Supreme Court rules in favor of Colorado graphic designer who refused to create same-sex wedding websites

June 30, 2023

Fox News | June 30, 2023

The Supreme Court held that a Colorado graphic designer who wants to make wedding websites does not have to create them for same-sex marriages, in a landmark decision that pit the interests of LGBTQ non-discrimination against First Amendment freedom.

In a 6-3 decision issued Friday, the high court ruled in favor of artist Lorie Smith, who sued the state over its anti-discrimination law that prohibited businesses providing sales or other accommodations to the public from denying service based on a customer’s sexual orientation.

Smith said the law infringed on her First Amendment rights by forcing her to promote messages that violate her deeply held faith.

The case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, drew national attention as it featured competing interests of the First Amendment right to free speech and non-discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Lorie Smith Supreme Court

Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative at center of Supreme Court free-speech case. (ADF )

The law, known as the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), prohibits businesses providing sales or services to the publics from denying services to someone based on their identity. Supporters of CADA claim that the law is necessary to keep businesses from discriminating. 


Smith has maintained throughout the case that she has no problem working with the LGBTQ community, just not for gay weddings.

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith stands in front of the Colorado State Capitol.

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith said she faced threats after challenging the  Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. (Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

“I think it’s important for people to understand that I love and welcome the opportunity to work with all people. My case has never been about choosing which client to work with, but about choosing the message that I’m being asked to promote,” Smith told Fox News Digital in a March 2022 interview.

Smith has said that she faced threats throughout the duration of her case.

“I’ve had my home address put on social media, I have received many threats — death threats, threats of bodily harm,” she said in December. “The security system on my home, my child’s school has been on alert. I’ve lost business, my clients have been harassed and my website… people attempt to hack into it, almost regularly by the hour.”

Lorie Smith of 303 Creative  (Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom )


Despite this, Smith said she did not regret going to court.

“The right to speak freely is guaranteed to all of us, and that’s been hard at times,” she said. “While it has come at a cost, it’s a right worth protecting.”


This is the second time CADA has been at the center of a Supreme Court case. In 2018, bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop won a case where owner Jack Phillips refused to design and create cakes specifically for gay weddings. 

That case did not rule on whether the law itself violated the First Amendment for free speech or religious reasons, as they held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had anti-religious bias in enforcing the law against Phillips.

Brianna Herlihy is a politics writer for Fox News Digital.

Supreme Court rejects affirmative action in ruling on universities using race in admissions decisions

June 29, 2023

Fox News | June 29, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major ruling on affirmative action Thursday, rejecting the use of race as a factor in college admissions as a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

In a 6-3 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that, “A benefit to a student who overcame racial discrim­ination, for example, must be tied to that student’s courage and determination.”

“Or a benefit to a student whose herit­age or culture motivated him or her to assume a leadership role or attain a particular goal must be tied to that student’s unique ability to contribute to the university. In other words, the student must be treated based on his or her ex­periences as an individual—not on the basis of race,” the opinion reads.

“Many universities have for too long done just the oppo­site. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice,” the opinion states.

Justice Roberts was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Harvard banners

Harvard banners hang outside Memorial Church on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. The Supreme Court ruled in affirmative action cases, including one over Harvard’s admissions practices. (Photo by Michael Fein/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the main dissent, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and in part by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who recused herself from the Harvard case due to her previous role on Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

President Biden is expected to deliver remarks on the decision at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.


The justices decided two separate legal challenges over just how Harvard University – a private institution – and the University of North Carolina – a public one – decide who fills their classrooms.

These prominent schools say their standards have a larger societal goal, one endorsed for decades by the courts: to promote a robust, intellectually diverse campus for future leaders.

But a coalition of Asian American students says the criteria discriminated with a “racial penalty” – holding them to a selectively higher standard than many Black and Hispanic students.


Student activist group Students for Fair Admissions brought cases against both Harvard and University of North Carolina. The group initially sued Harvard College in 2014 for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance.”

The complaint against Harvard alleged that the school’s practices penalized Asian American students, and that they failed to employ race-neutral practices. The North Carolina case raised the issue of whether the university could reject the use of non-race-based practices without showing that they would bring down the school’s academic quality or negatively impact the benefits gained from campus diversity.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit had ruled in Harvard’s favor, upholding the outcome of a district court bench trial. The district court said that the evidence against Harvard was inconclusive and that “the observed discrimination” affected only a small pool of Asian American students. It ruled that SFFA did not have standing in the case.

In the UNC case, a federal district court ruled in the school’s favor, saying that its admissions practices withstood strict scrutiny.

Roberts said in his majority opinion that both admissions programs at Harvard and UNC “lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative man­ner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points.”

“We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today,” he said. 

The Supreme Court building

The Supreme Court handed down a new ruling on affirmative action. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Justice Clarence Thomas, while agreeing with the majority opinion, wrote a separate concurrence with his own thoughts.  

The decision, he said, “sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes. Those policies fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our Nation’s equality ideal. In short, they are plainly—and boldly—unconstitutional.”


“While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles so clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States: that all men are created equal, are equal citizens, and must be treated equally before the law,” Thomas wrote. 

The affirmative action cases gave rise to one of the most spirited court debates to occur within the Supreme Court building this past term, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito grilling Harvard’s lawyer, Seth Waxman.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts got into a heated exchange with Harvard’s lawyers regarding affirmative action. (Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images)

Alito pressed Waxman on why it is that Asian American students regularly receive lower personal scores on their applications than other races. Waxman talked around the justice’s questions, causing Alito to get frustrated with the lawyer. 


“I still haven’t heard any explanation for the disparity between the personal scores that are given to Asians,” Alito said.

Waxman then got into a tense back-and-forth with Roberts. The justice asked why Waxman was downplaying race as a factor in admissions decisions, when according to Roberts it must have some impact, or else it would not be included.


Waxman admitted that race was decisive “for some highly qualified applicants,” just like “being … an oboe player in a year in which the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra needs an oboe player.”

“We did not fight a civil war about oboe players,” Roberts shot back. “We did fight a civil war to eliminate racial discrimination.”

In 2003, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the “swing” – or deciding – vote in a landmark Supreme Court case over race.

While upholding the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies for minority law school applicants, the court majority led by O’Connor offered this caveat: “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”

Fast-forward 19 years, and a 6-3 conservative court majority has now blocked colleges and universities from using race as part of the competitive admissions process.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

Fox News: Democratic lawmakers caught on hot mic mocking parental rights as ‘garbage,’ ‘stupid’

April 27, 2023

Two Democratic lawmakers in Virginia were caught on hot mic last week mocking parental rights as “garbage,” “crap,” and “stupid,” according to two recordings posted on social media by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).

On the recordings, which were taken at a Friday meet-and-greet at Christopher Newport University, state Sen. Monty Mason and state Del. Shelly Simonds can be heard ripping Republicans over S.B. 1515, a bill that required pornography websites to verify a user’s age to be at least 18 before allowing access to its content.

They also slammed an amendment to the bill proposed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin that would have required children to get permission from parents to set up social media accounts and use websites that collect user data, such as online shopping sites. The bill passed the state legislature, but Youngkin’s amendment was rejected.

“Well, there are three real bills that were of consequence: the hemp bill, offshore wind adjustment that we ended up [inaudible] not even discussing, and the one he slapped — that online parental garbage on pornography bill,” Mason said on one of the recordings, referencing a number of bills previously brought up in the legislature, including S.B. 1515.

He went on to describe the idea of requiring an extra step in the online shopping process to verify a buyer’s age as “stupid.” “What are you sending, a letter?” he jokingly asked.

In the second recording posted by the RSLC, Mason claimed there was “no practical application” to Youngkin’s amendment to the bill, and accused Republicans of playing politics by running digital advertisements against Democrats following the amendment’s rejection.

“I mean, it’s just all a part of this parental crap that they’re selling,” he said, before Simonds chimed in and tied the issue to her desire to keep the Democratic majority in the state Senate.

“This is why we have to keep the Senate… because the House is in the hands of the Republicans, and they can push through all kinds of stupid things. We rely on the Senate to kill it all,” she said.

The dismissive approach from the two Democrats toward parental rights comes less than a year and a half after Youngkin’s shock victory over former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the state’s 2021 gubernatorial election. Parental rights in education took a central role in the race amid rising concern over the teaching of critical race theory and other “woke” subjects in schools.

Virginia Democrats Monty Mason Shelly Simonds

Virginia Democratic state Del. Shelly Simonds and state Sen. Monty Mason. (Reuters/Virginia State Senate)

That concern led to a revolt against Democrats by suburban parents in Northern Virginia and around Richmond, despite trending towards the party in recent elections. It’s unclear why Democrats would continue down the same course on such issues despite that election’s outcome.

Fox News Digital reached out to Simonds and Mason for comment but did not immediately receive responses.

I’m Running!

March 1, 2023

We wrapped up the 2023 Session this past week and so I am back in the Valley and ready for an exciting year.  

Over the past two weeks, an unprecedented number of General Assembly retirements have been announced. The time has come for me to announce that… I am NOT retiring! I AM RUNNING FOR REELECTION TO THE VIRGINIA STATE SENATE!

Virginia is one of the few states in the country that has elections in odd numbered years so I don’t exaggerate when I say that all eyes will be on Virginia this year.

All 100 House of Delegate districts and 40 State Senate districts are up for grabs and we must keep our Republican majority in the House of Delegates and win back majority in the State Senate.  There are going to be a lot of new faces in Richmond. It looks like nearly one third of the members of the General Assembly will be new.

Will you donate to my campaign today so that we can ensure we have the resources we need to win back the Senate in November?

Every 10 years, Virginia is required to draw new State Senate districts as a result of the census. In 2021, the Supreme Court of Virginia did just that and as a result, I will now be running to represent Senate District 2. Although the district number is different, the communities I hope to represent and my resolve to stand up for our conservative values in Richmond remains unwavering.

To learn more about Senate District 2, visit my website

I’m running for reelection because the work I started when I was first elected in 2003 is not finished. When I was first elected I promised to fight for Virginia’s taxpayers. Right now we are engaged in a budget stalemate in which we have a $3.6 billion budget surplus, but many in Richmond fail to recognize that this is money that belongs to the taxpayers and they deserve to have at least a portion of it returned to them. I plan to continue to fight against undisciplined government growth and the efforts of those who believe we are taxed too little.

I promised that I would fight for safer communities in Virginia. Too many Virginians are suffering the effects of the opioid, meth and fentanyl epidemics that are killing young people, ruining lives, breaking up families and devastating our communities. We need commonsense public safety reforms that will return us to a trajectory in which we have safer communities and neighborhoods.

I promised that I would stand strong for the protection of innocent human life. I have fought to defend our parental consent laws and fought against radical legislation that would legalize abortion up to the moment of birth. With the decision of the Supreme Court this year overturning the wrongly decided Roe v. Wade decision, I stand with Governor Youngkin and others in the General Assembly to pass laws that further a culture that values and protects innocent human life, especially including the unborn.

When I first ran, I promised to fight to protect our Second Amendment rights. During the short period of time when Democrats controlled the Executive Branch and both chambers of the General Assembly, unnecessary and burdensome restrictions were imposed upon the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Many so-called civil libertarians seek to pick and choose those parts of the Bill of Rights they deem to be relevant, while ignoring the Second Amendment and the right to free speech – when it involves speech with which they disagree.  I will continue to stand up for the entire Bill of Rights – Second Amendment included.

I promise you this: liberal elites and Democrats around the country are looking at Virginia and ready to pour millions of dollars to take back the House of Delegates and maintain their majority in the Senate. If that happens, they will be able to block legislation that we know to be necessary to ensure we leave the Commonwealth a better place for future generations. 

I hope you’ll consider a donation today to my campaign to help fight against liberal attempts to take over Virginia. Click here to donate today.

Over the next eight months, I look forward to getting out on the campaign trail and meeting you, whether it be at your doorstep, at the diner where you eat lunch, or at the church you attend on Sundays. 

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to represent the people of Shenandoah, Warren and Rappahannock Counties in the Senate for the past 20 years, but redistricting forces me to bid farewell to these counties and the many friends that Suzanne and I have made during that time. While I will not be representing you in the future, I know that our friendships will endure and that those friends will continue to call me if I can ever be of service.

The new legislative district maps have given me the opportunity to spend more time in Eastern Rockingham County, Augusta, Highland and Bath Counties. I have already made many friends and I look forward to making many more and look forward to serving the citizens of those counties (along with those of Page, Rockingham and Harrisonburg) in the coming days, weeks and years

Suzanne and I are deeply grateful for the support I have received in my political endeavors and that our family has received. We do not lightly embark on this endeavor and I hope that I have or will earn your support in this important campaign for reelection to the Virginia State Senate.

Thank you for your friendship and support.



Judges, Bail, Heroes and Budgets

February 3, 2023

It has been a very busy two weeks here at the General Assembly as we prepare for Crossover (the official halfway point of session) next week.

Yesterday, on a party line vote, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to kill two public safety bills that I patroned. The first would have established a criminal penalty for individuals who intend to intimidate a judge by picketing or parading near the home of that judge.

Threats against judges are up 400% since 2016, many of which were motivated by political extremism. In 2022, an armed man attempted to kidnap or murder Brett Kavanaugh and his family. In 2020, a federal judge’s son was killed and her husband was seriously wounded after a man targeted them in their own home.

Our judges are critical to our democracy and we depend on them to administer justice by applying the law, not out of fear or intimidation. Moreover, there is just no excuse for the deliberate efforts of political extremists whether from the right or the left to target or intimidate the families of these public servants.

Another bill killed, on a party line vote by Senate Democrats, was one that would have established judicial presumption that those arrested for rape, robbery, or murder would not be released on bail. As a part of the Democrats’ so called “social-justice reforms” the past few years, progressives in the Virginia House and Senate removed all presumptions against bail that existed in our code, even for the worst of the worst — those accused of rape, robbery, or murder.

This reckless “reform” has put dangerous offenders back on the street where they are free to reoffend while awaiting trial. Such was the case in the tragic murder of Karla Dominguez in Alexandria after her accused rapist was released on bond he murdered her.

Look, I get it. It’s an election year and Senate Democrats are looking to solidify support from their ultra-liberal base voters who often push policies that overlook the safety of families across the Commonwealth for the sake of so-called social justice. What they fail to recognize is that they are applying “Social-Justice” in ways that ignore victims — and many of these victims are persons of color.

I will continue to stand up for the safety of neighborhoods, communities and families, election year or not.

On a more positive note, my SB 1220 to  name the westbound bridge on Rt. 211 in Luray after fallen Stanley Police Officer Dominick ‘Nick’ J. Winum unanimously reported from the Senate Transportation Committee.  Officer Winum was killed in the line of duty almost two years ago while selflessly protecting members of his community.  He was a former State Trooper and one of his favorite spots to sit while on patrol was on the westbound side of Rt. 211 outside Luray to overlook the Shenandoah River and the scenic views of the Valley.  It is only fitting that this bridge be named in honor of Officer Winum. SB 1220 will be on the Senate Floor Monday for final passage.

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident at Bridgewater College. The loss of Officers John Painter and J.J. Jefferson still stings our community. After their death, it came to light that their families were not eligible for any death benefits as police officers because private college police departments were not eligible to enroll in the state administered Line of Duty Act (LODA.)  I am grateful that Governor Youngkin offered a budget amendment last year providing both families with the death benefit that would have been available to any other law enforcement office who died in the line of duty. I strongly suspect that this was an inadvertent oversight that escaped notice until the death of two officers. I promised the Governor and private colleges last year that I would introduce legislation this year to make them eligible to enroll in this program. If a private college elects to enroll, they would be required to pay premiums for participation, so they will pay their own way.

I am pleased to report that this legislation, SB 1228 passed the Senate unanimously and now makes its way to the House. With the advancement of my bill, we are making progress in our efforts to do right by law enforcement officers and their families.

This weekend, the House Appropriations and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees will release their respective packages of amendments to the 2022-2024 budget.  Both chambers will approve their versions of the budget on February 9 and negotiations over the different versions will begin shortly thereafter. Ultimately, it will be those negotiations that determine how much tax relief Virginians will receive this year.  Presumably, the House version will incorporate most provisions of Governor Youngkin’s tax relief plan and the Senate version will not.

I submitted a budget amendment seeking $235M to expedite safety improvements along the I-81 Corridor. Last year I-64 received double that amount for widening projects near Williamsburg..  Just this week, yet another serious crash on 81 resulted in multiple fatalities. 

You can look here for a full list of the bills I am carrying this session.  I will continue to provide updates on significant developments during the course of Session. If you have opinions (pro or con), questions or concerns about any legislation before the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to share those with me. You can always reach me by email at [email protected] and my office can be reached at either 804-698-7526 (Richmond Office) or 540-437-1451 (Harrisonburg District Office.)  Should you be in Richmond at any point during the General Assembly Session, please stop by my office (Room 502), say hello, and let us know if we can do anything for you during your visit.

I always enjoy visiting and meeting with groups and constituents from home. The last two weeks I’ve had the pleasure to visit with Old Dominion Association of Christian Schools students, Blue Ridge Beverage Company, JMU President Jon Alger, Pro-Life Advocates, Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage and his Deputy Sheriffs, Brain Injury Connections of the Shenandoah Valley, JMU Victim Assistance program, and local dentists as part of Virginia Dental Association Day.



Week 2 General Assembly Update

January 24, 2023

With the conclusion of the second week of the 2023 General Assembly Session, one thing is becoming increasingly clear – Republicans need to retake control of the Virginia Senate! This week, the Democratic leaders in the Senate showed just how partisan they have become and have demonstrated their unwillingness to put good policy ahead of politics.

      Last Monday, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, upon which I sit, considered the repeal of 2021 legislation that ceded to California authority to control the timeline for banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in Virginia. The liberal elite wants to require working Virginians to spend upwards of $75,000 for an electric vehicle as their next car or truck. Unless repealed 35% of all new vehicles sold in Virginia by 2026 must be electric vehicles and it will impose a complete ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. In what must have been an accidental moment of candor, one Democrat on the Committee admitted that these goals are aspirational and cannot be met, but on a party line vote (15 Democrats to 3 Republicans) the Committee rejected this commonsense measure.

      Last week, the Privileges and Elections Committee heard multiple election integrity bills. Notwithstanding broad bipartisan support, the Committee refused to reinstate the photo ID mandate. The Committee also rejected a bill that would have ended same day voter registration – allowing persons to show up on Election Day, register and vote at the same time.  Finally, the Committee killed a bill that would have criminalized intentional efforts to register non-citizens to vote.

      As most are aware, I have been working to restore integrity to Virginia’s Parole Board and its operations. The scandal-ridden Northam-appointed Parole Board found itself in the midst of a media firestorm when it was caught releasing convicted murders, rapists and kidnappers without properly notifying victims, their families or law enforcement in the communities where the crimes were committed. On Friday, a Senate committee killed my transparency bill to require Parole Board members to actually show up, and meet in person, require current interviews of inmates and allow victims to offer input via virtual means. Americans are sick and tired of having legislators or government officials not showing up to do their jobs. If a friend or family member of mine were preparing for a parole hearing, I would certainly want parole board members to take it sufficiently seriously that they would actually meet in person, discuss the case and have a current interview of the inmate before making a parole decision. Finally, the bill would have allowed victims to provide input virtually. Nobody testified in opposition to this bill, yet Democrats on the committee killed it on a party line vote. Attorney General Jason Miyares pledged to investigate the misconduct by the Northam parole board and I hope that he will get to the bottom of the scandal-ridden conduct of that panel. For the sake of safe communities across Virginia and for the sake of fairness from the perspective of everybody involved in the process, it is essential that integrity and public confidence be restored in the process.

      Finally, on Friday, a Senate subcommittee considered bills protecting innocent human life. First was a bill introduced by Senator Travis Hackworth, limiting abortion from conception with exceptions for medical emergency and rape or incest (before 20 weeks and with a police report). The Governor’s bill, patroned by Steve Newman would limit abortions after 15 weeks of gestational age with exceptions for medical emergency, rape or incest. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant introduced a bill that would limit abortions in the third trimester, with exceptions for medical emergencies and nonviable pregnancies. The Senate Education and Health Committee, controlled by Democrats recommended defeating all of those bills. Surveys show that more than 80% of Americans, across all racial, ethnic and political lines oppose late-term abortions, but not a single Democrat on the Committee was willing to vote even for those very limited restrictions. Innocent human life needs to be protected. It is clear that those Senate Democrats want no restrictions whatsoever on abortion.

      You can look here for a full list of the bills I am carrying this session.    I will endeavor to provide weekly updates on significant developments during the course of Session. If you have opinions (pro or con), questions or concerns about any legislation before the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to share those with me. I can always be reached by email at [email protected] and my office can be reached at either 804-698-7526 (Richmond Office) or 540-437-1451 (Harrisonburg District Office.)  Should you be in Richmond at any point during the General Assembly Session, please stop by my office (Room 502) and say hello and let us know if we can do anything for you during your visit.

      I always enjoy visiting with and meeting with groups and constituents from home. This week was very busy with visits from  Second Amendment supporters from the VCDL, local Credit Union leaders, Leadership Harrisonburg/Rockingham Chamber Class, Page County advocates for the Federation of the Blind, EMS representatives, Rappahannock Board of Supervisors member, Virginia Interfaith Council and students from Shenandoah County Central High School’s Y Street program. 

Week 1 General Assembly Update

January 17, 2023

Last Wednesday, the 2023 Session of the Virginia General Assembly was gaveled to order by the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. This year is a “short session.” It is scheduled to last 45 days and to adjourn on February 25th.  Hot topics this year include tax relief, public safety, energy and utility rates and regulation.

Virginia is entering the second year of the budget biennium with a projected $3.6 billion budget surplus – even after last year’s $4 billion of tax relief and salary increases for state employees, teachers and law enforcement officers. While this is good news, it is overshadowed by disturbing trends including the fact that residents have been migrating out of Virginia for the past seven years. Last year, Virginia had the 9th highest outward migration rate in the country while our neighbors, North Carolina and Tennessee increased their population. One of the differences is that states like North Carolina are cutting personal income tax rates and are trying to eliminate the corporate income tax. All this under a Democratic Governor. Governor Youngkin wants to reverse this trend and to once again make Virginia a better place to work, live and raise a family. To do this, he has proposed an agenda that includes a cut in individual income tax rates, a 1% reduction in the corporate income tax and to remove the age restriction on the tax exemption on military retirement benefits.

On the energy front, Virginia families and businesses have struggled under the burden of ever increasing energy costs. The reasons are many, including the inflation caused by out of control government spending and unrealistic and punitive green energy initiatives that have increase our reliance on foreign energy sources and suppliers and choked off the supply of safe, clean and plentiful domestic energy sources. There are multiple initiatives this year that will result in lower electric bills. Many members have also introduced or patroned legislation that would repeal the 2021 law that Democrats passed to allow California to outlaw the sale of new gas powered vehicles in Virginia.

Here’s a quick preview of some of the legislation I introduced and will be working on during Session:


I have introduced a budget amendment that would allocate $235 million in the coming year to jumpstart improvements to Interstate 81. I was the author of legislation in 2019 to create the I-81 Commission. Through the framework established in that legislation, VDOT developed a plan of improvements to improve and address choke points and dangerous sections of I-81. Because of funding limitations, the construction of those projects is projected to be stretched out over more than a decade. Last year, when we had a record budget surplus, the budget negotiators allocated $470 million of general fund dollars for construction on Interstate 64 between Williamsburg and Richmond. They included $0 of additional funding, however, for Interstate 81. This year, since we are continuing to run a budget surplus, it is my hope that budget writers will this year do the same thing for Interstate 81 that they did for Interstate 64. Everyone who lives in or travels the I-81 corridor knows how dangerous that vital highway has become. It is time for us to treat the need for I-81 improvements as a budget priority as opposed to an aspirational long-term goal.


On June 8, 2022, police apprehended a man outside the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh. The suspect had flown across the country and when he was apprehended, he was wearing black clothing and had a suitcase containing a pistol, zip ties, a tactical knife, pepper spray, hammer, duct tape and other items. He confessed that it was his intention to break into the home of Justice Kavanagh to kill him and then to commit suicide. This also coincided with weeks of protesting over abortion rights and protestors descended upon the home of targeted Supreme Court justices. 

I have introduced legislation that would prohibit this kind of intimidation and protest outside of the homes of judges and justices. It is a shame that such legislation is even necessary but the continued deterioration of basic standards of civility has worked to endanger not only public servants, but members of their family, including children. This doesn’t impact the ability of protesters to picket or protest elsewhere, just not in front of a personal residence.


In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly legalized the possession of marijuana. At some point a framework will be established for a legal marketplace. Some, however, have jumped the gun and have begun marketing and merchandizing marijuana in ways that have targeted children. I have introduced legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to advertise marijuana that cannot legally be sold in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Further, even if or when a legal marketplace is established, my bill applies to marijuana  many of the same limitations on the marketing of alcohol to children, including prohibitions on billboards or signs in close proximity to schools, prohibiting advertising on shows that target children and other restrictions that have long represented the commonsense view as to how alcohol should and should not be marketed.

These are just a few of my legislative initiatives. You can look here for a full list.  I will endeavor to provide weekly updates on significant developments during the course of Session. If you have opinions (pro or con), questions or concerns about any legislation before the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to share those with me. I can always be reached by email at [email protected] and my office can be reached at either 804-698-7526 (Richmond Office) or 540-437-1451 (Harrisonburg District Office.  Should you be in Richmond at any point during the General Assembly Session, please stop by my office (Room 502) and say hello and let us know if we can do anything for you during your visit. We always enjoy visiting with and meeting with groups from home. This week I had visits from the Seven Bends Republican Women’s Club, the Republican Women of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, local bankers, JMU nursing students, advocates for stronger fentanyl laws, and from leaders in the agribusiness industry.

Obenshain Releases Statement on the 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents 

September 16, 2022


CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected] 

Obenshain Releases Statement on the 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents 

Updated Policy for Virginia’s Public School Systems

HARRISONBURG – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement in response to the just-released 2022 Draft Model Policies on the Privacy Dignity, and Respect for All Student and Parents from the Virginia Department of Education:

“I applaud the 2022 Draft Policy released today by Governor Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Education. This policy was crafted in compliance with the 2020 law signed by then-Governor Northam and patroned by Delegate Marcus Simon and Senator Jennifer Boysko.

Last year, when then-Governor Northam released his administration’s draft model policy, it flatly ignored the rights of students and parents. It went so far as to prohibit school staff from notifying a parent or guardian if a student requested affirmation of his or her gender identity. It even suggested that there was an obligation for school officials to report parents to the Department of Social Services if they suspected them to be insufficiently supportive of their child’s gender identity. The Northam model policy was so extreme and out of touch with communities across Virginia that it was adopted by only approximately 10% of the school divisions in Virginia.  This  notwithstanding the statutory mandate that it be adopted by every school division. The 2020 legislation requiring the adoption of this policy was just a bad idea and it accomplished little beyond making Virginia schools an even bigger cultural battleground than they already were.

Parents must be involved in their children’s education. Period. A child’s development is acutely susceptible to influence and it is the responsibility of parents to play a central role in shaping and molding that development.

To the extent that the law requires adoption of a model policy by school divisions across Virginia, I support this new draft model policy which fully complies with the Code of Virginia. And I strongly suspect that the 90% of school divisions across Virginia that were unwilling to adopt the old policy will find themselves much more comfortable with this policy.

I hope that parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members across Virginia will work together to adopt policies that will respect parents’ rights and ensure our children are treated fairly and equitably in a safe environment.”

The 2022 Draft Model Policy can be viewed by clicking here.

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). He is running to represent the new second district of the Senate of Virginia which includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Rockingam, Augusta (part), Page, Bath and Highland.  


News Laws Take Effect July 1

June 24, 2022

With the approach of July, I wanted to provide you with an update on new laws that are taking effect as well as an update on the Commonwealth’s budget.

Every year, the General Assembly passes bills during Session which starts in early January and goes for either 45 days or 60 days depending on if it’s a budget year or not. If bills pass the legislature, they go to the Governor and if he signs them into law, most will go into effect on July 1 of that year.

Additionally, every two years (on even numbered years), the General Assembly passes the Commonwealth’s two year budget which is then amended or signed by the Governor. Governor Youngkin recently sent back a short list of amendments on which the General Assembly then voted and on Wednesday, he signed the budget for the next two years.

Below is a list of some of the most notable and important items that will go into effect as well as items that would have been good for Virginians but were not passed this year.

If you have any questions about laws that are going to be taking effect in July or any bills that did not make it out of the General Assembly this year, don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected].

Gov. Youngkin proposes budget amendments on gas tax cut, lab schools and new felony for protests at justices’ homes

June 15, 2022

by: Dean Mirshahi

Posted: Jun 15, 2022 / 08:39 PM EDT

Updated: Jun 16, 2022 / 10:58 AM EDTSHARE

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s amendments to the state budget include proposals to expand the eligibility for lab-school funding, suspend the state’s gas tax for three months, prevent hundreds of incarcerated people from earning credits to reduce their sentences and more.

The Virginia General Assembly approved the two-year budget plan on June 1, but it was subject to proposed changes and vetoes by the governor. On Wednesday, Youngkin aides laid out the budget amendments put forward for consideration in a call with reporters.

Youngkin has proposed 38 total amendments to the biennial budget that takes effect July 1, the aides said. The governor did not veto any part of the budget approved by lawmakers.Youngkin revives gas tax holiday push as consumers see record prices

“Thank you for sending me a budget that offers almost $4 billion in tax relief at a time when Virginians are in need of it most,” Gov. Youngkin wrote in an introduction to his budget amendments.

Efforts to pass a gas tax holiday failed in the legislature, but Youngkin revived his push in a budget amendment. An aide said the suspension of the state’s gas tax of 26 cents a gallon would go into effect July 1 until Sept. 30 if approved by lawmakers.

The governor also proposed a restriction on using taxpayer funding in the biennial budget for abortion services unless it is required by federal law, a move criticized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Executive Director Jamie Lockhart.Virginia lawmakers pass bipartisan budget deal

“This amendment will disproportionately impact people of color who will be forced to carry pregnancies that will result in a stillbirth or in the birth of a baby incompatible with life,” Lockhart said in a statement. “If this funding is cut, low-income Virginians will be the ones having to go without access to the life-saving health care they need.”

Youngkin did not propose incentives to revive the effort to bring the Washington Commanders new stadium to Northern Virginia, which appears dead after lawmakers decided to pull the legislation from consideration.

One amendment from Youngkin would keep 560 incarcerated individuals from being eligible to take advantage of Virginia’s new earned sentence credit program, one aide said on the call.

The new law, which was signed by former Gov. Ralph Northam and goes into effect in July, creates a four-level earned credit system that allows people to reduce their sentences up to 15 days for every 30 days served.This tax credit could give back hundreds to low-income, working Virginians

“Language amendment will also create a state-level felony for demonstrating outside of a home of justices, including Supreme Court justices with the intent to intimidate,” one aide said on the call, later adding that it includes justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and Virginia Supreme Court.

The deal passed by the General Assembly includes $4 billion in tax cuts over three years. There are one-time tax rebates of $250 for individual filers and $500 for families this year in the budget and public school teachers and state workers will see 10% raises over two years, including a $1,000 bonus in the first year.

Youngkin amended the budget to also give teachers at Governor’s Schools and regional learning specialists the bonuses, with aides saying they were “left out” of the approved plan.

The aides said the amendments from Youngkin also put aside more funding for Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities.Are abortion protests at Supreme Court Justices’ homes illegal in Virginia?

The budget approved by the General Assembly has $100 million for lab school funding for public, four-year universities in Virginia. Youngkin amended the budget to expand access to allow private universities and community colleges to use the funding and run lab schools, the aides said.

Another amendment from Youngkin calls on universities and colleges to sign off on a statement committing to create “a culture of free speech” on campuses.

State lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol on Friday to take up Youngkin’s amendments.

“I hope that these amendments will be acceptable to Republicans and Democrats, Delegates and Senators, so that the budget can be reenrolled without returning to my desk,” Youngkin continued in his opening statement.