Virginia Legislature - Transportation Bill - HB2313 and HB1500 - Medicaid Expansion - Rob Bell - As the General Assembly session ended last week, two major bills passed that I opposed and argued against. The first, HB 2313, was the transportation package. It will increase a variety of taxes by more than $800 million a year. I fought the transportation proposal. I voted against the bill when it was first presented and have opposed every version or amendment that would have raised taxes or costs on Virginia taxpayers. Given the overall growth of the budget, I believe that it is wrong to pass even more costs onto Virginia taxpayers, and voted No. Unfortunately, it did pass. The second, HB 1500, was the state budget. I had various concerns with the proposed budget, but the most significant was the issue of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. (The Obama administration offered $9 billion in exchange for a large expansion in Virginia; Virginia would have to start paying increased costs in 2017.) Even without expansion, state spending on Medicaid spending has grown explosively – 478% – over the last 20 years. Put differently, since 1985, spending on Medicaid has grown from approximately 5% to 25% of the state budget. Absent massive reforms, this growth is likely to continue. Under HB 1500, the final decision on Medicaid reforms and whether to accept the Medicaid money will be made by a special commission. I did not believe this plan provided enough protections for Virginia taxpayers, and argued against it on the floor and voted No. (As Attorney General Cuccinelli noted and as I argued during floor debate, there are also Constitutional concerns with allowing such a decision to be made by a commission.) Democrats believe this was a substantial victory; Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) cheered, “We have put Virginia on a clear path to expanding Medicaid.” I am very disappointed in these two measures. I believe that Republicans are and should be the party of lower taxes and more limited government. I pledge that I will continue to fight for our conservative principles going forward. (Rob Bell, Steve Landes, Matt Fariss, Bryce Reeves, voted NO, David Toscano, Creigh Deeds voted YES for tax increases. Republicans who voted for this bill........
(2) Inside the Tax Increase Numbers: The Laundry List of What Will Be Taxed and by How Much - Family Foundation - Here’s the list of what will be taxed and by how much in the proposed “transportation tax increase” now before both chambers of the General Assembly. Not angry yet? Read on:
» A 3.5 percent wholesale sales tax paid by distributors would replace the current 17.5 cents per gallon flat tax on gasoline. The new tax, though, will be passed on to consumers, along with a 6 percent wholesale sales tax on diesel fuel.
» The 5 percent retail sales and use tax paid statewide on most purchases will increase to 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and to 5.3 percent in the rest of the state.
» A $100 annual fee will be levied on alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrids.
» The sales tax on the purchase of cars (new or used) will increase from 3 percent to 4 percent.
» In Northern Virginia, the tax on house sales will increase by 40 cents per hundred dollars. That’s an extra $1,600 on the sale of a $400,000 home. Read more.........
(3) The Case of the Phantom Ballots: An Electoral Whodunit - Miami Herald - The first phantom absentee ballot request hit the Miami-Dade elections website at 9:11 p.m. Saturday, July 7.
The next one came at 9:14. Then 9:17. 9:22. 9:24. 9:25.
Within 2½ weeks, 2,552 online requests arrived from voters who had not applied for absentee ballots. They streamed in much too quickly for real people to be filling them out. They originated from only a handful of Internet Protocol addresses. And they were not random.
It had all the appearances of a political dirty trick, a high-tech effort by an unknown hacker to sway three key Aug. 14 primary elections, a Miami Herald investigation has found.
The plot failed. The elections department’s software flagged the requests as suspicious. The ballots weren’t sent out.
But who was behind it? And next time, would a more skilled hacker be able to rig an election?
Six months and a grand-jury probe later, there still are few answers about the phantom requests, which targeted Democratic voters in a congressional district and Republican voters in two Florida House districts.
The foreman of that grand jury, whose report made public the existence of the phantom requests, said jurors were eager to learn if a candidate or political consultant had succeeded in manipulating the voting system. But they didn’t get any answers.
“We were like, ‘Why didn’t anyone do something about it?’ ” foreman Jeffrey Pankey said.
(4) North Carolina: Memo Allegedly Leaked from Soros - Backed Organization Shows Progressive Plan to 'Eviscerate' Conservative Government - The Blaze - North Carolina’s newly elected Republican governor Pat McCrory hasn’t been in office for even two months, and already progressive groups and their allies within North Carolina’s state Democratic party have the long knives out. That is, if a leaked memo from the progressive organization Blueprint North Carolina is to be believed. The controversial memo was first reported on by the Charlotte Observer this past Friday. The Observer reported:
A group that sent out a memo with tips on how to attack Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders exercised “bad judgment” that could jeopardize its funding, the director of a foundation that finances the group said Friday.[...]
The memo was forwarded by Stephanie Bass, then Bluprint’s communications director, to the group’s nonprofit allies. The Observer obtained a copy.
Describing the control Republicans hold on North Carolina state government, it gave progressives a list of recommendations. Among them:
• “Crippling their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger etc.).”
• “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
• “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”
• “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”
• “Private investigators and investigative reporting, especially in the executive branch…” Read more......