Virginia’s 2017 session sets election stage
By Charles Frohman
With completion of Virginia’s 2017 legislative session, we now have the line dividing freedom and statism for this fall’s election.
Starting with regulations, the legislature exposed rules bureaucracies write to an analysis of how they might impact entrepreneurs and the economy.
Politicians now can recall regulations found not to conform with the original bill’s intent. Unfortunately, our government defeated a plan to have a commission list other red tape for repeal.
Further, they defeated a bill to stop licensing boards from misusing their power to persecute nonconforming professionals. No one struggles more with licensing and its associated fees than the poor, but Virginia defeated a bill to exempt them from that tax.
Diving from general regulations into specific markets, in healthcare the legislature exempted direct primary agreements from insurance regulation, but hospitals will continue to have the power to stop competing health centers from being constructed.
Government, too, will gain the power to torture pain patients by putting them in a database and limiting how much relief their doctors can give them. Health freedom activists did gain partial medical marijuana rights (if only for cannabis oil) and beat back Big Pharma’s push to repeal the ethic of informed consent for vaccines. Baby girls also won’t be forced to endure genital mutilation.
In education it was disappointing families won’t be able to take their tax money and spend it via an Educational Savings Account on a school that better meets their needs. Virginia even forbade charter school choice.
Homeschooling families will continue to have to pay property tax without letting their kids play school sports. Our government did, however, stop colleges from crimping free speech rights.
The legislature also ignored the entrepreneurial needs of farmers, refusing to assist the budding hemp industry, and subjecting family farms to bankrupting, warrantless inspections.
On behalf of democracy, Virginia defeated a party registration measure that would have charged for primaries in which we wouldn’t be allowed to participate, but ignored the need to reduce the vote totals triggering automatic ballot qualification.
And while the legislature opened government meetings to Freedom of Information requests, they kept many of their votes secret and refused to guarantee citizen testimony at government meetings. Again they refused to abide by term limits.
Ignoring judicial reform, Virginia refused to stop harassing personal, harmless pot use, but allowed retention of drivers licenses to get to work.
Cruelly, felons will remain forbidden from regaining their rights, including voting, even after they’ve completed their sentence. And making a mockery of due process, prosecutors will continue to withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense.
Government wouldn’t even promise to delete after a week personal data captured by license plate readers.
On property rights, those suffering loss of opportunity from government takings will gain damages, but suffer more damages if land near them is confiscated for power stations by our utility Dominion. Local governments also gained a power to tax AirBnB out of business.
There’s plenty here for this year’s debates for not only governor, but also future state delegate and senator races.
Remember the burden of citizenry in a republic: We have to advocate always to keep government within its bounds or lose our freedoms.
Charles Frohman, an ’84 grad of NSA and ’88 William and Mary, is chief operating officer of the nonprofit founded by 2016 libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and a consultant for government affairs clients, including the free market health hub, Health Excellence Select. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.