern Virginia – prepares to offer admission to the first class selected under the new guidelines, community members and policy-makers continue to be skeptical of the changes. 

From June through December last year, factions of parents, alumni and policy-makers fiercely debated the merit of proposed changes to TJ’s admissions process. As dual advocacy groups – the Coalition for TJ and the TJ Alumni Action Group – formed, spirited protests took place on campus, infighting emerged within school Facebook groups and once-mundane Parent Teacher Student Association meetings became tense battlegrounds. 

And the School Board’s decision Dec. 17 to transition to a holistic review system didn’t end the doubt and division.

The parent-led Coalition for TJ, for example, filed a lawsuit in December to combat the removal of a standardized test and launched another case March 10 aimed at admissions criteria that take into account region and socioeconomic status. Both cases currently await hearings in court. 

Meanwhile, both prospective and current students also hold reservations about the changes. In previous years, admissions officers used a combination of teacher recommendations, grade-point average, the standardized test and four timed short essays to evaluate applicants. With the School Board’s decision, teacher recommendations and the standardized test have been removed from the mix, although the timed essays remain. 

“I think standardized tests do well to show where you rank among your peers. Implementing one is a good way of determining a hierarchy,” Bommakanti said. 

However, eighth-graders Dhruv Chandna and Daniel Campos – both of whom also took test prep courses in anticipation of applying to TJ – approve of the change. Chandna attends Robert Frost Middle School, while Campos goes to Luther Jackson Middle School. 

“I like the way they did it, and I think it will improve diversity,” Chandna said. Test prep classes are expensive, he noted.  “Some people don’t have that money, so it’s very hard for them to get into TJ.”

In place of the tests and teacher recommendations, students’ socioeconomic status and other so-called “experience factors” will now be taken into account. It’s here, however, that Campos believes the School Board made a mistake. 

“Why would you need [to consider] socioeconomic status?” Campos said. “The most important thing is the student, and if they’re going to excel at the school. I don’t think their background and how much money their family has has anything to do with it. It should be based on the student’s capacity and knowledge.”

However, TJ senior Dinan Elsyad, one of the few Black students who attend the school, worries that the School Board did not go far enough in this aspect, even though she acknowledges that legally race cannot be a factor in the decision.  

“The process itself doesn’t really take into account the inequities that come along with a specific race that you’re a part of,” Elsyad added. “I went to a wealthy middle school. I am not part of a lower socioeconomic status group. Technically, I shouldn’t have had issues, but I was harassed by several teachers during my middle school years just because of my race.” 

One of the most significant changes to the TJ admissions process is the implementation of individual-school quotas. At a minimum, the number of students admitted from each public middle school will be equivalent to 1.5% of their eighth-grade student population. For example, a middle school with 800 eighth-graders would send a minimum of 12 students to TJ, assuming that at least 12 eighth-graders out of the 800 choose to apply. The county has 23 public middle schools, with student populations as high as 1,500. In total, 550 prospective students will be offered seats at TJ for the fall. 

The change seeks to correct a longstanding lack of geographical diversity at the school. More than half of the students admitted to TJ’s Class of 2019, for example, came from just five of the public middle schools in Fairfax. 

“There was concern that TJ didn’t reflect geographic diversity in our county – that we were disproportionately drawing from certain middle schools,” School Board member Megan McLaughlin said. “By these changes, going school by school, we will certainly see improved access to TJ for students who are dealing with poverty.” 

During the 2019-20 school year, just 2.4% of TJ students qualified for free or reduced lunch. Countywide, the percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch stood much higher, at 32%. 

However, McLaughlin believes that the individual-school quotas may underrepresent students at Advanced Academic Program centers as well as students at known feeder schools into TJ – where families often move to increase their children’s chances of admission to the magnet school. 

“Students at AAP centers are getting the same number of allocated admission seats at TJ as all of the other middle schools. This gives me pause,” McLaughlin said. 

Having completed their timed essays in March, TJ’s newest applicants now wait anxiously for their results, expected in June.  For many, the prevailing question is whether the changes will solve the issues that they sought to address in the first place. 

“We just have to wait and see,” Elsyad said. 

Anuj Khemka is a junior at Thomas Jefferson, where he is the online editor-in-chief of the student news outlet tjTODAY. 

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to Mississippi abortion law

May 17, 2021

May 17 | Fox News

State’s ban had been blocked by lower courts as inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider a major rollback of abortion rights, saying it will decide whether states can ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

The court’s order sets up a showdown over abortion, probably in the fall, with a more conservative court seemingly ready to dramatically alter nearly 50 years of rulings on abortion rights.

The court first announced a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and reaffirmed it 19 years later.

The case involves a Mississippi law that would prohibit abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. The state’s ban had been blocked by lower courts as inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent that protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion before the fetus can survive outside her womb.

The justices had put off action on the case for several months. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an abortion-rights proponent, died just before the court’s new term began in October. Her replacement, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, is the most open opponent of abortion rights to join the court in decades.  

Barrett is one of three appointees of former President Donald Trump on the Supreme Court. The other two, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, voted in dissent last year to allow Louisiana to enforce restrictions on doctors that could have closed two of the state’s three abortion clinics.

Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Ginsburg and the other three liberal justices, said the restrictions were virtually identical to a Texas law the court struck down in 2016.

But that majority no longer exists, even if Roberts, hardly an abortion-rights supporter in his more than 15 years on the court, sides with the more liberal justices.

The Mississippi law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked after a federal court challenge. The state’s only abortion clinic remains open. The owner has said the clinic does abortions up to 16 weeks.

The case is separate from a fight over laws enacted by Mississippi and other states that would ban most abortions as early as six weeks — when a fetal heartbeat may be detected.

A central question in the case is about viability — whether a fetus can survive outside the woman at 15 weeks. The clinic presented evidence that viability is impossible at 15 weeks, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the state “conceded that it had identified no medical evidence that a fetus would be viable at 15 weeks.”  

The Mississippi law would allow exceptions to the 15-week ban in cases of medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality. Doctors found in violation of the ban would face mandatory suspension or revocation of their medical license.

Obenshain Calls on Governor Northam to Fully Lift Statewide Mask Mandate

May 14, 2021

CONTACT:  Connor Smith

PHONE: (904) 235-3562

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement in response to Governor Northam’s limited modifications to his statewide mask mandate lifting it in some circumstances and only for those adults who are fully vaccinated.

“At this point, everyone in Virginia has had an opportunity to sign up for a vaccination. Virginians can be trusted to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a mask.”

“States like Texas and Florida lifted their mask mandates and reopened their states nearly 3 months ago – after their states’ most vulnerable citizens had an opportunity to secure vaccinations. And they did it without experiencing the surge predicted by the liberal political class and pundits. We need to quit succumbing to crazy pseudo-science and the political weaponization of COVID.”

“Common sense, experience, and science have converged here, yet Governor Northam has persisted in his stubborn refusal to adopt anything but half measures. I am calling on the Governor to end the mask mandate in its entirety, to trust Virginians to make the right choices for themselves and their families.”

“Remember that the mandate covers anyone 5 years or older. Lifting the mask mandate for only those who have been vaccinated still leaves it in place for 5-year-olds, despite a total lack of science to support masking kindergarteners – or at least they would be kindergarteners if the Governor would reopen schools.  The Governor should lift the mask mandate, in its entirety, and proceed to reopen Virginia – now.”

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Senator Obenshain’s Endorsements

May 7, 2021

Wondering who Senator Obenshain has endorsed for the 2021 Republican Party of Virginia Nominating Convention? Check out below!

Governor: Pete Snyder

Suzanne and I have known Pete and Burson for a long time. I was proud to serve on the board of the organization they founded last year to help struggling small businesses called VA30 Fund.

Pete’s a successful business owner himself and has what it takes to beat the Democrats in November. Find out more about Pete at www.PeteSnyder.com

Lieutenant Governor: Tim Hugo

Honorable Tim Hugo | The Livingston Group, L.L.C.

Tim has been a conservative anchor in bluer and bluer Northern Virginia for years and he’s never wavered in his conservative ideals. He’s exactly who we need presiding over our Senate and standing up for the Republican Party. Find out more about Tim at www.TimHugo.com

Attorney General: Jason Miyares

Jason Miyares - Wikipedia

Jason is the proven Conservative we need as our next Attorney General. He has worked to put criminals behind bars, protected our 2A rights & will bring accountability to our elections. Join me in voting for Jason Miyares on 5/8. Find out more about Jason at www.jasonmiyares.com

2021 Republican Party of Virginia Nominating Convention

April 29, 2021

Wondering where to vote next Saturday, May 8 for the Republican Party of Virginia Nominating Convention? See below for more info!

You will be voting for the following offices:

  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General

Polls are open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

If you live in Harrisonburg City or Rockingham County, you vote at:

Augusta County Parks and Rec

18 Gov Center Lane

Verona, VA 24482

If you live in Page, Shenandoah, or Warren County, you vote at:

Shenandoah County Fairgrounds

300 Fairground Road

Woodstock, VA 22664

If you live in Rappahannock County, you vote at:

Madison County High School

68 Mountaineer Lane

Madison, VA 22727

Editorial: Thorough review of parole board events needed

April 28, 2021

By THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT & DAILY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT |APR 27, 2021 AT 6:15 PM

It’s been evident for months that a thorough, transparent investigation into the actions and procedures of the Virginia Parole Board is not only warranted, but necessary to ensure public confidence in that agency.

How to conduct such an inquiry focused on public safety without it devolving into partisan, political grandstanding is less certain. But given the need for clarity over how the board made its decisions, with an eye toward clarifying procedures going forward, Virginia officials should find a workable solution.ADVERTISING

The parole board is accused of a host of errors in its decisions last year to grant parole to several individuals convicted of violent felonies. A report by the Office of the State Inspector General found the board did not follow state law in notifying victims’ families or prosecutors, and did not keep accurate minutes of its meetings, among other missteps.

That controversy, already simmering, reached a boil when the OSIG released a report about the matter that was so heavily redacted that it was all but unreadable. Instead of transparency and insight into what happened, the public received pages of blacked-out text.

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Predictably, that only raised more questions and gave voice to calls by Republican lawmakers that the Northam administration was covering for the parole board. Those calls grew louder with release of an earlier draft of the report, this time unredacted, which leveled new accusations against members of the board.

The draft report and recording of an August meeting involving State Inspector General Michael Westfall and members of the governor’s staff were leaked to the media, drawing the administration’s ire. Northam then proposed a budget amendment to conduct an investigation, but was narrow in scope to only include the OSIG’s review and not the parole board’s action.

Lawmakers approved that measure earlier this month and the office of Attorney General Mark Herring announced Saturday that Nixon Peabody LLP had been hired to conduct the inquiry. That work should be illuminating but will not deal with the more pressing public concern — the parole board’s conduct.

Prominent Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment, Jr. of James City County, last week called on House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke to convene a special session to appoint a bipartisan commission of lawmakers to investigate.

The question, of course, is whether this is a matter of political posturing or a genuine attempt to improve the policies and practices of the parole board.

So long as Virginia has a system of parole, decisions about who to release will be subject to disagreement. Some of those under consideration have committed abhorrent acts which must be weighed against their conduct in prison and the potential to make meaningful contributions to society following release.

If the question before Virginia is whether existing policies are functional and adequate, whether the board it operating as intended or whether the proper protocols are in place, then an inquiry into this subject can be a productive undertaking. It can lend confidence to the board’s decisions and the justice system in general.

Similarly, an examination of the OSIG might return useful information as well. That office was created less than a decade ago and there are still doubts about the effectiveness of consolidating the various inspector generals in the executive branch under one umbrella.

But if this is simply an exercise driven by retribution and partisanship — by the administration against the OSIG or by Republicans against the governor — then Virginia needn’t bother.

These are serious policy questions deserving of serious answers. If a bipartisan investigation can provide them, let it be launched quickly.

2021 Bad Bill List

April 27, 2021

Every wonder what elected officials and political candidates mean when they boldly claim that “elections have consequences”?

Well, here’s the truth folks: election do have consequences. If you don’t believe me, just peruse the list of bills below introduced by the liberal majority in Richmond.

Some passed, some didn’t, but all are damaging to our Commonwealth.

HB2263 | Status: Passed Abolishes death penalty

HB1904 | Status: Passed This bill requires teachers and principals to include evaluations of their respective “cultural competency.” Not only is “cultural competence” subjective in nature, this just creates more top down regulations to which teachers have to adhere.

HB2074 | Status: Defeated Creates the Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group and charges every state agency with developing a plan to “further environmental justice in the Commonwealth.” This will create more red tape for state agencies.

HB2250 | Status: Passed Prohibits the testing of cosmetics on animals. Prohibits sale of cosmetics manufactured using animal testing. This is just more regulations on businesses.

HB2295 | Status: Passed 2A bill – no guns in Capitol Square or any building that the Commonwealth leases. More attempts by the Democrats to limit gun possession.

HB2123 | Status: Passed Immigration bill – opens state aid for undocumented. This further increases rights for undocumented making Virginia more and more of a sanctuary state. 

HB2312 | Status: Passed Legalizes marijuana

HB2331 | Status: Defeated Liberal criminal justice bill – eliminates mandatory minimums. This is bad for victims. 

HJ555 | Status: Passed Liberal criminal justice bill – felons getting right to vote. 

HB1902 | Status: Passed Bans styrofoam from restaurants. This will hurt our restaurants in the long run with increased costs, etc. 

HB1992 | Status: Passed 2A bill – Convicted assault and battery felon can’t buy a gun. This is a lifetime ban, but it does have a process for getting the rights back, but it is also the first time a constitutional right is being restricted upon conviction of a misdemeanor.  We are restoring the right to vote for all felons automatically, but under this bill if you get in a shoving match with your college roommate, and are convicted of misdemeanor assault, you may be banned for the rest of your life from possession a firearm

HB2040 | Status: Passed Codifies Governor’s Executive Order allowing unemployment recipients to continue to receive benefits during their appeals process to determine eligibility. It waives any overpayments due to extensions of benefits during appeals process that is eventually denied or due to administrative error by VEC. Worth noting that there was $41 million paid to inmates in Virginia’s prisons and jails).

HB2130 | Status: Passed Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board established.

HB2262 | Status: Passed This bill expands rights of bicyclists and will cause safety problems particularly in allowing bicyclists to ride two abreast. 

HJ537 | Status: Passed Cancel culture bill – defines racism as public health crisis. 

SB1097 | Status: Passed Elections bill – removes witness sig for absentee ballots, making it easier for voter fraud to occur. 

SB1157 | Status: Passed Moves local elections to November making what should be nonpartisan, local issues focused candidacies hyper-partisan.

SB1261 | Status: Passed Court packing bill that expands the Court of Appeals from 11 to 17, allowing more left-leaning influence on the Court of Appeals. 

SB1276 | Status: Passed -Removes prohibition on abortion as an essential health benefit, significantly expanding access to abortion in Virginia.

Senator Obenshain Calls on Governor and NCAA to Relax Restrictions for College Football Games in the Commonwealth

April 21, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Obenshain Calls on Governor and NCAA to Relax Restrictions for College Football Games in the Commonwealth

Restrictions Should be Amended in time for VMI v. JMU College Playoff Game this Weekend

HARRISONBURG, VA  – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham), issued the following statement regarding this weekend’s upcoming VMI v. JMU College Football Playoff game in Harrisonburg and the current restrictions with regard to attendance. 

“This weekend is a very exciting one for athletics in Virginia.  VMI will be playing in its first ever college football play-off game against JMU in the first round of the FCS College Playoffs.  Unfortunately, due to the Governor’s current edicts on capacity for outdoor sporting venues, and the more stringent restrictions set by the NCAA, very few fans from either school will even be able to attend this game.”

Governor Northam, via his fourth version of EO 72, limits attendance at outdoor sporting venues to 30% of stadium capacity. Furthermore, the NCAA is even more strict with a limit for football stadiums at 25% capacity.  The capacity of Bridgeforth Stadium at JMU is 25,000; and because of these limitations, only about 6,000 fans will be permitted to attend.

“I have strong ties to both great schools and I just want more fans from both schools to be able to show support. My grandfather was a member of the VMI Class of 1930, JMU is in my Senate district, where I was also a tuition-paying parent.  Invoking the same spirt that led Governor Mark Warner to fight for Virginia Tech to join UVA as a member of the ACC, I call on the Governor to go to bat today for JMU and VMI and to get more fans of both schools seated in that stadium on Saturday. The players have earned it.  They deserve to have more fans there to cheer them on in this game.  The Governor is a doctor and he knows it can be done safely! Maybe JMU even can find it in their hearts to allocate another great Virginia institution — VMI – a few more than 500 tickets it has been allocated out of the more 6,000 available.”

Obenshain concluded, “I call on the Governor, a graduate of VMI, to immediately loosen his arbitrary capacity restrictions for outdoor sporting venues.  Moreover, the NCAA has no business setting capacity restrictions in Virginia’s stadiums.  Nor should their limits be more restrictive that those established by state health officials.  Relax the limits and let more fans of both teams attend the game on Saturday! The players and fans deserve it.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Senate of Virginia. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page Rappahannock and Rockingham (part). 

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Shenandoah County supervisors could consider letter opposing LFCC name change

April 16, 2021

By Brad Fauber The Northern Virginia Daily | Apr 16, 2021

Shenandoah County’s Board of Supervisors could soon consider whether or not to issue a letter in opposition to the decision made by Lord Fairfax Community College leadership earlier this year to change the Frederick County school’s name.

Supervisors briefly discussed the topic during Tuesday’s meeting, with District 5 Supervisor Dennis Morris suggesting they invite LFCC President Kim Blosser to their next meeting on April 27 to further discuss the name-change decision. Morris stated on Tuesday that Blosser had offered to meet with Shenandoah County supervisors to answer any questions they may have.

A vote on whether to issue a letter in opposition to the name change could take place during the Board of Supervisors’ May 11 meeting. Tuesday’s meeting agenda included copies of two letters opposing the name change sent to the State Board for Community Colleges: one signed by Virginia state senators Mark Obenshain and Jill Vogel and delegates Todd Gilbert, Michael Webert, David LaRock, Bill Wiley and Mark Cole, and another by the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors.

LFCC, located in Middletown, announced in February that it was seeking a new name because its namesake – Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron – was a Colonial-era slave owner. The school’s decision, according to the Winchester Star, followed months of study and focus-group discussions and was prompted by a resolution passed last summer by the State Board for Community Colleges asking all community colleges in the state to review their names.

To begin Tuesday’s discussion on the LFCC name change, Shenandoah County supervisors heard a 17-minute speech from film director Ron Maxwell, who lives in Rappahannock County and directed the Civil War films “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals,” and who called on Shenandoah County supervisors to join those in Rappahannock County in formally opposing LFCC’s decision.

Maxwell stated during his speech that society is witnessing an “exhibition of the woke trying to outdo one another in the woke sweepstakes” and that “history teaches us that each and every time the righteous urge to destroy is loosed upon a society, it is always cloaked as an improvement and is in every case regretted and deplored by subsequent generations.”

Maxwell further added that an “inescapable fact of history is that we … are the inheritors of all who came before, and that “as inheritors of this legacy it is our responsibility, in our brief moment on Earth, to safeguard the entirety of our past with all its content, art and history, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful,” and that “to live only in the present tense is to live an impoverished life.”

“It is incumbent upon us, the living, to see people as they once were, in their full humanity … just as it’s incumbent upon our descendents 240 years from now to look on us the same way,” Maxwell said. “Otherwise, we have no culture, no history, no heritage, no shared humanity. We are simply set adrift, floating on an imaginary foundation made up of little more than this thin air of our own puritanical rectitude and moral narcissism.

“By the standards of the Lord Fairfax college board,” he continued, “we will soon embark on a renaming crusade as cities, counties, towns, parks, roads, schools and institutions of higher learning named after any of the generation who founded this country are removed and replaced one-by-one.”

Also on Tuesday, Shenandoah County supervisors discussed an amendment to the board’s meeting rules of procedure that would revise language in the order of business pertaining to the public comment section so that it matches a subsequent section in the rules that prohibit “public presentations on a matter for which a public hearing has been or will be held.” The public comment section in the order of business currently reads “Public Comment (other than matters previously the subject of a public hearing).”

The proposed amendment stems from the March 23 meeting during which Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Baker prohibited public comments on the fiscal year 2022 budget, citing the public hearing on the matter scheduled for the following week.

– Contact Brad Fauber at [email protected]

Veto Session Wrap Up

April 8, 2021

Dear Friends,

As you may or may not know, a few weeks after Session ends each year, my fellow Senators and I gather for a one-day meeting called Reconvene Session. On this day, we vote yea or nay on any bills for which the Governor offered amendments and vote to overturn any bills he vetoed.

This year because Democrats in Richmond passed so many of his liberal priorities and defeated so many of the bills we sought to implement as conservatives, the Governor did not veto a single bill. 

However, he did offer amendments to a few bills, perhaps most significantly the bill to legalize recreational marijuana. 

Let me be clear, I remain opposed to the legalization of marijuana. 

And the fact that the legalization under this bill would not take place until 2024 did not change my opinion. That is why I was appalled when Governor Northam – in a fashion all too similar to the arbitrary and dictatorial way he yielded his authority during the COVID shutdown – decided to amend the bill to move legalization up to July of 2021 – yes, that is THIS July, less than 90 days from now. He bucked all the input and research that went into the 8,000-line bill, that his office actually crafted, he reversed course and determined that legalization should occur immediately. 

As if that was not bad enough, he slipped 4 lines of language into the bill that are wholly unrelated to this topic to throw a bone to the job-killing, left wing organized labor interests from whom he has received millions of campaign dollars. 

These are 4 lines provide that licensees who grow, manufacture or sell marijuana products will lose their licenses if they do not “remain neutral” in response to efforts of union organizers to unionize their businesses or if they do not pay a “prevailing wage” dictated by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is even worse than it sounds, as these businesses can be shut down if they block union organizers from trespassing on their property to solicit employees in their organizational efforts. This is a serious infringement upon the property rights of farmers and other business owners and it undermines Virginia’s status as a right-to-work state. 

Licensure of marijuana businesses was supposed to be a means of ensuring the safety of marijuana products being grown, manufactured and sold to the public — not a tool to force the unionization of the work force. 

Requiring business owners to allow union organizers to trespass on their property to solicit their employees has become a hot-button issue for right-to-work and property rights advocates. Only two weeks ago an appeal brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of a California nursery owner was argued in the United States Supreme Court. There, union organizers trespassed on the business’s property asserting it as their right under a California state law that allows private-sector unions to come onto private property for three hours a day, 120 days out of the year, to recruit workers into joining their ranks. The language slipped into Virginia’s marijuana bill may be even more intrusive and disruptive. I hope that the Supreme Court will rule for the California businesses. For more information on that case click here

This bill is bad and this amendment is bad. Period. 

The Senate voted 20-20 and Justin Fairfax, the Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate for Governor, made the tie-breaking vote to pass these amendments.  Remember when Democrats and certain editorial pages urged Virginians to vote against the Constitutional Amendment to place Right to Work in our Constitution arguing that nobody wants to undermine our right to work laws? This action demonstrates the falsity of those assertions. 

In other news from yesterday’s session, the Democrats predictably voted to adopt the Governor’s $250,000 budget amendment to hire outside counsel to do a very limited and partisan “investigation” in response to the Parole Board scandal. The “investigation,” of course is a sham. It authorizes an investigation of the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG), not the Parole Board.  What is needed is a real investigation; one that covers all of the widely reported incidents of Parole Board misconduct, the targeting and firing of the OSIG whistleblower, as well as the involvement, if any, of members of the offices of the Governor or the Attorney General in a cover-up.  Instead, now we will end up with a sham “investigation” that is nothing more than window-dressing designed to divert public attention from this serious and potentially dangerous breach of public trust.  For more on this you can read the Senate GOP Caucus statement below and the RTD story from last night here

As we conclude the 2021 Session, I will continue to fight for our shared conservative values and freedoms – support our small businesses, and our right-to-work laws. I support a strong and fair criminal justice system that keeps our communities safe while showing respect to victims, and those in law enforcement. It is an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of the 26th Senate District. 

I’m back in my district office in Harrisonburg and look forward to serving my constituents on state government related issues.  Please feel free to contact me at 540-437-1451 or at [email protected] .

Best,

Mark Obenshain