The following letter was sent to both Delegate Ben Cline and Representative Bob Goodlatte by a concerned constituent:

 

I’m writing you as a constituent to highlight some of the areas in which I hope you will consider my views (shared by many others in your district) these coming weeks in Richmond.

 

Thank you for your efforts on government transparency and on mental health legislation, both vitally important. (I’ve had friends here whose families desperately needed mental health resources and weren’t able to access them quickly enough. No family goes unaffected by significant mental health challenges.) Best of luck with these.

 

Climate change: Global climate disruption is upon us. It is past time to move beyond studies and to act—to come up with real plans and mandates. Neighboring states have taken action. Why haven’t we? What will you tell your children and grandchildren when it becomes clear you had the opportunity to avert crisis but didn’t? I encourage you to read Steve Nash’s clearly presented Virginia Climate Fever—it’s a quick, engaging read, focused on our state, highlights the issues, suggests steps we can take, and answers a lot of “climate contrarians’” questions.

 

Medicaid: Mr. Cline, you seemed to indicate in your recent town hall meeting that Medicaid might be under attack—that costs were rising, putting pressure on the state budget. Health care costs are rising everywhere (including your own). So we’re willing to leave those with the fewest resources behind? Please work to protect those in need while considering sources of revenue. Please stop thumbing your nose at federal Medicaid dollars, which can be put to good use here. Count yourselves among the most fortunate, with low-cost health care coverage thanks to the Virginia taxpayer.

 

Sensible gun laws: Please support sensible gun legislation. Closing gun show loopholes is a first step, and please also support Del. Marcus Simon’s HB 1683. You can support the rights of hunters and private citizens while acting to keep guns out of the hands of the potentially dangerous and maintaining public safety. (Most Americans agree on this point. I know my own local friends who hunt do.)

 

Access to broadband: It sounds as though a proposed bill of Del. Byron’s would have unintended consequences. Broadband access is vital to economic growth in our region. Please vote against her bill.

 

Rep. Marshall’s morally reprehensible bathroom bill: Is there a problem to be solved here? No. What this legislation does is target an already vulnerable population. There’s enough hate and fear floating around—don’t add to it. And then, beyond morality, there’s the economic issue. North Carolina lost hundreds of millions in their mean-spirited gambit. Not to mention, high school principals have more important things to do than check who’s going to what bathroom. The LGBTQ community need our support and protection, not more danger and hate. Our economy doesn’t need a multi-million-dollar hit. Our schools could use some real funding and support, not more silly administrative tasks piled to the list.

 

Day of Tears/20 week abortion ban: I’m speechless. No one is for abortion. No one makes the decision lightly. And abortions after 20 weeks occur rarely—only when something is terribly wrong, with the fetus or the mother. Who are we to judge or interfere? The decision should be the family’s, in consultation with their doctor. This would be a slap in the face of those who have already suffered. (It is refreshing when I see “prolife” folks fighting as hard against death penalty inequities and for justice for the born.)

 

(On these “morality” issues, it is important that we recognize that the beliefs of one person’s religious denomination shouldn’t drive legislation that affects all. My father was a theologian and pastor who dedicated his life not to false moralizing but to empathizing with and improving the lives of others, based on his highly informed understanding of the Bible’s teachings. He actively supported women’s rights and gay rights. All this to say: Please don’t try to claim the moral high ground in trampling on others’ human and civil rights.)

 

Lee-Jackson-King holiday: Please introduce legislation to separate the Lee-Jackson state holiday from the MLK federal holiday. The convergence of celebrations in our area is a national embarrassment and unnecessarily pits folks against each other. Let’s keep symbols that can be interpreted as hateful (thank you, KKK) off our streets on the MLK Day holiday weekend, and let’s allow peaceful historical remembrances to take place the following weekend. Everyone in our community wins.

 

Redistricting: There seems to be broad agreement that Virginia is one of the most gerrymandered states around. According to a University of Mary Washington poll, 74 percent of Virginia residents think an independent board (not the state legislature) should draw the boundaries of state legislative and congressional districts. Please support bills offering options for independent, non- or bipartisan redrawing of district lines. It is essential that citizens believe their votes count.

 

Finally, as a longtime state employee, a call to stop balancing the budget on the backs of public servants. I’m especially concerned about schoolteachers (our future!) and state police (in crisis), but frozen pay imposes real hardships on dedicated public employees who provide necessary services, and it also means that less money is flowing in our local and state economies, with less spending and reduced tax revenues.

 

Consider avenues for revenue growth rather than cuts, cuts, cuts. Where has austerity worked? Minnesota has had some recent success raising revenue through taxes so that budgets and programs aren’t as stressed as ours are now. It is of course a balancing act, but simply cutting taxes and programs is not the answer.

 

Thank you for listening, and thank you for your service!

 

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