Opinion — Fighting for important issues

Published 5:15 pm Sunday, February 20, 2022

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A Penny and a Half

Last year, during the race for governor, Glenn Youngkin announced his goal to remove the sales tax on groceries. Years ago, we removed the state portion of the sales tax on groceries. However, a penny and a half were left because a penny was used in the localities for education and a half cent was to assist maintaining our roads, which was to avoid adding more tax on gasoline.

All agreed that the sales tax on groceries has the greatest impact on those who earn the least. Meals out and entertainment are not necessities; being able to feed your family is.

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Despite everyone understanding that, opponents wanted to deny Governor Youngkin success on a campaign promise. Finally, after some jockeying around, those who wanted to embarrass the Governor gave way to the political reality that this tax was too much, particularly while large surpluses to the tune of $2 billion were being reported. Rather than concede the issue completely, they refused to remove the half cent portion.

Masks in Schools

A year ago, we were still learning about COVID. Since then, the virus has mutated into a less fatal version. This has been good; we should all celebrate that. However, some have concerns that we should address. When someone is in poor health, they have a great deal more to fear. We know that those over seventy-five years of age make up half of the deaths. Those deaths in other age groups have generally been associated with underlying health problems. Those under seventeen are so rare that they are less than one tenth of one percent. Knowing all this, we need to better focus on those in need.

Now it is past the time that we should evaluate what is happening in our schools.  There have been many stories about the effectiveness of masks. Should children be allowed to be in school without them? Last month, Governor Youngkin ended the mandate that Governor Northam had put on all students last year. The belief is that parents should be the ones deciding if COVID should be so feared that the other effects of masks can be ignored. We know that the quality of education has been negatively affected. For younger students, learning to read is more difficult when they can not see the teacher’s mouth as words are sounded out.

This past week, despite resistance from the establishment, enough senators understood and voted to return the decision-making process to families. The naysayers fear that COVID is going to run wild in our schools and communities. I would simply point out that we have seen greater outbreaks in the virus in the last two months even though students were required to wear masks.

As proof this was not a health issue but rather a political issue, one need only observe that the Northam mandate saw no court action while the Youngkin elimination of the mandate resulted in multiple court cases. Those cases were brought by those who opposed the election of Youngkin as governor.

There will be more cases of COVID with or without masks. My hope is that all will be safe. If there are concerns, then by all means put on your mask.

Porn in the Classroom

I was proud to join Senator Dunnavant in sponsoring legislation that would rein in some questionable material in our schools This bill was not aimed at classic literature as opponents argued last week. Instead, it focuses on much more graphic material that has seeped into our elementary and middle schools. I will not describe what was shown as proof. I will, however, tell you a story from another state. A teacher gave eighth grade students pictures of a pizza and a list of sexual possibilities that were represented by normal pizza toppings. Students were expected to choose their preferences. When parents found out, a supervisor explained that it was a mistake. This was not a mistake! It was wrong for a teacher to subject eighth graders to something so inappropriate.

On a More Positive Point

We have reached the halfway point in the 2022 Session. This week, we begin considering those bills that were successful in the House and presenting our successful ones before House committees.

Frank Ruff Jr. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.