For generations, Appalachians have struggled to have their voice heard in Richmond which has been and continues to be dominated by coastal elites from enclaves around Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach.
Independence from Richmond would allow us to take care of our own without fighting tooth and nail for scraps from Richmond. After all, we have been taking care of one another since the Appalachian mountains were settled.
Appalachia Policy Positions
Appalachians coal industry is a 1 Billion dollar a year industry. It would be foolish to ignore this. While many coal plants are transitioning to natural gas, many markets around the globe are heavily reliant upon coal. By keeping the mines and refinery facilities operational, we will ensure that jobs are not cut but actually expanded as workers are needed to meet demand for coal in the foreign markets. Appalachia should work to turn its own power grid onto renewable energies while still exporting coal and natural gases. By transferring our own grid to modern renewable energy, we will be ensuring that our energy workforce keeps up with modern demands. This can also be used to help attract high-tec industries to the region that prefer to work in areas where green energy initiatives are in place.
Public education funds have always not been enough in the western half of the Commonwealth. Funding issues, however, did not prevent Region VII schools from outperforming the rest of the state when it came to the Standards of Learning test. Teachers raised standards and provided students with a solid core of skills that are useful out of the classroom. This in turn, saw the average scores on region VII tests increase. Increased funding will allow old schools in disrepair to be replaced with modern institutions and provide advanced programs to help prepare our children for the 21st century. Advanced courses will also help attract high-tec industries to the region as there could be a population that has in skills that the industry requires.
The second amendment to the United States Constitution is extremely clear about if government has any right to restrict its citizen’s access to weapons. Richmond appears to have a hard time understanding what “Shall not be infringed” means. We will reduce restrictions as much as possible to ensure that Appalachians, who make up the unorganized citizen militia of the State, are not disarmed. Gun laws disproportionately endanger communities, target minorities, and ensure that only criminals are armed. We will make sure that Appalachians, especially those who need guns to protect themselves the most, will not be prevented by state laws. We will also do away with the conceal carry licensing requirement, turning Appalachia into a Constitutional Carry State.
Cannabis and Hemp
When Virginia was settled, Hemp was one of the first major cash crops. The house of Burgesses in 1619 ordered all planters to sow Hemp. It has many practical applications, specifically in rope and cordage manufacturing. It was even vital to winning the Second World War. Cannabis was unrestricted in the United States until 1906. While there are some opposed to its usage, a majority of American’s believe that the prohibitions on cannabis should be lifted. Several states have legalized recreational use of Cannabis and taxed the sale of it, allowing for an increase in state revenue. In areas where it has been legalized, there has also been a drop in crime. Legalization would also increase jobs in Appalachia; creating positions from the grower to the sales facility. This can help breathe life into Appalachia’s economy. People who previously had been convicted of possession will be able to apply to have their records expunged. Regulations regarding what you cannot do while using cannabis recreationally (such as driving) will be adopted.
Combating the Opioid Epidemic
Appalachians were hit hard by this crisis which was created thanks to over-prescription of pain medications. Working with medical professionals to monitor prescriptions to avoid abuse, establishing more treatment clinics, and legalizing cannabis can help provide an answer to this use. We have to begin treating people who are addicted as if they are sick, rather than as if they are criminals. Cannabis has proven to have mild pain relief properties and can be prescribed to various patients instead of highly addictive drugs.
Environmental Stewardship and Tourism
Appalachia is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We must continue to ensure it stays that way. We need to continue to promote tourism to the region to keep seasonal revenue flowing into the communities. Ensuring a healthy environment will ensure that tourism will continue and our own populations will stay healthy. We will also working to ensure all EPA superfund sites are cleaned and any hazardous toxins from other locations are remediated. We only have one planet and must ensure that we can pass it on to our children and their children as well.
Lack of Representation
Currently, 35% of State Senators come out of NOVA. Some NOVA counties even have 2 senators each while in the south western region, 8 counties are represented by 1 senator. The majority of Virginia’s population is focused in the Golden Crescent region and many of these are either federal employees or contractors from different parts of the country. As the population in the golden crescent expands, Appalachian populations contract, meaning we have less representation in Richmond. Separation from the Golden Crescent will allow us to redistrict our new state to ensure that ALL Appalachians, not just the wealthy coastal elite, have equal representation in State government. We will also be able to elect our own US Senators and Congressmen, allowing our voices to finally be heard in Washington D.C.
Appalachia would work to lower the taxes paid by its citizens. More money in the pockets of our citizens will help grow the regional economy, and secure homes from food insecurity while helping families prepare for their retirements. We would restructure the state’s tax code so the average citizen can understand it. We would also look into the feasibility of getting rid of the state income tax and lowering property tax rates. If the 20th century told us anything, it’s that people are better off when they keep more of their hard earned money.
Criminal Justice Reform
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Appalachia would prohibit Civil Asset Forfeiture on a Constitutional level. These laws reduce standards for conviction, shift the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant, and are often abused by allowing law enforcement agencies to decide to keep the assets for themselves, even if the original owner is exonerated. These laws are in contrast to the fourth and eighth amendments to the United States Constitution.
Several judicial officials have stated that they believe mandatory minimum sentences are not effective. They shift discretion from judges to the prosecutors, which is in contrast to our system of checks and balances. Removing these at the state level will allow our judicial system to operate as the founding fathers intended, and would allow judges to order punishments that are fit to the crime.
Term Buffers and Limits
When the United States was founded, public service was looked upon as just that, a service. Our nation was developed to not allow people to act as lords over the population. We currently have politician’s whose entire career is being a Politician. This disconnects them from reality and will often see the Politician get “Ivory Tower Syndrome”, where they believe that only they know what’s best for the public. We believe in term buffers and limits. This would put an end limit on how long elected officials may run for office and would require buffer years in between to allow them to be brought back to reality. Our elected State Senators would serve a term of four years. They may serve two consecutive terms if elected, however they must take the next term off before being eligible to run again. This means that they may serve only 8 years before needing to take a 4 year rest. They are then eligible to run for another two consecutive terms before hitting their maximum term limit. Our elected Delegates would serve a term of two years. They may serve three consecutive terms if elected, however they must take the next term off before being eligible to run again. This means that they may serve only 6 years before needing to take a 2 year rest. They are then eligible to run for another three consecutive terms before hitting their maximum term limit. Governors will serve a single 5 year term and will not be eligible to run for Governor again. The Lieutenant Governor will also only be eligible for a single 5 year term. The only time a Governor may serve longer than 5 years is if the Governor is unable to fulfill their position and the Lieutenant Governor must take over. The Lieutenant Governor will fulfill the Governors term in office and still be eligible to run for Governor in a future election. These will help keep our Republic from getting bogged down with career politian’s who are disconnected from the everyday citizen.
If your county could join a new state that greater reflects who we are, would you support it?
More and more recently in the Commonwealth of Virginia the phrase “Golden Crescent” is being used. This “Golden Crescent” extends from enclaves in Northern Virginia down a corridor of I95 to Richmond where it begins a 90 degree turn to the east and ends in the Hampton Roads area. This area of coastal elites are who control Virginia. They have increasingly made equal representation of the western half of the state harder to obtain. They do not look upon us as their equals. This is who represent all of Virginia, politically speaking. But you and I know that this is not the case.
By establishing a new state government, hereafter known as Appalachia, we in the western half of the Commonwealth would be able to have true representation in Washington. We would be able to elect our own two US Senators and members of Congress. We would be able to elect a Governor, State Senate, and State Legislature based on Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.
Tax revenue will not go to outdated road projects in the “Golden Crescent” but will be reinvested into Appalachia to improve the lives of our citizens who are never at the front of the minds of those in Richmond, save for the few representatives we are allowed. For too long the people of Appalachia have struggled to be heard by Richmond and Washington D.C.
An independent Appalachia would be able to develop our natural resources as we know best. With our timber, water, agricultural, mining, hunting and fishing industries, Appalachia would become a net energy exporter. Coupled with the growing alcohol distillation, brewing, and wine making industries; the scenic beauty of the region, and the ever expanding tourism industry, Appalachia would become a magnet for industry.
If you look at the past decades, you will see a pattern of modern tech industries moving into the Commonwealth. We have become one of the best states for job creation. These industries have not only helped to modernize the economy of Virginia, but have helped ensure that we can adapt to an ever changing world. Further investigation, however, will show you that these companies are settling in the “Golden Crescent”.
While the government has been trying to draw these industries in, they do not want them in the western half of the state where the three enclaves of the coastal elites would not directly benefit from them. If a large tech firm moved to Appalachia, not only would they bring much needed modern high-tech jobs, they could spark a new surge in our region’s economy.
Jobs related to building the new industry would arise along with home construction to house the employee families. Ancillary businesses that support these new communities would also see a boom in creation. New tax revenue would be generate that would allow us to invest in infrastructure and much needed healthcare programs that would draw in other investors and corporations to our benefit.
As the times change, so does the demand for energy. While Appalachia has a billion dollar a year bituminous coal industry, many power generation plants are transitioning away from clean burning coal and onto natural gas. While these resources are not infinite, we could begin a massive green energy initiative. Green energy would allow us to not only meet but even exceed Appalachia’s energy needs. Excess energy on the grid could be sold to surrounding states while our coal and natural gas can be exported to foreign markets whose economies are heavily reliant on these resources.
This new green energy initiative would also bring high tech jobs to the region and training for these jobs could be offered to Appalachians who are increasingly struggling to find or maintain work during Richmond’s war on coal.
Were you aware that Virginia has an untapped uranium source that if sold today (November 10, 2019) it would generate $2.93 Billion dollars, create a total of 1,375 jobs over the 35 year lifetime of the mine, generate $135 million dollars per year net economic benefits and $3.1 million dollars per year in state and local taxes? You may yourself “Why haven’t I heard of this?”
In 1982, Richmond placed a moratorium on uranium mining and in 2008 they rejected a proposed study that could have revised it. In June of 2019, the US Supreme Court upheld the ban, preventing the largest known US uranium deposit from being extracted.
The biggest concern is contamination of drinking water. While this is always something to think about, it does not take into effect modern remediation practices and technologies soon to be developed that could render contamination a thing of the past in Virginia.
This is just another example of Richmond and the “Golden Crescent” not allowing the people of Appalachia to prosper. If Appalachia was able to govern itself, we would be able to open our state to much needed industry that would not only provide jobs, but would provide economic stability to a region that for too long has only been looked at as a tax cow. When they think of us in Richmond, often the terms uneducated and hillbilly are used in the same sentence.
If that is the case, then why did Region VII schools outperform the more affluent parts of the state? Despite a higher percentage of disabled and economically disadvantaged students, 82.8% of Region VII students passed their math SOL (Standards of Learning) compared to 77% for the state, and 81.2% passed their reading SOL’s compared to 77.2% for the state. Statewide pass rates declined in 2019, however they increased slightly in southwest Virginia.
By putting teachers in the proverbial driver’s seat, allowing local school districts to pool resources, and setting high standards, the students have improved. By focusing on the core skills students need to pass the SOL’s (which are similar to those needed to function in modern society), the unnecessary projects that don’t prepare students for the real world are stripped away.
In Appalachia today, school districts are poorly funded which creates a disadvantage for higher performing students. There are limited opportunities for advanced classes due to lack of funding for programs such as robotics and coding. The goal currently is to give all students an equal core of fundamental skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. As a new state, tax dollars can be used to provide these students the classes they need not only to function outside of school but to excel. Hillbillies we may be, but you would be remiss for thinking that we are uneducated.
The folks of Appalachia have a rich cultural heritage of good music, great food, and even better beverages. Not afraid to live by the sweat of our brow, we have never taken the easy road. How could we when we struggle to even be heard in Richmond? We have always stuck together because we know that only we can take care of each other. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in northwestern New Jersey or southwest Virginia. Appalachians will always have more in common with each other than with the coastal elites of the “Golden Crescent” and Richmond. Appalachia has always been a state of mind. Isn’t it time that we became a state in reality?