Monday, February 22, 2010

Post from Tom Graham

Note: This note from WMRA Reporter and Virginia Insight Host Tom Graham came into my e-mail box over the weekend.
Hi Martha -

I wondered if WMRAers might like some behind the scenes political news.

On Morning Edition this past Friday, Bob Leweke and I reviewed some of the latest developments out of the state capitol -- now that this year’s General Assembly Session has reached its half way point.

As usual, time constraints kept us from being able to go into everything on my list.
So I’m sending some audio that did not make it on air.

The following comments come from three lawmakers whose districts fall within the WMRA service region:

State Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta County) was asked about his argument that current law is unfair to so-called “bricks and mortar” businesses because, while they have to collect sales tax, retailers who sell on the internet do not. Senator Hanger is pushing for legislation that would force internet companies like Amazon to collect Virginia sales tax.
Emmett Hanger:    It’s actually a very important issue. The law of the land, as it currently exists and the Supreme Court has interpreted it, is that if a business has a nexus, that is has some kind of physical presence in your state, then they can be required to collect sales tax. And for me it’s a matter of fairness. We certainly should not allow these large retailers to have a competitive advantage on the internet. Because they’re actually running traditional Mom and Pop, bricks and mortar businesses out of business with that advantage.
One single example, which is somewhat of a focus in the legislation I’m currently working on, is Amazon. Amazon this past holiday season, the 4th quarter of 2009, enjoyed roughly a 42% percent growth in business. Tremendous growth. A lot of people are moving that direction and we are allowing them not to collect sales tax. And they actually have a presence in Virginia. So I’m attempting to tighten up our statutes so that we say to that retailer, you will collect that tax that is already owed. It’s not a tax increase. And I think if we equate that to say WalMart, if we were to not have similar legislation for WalMart and just required everyone who made purchases all year long to compute what they’d saved in a shoe box and remit to the state, it just wouldn’t work. And the same can be said for Amazon and other like retailers. They really do need to be good corporate citizens.

Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah County) was asked why he favors the so-called “guns in bars” measure. This is legislation that would allow gun owners who have concealed carry permits to keep their guns with them when they go into a restaurant where alcohol is served -- as long as that gun owner does not consume any alcohol while in that restaurant.
Todd Gilbert:     I’ve always been a big advocate of the Second Amendment. I’ve always trusted law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, to avail themselves of the means of self-protection. I believe in the Second Amendment; I believe it is a fundamental right. You know while it may seem cavalier or silly to some people to suggest that folks might want to have a gun with them in a restaurant, the fact is that we trust hundreds of thousands each and every day to carry a concealed weapon on their person for themselves or for the protection of their families, and it makes absolutely no sense to me that even though we trust them everywhere else in society, we cease trusting them simply because they want to take their family out to dinner. And I think we’re well on our way to removing that impediment to folks who want to continue to protect themselves if they go out for a nice dinner with their family.
Delegate David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) spoke about his hope that efforts to create a “non-partisan commission in charge of legislative redistricting” might yet succeed. That proposal was killed in a House of Delegates committee again this year. But since the State Senate gave its unanimous approval to the same measure, the proposal is technically still alive.

David Toscano:  The non-partisan redistricting bill that I’ve supported over the years passed the Senate and would get over to the House. This is our last chance to try non-partisan redistricting before the next round. I’ve always taken the position that it shouldn’t be the legislators who are choosing their constituents; it should be constituents who are choosing their legislators.
Tom G: In the campaign, candidate McDonnell supported that. It seems like Governor McDonnell has not been active in supporting that once he got into office. Does that cause thoughts for you?
DT: Governor McDonnell has been invisible on the non-partisan redistricting issue, even though he campaigned on it. You would have thought that this was one of the important issues that he would want to push, and nobody from his administration, he didn’t come over to lobby for the legislation. He knew that the House was likely to kill it, but he did nothing to try to get it passed. That’s unfortunate.

One other note on non-partisan redistricting.

State Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) is the longtime sponsor of this measure. I spoke to him about it last week.

In past years his proposal has made it through the Senate only to be quashed in the House of Delegates.

Even though a House committee killed the House version of the bill earlier this month, the Senate version will still have to be acted on when it gets sent over to the House.

I asked Senator Deeds if he thought there was any chance that the Senate version of the bill could get approval in the House this year. His response: “Well, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. So I haven’t completely given up hope.”

Made me smile. Hope your day is causing you to do so as well.


Tom (Graham)
Another note: Tom actually sent me the statements from the Virginia legislators as sound files, but I couldn't figure out a way to post sound on this blog. Anyone out there have a clue if this is possible?  MW

1 comment:

  1. If it so commonplace for people to carry concealed weapons, to the point where it should make no difference to me whether a restaurant is full of armed people, then I live under a rock and am totally out of touch with my community.

    What does it mean to "trust law abiding citizens to protect themselves, to avail themselves of the means of self-protection?" Every person not in jail is a law-abiding citizen until they are not, and one way they lose their law-abiding status is by using a gun to "protect" themselves. If we're going to trust citizens to take the law into their own hands, why bother with law enforcement?