By Kyler Hood |Watchdog.org
ALEXANDRIA — It’s been a week of political contention in Virginia for voters, educators and lawmakers, as reformers try to remove regulatory weaknesses and candidates work to gain an advantage in a tight Senate race.
Virginia elections are vulnerable to voter fraud unless the state checks voter rolls against federal databases, says one expert at the Heritage Foundation.
The presidential race is close, according to legal expert and former Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky, so every vote matters. And until Virginia can check its rolls against Department of Homeland Security and federal criminal records, voter fraud is fair game.
Given Virginia’s swing-state status, candidates hope to gain voters by offering a unique vision — but their messages are strangely similar.
Keolis took over VRE operations in July 2010 after beating Amtrak in a competitive bid. And House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica said more rail lines should follow Virginia’s example.
“Amtrak is a highly subsidized, Soviet-style rail system, but despite every ticket being underwritten nearly $50 by the taxpayers, Amtrak is an absolute failure in competing with the cost-effectiveness and level of service provided by the private sector,” said Mica, R-Fla.
Occupational licensing requirements for many occupations in Virginia can add hurdles to opening a business.
“(Deregulation) is the right thing to do, because it will benefit consumers through increased competition in those industries and will take a step forward toward giving people the right to earn a living,” she said.
For now, barbers, interior designers, mixed-martial artists and myriad other professions will have to keep paying the government for the right to hang an “Open for Business” sign in Virginia.
Education reformers want to get serious about upping teacher evaluation standards to keep ineffective instructors out of the classroom.
The National Council on Teacher Quality gave Virginia a flat-out F for its inability to identify and remove ineffective teachers. But one education analyst says a “value-added” formula that rates instructors on student learning will put Virginia on the path to reform. Unions don’t like the idea.
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