Sickle-cell Anemia Deserves Attention

Source: Courtesy of Fredericksburg.com Date published: 3/9/2010

Sickle-cell anemia deserves attention

As parents of and advocates for those who suffer the debilitating, devastating effects of sickle-cell anemia, we were encouraged by the March 3 editorial ["Striking a cord"].

In the current national health care debate, with its drama and divisiveness, it was refreshing to see the cooperative efforts of those in our state legislature addressing the long-neglected needs for relief for the more than 70,000 minorities (predominantly African-Americans) nationwide who suffer from this disease.

We thank Del. Bob Marshall for introducing the bill to promote education for the healing potential of umbilical-cord blood.

Our continued gratitude goes to Sen. Edd Houck in his role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Health for his consistent, outstanding commitment to the cause of sickle-cell diseases, and our congratulations go to the Davis family for their courage and persistence.

All have helped to make this disease and its ramifications more visible and its ultimate cure possible.

Lawrence A. Davies and Janice P. Davies


The writers are co-presidents, Fredericksburg Area Sickle Cell Association, Inc.

Virginia First State to Challenge Federal Health Insurance Mandate

Source: The Washington ExaminerBy: Barbara Hollingsworth Local Opinion Editor 03/05/10 1:20 PM EST

Congress hasn’t even passed Obamacare yet, but if and when it does, Virginia’s General Assembly has already fired the first round in what could be a major legal showdown with Washington over the limits of federal power.

On Thursday, the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere became the first state to enact legislation that prohibits the federal government from forcing its citizens to purchase government-approved health insurance. The measure was sponsored by two Northern Virginians - State Senator Jill Vogel, R-Warrenton, and Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas - who also co-signed a Feb. 24 letter to President Obama protesting state legislators’ exclusion from his recent health care summit.

In an ominous sign for the president’s top domestic priority, five Democrats in the Virginia Senate joined 18 Republicans to vote for the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act in a state Obama won handily less than 18 months ago. They were, perhaps, influenced by the 2,400 grassroots activists who trekked to Richmond last month to oppose federally mandated insurance coverage.

A constitutional amendment passed earlier in Arizona, but has yet to be approved by voters. It will be on the ballot in November.

Legislators in more than 30 other states are also considering similar bills based on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care model.

The Tenth Amendment Center has a map of pending health care "nullification" bills that challenge the federal government’s jurisdiction based on its reading of the Constitution.

So even if Obamacare passes, this brewing constitutional battle could delay enactment for quite some time.

Virginia House, Senate now Must Reconcile Budget Bills

TYLER WHITLEY AND JEFF E. SCHAPIRO TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITERSPublished: February 26, 2010 Updated: February 26, 2010 Source: Courtesy of Richmond Times Dispatch

The House of Delegates and Virginia Senate easily approved budget bills yesterday, but the hard part, trying to reach agreement on widely different bills, lies ahead.

The two bodies now have about two weeks to fashion a budget on which they can agree before the scheduled March 13 adjournment.

After almost four hours of partisan wrangling, the House passed its budget bill 61-38, with all the Republicans and two independents voting for it and all Democrats voting against.

The Senate plowed through its budget-balancing plan in about an hour, approving the package 30-10.

"I've seen some difficult budgets but never as tough as this one," said Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William, a 34-year veteran.

Only Republicans voted against the measure. They included two from the Richmond area, Stephen H. Martin of Chesterfield County and Ryan T. McDougle of Hanover County.

In the House, Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the difficulty in making $4 billion in cuts to balance the budget.

"However, I believe that the budget before us today strikes a sensible balance between meeting the core commitments that we as politicians like to talk about and the burden placed on the taxpayers who must foot the bill."

READ THE FULL TEXT at TimesDispatch.com

Va. House Passes Bill to Defy Health Care Mandate

By: William C. FlookExaminer Staff Writer Source: Courtesy of The Washington Examiner February 12, 2010

Virginia's House of Delegates on Thursday voted to defy a potential health insurance mandate from Congress. The vote, which follows the passage of a similar measure in the Virginia Senate last week, puts the state legislature squarely in opposition to a core provision of congressional Democrats' health care bill.

The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, sponsored by Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, passed 72-26 in the Republican-controlled chamber.

The legislation looks to exempt Virginians from any government requirement to buy into a health plan, although its larger purpose is as a "message bill" meant to persuade federal legislators — especially those representing Virginia — to back off from the proposed overhaul.

"It's pretty clear that government-run health care is unwelcome in Virginia," said Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation. "Hopefully our federal representatives will get the message and pull the plug on Obamacare."


Despite Health Bill Uncertainty, Va. Protest Bills March On

By: WILLIAM C. FLOOKExaminer Staff Writer Source: Courtesy of The Washington Examiner February 1, 2010

The precarious position of national health care legislation hasn't stopped lawmakers in Virginia from moving ahead with bills that seek to defy a federal health insurance mandate.

The proposals -- which have advanced in committee or subcommittee in both the Virginia House and Senate -- look to exempt Virginia from Congress' health care initiatives. While the measures may end up being more symbolic than substantive, they have gained wide notice as Republican lawmakers seek to harness unrest over an expanded federal role in medical care.

Del. Bob Marshall's Health Care Freedom Act has become this session's most viewed bill on the state's legislative Web site -- with more looks than even the two-year budget proposal.

Similar legislation in the Democratic-led Senate has narrowly emerged from committee, with the cross-over support of two Democratic senators.

The victory of Republican Scott Brown this month in a special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat deprives Democrats of a needed 60th vote to stop a GOP filibuster, casting in grave doubt any efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system.

And even if the national health bill passed Congress, a state legislature wouldn't have the authority under modern Supreme Court doctrine to defy it, said Ilya Somin, associate law professor at George Mason University School of Law.

"They can pass legislation if they want to, but the legislation in and of itself wouldn't do anything for them unless they were able to have the federal legislation invalidated in court," Somin said.

Nevertheless, Virginia lawmakers are likely to hotly debate the legislation in the coming days. Several freshman Republicans won election partly on the promise to oppose Democratic initiatives on health care, the environment and economic stimulus, as did recently inaugurated Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Most controversial is the idea of an individual mandate -- a provision that would fine Americans who don't purchase health care. Marshall, R-Manassas, calls the mandate unconstitutional.

"If members of Congress are shoving something out that violates the provisions of the Constitution ... we have an obligation to stand up to it, not just to roll over and play dead," he said.


Va.‘s Laws on Charter Schools Could Ease

Written by Holly RidgeSource: Courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch With a pro-charter school administration at the helm, Virginia's relatively tough laws regulating the specialty schools could soon change.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has said he wants to see changes to make it easier to open charter schools, even mentioning his support in his response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Wednesday.

He also appointed charter school proponent Gerard Robinson, who had served as president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, as state education secretary. That organization aims to provide low-income and working-class black families with access to high-quality education through such programs as charter schools, school vouchers, virtual schools and more.

And in this General Assembly session, bills have been introduced that address charter school policies statewide. One submitted by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, would withhold state funding to school systems that deny applications from charter schools deemed acceptable by the state Board of Education.

The amount would be based on the average daily student membership proposed within the charter application. The bill says funding would continue to be denied until the local division approves the previously denied application.

READ THE FULL TEXT at TimesDispatch.com

Bills Would Limit Federal Power

Date published: 1/18/2010 WRITTEN BY CHELYEN DAVIS

Source: Courtesy of Fredricksburg Free Lance Star

RICHMOND--Last year's "tea parties" and health care town halls gave voice to a groundswell of concerns about federal government spending and encroachment into people's lives.

Now those concerns are finding voice in state legislation aimed at limiting the federal government's power.

Several members of the Virginia House of Delegates, including Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, have submitted bills that aim, in various ways, to restrict federal influence.

Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, has put in bills to exempt Virginians from federal health care mandates. Cole has a similar bill. He has also introduced legislation to restrict federal oversight of commerce by saying that federal interstate commerce laws and regulations don't apply to goods and services made and sold in Virginia that don't cross state lines.

Cole also has a resolution urging Congress to establish a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.


Marshall’s HB 10 Bill challenges right of “Obamacare” to force Virginians to purchase health care

“Congress has never, in 220 years, mandated that individuals purchase any private service or good, until now. Both the U.S. House and Senate health insurance “reform” bills approved by Virginia Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner threaten our families with jail time and fines up to $25,000 if we do not purchase health insurance that Obama Health Czars think is good for us whether we want it or not.

Marshall Introduces Health Bill

By Cheryl ChumleySource: Courtesy of InsideNOVA.com

Health care overhauls coming out of the nation's capital may be in flux, but Del. Bob Marshall, R-Dist. 13, isn't waiting for the final version and has instead introduced early legislation at the state level guaranteeing Virginians control of their coverage.

On Dec. 7, Marshall prefiled the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act that "protects an individual's right and power to participate or to decline to participate in a health care system or plan," according to the summary of H.B. 10.

The idea is to halt any federal requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance.

Such regulation has been hotly debated along mostly party lines in Congress, and the White House has maintained the mandate for all to buy or else pay a fine is necessary in order to keep health care costs affordable.

The mandate has been subject to scrutiny from legal analysts, and some say a constitutional challenge looms should that aspect of health care reform pass.

"To compel someone to enter a contract with the threat of a fine or a year jail time … that's an un-precedented use of several powers in the Constitution," Marshall said. "It's never been done."


Gun Control Opponents Hope to Reshape Handgun Laws

Source: Courtesy of The Washington TimesBy: William C. Flook Examiner Staff Writer January 3, 2010

Virginia lawmakers have filed bills to abolish the state’s one-handgun-per-month rule and allow college faculty to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

Gun control opponents in Virginia's legislature are proposing what would amount to a vast roll-back of handgun regulations, hoping to capitalize on a friendlier administration in Richmond to undo long-standing firearms restrictions.

Conservative lawmakers have filed a flurry of bills including abolishing the state's one-handgun-per-month rule and allowing college faculty to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

Despite the arrival of Republican Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, who has an A rating from the National Rifle Association and campaigned on a pro-Second Amendment platform, none of the bills necessarily will have an easy time getting passed when the General Assembly goes into session later this month. Proponents of stronger gun laws have become much more vocal and focused since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and are likely to oppose the measures alongside many legislators.