Thursday, February 7, 2013

HB 2326 Update (Discouraging)

Virginia House Bill 2326 authorizes unelected "regional planning commissions" to dictate what citizens and local government do.

Note especially this heinous, un-American clause: "In developing the regional strategic plan, the planning district commission shall seek input from a wide range of organizations in the region, including local governing bodies, the business community and citizen organizations." From whom was that again? Where in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, or the Constitution of Virginia do we find anything about government by "organizations"?

This web site opposes HB 2326. People who support this web site oppose HB 2326; opposing HB 2326 is what they support this web site for. This web site is my livelihood, and although it's not a very lively livelihood, its existence--and mine--prove that there exists a substantial body of opposition to HB 2326 in Southwestern Virginia. (There are those who would like this web site to support the hypothesis that there's a comparable amount of interest in frugal living, gluten-free recipes, or Bible studies. Well, I'm the shikataganai sense.)

To be fair, that part about government by unelected and unaccountable "organizations" is not the new addition to existing law that's under consideration as our legislators vote on HB 2326. HB 2326 fails to remove government by "organizations" from existing law, but what it would change, if enacted, would be allowing "multi-state organizations" to take over the government of parts of Virginia that are close to a border line. Here is the proposed change:

"In planning districts in which regional planning also is conducted by multi-state councils of government, each planning district commission may prepare a regional strategic plan for the guidance of the district. If prepared in accordance with this section, such plan shall conform with the requirements of subsection A and also shall include references to the relevant provisions of the most current regional strategic plan prepared by the multi-state council of governments that includes any of the area comprising the planning district."

The insignificance of this change in a basically bad law is probably why so many of our Delegates voted for it. Sometimes people in Gate City like being enmeshed with Kingsport, Tennessee, and people in Bristol, Virginia, like being enmeshed with Bristol, Tennessee, and so on. Allowing planning commissions to reflect this historic and popularly supported enmeshment can be considered a legitimate response to the will of the electorate--once you've allowed planning commissions to exist at all. And allowing planning commissions to reflect the enmeshment of communities on both sides of a state line is all this winter's legislators are really to be blamed for.

That said, the position of this web site is that planning commissions are inherently bad enough that we would have preferred that our Delegates not even read down to the part about the multi-state councils. The opening lines about reenacting the law that authorized planning commissions to exist should have generated automatic "Nays."

The Senate Committee currently considering HB 2326 consists of State Senators "Smith (Chairman), Marsh, Lucas, Martin, Hanger, Puller, Ruff, Herring, Locke, Marsden, Stanley, Blevins, Miller, Ebbin, Favola." If one of them represents you, clicking on his or her name should open a web page that links to his or her e-mail address.