AP Photo/Steve Helber
When Virginia state Senator Bill Stanley claimed a few days ago that Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw told him an uncontroversial 3-percent pay increase for sheriffs and deputies was killed by Senate Democrats because of their widespread opposition to Democrats’ gun control agenda, I had no reason to doubt the story. After all, we’d already seen House Democrats kill another uncontroversial measure in an effort to punish a Democrat state senator who voted against Ralph Northam’s gun ban.
Now Saslaw himself has confirmed Stanley’s account, though it sounds like he doesn’t want to talk to the press or public about it.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw declined to do an interview on Monday but confirmed the post was accurate.
“There’s no need to interview, I said it,” Saslaw told 8 News.
Of course there’s still a reason to interview Saslaw about his comments. First of all, Saslaw should be asked to explain why he believes its proper to deny what amounts to a cost-of-living increase for sheriffs deputies because of the political positions taken by many (but not all) of their sheriffs. He should also be asked why he believes it’s proper for the legislature to seek retribution against any citizen or elected official for using their First Amendment rights to petition or protest the government.
But it’s not only Saslaw who should be asked these questions. Every Senate Democrat voted against this measure, which means there are 20 other state senators who should be asked these very same questions. That includes Chap Petersen, the northern Virginia Democrat who voted against HB961, and later said that hearing from gun owners was a good thing.
Sen. Stanley says the proposed pay raise isn’t completely dead yet, so there’s still a chance for Senate Democrats to quit punishing sheriffs and their deputies for speaking their mind.
Stanley said it’s not too late for lawmakers to boost their investment. “We have the money, we should do it, we must do it,” he said.
Democrat Janet Howell, the chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, also declined to do an interview on Monday. When asked off-camera if the current budget could accommodate a three percent raise, she said, “There’s a lot of ways to cut a pie.”
I hope every Virginia voter sees this petulant and arrogant display by Virginia Democrats for what it is and contacts their senator. Even gun control advocates and Democrats should be appalled by this behavior, and they’d certainly be calling out any Republican who sought to punish pro-gun control members of law enforcement if they were in the majority. It’s also worth pointing out that Republicans didn’t try to punish pro-gun control members of law enforcement when they were in the majority. Public safety should be a non-partisan issue, but unfortunately Virginia’s Democrats are making it all too clear that they’re putting party first and public safety second.