Wolf to Host Jobs Fair

10TH DISTRICT JOB FAIR SET FOR APRIL 2 IN LEESBURG

Washington, D.C. (March 5, 2012) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10 th ) will host a free Job Fair on April 2 in Loudoun County. It will be from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Harper Park Middle School, just off Route 7 east of Leesburg.

Here is a partial list of companies participating:

American Systems
AXA Advisors
Cox Communications
Cubic Corp
George Washington University
Janelia Farm Medical Research Institute
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
MAIS
Serco Inc.
STG Inc.
Synteras
Telos Corp
Thermo Fisher Scientific
U.S. Secret Service
Virginia State Police

For more information about the job fair or how a company or can be included, contact Wolf’s Herndon office at (703) 709-5800. There is no charge to for companies to participate.

Minchew Memo – March 2, 2012

House Passes Budget

The House of Delegates passed a two-year budget last Thursday totaling $85 million for the 2012-2014 fiscal years. Unlike federal budget practices in Washington, the House budget is balanced and structurally sound and contains no gimmicks or tax increases. It was passed on a bi-partisan vote of 79-21. We are now eagerly awaiting the Senate’s budget so that we can complete our work.

You can see some of the highlights of the budget in the panel to the right.

(Click to enlarge)

Funding Restoration Amendments Pass House

When the House approved the budget plan, two critical amendments were included that restore funding directly impacting the 10th district.

Funding Restored For Crucial 20th District Judgeship

The House budget will restore funding for our 20th Judicial Circuit General District Court judgeship that was not included in the Governor’s proposed budget. Delegate Joe May and I submitted a budget amendment that restores the judgeship’s funding (see: line 40 of amendment) to the proposed budget. Other districts throughout the Commonwealth will not be able to fill retiring judgeships as a result of funding cuts.

The 20th Judicial Circuit has one of the busiest per-judge dockets in Virginia and maintaining this judgeship currently held by retiring Judge Julia Taylor Cannon is crucial for our General District Court. Delegate May and I are grateful for the work of substitute judges who help fill in the gaps on an already full docket, but elimination of a judgeship in the region where the population growth continues to surpass anywhere else in the Commonwealth is unacceptable. I am pleased the House was amenable to our request for the maintenance of funding for the judgeship.

Cost of Competing Adjustment Funding Included in House Budget

The Cost of Competing Adjustment (COCA) is a long-standing recognition of the higher cost of living in Northern Virginia. Aided by COCA, localities can offset the higher cost of living with higher salaries for public school teachers. Cost of “competing” refers to school division’s ability to compete relative to the local private-wage market.

Knowing that the COCA to support higher salaries for Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick counties was not included in the Governor’s proposed budget, Delegate Joe May, Delegate Tag Greason and I submitted another House budget amendment to provide for COCA funding in the amounts of $6.5 million for the 2012-13 year and $6.7 million for the 2013-14 year. Last week the House approved our amendment and it is now included in our budget sent over to the Senate.

This is an important budget item that I was proud to fight for with other members of our Northern Virginia delegation in the General Assembly.

Priority Focus, Controversial Bills

My primary focus in Richmond this session has been on public policies that encourage job creation, enhance our business climate, support transportation and education, and protect our quality of life. Several bills on social issues, however, have inspired a robust public discussion. While these social bills only comprise 2.2% of the bills that were filed, the attention these bills have received show that both sides of the debate believe these issues are critically important. I respect impassioned citizens who care about public policy issues. As Justice Brandeis once correctly observed, “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”

Two social policy bills filed dealing with pre-abortion informed consent generated the most discussion. They are House Bill 462 and Senate Bill 484. The core of these bills pertain to the need for information in making a critical decision. However, over the course of the deliberations on both bills in the House and Senate, it became apparent that amendments were needed to clarify the kind of information in the form of sonogram data required to allow for informed consent to occur.

One of these two informed consent bills required an invasive form of ultrasound data collection that is routinely prescribed and chosen by many women. But, while this procedure is routinely prescribed, that justification alone should not give rise to a government mandate. As Governor McDonnell advised in suggesting amendments to this informed consent bill, “mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state.”

The medical community has stated that their standards of care and practice guide them to use whatever ultrasound procedure is appropriate in each instance to determine the gestational age of the fetus. It is important for legal and medical reasons to determine gestational age, and the amendments that passed the House were intended to both clarify the bill’s purpose and reflect consideration of existing medical practice.

As such, I supported the amendments to the informed consent bills that remove the requirement for an invasive form of ultrasound. The Senate approved this amended bill earlier in the week and I supported it when it came back to the house, where it passed today on a 61-35 vote.

Again, thank you to those who contacted me both in favor and opposition of the bill. I take each of your concerns seriously. This issue has been a divisive one and I deeply respect the views of my friends and constituents on both sides of this debate. At their core, these bills affect life and liberty, two of the most important things in the world.

Over 97% of bills that have gone through the House deal with important functions of government that are not social issues. These bills will continue to receive the majority of my attention and focus during the 2012 General Assembly Session.

 

Wolf Testifies at Hearing on George Washington Birthday Bill

House Subcommittee Considers Measure to Move Federal Holiday to February 22

Washington, D.C. (February 29, 2012) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10 th ) today delivered the following testimony at a hearing on his bill (HR 2268) to change the federal holiday celebrating George Washington’s birthday back to its actual date – February 22 – instead of the third Monday in February, which is commonly referred to as President’s Day:

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The hearing was before the subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.   Other witnesses included noted author Richard Brookhiser, Anne D. Neal, president, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and Lucia Henderson, vice regent, Mount Vernon Ladies Association.  Rep. Jim Moran (D-8 th ) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) are cosponsors of Wolf’s bill.  Identical legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Mark Warner (D-VA).)

Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this hearing to discuss the importance of honoring George Washington on February 22.  Last Wednesday marked the 280 th anniversary of his birth, yet most Americans celebrated a generic “Presidents Day” holiday two days earlier instead.  Hardly any mention is made of the real purpose of the federal holiday, which is to honor Washington’s birth.

Does anyone here today celebrate your birthday on the third Monday of a month? Of course not.  So why do we diminish the memory of the greatest American by turning his birthday into nothing more than a three-day weekend? The legislation you are considering today will remedy this glaring problem.

I have long admired President Washington and have found inspiration in public service from studying his life.  Washington was a natural leader; whether in the saddle or at the seat of government, he was able to draw out the best in those who served with him.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough, who supports this legislation, recently observed, “We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate.”  I believe Congress has unwittingly contributed to this lack of historical understanding by relegating Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday of February to take advantage of a three-day weekend.

We need to change the focus from celebrating sales at the mall to celebrating the significance of President Washington’s birth to the birth of our nation.

In the summer of 1775, George Washington was chosen by Congress to lead the Continental Army because of his character, his dedication to the cause of liberty and freedom, his sense of duty to his country and his reverence to the Almighty.  Facing the many hardships of the Revolution and formation of our government, the Founding Fathers knew that in Washington they had a leader who would never relent and therefore would inspire those he led to follow his example.

In his letter supporting this legislation, author and historian Richard Brookhiser said, “George Washington held unprecedented power and responsibility; military and political, in a brand-new nation, without breaking or bending its laws.  He did every job he was asked, and when he was done, he went home.”

His jobs were too numerous to count: soldier, legislator, commander-in-chief, president of the Constitutional Convention and finally chief executive.  Each was done with the knowledge that his service was expected of him by his country and his creator.

Washington’s character served him well in the political arena as well.  Stuart Leibiger, chair of the History Department at LaSalle University said, “As Chief Executive, Washington helped hold the United States together until it became strong enough to hold itself together.” This was not an easy task. Managing the different personalities in his cabinet took exceptional skill and respect.  Yet, while Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton agreed on very little, they both agreed in the greatness of Washington.

In 1789, there was only the blueprint of the Constitution to go by; Congress and the federal government had to create its own traditions.  Author Myron Magnet, in his letter supporting this legislation said, “There was so much [Washington] had to make up as he went along, out of his own judgment, experience, and instinct, and he had to bring his audience along with him by force of character.” America has had many leaders who followed this example.

Who will emerge in the decades ahead to lead us to more crowning achievements? What corner of our country will produce a leader with the strength of character, dedication to country and the desire to serve that guided George Washington?

President Washington exemplifies the best that America and Americans have to offer the world: principled leadership, personal bravery, a sense of duty and public service, patriotism, recognition of our unique role in world history and a reverence for his Creator.  His enduring service deserves to be remembered on his actual birthday.

In his letter supporting this legislation, David McCullough said, “Celebrating George Washington’s birthday on February 22 is a simple, solid, self-evident statement of respect for one of the greatest of all Americans, for his whole founding generation, and for so much that we owe them.”

We owe it to future generations to honor George Washington on February 22 and do all we can to ensure that his legacy is never forgotten and accessible to all.

Paws & Claws: Would you support a local spay and neuter service?

by Brittany Fewell

Hello everyone!

I am sure that all of you, if not most of you, have heard about Spay Today, or Shenandoah Valley Spay & Neuter Clinic. These organizations are wonderful assets to have, especially in today’s economy where everything is so expensive.

These programs offer cheaper spaying and neutering for cats and dogs in this area. Spay Today is located in Charles Town, West Virginia. Shenandoah Valley Spay & Neuter Clinic is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, but has drop off points in Winchester, and Front Royal. However, there is the option to drive your animal to Harrisonburg yourself.

The prices are reasonable. Cats range from $30.00 to $60.00. And dogs range from $40.00 to $100.00.

That isn’t bad, compared to what you would pay at a veterinarian’s office, outright.

However, I would like to know how you feel about having something like this closer to our area. How would you feel if there was something here in Northern Virginia, and perhaps it used our shelter as a drop off point?

Would you use this service?

Would you be willing to pay these prices to have your animals fixed?

Would you be willing to pay maybe a little more expensive fee if this service was being offered in your area?

Are these prices even reasonable to you? Or would you like to see something cheaper?

How would you feel about it?

We are always looking for community input. And this is one of those times where we think the community’s opinion would be really helpful. Come into the shelter, leave a comment here, or give us a phone call and voice your opinion. It is always appreciated!

The shelter is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 8 AM to 3:30 PM. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM. We are closed on all holidays.

Our phone number is 540.955.5104

The address is 225 Ramsburg Lane, Berryville, Virginia 22611. We are located behind the high school next to the transportation and maintenance offices.

Thanks for your continued support of the Clarke County Animal Shelter!

 

Brittany Fewell is an animal lover and staff member at the Clarke County Animal Shelter

Minchew Minute: Budget, School Improvement and Entrepreneurs

February 23, 2012

 

Budget Work Begins

Last Sunday night, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee each adopted revisions to the budget introduced by the Governor. With less than a month left of session, a great deal of time will be spent in consideration of the many revisions that both houses proposed.

Yesterday the House Republican Caucus held a Budget Press Conference focusing on the House Appropriation’s amendments to the governor’s proposed budget. They addressed the issues that are at the forefront of consideration as the house and senate moves towards passage of the budget before the session ends.

Improving Public Schools

A child’s educational opportunities should be determined by his or her intellect and work ethic, not his or her zip code. Both HB 321 and SB 131 spur private-sector investment into the effort to remove the educational challenges of low-income students.

Versions of the Education Improvement Scholarship bill have passed the House and Senate and are in both the House and Senate Finance Committees.

Governor McDonnell applauded the Senate’s passage of the bill saying, “Virginia students deserve a world-class education regardless of their zip code and socio-economic status. Public and Private sector entities must come together to provide every possible opportunity for students to get the education they need to fill the good jobs available in the 21st century.”

Indeed a child’s educational opportunities should be determined by his or her intellect and work ethic, not his or her zip code. Both HB 321 and SB 131 spur private-sector investment into the effort to remove the educational challenges of low-income students.

The House and Senate versions establish a tax credit for donations by individuals or corporations to nonprofit organizations providing education improvement scholarships to low-income students or eligible students with disabilities in order for them to attend nonpublic elementary or secondary schools.

The Virginia Department of Taxation noted that the Department of Education would see cost reductions. In this bill, corporations and individuals would receive a 70% state tax credit for contributions to K-12 scholarship foundations and the foundation must spend 90% of the contribution on direct scholarships for low-income students.

In other words, a $100,000 donation will “cost” the state $70,000 in tax credits, but it will “save” the state $90,000 in state education expenses. Additionally, local governments may save additional funds per child that money to a nonpublic school.

2012: Year of the Entrepreneur

2012 has been declared “The Year of the Entrepreneur”:

The Year of the Entrepreneur

WHEREAS, the health, prosperity and vitality of our Commonwealth’s economy is tied directly to the leadership, motivation, and inspiration of entrepreneurs; and

WHEREAS, the engine of our economy is driven by the new ventures and enterprises created by the innovative minds of entrepreneurs, and it is their ideas that generate commerce and create jobs within our Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, it is because of their vision, ingenuity and productivity that countless advancements have been made in the global marketplace today; and

WHEREAS, 75 percent of our nation’s 26 million business firms are run by self-employed men and women, with approximately 2,300 individuals becoming independent entrepreneurs each day; and

WHEREAS, it is incumbent on our Commonwealth to provide an economic climate in which entrepreneurs can grow and thrive and create good paying jobs for our citizens; and

WHEREAS, we must prioritize the investment in the entrepreneurial education of our youth, which in turn will lead to improvements in the long-term development of our workplaces and communities; and

WHEREAS, it is crucial that our Commonwealth actively inspires young leadership and provides students with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be competitive leaders in the successful businesses of tomorrow;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize the year two thousand and twelve as THE YEAR OF THE ENTREPRENEUR in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens.

Virginia has a vast array of resources and tools to support the innovative individuals who want to do business in the Commonwealth.

The work of the General Assembly is crucial to creating the kind of business environment that will make entrepreneurs want to start and stay in the Commonwealth. We are working hard to make sure that 2012 and beyond are great years for Virginia business.

 

 

Vogel’s View – February 24, 2012

This week, the Senate voted on the budget, the most important vote we will cast in the next two years. The 2012-2014 Biennium Budget impacts every policy area and the Senate’s version of the budget made sweeping policy changes. We reinstated funding desperately needed for safety net programs, K-12, higher education, public safety and other critical areas. In addition, I fulfilled commitments that I had made to law enforcement and public employees to make them whole and to protect VRS.

Despite weeks of intense bi-partisan collaboration and an earlier agreement on all sides, the Senate vote for the budget failed for the first time in history.  Remarkably, as an objection to just a few committee assignments, twenty Senators either voted “no” or did not vote.  Because the Lieutenant Governor cannot break a tie budget vote, all of our good work was lost.  There is one last hope.  We have a second chance to adopt our measures when we vote on the House budget, which we can amend to include our changes.

Several of my bills passed the House this week, including measures to clarify tax treatment for historic rehabilitation tax credits, to improve the Circuit Court process for permanent protective orders and to amend the Town Charter of Middleburg.

This year, the House and Senate have been criticized in the press for introducing bills on social issues.  However, a mere 12 of the 686 bills introduced in the Senate have any impact on social matters.  Rather, the big focus has been on the economy.  Some of the bills that passed this week include:  SB 368 allowing localities to receive derelict buildings to spur commercial development; SB 549 permitting new machinery and tools purchases to be classified as intangible personal property so they are not double taxed; SB 368 to extend the Major Business Facility jobs tax credit; and SB 112 to incentivize technology investment and creation of data centers.

This week, I moved to strike SB 484, the informed consent bill that recently passed in the Senate. I was joined by eleven Senate co-patrons on a bill that had a simple intent–to bring Virginia’s informed consent rules in line with current reproductive technology. The bill offered a woman the opportunity to view the results of an ultrasound in advance of a procedure to terminate a pregnancy and was strictly optional. Women would not be forced to view the results of the ultrasound, only offered an opportunity to do so. My bill was based on language used in 20 other states that have similar informed consent laws.

This was all consistent with the information provided during initial discussions about the measure. Clinics currently perform – and recommend – ultrasounds as a routine part of screening. The procedure is considered to be a safety measure constituting current “best practices.” Planned Parenthood advocates the same ultrasound technology in their clinics and the National Abortion Federation includes the procedure in their standards.

Physicians had explained that ultrasounds reflect the standard of care required to safely perform a procedure.  It is the only way to determine gestational age and to screen for serious complications (like ectopic pregnancy), which place the mother at increased risk. Finally, patient advocates have emphasized how critical it is that women have access to information in order to make good decisions about their health. Ironically, that was precisely the Senate’s posture on a mammogram bill that was voted unanimously out of committee just minutes before my bill was heard. The mammogram bill required that women be provided results of certain mammogram tests.

It was never my intent to force a woman to have a vaginal screening against her will, only to ensure that women seeking abortions are fully informed and that current state-of-the-art safety procedures are followed.  I struck the bill over the objections of the Governor and others who have worked hard on the bill. But at this point in the process, it was for me a matter of conscience. New information about the ultrasound bill placed a number of facts in conflict. After new feedback from physicians, clinicians, lawyers and constituents, I had to conclude I clearly did not have all of the answers. Also, I learned the Governor was hurrying amendments to the floor and at that point it was time for me to call “time out” on my bill.

A House version of the bill still exists and it is my hope that with amendments, the underlying mission of the bill might be preserved.  It is worth mentioning that the difficult work of legislation requires an open mind, a measured reaction and respect for those who disagree. I have great respect for my colleagues and try to engage in conduct that is always kind, even when we vociferously disagree. Some of the public debate on this matter was at times undignified.  But I have to acknowledge an unusual act by Delegate David Englin (D-Alexandria) who took to the House floor Friday to extend a public apology to me for misstatements he made recently in the national media.  I was very appreciative and in the end it is a good lesson for us all in kindness and decorum.

As always, I take your thoughts and opinions seriously and hope that you will contact our office any time that you have questions or concerns. We have had a number of visitors in the Capitol this session and I urge you to visit if you have time before the session concludes on March 10th.  I can be reached during the General Assembly session at 804-698-7527, P.O. Box 397, Richmond, VA 23218 or you can email me at jillvogel@senate27.com. Also, please visit our website at www.senatorjillvogel.com .

Wolf Press Conference to Address Reports of Ethnic Cleansing, Mass Murder and Rape by Uniformed Soldiers of the Khartoum Government

Monday, February 27, 2012 – 2 p.m.

H 309 in the Capitol

(House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Hearing Room)

Congressman Frank Wolf

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a longtime advocate for Sudan and co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, just returned from a trip to the world’s newest country, South Sudan, where he visited a refugee camp in Yida filled with men, woman and children who have fled the fighting in the nearby Nuba Mountains.

More than 25,000 refugees are living in the camp, which is about 20 miles south of the Sudan border.  Wolf heard dramatic stories of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and rape, all carried out by uniformed soldiers of the Khartoum government.  Refugees recounted how they lived in fear of the Antonov planes that flew over their villages, dropping crude bombs out of their cargo bays – a trademark of the Khartoum government.  The planes now fly over the refugee camp, continuing their reign of terror.  “You just prepare yourself for death” when you hear a Antonov fly overhead, a refugee told Wolf.  Others asked if they were being attacked because of the color of their skin.

The refugees want the world to hear of their plight and desperately want Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to be arrested.  The International Criminal Court has charged Bashir with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and yet he continues to travel with impunity throughout Africa and to countries like China.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and NBC Correspondent Ann Curry also have spent time in the camp in recent days.  They left the morning Wolf arrived.  Kristof already has written two columns on what he experienced and Curry is expected to report on what she saw next week.

Wolf is the first member of Congress to visit the camp in Yida.  He will be joined at the press conference by the Hon. Tom Andrews, president and CEO of United to End Geoncide, and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  Both of these organizations have had staff visit Yida in recent months.

Wolf will show video of what he saw, including interviews with several women.  He also will release a detailed “trip report” about his visit and make a number of recommendations.

While in South Sudan, Wolf also met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and members of his cabinet.  In addition, he met with Rebecca Garang, the wife of the late Dr. John Garang, leader of the SPLM and a key architect of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the North and the South in January of 2005, ending 21 years of civil war.  Wolf and Mrs. Garang visited the memorial built to honor her husband, who was killed in a helicopter crash in July of 2005.  Wolf met Garang on his second trip to Sudan in 1989.  He has been to Sudan four times since then, including leading the first congressional delegation to Darfur in 2004 with then-Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).

Vogel’s View – Legislative Update, February 20, 2012

February 14th marked our Crossover session. It is the midway point of every legislative session and this annual milestone marks the deadline by which the Senate must act on all bills filed by members of the Senate.  Any successful Senate bills must be sent to the House by midnight. The House has the same deadline by which to complete their bills and transmit their successful legislation to the Senate.

The date is traditionally consumed by long sessions and lengthy debates on the floor of both houses of the General Assembly. However, this year, those sessions were not nearly as long, with both sides completing their work well in advance of assigned deadlines. I think we are unusually well-organized this session and more efficient than any session that I have served. We have done a good job of weeding out the bad bills and perfecting the quality bills. Of the nearly 700 bills filed by Senators, more than 400 were approved and sent to the House for consideration. Also, by Crossover, the Senate had already considered and approved a significant number of House bills, passing 77 to be exact.

Prior to Crossover, a stunning range of substantive bills dealing with every major issue facing the Commonwealth had been approved by the Senate. To create jobs and strengthen our economy, we approved measures that provide incentives for investment in small businesses and for the placement of major business facilities in Virginia. To improve the quality of education and workforce development, the Senate approved legislation streamlining diploma requirements for high school students, making them more rigorous and enhancing their value.  Legislation providing for the accreditation of new virtual schools and allowing more partnerships between local school boards and colleges and universities also won approval.

It should be no surprise that the most controversial bills were being refined until the very end.  In this case, among the bills left until the last hours of the crossover deadline were transportation bills, Virginia Retirement System measures, project labor agreement limitations and the Property Rights Constitutional Amendment.

The Property Rights Amendment gained the most attention.  The resolution to amend the Constitution of Virginia to protect property rights, and an accompanying bill defining those rights, both passed.  The intent of the measures is to ensure that property takings by government under eminent domain are limited to legitimate public uses and that landowners receive just compensation.  To amend the Constitution of Virginia requires the amendment be approved by the House and Senate in two successive legislative sessions.  After that, the amendment goes before the voters in the form of a referendum and voters can approve or reject.

The Senate also voted to approve the bill prohibiting mandated Project Labor Agreements for public works contracts in Virginia. Allowing PLAs to be mandated in these contracts unfairly prevents the participation of the overwhelming majority of Virginia-based firms in the bidding/procurement process.   These measures received approval by both houses of the General Assembly in an effort to protect Virginia business in a difficult economy and very competitive procurement environment.

On the transportation front, there are two competing transportation measures before the General Assembly. The House version most closely reflects Governor McDonnell’s proposal, while the Senate’s version includes a proposal to “index” the gas tax.  The final transportation bill will be a compromise, and will undoubtedly include some of the provisions found in the House bill and some from the Senate.  However, Governor McDonnell and the House have made it clear they will not approve any bill that includes the gas tax index component.

Finally, the biggest event of the week came Sunday afternoon when the Senate Finance Committee met to pass the Senate’s version of the 2012-2014 Biennial Budget.  It was the result of weeks of painstaking work.  I chaired the subcommittee responsible for general government, technology, state employee compensation, the court system and the Virginia Retirement System, and I am very proud of the budget that we produced.

My priority for my subcommittee was to focus on employee compensation, recognizing that state employees have not had a salary increase since 2007 and that our courts, and our court clerks in particular, have been ground to a halt because of lack of funding.  With that in mind, we were able to draft a budget that includes a 3% bonus for state employees effective in 2012.  We also included a $58.8 million allocation for a 2% salary increase for state employees and state-supported local employees effective in 2013.  Our budget also allocated $9.8 million for an additional 136 new deputy district court clerk positions and we “unfroze” ten judgeships in areas of the state with the greatest judicial workload.   In the category of VRS, we did not endorse any further changes to the retirement programs for current state and local employees.  We also set aside money to counter the existing reduction in aid to localities, boosting local aid by up to $50 million in 2013.

I hope that the full Senate and the House will support these proposals.  Six other subcommittees had complex budgets to propose and they all passed in committee as well.  Those categories were education, health and human resources, transportation, public safety and capital outlay.  A synopsis of those proposals will follow in the next legislative update.

As always, I take your thoughts and opinions seriously and hope that you will get in touch with our office any time that you have questions or concerns.  We have had a number of visitors in the Capitol this session and I urge you to visit if you have time before the session concludes on March 10th.  It is a great experience and especially educational for kids.  I can be reached during the General Assembly session at 804-698-7527, P.O. Box 397, Richmond, VA 23218 or you can email me at jillvogel@senate27.com.  Also, please visit our website atwww.senatorjillvogel.com .

Wolf Opposes Payroll “Holiday” Extension


Washington, D.C. (February 17, 2012) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today again voted against extending the payroll “holiday” for another 10 months, saying the measure would steal money from Social Security and add to the nation’s deficit.

Wolf noted that the House Appropriations Committee – on which he serves – worked to cut $95 billion in spending in the 2011 and 2012 fiscal year appropriations bills and that all those savings would be undermined by this legislation, which adds $93 billion to the national deficit.

Wolf also opposed the measure because it requires new federal employees to contribute a larger percentage of their income towards their pensions.

“This bill only asks for sacrifice from a small number of Americans,” Wolf said in a statement submitted in the Congressional Record .

Wolf voted against the creation of the payroll “holiday” in 2010 and against extending it in 2011.

Below is the complete text of Wolf’s statement submitted in the Congressional Record.  It also is available on his Web site, wolf.house.gov.

Mr. Speaker, What are we doing? The bill before us today, which would extend the expiring payroll holiday for 10 more months, exemplifies all that is wrong with Washington. No wonder the American peoples’ faith in Congress is at an all-time low. 

First, the agreement steals $93 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for a 10-month extension of a temporary program that was supposed to expire two months ago. 

Second, there is no offset for this new spending.  It adds $93 billion to the deficit this year – money we will have to borrow from countries like China, which is spying on us, taking our jobs and has terrible record on human rights.   

Third, this bill only asks for sacrifice from a small number of Americans – federal employees and postal workers – to pay for the unemployment insurance extension and the Medicare “doc fix.”

Fourth, this “holiday” has proven to have little impact on economic growth and job creation, while significantly growing our deficit.

Finally, the House Appropriations Committee led efforts to cut $95 billion in spending in the 2011 and 2012 fiscal year appropriations bills.  This bill undoes all of the discretionary spending cuts achieved by the House in one fell swoop.  

As chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee, I have cut $11 billion from the budgets of the Commerce and Justice departments since Republicans reclaimed the majority.  These were difficult cuts, but necessary to start reining in our unsustainable deficit and debt.  And they will be completely undone after today’s vote.

Have we already forgotten the debates over the deficit last year? 

A year ago, we hoped to consider $4 trillion in debt reduction under the Bowles-Simpson Commission and the “Gang of Six” proposals. By the summer, we were voting on the Budget Control Act, which established a supercommittee charged with finding an additional $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years.  

Now, the White House and Congress are going in the other direction and choosing to spend away the $95 billion in deficit reduction actually achieved last year. 

This is shameful. The American people are right to be disappointed that the president and the Congress have walked away from every serious deficit reduction effort. They should be appalled that both sides have joined together to spend more money and weaken Social Security. 

This agreement is giving away the store.  And for what?  A payroll “holiday” that most Americans haven’t even noticed, according to a recent nationwide poll.

Our country is going broke. The national debt is over $15 trillion and is projected to reach $17 trillion by the end of this year and $21 trillion in 2021. We have annual deficits of over $1 trillion. We have unfunded obligations and liabilities of $65 trillion.  We are going the way of Greece.

Why are we voting to extend a policy that does nothing more than steal from the Social Security Trust Fund, which is already going broke? Social Security is unique because it is paid for through a dedicated tax on workers who will receive future benefits. The money paid today funds benefits for existing retirees, and ensures future benefits. Because you pay now, a future worker will pay your benefits. That is why, until December 2010, this revenue stream was considered sacrosanct by both political parties.

Social Security is already on an unsustainable path.  Today’s medical breakthroughs simply were not envisioned when the system was created in 1935. For example, in 1950, the average American lived for 68 years and 16 workers supported one retiree. Today, the average life expectancy is 78 and three workers support one retiree. Three and a half million people received Social Security in 1950; 55 million receive it today.

Every day since January 1, 2011, over 10,000 baby-boomers turned 65. This trend will continue every day for the next 19 years. Do these numbers sound sustainable to anyone?

The Social Security Actuary has said that by 2036 the trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits. This means that everyone will receive an across-the-board cut of 22 percent, regardless of how much money they paid into the system.

Does it make sense that everyone, regardless of income, will get money from this “stimulus?”  Does anyone think that Warren Buffet or Jimmy Buffet changed their buying habits as a result of this temporary suspension? 

Or did General Electric’s CEO, Jeffery Immelt, the head of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness who recently shipped GE’s medical imaging division from Wisconsin to China, really benefit from this “holiday?”  

We all know what needs to be done to address the deficit and debt and that is why I have supported every serious effort to resolve this crisis, including the Bowles-Simpson recommendations, the Ryan Budget, the “Gang of Six,” the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan and the Budget Control Act.

I also was among the bipartisan group of 103 members of Congress who urged the supercommittee to “go big” and identify $4 trillion in savings.  I continue to work with my colleagues to advance the Bowles-Simpson report.  I voted for the Balanced Budget Amendment.  Since 2006, when George Bush was in office, I have introduced my bipartisan legislation, the SAFE Commission, multiple times in hopes of dealing with this problem.

While none of these solutions were perfect, they all took the necessary steps to rebuild and protect our economy. In order to solve this problem, everything must be on the table for consideration: all entitlement spending; all domestic discretionary spending, including defense spending; and tax reform, particularly changes to make the tax code more simple and fair and to end the practice of tax earmarks and loopholes that cost hundreds of billions of dollars annually. 

Some of the pay-fors in today’s bill could be better used to address our deficit, such as the profits from the spectrum auction. Another pay-for that was previously proposed, and signed into law last December, raised the rates that mortgage lenders can charge on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans.  This 10 basis point increase makes a home loan more expensive for thousands of individuals looking to buy a house, while doing nothing to further reform these two lending entities.  But rather than putting these offsets to good use, we’re spending them away for a 10-month extension of this “holiday.” 

But the bill before us now is even worse than what was previously considered because the biggest portion, the $93 billion cost of the payroll holiday, is not being offset.  Once again, only a small segment of our society – federal employees and postal workers – are being used to pay for the other measures wrapped into this proposal.

While there are many federal employees in the Capital region, it is worth noting that more than 85 percent of the workforce is outside of Washington.  Eighty five percent.  More than 65 percent of all federal employees work in agencies that support our national defense capabilities as we continue to fight the War on Terror.

Has anyone fully considered the impact that this legislation will have on our ability to recruit qualified individuals to the CIA, the NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Counter Terrorism Center?

Or the impact it will have on the FBI, which has, since 9/11, disrupted scores of terrorist plots against our country?

Or the impact on our military, which is supported by federal employees every day on military bases across the Nation?

Or the impact on VA hospitals across the country, which are treating veterans from World War II to today?

Or the impact on the Border Patrol?

Or the impact on NASA, its astronauts, engineers and scientists? 

Or the impact on NIH, and other federal researchers, scientists and doctors?

Federal employees are currently working under President Obama’s two-year pay freeze as they do their part to address our deficit.  But to ask them to spend the rest of their careers paying for a 10 month policy?  That doesn’t make sense.   

Leadership from both parties has said that extending this payroll “holiday” is paramount.  I see what has happened.  We all know that the president has used the power of his bully pulpit to push for the policy.  Just look at the headline of this morning’s National Journal Daily: “Payroll Deal Hands Victory to Obama.”  But he missed the opportunity to support his own Bowles-Simpson Commission to seriously deal with the deficit.   

The fiscal tsunami that is coming demands that we make tough decisions.  Should laws be passed just because they are perceived as popular?  I regret that months have been spent on this flawed policy instead of tackling the difficult choices to address our nation’s massive unfunded spending obligations. 

There is never a convenient time to make hard decisions.  The longer we put off fixing the problem, the worse the medicine will be and the greater the number of Americans who will be hurt.  I understand that many feel they need help.  But, as many have said, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

America is living on borrowed dollars and borrowed time. We must stop leaving piles of debt to our children and grandchildren.

We can’t afford this debt financed spending.  I voted no on this policy in 2010.  I voted no on this policy on December 13.  I voted no on December 20.  And I vote no today.

Minchew Memo: Core Functions, Core Focus

February 15th, 2012

During the first five weeks of session, I appreciate the many emails, calls, and letters from constituents giving input on these important bills. They remind me of the fundamental truth in Article I, Section 2 of the Virginia Constitution that reads: “All power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people, that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

My focus during this session is to help create jobs, expand education opportunities, keep our communities safe, and make our government more efficient.

Many of the bills that have gone through the house directly impact one of these core functions.

TRANSPORTATION – Finding the greatest reduction in congestion per dollar

Yesterday the house passed HB 599, a bill that I co-patroned with Delegate Jim LeMunyon, requiring that planned transportation projects be rated based on the amount of congestion reduction achieved per dollar spent on each project. The ratings will be available to the public and are intended to help ensure that our limited transportation dollars get the most bang for the buck.

Because our transportation dollars are limited, we should first be funding the projects that help get Northern Virginia moving. I helped shepherd this bill through the Transportation Committee last week and it passed the House on a 64-36 vote.

While it is encouraging that Virginia will be headed towards a more objective means to determine the funding of projects–a measure that will help Northern Virginia–there is still more work to be done to get us moving. One of my bills, HJ 131, asked for a study of a possible Rt. 28 extension North into Maryland connecting to I-270. This legislation failed to pass for the year, but has been noted as one of the most important transportation projects to alleviate congestion and further economic development along the Dulles Corridor. I agree with Governor McDonnell that another Potomac River crossing is needed upstream of the I-495 American Legion Bridge. For the good of our region, we will try again.

JOBS – Securing business investments in the Commonwealth

Virginia was ranked the #1 pro-business state by CNBC and #2 by Forbes in 2011. In order to protect our state’s appeal for businesses to come create jobs in the state, the House passed bills like HB 714 that extends the major facilities job tax credit to companies that invest in Virginia to create fifty or more full-time jobs. This tax credit will continue to help businesses in Virginia secure the capital investments they need in order to expand and create jobs.

EDUCATION—Expanding student opportunity

Providing the opportunity and freedom to schools and families in order for the most learning to take place at every level across the commonwealth is a top priority for me. A variety of measures during this session move us towards that end and I am pleased to support these bills.

School divisions will now have the flexibility to choose a start date, including one that comes before Labor Day. HB 1036 gives schools another tool to more fully prepare students before many of the Spring end of the year tests that can impact student’s competitiveness. Many in the business community supported this change to allow for our local school boards to run their calendars as they see fit.

Funding Virginia universities is essential and HB 54, which passed through the House unanimously, authorizes the Commonwealth to issue bonds to colleges and universities worth more than $130 million to pay for any revenue-producing projects at the institution.

The House and Senate paved the way for homeschool children to participate on high school sports teams in a five-year pilot program. The so-called “Tebow Bill” requires the Virginia High School League, the organization governing high school athletics, to allow homeschool students to try out for public school teams. This will allow tax-paying families to provide their children with the greatest opportunity to compete.  I supported this bill and do not believe that participation by home school student-athletes in high school athletics will be harmful to our great 10th district high schools.

I will continue to work for a commonwealth that is more free, prosperous, and full of opportunity for all of our citizens as the House of Delegates moves in to the second half of the 2012 session.

It is an honor to be both a trustee and servant to you in Richmond. Thank you to those who have contacted me; I value your opinions.