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January 10, 2019

Posted 2019-01-10

        As I write this letter we are in the second week of a government shutdown that should have never occurred. A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass, or the president refuses to sign, appropriations legislation funding federal government operations and agencies.  

    Per section 7 of The Constitution of the United States this is one of the most basic functions of our elected officials, but since 1976, unfortunately, 22 gaps in federal budget funding have occurred, 10 of which have led to the furlough of “non-essential” federal employees and curtailment of agency activities and services.  Essential employees are still required to work without pay until the government reopens.

    As we know, the current shutdown centers over proposed funding for a US–Mexico border wall.  Granted this is a difficult and emotional issue; however, both political parties refused to address and resolve it during the normal legislative season.

     Unfortunately, their incompetence has resulted in members of the United States Coast Guard and other “mission essential” civil servants (fire and police), who risk their lives, not being paid.

      I find it unconscionable that while these men and women risk their lives on a daily basis, our elected leaders chose to depart Washington, receive their paycheck, and choose not to work to resolve this current impasse – a complete and total dereliction of duty and the oath they took to uphold.  

    Real leaders lead by example and compromise to resolve issues, not cut and run while playing politics with the lives of civil servants who protect this nation at great personal sacrifice.
Yes, this shutdown unfortunately will not be the last, but it is a national disgrace and hurts those who can least afford it.

James R Poplar III

I’m optimistic as the 2019 General Assembly convenes. I recognize the great gains made for Virginians with the historic passage of Medicaid expansion.  

I’m encouraged by increased citizen engagement as reflected by strong voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections, resulting in a House of Representatives that reflects America and creates appropriate oversight.

Here in Virginia, Delegate and House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert and State Senator Mark Obenshain have a unique opportunity to make history this year.

 Virginia is poised to be the 38th and final state needed for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.  Shenandoah County Democrats applaud our Republican-majority Board of Supervisors, who, in September, brought positive attention from across the Commonwealth with their support of a resolution for ratification of the ERA.  

Local men and women across the political spectrum have also shown their support by signing some 1,400 postcards in favor of ratification.  

The Shenandoah Valley has demonstrated stronger grassroots support for the ERA than any other area of the Commonwealth as measured by petition signatures and cards.
Upon Virginia’s ratification, the ERA will not see automatic inclusion into the Constitution.  However, Congress and the courts cannot address any procedural issues around the amendment until it is fully ratified.  
We urge Delegate Gilbert and Senator Obenshain to support this non-partisan and critical legislation.  On this 100th anniversary year of women’s right to vote, it’s time for full equal rights under the law.
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”  
Gentleman, let’s have Virginia make history again.

Katherine Morrison