Clarke County’s newest – and most active – political group continued its regular post-election meetings in Berryville, Virginia on Thursday night. After establishing its legitimacy by hosting several candidate debates prior to the 2011 elections, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Tea Party (NSVTP) is continuing to make its mark in Clarke County through membership meetings, education and contact with local and national leaders.
NSVTP president Ken Rion and secretary Jay Marts led a discussion on Thursday evening at the House of Light Café that focused in part on legislative process – Marts explained the complex path that proposed legislation follows prior to approval in the Virginia General assembly – in part on upcoming legislative issues, both at the state and national level, and in part on party fundamentals – limited government at all levels.
“We’re now at Tea Party 2.0,” Marts told more than a dozen citizens who attended the discussion. “We’ve moved beyond just organizing political demonstrations and tax rallies. Now we are about following legislation through the legislative process, meeting with state and local elected representatives and getting involved with local government issues.”
Marts and Rion led a discussion that covered the recent debate over the payroll tax holiday, a potential recusal by Justice Elana in the upcoming Supreme Court review of the Obama Health Care legislation and a bill to be considered by the Virginia legislature after it re-convenes on January 11 (SJ-3) that would prevent eminent domain property seizures in Virginia similar to a Connecticut action that transferred property from one private entity to another in order to increase tax revenues to the state.
The most active discussion of the evening, however, focused on the federal National Defense Authorization Act currently being debated by Congress.
“The bill includes a clause that gives the US military the responsibility to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely,” said Marts. “Under this law people could be taken away and held indefinitely without due process.”
Several citizens in the audience joined in the discussion and voiced strong concerns over the implications of the US military authorization to arrest citizens. Several spoke out against the measure.
“This is as important as the issue of the Nazis in World War II,” said Rion. “A citizen could be swept away and families would never know where they had gone. It is absolutely wrong when the US military is used to apprehend US citizens on American soil.”
Rion and Marts also reported that the Northern Virginia Tea party chapter has been officially approved as a member of Virginia’s 50 chapter strong Tea Party.
“We were approved unanimously,” Rion said.
According to Jay Marts, both the Virginia Tea Party, as well as the national movement will continue to grow as citizens begin demand reject what he believes is the ever-growing encroachment of government in people’s personal affairs.
“We believe in limited government and we need to keep the federal government in check,” Marts said. “We are a grass roots movement and we will continue to make our voices heard.”