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Del. Brink: Controversial Bills Hurting Business

by ARLnow.com February 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm 3,993 82 Comments

Could the recent controversy in Richmond over social issues be hurting Virginia businesses? Yes, says Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) and a group of local business leaders.

This year’s state legislative session has been marked by heated partisan debate over the merits of Republican-sponsored bills concerning abortion, women’s health and gay adoptions. Most of the controversial bills have been either killed or delayed, and the legislature is now starting to focus its attention on the state budget, but Democrats are still decrying the renewed focus on social issues and the media attention it brought to Virginia.

(Update at 3:00 p.m.: a modified version of a bill requiring mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions has passed the Virginia Senate by a vote of 21-19.)

Yesterday Del. Brink took to the floor of the House of Delegates (see video, above) to read a letter from a number of Northern Virginia business leaders, including representatives of the Consumer Electronics Association and Vornado/Charles E. Smith. Addressed to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and the entire state legislature, the letter argued that “extreme proposals governing social issues” are detrimental to Virginia’s ability to attract “the best and the brightest employees and entrepreneurs.”

As business leaders and employers in Virginia we applaud your successful bi-partisan efforts to keep Virginia first in national rankings as the most business-friendly state.

We urge you to maintain this ranking going forward by ensuring Virginia is a magnet for the best and the brightest employees and entrepreneurs.

Specifically, we urge you to reject extreme proposals governing social issues on which Americans are passionately divided. Otherwise it will be difficult for Virginia to attract and retain the entrepreneurs and talent we need to grow Virginia.

Del. Brink minced no words in describing how he felt about the outward image projected by Virginia General Assembly this year.

“All you have to do is turn on your TV, open any national newspaper, or go to YouTube, and it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that we’ve allowed ourselves to be portrayed as a bunch of ignorant, backward-looking buffoons,” Brink said. “It’s not just our image that’s taken a hit: it’s the economy — the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century — that’s in danger.”

  • Babak

    Go Bob-o! Let ’em have it!

    • Southeast Jerome

      Rick Santorum, along with the extreme conservative Republicans in the Virginia Assembly, want your sex life to be special.

      And they’ll gladly fight for gun rights, against womens rights, even if they are mocked by the rest of the nation.

      I guess they don’t realize the economic engine of the state votes Democratic.

      Southwest/Central and the rest of backward Virginia are god-fearing, gun-toting conservatives that are not doing our Commonwealth anything but harm with their social agenda.

    • Geri

      I feel so bad for Bob Brink and intelligent Virginia representatives right now. It is embarrassing for the rest of us, but, at least, we don’t have to sit there and watch the mess.

  • Crab

    He needs to stop selective-media watching and pay attention to reality. Northrup: moving here. Bechtel: moving here. Hilton: moving here. Virginia, ranked #2 nationally by Forbes in top states for business. Behind that uber-progressive free thinking state….Utah!

    This is business, not media. Maybe it’s not the businesses that mesh with his political ideology, but Virginia is not hurting for economic development.

    • Hal J

      When were those moves announced? All preceded “Virginia is for vaginal probes”. You might as well site Jamestown.

      • Crab

        How about you call up the writers at Forbes and ask them when they are going to change their ranking for Virginia bases on vaginal probes. You can post back here what they tell you, I’ll be waiting.

        • Hal J

          What does that have to do with you inability to order items in time?

          • Crab

            You can also add tracking down Terry McAuliffe to ask when he is going to stop planning his new car factory in Virginia to your homework.

            chop chop, now. Time is a wastin’

          • Hal J

            I neither agreed nor disagreed with Brinks actions. I objected to your beating his straw man with your straw man. Do you really think recent events effected events in the past? Next insult please. You have nothing else to offer it seems.

          • Crab

            Have you heard back from Forbes yet? I am really curious to see if they are changing their minds.

    • Hal J

      Place these events in chronological order (no asking for help): yesterday, last year, next year, today.

      • Crab

        Shouldn’t you be…..aw never mind. Too easy.

        • Hal J

          It is not the least bit surprising that you cannot defend or support your opening comment.

          • Crab

            There is nothing in my opening comment that is incorrect. Just a bunch of facts.

            Seems like the burden to defend something would be on you and your buddy Brink, to show some real numbers or circumstances where the legislature has substantially hurt the state economy.

          • Hal J

            Facts that occurred well in the past are not relevant to claims that current events are having or will have a negative impact. If you want to claim he is incorrect about current matters not having a negative impact going forward, please make that case but don’t use good things that happened before the current controversies to support your case.

            Where have I made a claim one way or the other regarding the impact of current administration impact on future prosperity? I have no burden to defend anything. I have only claimed you cannot order events in time, a fact that remains unchallenged.

          • Crab

            I stand by my opening comment.

            Think about it for a while and try to stop thinking that everything is happening in its own vacuum. Maybe the reasons we are having this agenda in the legislature and the reasons companies continue to expand in Virginia and the reasons the voters put the Republicans into majorities in both houses are related.

          • drax

            Crab’s inability to comprehend past present and future remind me of a joke:

            The bartender says “We don’t serve particles faster than the speed of light in here!”

            A neutrino walks into a bar.

    • Hal J

      Timelines are not vacuums. Are you actually suggesting companies move here to hire those calling for vaginal probes, etc.? Maybe. Somebody has to make the probes I guess. Stand by your comments by yourself. I’m done. Have a nice day.

    • Luther

      You are not correct. It is NOVA that is the engine for growth in Virginia as well as the tidewater military complex. NOVA’s great economy was done in spite of the ROVA. ROVA is mired in double digit unemployment. All the companies you mention came here before the Republican social debacle. Maryland is only a step away and is very business friendly. ROVA is killing the goose that keeps them in welfare nirvana. Since McDonald was governor Virginia has not created enough jobs in total to employ all those entering the work force. That is not true in NOVA.

  • Zer

    Typical. Taking two things that are mutually exclusive and trying to tie them together to push your own agenda.

    Businesses do not move to or start up in VA because of the state’s social policies. They do it because of favorable tax and regulatory structures (and easy access to fat government contracts). If social policy drove business California would be booming and Texas would be hemorrhaging jobs, when in fact the opposite is the case.

    • Zer

      Also come to think of it shouldn’t Del. Brink be asking himself and the county board why so many companies are choosing to locate in Fairfax and Loudon counties (eg Northrop) instead of Arlington? By his logic these must be the most socially progressive areas on the east coast!

      • Luther

        Quite myopic. If you consider the land mass of Fairfax/Loudoun vs. Arlington you will see that Arlington is by far the bigger employer and new employer. Also unemployment 4%, best in VA.

    • Corey

      Why would you think that they are mutually exclusive? The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to hold progressive social beliefs; if we want educated people – women in particular – to move to Virginia, take jobs and start new businesses, it stands to reason that they might choose a place that doesn’t mandate penetrative ultrasounds prior to abortions.

      • “The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to hold progressive social beliefs”

        I don’t necessarily fully disagree. However, you imply those who do not hold progressive social beliefs are not educated and are the only people who will come work or start a business in Virginia. Hardly factual. There are plenty of educated people having all kinds of beliefs. Businesses make a decision on where to operate primarily on the bottom line, and little else. That is a fact.

        • Corey

          I didn’t imply that at all. As you move up the education ladder, the population becomes more and more progressive and less and less likely to be interested in forced penetration as a precursor to abortion. Sure, educated conservatives exist, but they’re rare relative to educated progressives.

          Also, ability to attract talent is part of the bottom line, at least for any business worth its salt.

          • Crab

            See, this is exactly the type of elitism that we are putting behind us in Virginia. We will make just as much progress (or likely much more) in business development under McDonnell and the Republican general assembly than we did with the last Democrat or “progressive” administration.

            Proof is in the pudding.

          • Corey

            What some call “elitism”, others call “one of the most robust findings in political science”, apparently.


          • Crab

            Where is the tie-in to business success?

          • Corey

            Are you suggesting that education is irrelevant to business success – particularly for the tech-focused businesses Virginia is attempting to attract/incubate?

          • novasteve

            Corey, you could have 5 liberal arts degrees, Masters, Ph.d, etc and thus be more “educated” and more “progressive” as a result but still earn far less t han someone who has a BS in Engineering, who is probalby going to be more conservative. More education does not necessarily mean more earning power, though it usually means more debt. People in tech focused careers are less likely to be liberals, and the more people earn the more they learn to hate taxes that liberals love so much.

          • Crab

            Are you suggesting that there are no highly educated conservatives?

          • Corey

            No, only that there are fewer of them relative to highly-educated liberals, as I said above. If your goal is to attract a highly-educated workforce, egregious laws like this one don’t help and probably hurt.

          • drax

            Elitism – like that “snob” Obama who wants everyone to have the chance to go to college?

          • novasteve

            So everyone goes to college, racks up huge debt while making liberal institutions wealthy, and has worthless liberal arts degrees. You’d be much better off and probably make more without a worthless degree becaues you won’t have the debt. Or do you want a nation of bitter, overeducated people with massive debt and underemployed? Ever been to Germany or read about their education system?That’s what we need here.

          • Zoning Victim

            “Sure, educated conservatives exist, but they’re rare relative to educated progressives.”

            You should try getting your facts straight before posting garbage like this. A simple search on Wikipedia will tell you that there are about 12% more of our college educated citizens that vote for Democrats over Republicans. That is actually a fairly recent change from years past where the Republican Party was the “more educated party.” You also cite that it’s “progressives” that are more educated than “conservatives.” Social Liberals and progressives combined only make up one-half of the Democratic base. The rest are centrists and yes, conservatives makeup 14% of the Democratic Party. In other words, you’re mixing the term “Democrat” and “Progressive,” which is incorrect.

      • Trank the Fank

        I’d really like to meet the person who makes their job decision based on this rule. “It stands to reason” should be replaced with “It’s a stretch of galactic proportions”

        • Corey

          I’m assuming you’re a man, right?

    • Josh S

      Yes, on the face of it, his argument is ridiculous. Events of the past month or so cannot have shown up in economic activity in the state so soon.

      However, he has a point. I think, everything else being equal, that some companies would think twice about moving to a state with oppressive and reactionary social policies. But, as you point out, everything else is not equal and the tax policies, infrastructure, presence of a capable workforce, proximity to economic centers, etc all tend to probably overwhelm any concerns about prissy and repressed politicians attempting to meddle in people’s private lives.

  • awh hells bells

    If we can have a cat running for state senate and have right-wingers pushing state sponsored rape why not have local legislators push for succession?

    • Not your bro

      Did you mean secession?

      • awh hells bells

        I did. Thanks brah.

        • Josh S

          +1 (hopefully laughing with not your bro, not at him)

    • Ren

      All I can say is that Hank wouldn’t stand a chance against the Geico Rescue Panther…that sucker is fearsome! Hank has to wear a collar with a little tie.

  • Lou

    Is this what we can expect from the Democrats until the next election? Sour grapes over having their ideology rejected by the state voters? Spare me.

    • drax

      Key words: until the next election.

      • Zoning Victim

        Exactly, this single issue is probably more responsible for the swap in education levels between Democrats and Republicans than any other. As more and more women seek degrees and the Republican Party continues to fail to figure out that their base is killing them, that small fisher will become a giant chasm.

        The Republicans just ensured they will not be back in the majority for years to come.

    • arlcyclist

      That’s just it, Virginians didn’t vote these boobs into office because they were interested in their perverse brand of social engineering. They voted them in because of the poor economy and unemployment rate and contrary to what Gov. McDonnell advocated they’re using their power to make Virginia the laughing stock of the nation. The good news for progressives is that their agenda will backfire with voters next time around and conservative voters in southwest and central Virginia are dying off as fast as young progressives are flocking Northern Virginia.

  • Patrick

    If there was any truth to this VA would be hemorrhaging jobs to MD.

    • drax

      It might.

      • SouthPikeGuy

        You guys have this backwards. Local policies do not influence businesses, business influences the policies. See the recent Montgomery County “Peace Resolution”

        • drax

          Well, they influence each other, but thanks for pointing me to that issue. The interesting thing is that it supports Brink’s point – business threatened to leave Maryland due to this resolution.

  • CrystalMikey

    I for one applaud some the of the message. Not a fan of being a nationwide laughing stock for some of these “backwards” agendas.

  • Phil

    Blowhard Bob just like hearing himself talk. A back-bench member of an increasingly dwindling minority in the General Assembly. The Dems lost seats in both houses in the last election, even though NoVa gained seats and they gerrymandered the heck out of the Senate districts.

    • Josh S

      I imagine that the gold standard for non-gerrymandered districts had been established by the Republican Party and they are the faithful and chaste guardians of it to this day.

  • Dss10


    • novasteve

      Then Virginiastan has the best economy of any “stan” on earth and I’d much rather live here than any liberal dominated state. Enjoy the high taxes and crime.

      • drax

        So if the Taliban literally ran Virginia you wouldn’t care as long as you were making a good salary? You should move to Saudi Arabia, steve. Virginia is where people say things like “give me liberty or give me death” not “give me a buck and who cares about liberty?”

        • novasteve

          There is nothing like the taliban here in the US. In fact it’s the left that’s about as secularly radical as they are religiously radical. Enjoy your fantasy world.

  • Tom

    What we have here is a bunch of whining left-wingers who are upset that people are standing up against murdering babies and unbridled sexual perversion. Can’t wait to get out of the “progressive” cesspool that is Northern Virginia, and return to Real America.

    • Nit Picker

      “and return to Real America.”

      Just out of curiosity, where is that ??

      • Tom

        Any place not run by left-wing nitwits.

        • Southeast Jerome

          ugh. ugh. How are you even a real person.

          Sex is fun man. Why do conservatives hate sex then some of them are closet gays?

        • Josh S

          So is Northern Virginia a figment of your imagination?

    • Corey


      See ya!

      • Tom

        Good riddance.

        • drax

          No, Tom, that was for when you leave.

    • Crab

      Tom, it’s just them whining that they will not get any credit for the success of the economy and trying to tear down the people getting it done.

    • DSS10

      I refuse to let you define real america and the only person who is whining is you.

      I am tired of this Conservative elite outlook.

    • Chad

      If abortion is truly akin to murder, as you suggest, why are you merely trying to stop it with legislation? Murder in my book would be something I would try to stop by all means available to me, including violence. Murderers in this country go to jail and in some cases are executed. If “murdering” an embryo is truly akin to murder, why are you not out there doing more? You are an embarrassment to human beings everywhere.

      • Zoning Victim

        Seriously? Is this post the least bit responsible?

    • jackson

      “unbridled sexual perversion”

      That has GOT to be troll bait. Why do you even own a computer. Do you know how much porn is out there? Won’t you think of the children?!?

  • DSS10
  • DCBuff

    I live in a county that is the laughingstock of the commonwealth in a state that is the laughingstock of the country. Why am I not laughing?

  • MC

    Somehow all the defenders of the Republican partisans seem to be ignoring that NoVa businesses are complaining that this is hurting business. When Republicans ignore business, who should be their natural constituency, and belittle their concerns, they are really out of touch. It is highly significant when the largest commercial property owner and developer in our County is complaining that the Republicans are hurting the attractiveness for business to locate here.

    • Ballstonienne

      yes well, there “concern” has been noted.

  • Arlingtonian

    Bring on the controversies. Tell businesses to get out and take their pollution, overpopulation, traffic congestion, energy usage, sprawl and environmental degradation elsewhere. China, if possible. Otherwise, California or Maryland.

  • Ivy

    This is exactly why America is in the position its in. There are only 2 major political parties and 1 of those parties continually focuses on social issues that are NOT government concerns! While we had extremists like Tom Delay ranting about passing laws to keep people from pulling the plug on a corpose or anti-choice people threatening to kill humans but call themselves “pro-life”, it is no wonder we have so many problems. WHen are they going to worry about serious issues and let people police their own moral values???

    • Quoth the Raven

      Yes, every single one of the problems in this country are clearly the fault of the Republicans. Thank you for pointing that out.

  • SouthPikeGuy

    Exactly how is this hurting business in Virginia? Do they have any facts, or just a partisan letter signed by a bunch of Democrat supporters? He’s just playing politics.

    • Manager

      For top tech research and development talent, the market is very competitive. When recruiting a Phd, he/she is looking at NOVA, Cali, Boston and even the Raleigh area and you really don’t want to be viewed as the anti-science, backward member of that group.

      • SouthPikeGuy

        I was looking for something more than anecdotal chatter.

        • brif

          You’ll have to wait awhile longer, the bill is only about 24 hours old. in the meantime, what’s wrong with people expressing an opinion about what they think might happen?


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