Thursday, January 31, 2013

Boneta Bill Update: Good News, Bad News...

Two views of what happened to Virginia House Bill 1430, the Boneta Bill, yesterday. First, in the chronological order the e-mails arrived, from Delegate Scott Lingamfelter:

"The Boneta Bill Passes Full Committee

--Heads to the floor of the House of Delegates--

**Click here to sign up to receive updates on HB 1430 as it is debated in the full Agriculture, Chesapeake, & Natural Resources Committee**


Quick update on The Boneta Bill:

Today, the Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee passed HB1430 and it will now be heard on the floor of the House of Delegates! There's good news, and not so good news.

I am pleased that language requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a model ordinance was removed, as well as other language; these changes will make the bill stronger. But most importantly, I am pleased that we are still in the fight.

However, the Committee also included a "reenactment clause" which means that the bill would have to come back up during the 2014 Session. I think that the one-year fuse creates a great deal of uncertainty for farmers. There is nothing that would prevent anyone from introducing an amendment, if an amendment was justified by any ill effects of the legislation. For me, this is unacceptable.

Let me be clear: We will have many opportunities to attempt to eliminate the "reenactment clause" between now and when we have a final bill that we want. In the event we are not successful in removing this clause, at any point I can withdraw the bill, in essence killing it. For me, I cannot allow a bad bill to move forward,

Folks, this is the Super Bowl. It's the 1st half and we are about to begin the 2nd half of the battle. There is still a lot of work to be done and there is still a lot of fight to be had. Now our fight shifts to the Senate where we can attempt to fix things in this bill that we don't like. At least we're still in the fight. No one felt we would even get this far, but with your help and energy we are still in the battle.

We must now focus our effort in the Senate to get a good bill that protects the rights of all farmers, including small farmers and small business owners whose rights have been hurt by government overreach.

Once again, I DO NOT approve of the "reenactment clause" requiring the bill to come back next year. Too many bad things can happen between now and then. But for now, I firmly believe we must continue the battle. And again, I can strike the bill and kill it at any time - I control that move and pledge to use it to prevent a bad bill from becoming law.

Please keep up your passionate advocacy for this bill because it is making a difference!

Our opponents NEVER thought we would make it this far. In fact, they were BETTING against this bill's success.

We've got to prove them wrong.

Fight on!


Paid for and Authorized by Lingamfelter for Lt. Governor"

Next, from Patricia Evans and Mark J. Fitzgibbons. Note that Delegates Orrock and Marshall (or, if you want to be picky, their office staff) aren't supposed to take calls from me, so if you are among their constituents, calling them is your responsibility...but you can tell'em a writer out west asked you to call, and by the way tell'em that this web site appreciates their other good work:
"Please call Delegate Robert Orrock at (804) 698-1054 and Delegate Danny Marshall at (804) 698-1014 and ask them to replace the re-enactment clause in the Boneta Bill HB1430 with an enactment clause that would make the bill effective THIS YEAR.

Lawmakers in Richmond are caving to the pressures of the Virginia Farm Bureau, VACo, and Fauquier County Supervisors. At the request of Matt Lohr, Virginia's Commissioner of Agriculture, Delegates Robert Orrock and Danny Marshall moved to add a re-enactment clause to HB1430. What this means is if the bill passes and is signed by the Governor in this session, it must also pass and be signed into law in the 2014 session before it takes effect.

The rights of farmers to sell their produce and other agricultural goods can not wait another year and must be protected now! Farmers have been stepped on long enough by corporate special interests and over-reaching local ordinances. Waiting another year will mean less profits for farmers and more farms will fail, including Martha Boneta's farm...

Please read the letter below from Mark J. Fitzgibbons to Chairwoman Sherwood:

'As a result of today’s Ag Committee vote on HB 1430, Martha Boneta’s farm will remain closed under uncertain, unlawful and unscrupulous threats of fines of $5,000 per violation per day.

You noticed that I was about to leave the committee meeting and take bill supporters with me, but decided against it out of respect for our friend Delegate Lingamfelter.

While the committee “passed” the bill, the parliamentary amendment added by the committee means that the bill it will not go into effect. Committee members escaped blame if they were to vote against the bill, but the result for Martha Boneta and others like her is the same.

Through this parliamentary amendment, the bill will be turned over to what were described at the committee meeting as “stakeholders.”

The U.S. Constitution guarantees a republican form of government. The Constitution protects citizens, not “stakeholders,” which I assume is a cosmetic term for special interests.

I of course understand how committees work, and that issues are frequently resolved before hearings. Today was not a hearing, of course, since the bill’s proponents and opponents were not given an opportunity to speak. Given the nature of HB 1430 – that the right to farm of course includes commerce, and the bill’s remedies against counties that violate the law and bully farmers – it is assuredly more popular among citizens than “stakeholders.”

Over the next year there will be a loud debate over who controls the rights of farmers and other property rights issues, and why government officials who bully farmers and violate the law should be subject to the consequences of remedies. That debate will not and cannot be controlled by Richmond’s stakeholders.

I hope that you and other members of the committee stick up for the people who traveled hours to be at the meeting today, and all the others who work and could not take off the day. Everyday citizens don’t have lobbyists, and that is why under our republican form of government we look to our elected leaders to do the right thing.

Kind regards,
Mark Fitzgibbons '

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." - Thomas Jefferson Virginia Tea Party Patriots Danville Patriots  "

Fellow Virginians...if you are not out moving cattle to higher ground, or storekeeping, or fixing somebody's cracked water pipes, this afternoon, you have an opportunity to be lobbyists. This web site has already explained how to identify your Delegates and State Senators. If you know someone who is in fact moving cattle to higher ground right now, it's time to lean on your legislators on behalf of the farmers.

Notice, I said "lean on." Delegate Lingamfelter said "fight." For the benefit of foreign readers, let's explain that he assumes we all know how to fight this kind of battle. Nice, polite letters, calls, and e-mails are the "weapons."