COLUMN — Heavy hand of government is overriding equality
Published 2:55 pm Thursday, March 4, 2021
As the session came to its end on Saturday, it is important for people to understand that what has been occurring this year in Richmond is no better, if not worse, than in Washington.
No greater example is the issue of equity and equality. On the surface, some may think these two words are the same. They are not.
Equality is what we should strive for in word and in deed. We expect it and are offended if we don’t get it. How often would you return to a store that charged you more than the next person for the same item? That is as it should be in law.
The dictionary defines equality as the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Every law that is enacted should treat people equally. The law should be blind to race, religion and gender. Many years ago, the laws were often not written to treat all the same, but in the last generation we have done much better.
This year, the word and concept of equality was replaced by “equity.” Equity is focused on end results rather than equal opportunities. Equity ignores choices individuals make. In this context, this year it means the opposite of equality. Instead of avoiding blind justice, many of the bills had an underlying goal of putting everyone in categories and placing this category ahead of that category. Consider the following bills that were offered.
The term environmental justice was incorporated into the law. Legislation was introduced, and some passed, that effectively allowed others to have rights greater than your rights as a property owner. The bill allows someone with no physical connection to your property to hold up your use of your land, holding you hostage to their interests. They consider this equity because you have something they don’t.
Procurement of goods and services by government
Legislation introduced in the House was so bad they killed it. At the end of the session, Gov. Ralph Northam was pushed to reintroduce it. This bill’s goal was to bring more business opportunities to small businesses. A noble cause, but we currently have such a program.
The legislation, in its zeal to help some businesses, was blind to the damage it would do to others. For example, a Virginia business owned by a minority or woman with 26 employees currently providing products or services to the state could easily lose that business to a similar business with 24 employees from a neighboring state in which there was limited competitive bidding. Simply because Governor Northam’s interest in having his own way was a greater issue than the interests of Virginians and their jobs.
Equality cannot be achieved when one business is harmed by giving an advantage to one over another, ignoring the taxpayer’s best interests or the quality of the service provided.
The majority party was bound and determined to make marijuana legal for recreational use in Virginia. They were so determined they fell all over themselves to achieve this at all costs.
Never mind that in the special session last fall, use and possession of marijuana was decriminalized. That action is just now taking effect. Rather than developing a serious plan to orderly accomplish their goal of legalization, they passed legislation using the Nancy Pelosi game plan. Passing the bill before knowing what is in it. A bill 264 pages long was presented within an hour of expecting us to vote on it. It used terms such as it would become effective in “due course” rather than hard dates. Sadly, they allowed equity to be a major consideration.
Consider this wording, “The Virginia Cannabis Control Authority shall develop and implement its diversity, equity, and inclusion plan” and applications for dealerships will give preference to “qualified social equity applicants.” This legislation will be overseen by and in consultation with the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Many people have varying opinions about the use of marijuana. I fully understand that, but we will not be serving the best interests of Virginians by encouraging people to believe equity will be achieved with legislation such as this.
Nor will equity be achieved by using the heavy hand of government to override equality.
Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.