Op Eds

MARSHALL: Why Meddle with the Constitution?

Written by Bob Marshall - Times Dispatch Columnist MANASSAS, VA - The proposed "Repeal" Constitutional Amendment endorsed by some Tea Party leaders provides that "any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by . . . the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states . . . ."

I agree with the goal. Washington's power needs to be curbed. That is why I introduced HB10, the Health Care Freedom Act, which passed the Assembly this year to give Virginia legal standing to challenge Obamacare's individual insurance mandate.

However, supporters of the Repeal Amendment, including former Gov. George Allen, other Virginia elected officials, Tea Party Federation leaders, and Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett need to consider the problems their amendment creates.

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Read the full article at Richmond Times Dispatch.

Shannon Column: Brass ring escapes again

It’s easy to oppose government spending when you aren’t getting any of the money. It’s more difficult to be frugal when Virginia is scheduled to receive 249 million reasons to swallow your principles and take the cash. Despite the temptation, Del. Bob Marshall (R—Prince William) — who’s conservative even when it’s inconvenient — is urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to refuse to accept a penny of Obama’s latest $26 billion government “stimulus” bill.

Many of you are probably thinking that old Bob is just saddling up to tilt at yet another windmill. But before you jump to conclusions, consider Marshall’s reasoning in the context of the larger issue of Democrat-induced runaway government spending.

Marshall’s justification for bouncing the check back to Obama is simple: Pocketing this money is a slap in the face to a Virginia Republican congressional delegation that unanimously opposed this payoff to public employee unions that supported Obama. Accepting the check implies they failed to vote in the best interest of their state. While in comparison, Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-Deficits) and Tom Perriello (D-Bigger Deficits), who supported this and innumerable other handouts, become exemplars of public service.

Which is a sobering thought.

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READ THE FULL STORY at INSIDENOVA.COM

Health Care: Obamacare Is Set to Mug the Country

Source: Courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch Written by Robert G. Marshall

MANASSAS - When a comedy mugger told skinflint actor Jack Benny, "Your money or your life," in a 1948 radio program, he was met with silence. He repeated the threat, "Look bud, I said your money or your life." Benny responded, "I'm thinking about it."

Americans will soon be "thinking about" a similar mugging from Obamacare proponents who want to compel all individuals to purchase health insurance costing up to $15,000 a year from private companies, or pay a "shared responsibility payment" fine up to $1,900 per year. Don't pay the fine? Then face a year in jail and a $25,000 penalty.

President Obama also wants to reduce air pollution. If we can be forced to buy health insurance, we can be forced to buy a certain car to reduce emissions, or even a new GM (Government Motors) vehicle.

Congress could likewise mandate that citizens deposit their savings in congressionally favored banks (whose executives make the correct political donations) or buy new home storm windows, insurance, or dishwashers, while Congress pretends it is not raising taxes!

To protect Virginians, I drew up HB 10 based on our natural rights of liberty and the contract power guaranteed by the Constitution. It provides: "No law shall interfere with the right of a person or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life or health, nor shall any law impose a penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage . . . "

READ THE FULL TEXT at TimesDispatch.com

Bob Marshall represents the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. Contact him at DelBMarshall@house.virginia.gov

The Truth About Metro to Prince William

©2009 Bull Run ObserverAll Rights Reserved Used with Permission

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Two important things about the people of Prince William County: they want the truth, and they want the whole story. They want the good, they’ll accept the bad, and they’ll tolerate the ugly, as long as it’s all true. Elected officials have a responsibility to speak the truth--the whole truth.

Two politicians, Congressman Gerry Connolly and Delegate Paul Nichols, have told the community that they would bring Metro to Prince William. Unfortunately, Connolly and Nichols have failed to tell the whole truth about Metro, and many residents now mistakenly believe that Metro may soon be extended to our community. But the whole truth is this: even if federal and state officials decided today to bring Metro to Prince William, experts tell us it will take between 20 and 30 years, if ever.

Let me be crystal clear: I want Metro. The Board of County Supervisors wants Metro and has directed the County Department of Transportation study this issue over the years. The benefits are numerous and easy to articulate. Our county is hungry for new options to commute, and we’re eager to take advantage of the economic development and job growth opportunities that have followed Metro in the past. We will continue to work towards Metro as part of our long-term economic development plans.

So, what are the obstacles to bringing Metro to Prince William? The first is money. The approximate construction cost for an extension to Woodbridge would be $2.0-$2.1 billion in FY2007 dollars (double that if we bring it to Gainesville, as some have suggested). The County’s portion would be at least $300 million, in construction costs alone. In addition, Prince William would need to negotiate an entry into the Metro Compact. This would entail the county absorbing part of Metro’s mountain of $6 billion of debt. On top of this, the Metro system is aging and is in need of upgrades and repair, as evidenced by the tragic accident last June. Prince William would be expected to pay its portion of those massive costs.

These costs alone, which do not include the millions in annual maintenance and operational costs, would consume the County’s entire transportation construction budget. Every four years since 1988, Prince William residents have passed road bond referenda to the tune of $600 million. No other county in Virginia has done this, not even wealthier Fairfax County. Fairfax has not invested in its roads for one major reason: it’s transportation budget is gobbled up by Metro costs. Prince William residents will need to ask the question: should we sacrifice our entire County road building program so that we can bring Metro to one spot in the County in 20 to 30 years?

But why will it take between 20 and 30 years? Consider the long-planned extension of Metro to Dulles. Since the 1960s the federal government and the Commonwealth have been working on connecting the nation’s capital with the largest airport serving it. With a less clear benefit to the federal government, Metro to Woodbridge would be subject to even more false starts and cost constraints. Between the planning, environmental impact studies, the engineering, the agreements between multiple jurisdictions and the state and federal government, and the inevitable lawsuits from multiple aggrieved parties, there is no telling how long it would take before a shovel would even be in the ground.

However, the worst case scenario is not that Metro would never come, it would be the consequences of assuming that it will. When the County plans on a long-term transportation improvement, we account for it in our Comprehensive Plan. In the past, this has inevitably led to the construction of new houses years before the transportation improvements were complete. There are many examples of this in Prince William, including the Linton Hall road corridor and the Government Center Sector Plan (at Ridgefield Road and the Parkway). The homes were built, but the roads came much later. Now try to imagine the housing construction that would occur in anticipation of Metro. Thousands of new high-density units would be built all along the Minnieville Road and Route 1 corridors years before Metro arrived. The congestion would be immense and the quality of life degraded.

In short, I am not being a pessimist when I say that Metro to Prince William County is 20 to 30 years away. All great ideas take time to develop, and we will not avoid working on this goal just because it is lofty. But we must be realistic in the way we communicate with the community.

And Prince William Residents do not have 20 to 30 years to wait. The County continues to support Virginia Railway Express. Our time and energy is well spent focusing on expanding VRE to Gainesville and Haymarket. On Tuesday September 15th, the Board of County Supervisors took the next step toward high-speed rail transit from Richmond to Washington D.C. through Prince William. This line would produce fast commuter service to the District of Columbia and to the existing Metro network. The County is even studying 21st century solutions like Bus Rapid Transit, which builds dedicated lanes for buses to travel during peak commuter hours along major thoroughfares. But most importantly, as long as the federal and state governments continue to fail to build the roads necessary for Prince William commuters, the County must continue to focus on road construction.

So when a federal or state official talks about Metro: tell them you don’t want false promises. Tell them you want them to get the job done and fund realistic transit and transportation. We will continue to work hard towards all innovative solutions, but we will also be straight with the citizens that some things will have to wait.

Corey A. Stewart Chairman, At-Large Prince William Board of County Supervisors