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Here it is:  My interview with the 12th Senate candidate, Bill Janis:

How did you meet your wife?

When I graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in May of 1984, I was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy, with orders to report five days later to the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida. I commenced flight training and my days were full with classroom instruction in aerodynamics, engineering, and navigation, as well as deep water survival training (DWST), land survival, and timed runs for grade on the obstacle course. On July 4th, 1984, we were given a brief break from training. I attended a party with some of my classmates, and met my wife Rose Ann. After raising two children, and celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary last August, it still seems like only yesterday.

What brought you into politics?

In September 1995, I left active duty as a Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, to attend law school at the University of Virginia. As a naval officer, I had been severely restricted by law, regulations and custom, from participating in partisan politics, but I looked forward to getting involved now that I was a civilian.

When I arrived at law school, I became active with the Law & Graduate Republicans, working with the local committees to elect Republican candidates such as Mark Earley, Jim Gilmore and Jerry Kilgore. It was while working a polling place in Charlottesville on election day 1996 that I first met Paul Harris. Paul’s life was a testimony to the American Dream: raised in public housing by a single mom who worked three jobs and sold her used car to provide him with the best education possible, Paul went on to attend Hampton University on an Army ROTC scholarship. We shared many experiences in common, including being the first in our family to attend college, serving as officers in the military, and an admiration for the speeches of Ronald Reagan and Patrick Henry (many of which Paul could recite verbatim from memory!?!). We became fast friends.

When Paul ran for the Virginia House of Delegates the next spring I stuffed envelopes, made phone calls, went door-to-door in my neighborhood and worked the polls. Paul won the GOP primary and went on to win in November. In January 1998, when Paul Harris was sworn in as the Delegate holding “Thomas Jefferson’s Seat,” he was the first African-American elected as a Republican to the General Assembly since Reconstruction. I was proud to do my part, to elect a godly and decent man who shared my conservative values and constitutional principles. I had caught the “political bug,” and made a dear friend for life in the bargain!

What bill/law are you most proud of?

In 2004, in my third year in the House of Delegates, I introduced HB404, which exempted Concealed Carry Permit holders from the restriction against purchasing one-gun/month in Virginia. When this Bill became law on July 1st of that year, it was the first rollback of a one-gun/month statute in the country.

What bill/law/vote would you do differently and why?

In 2007, I voted for HB3202, a bill that created a so-called “civil remedial fee” of up to $3,000 per conviction for drivers who were convicted of DUI or reckless driving. The premise and intent of these fees was to discourage “abusive driving” by penalizing “abusive drivers,” and applying the fees collected to the Transportation Trust Fund for maintenance of the roads.

But as is often the case when legislating, the “the Law of Unintended Consequences” kicked in. After the legislation went into effect, and courts throughout the Commonwealth began levying the fees, we discovered that the language of the statute was so broadly written, that these “abusive driving fees” not only could be applied to patently reckless and dangerous behavior on the highways, but also, because of the complex nature of the traffic code, for such mundane traffic offenses as failure to signal a turn, or speeding by as little as 10MPH over the limit on certain Virginia highways.

When I make a mistake, whether in my personal, professional or political life, my policy has always been to “name it and claim it.” First, acknowledge that you have made a mistake and apologize for making it. Next, endeavor to redress any harm that may have been caused by the mistake. And finally, make sure you do not make the same mistake again. The General Assembly repealed the so-called “abusive driver fees” and refunded all fees collected, during the very next Session. I was happy to vote for repeal at the earliest opportunity, of a measure that, while well-intentioned, had unintended effects that were insupportable.

Tell us something about you that many people do not know?

I am the first person in my family to attend college. The night I left home, in Cicero, Illinois, to attend the Virginia Military Institute, my father put me on a Greyhound bus at Union station, with $20 in my pocket and everything I owned in a seabag. He said “Good luck. I guess we’ll see you at Christmas!”

How about your new start-up business – tell us more…

HealthcarePays is a secure, electronic national healthcare payment network that uses patented technology to simplify the movement of money and payment information among health plans, healthcare providers, intermediaries, clearinghouses, and financial services participants. One of the founders is Dave Adams, my Brother Rat (i.e., “classmate”) from VMI. In November 2012, Dave asked me to join HealthcarePays as Corporate Counsel to oversee the myriad of legal and regulatory issues that a startup company faces. I now have direct, painful experience of how taxes, regulations, and “red tape,” not just at the federal level but even in a very business-friendly state like Virginia, can be a real barrier to investment and job creation by small businesses.

I found this interview most interesting.  Does anybody have other questions I should have asked Bill?

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

3 Responses to “MY INTERVIEW with BILL JANIS!”

  1. Robert Shannon

    Great Job ! A question that perhaps might be a standard question to ask any legislator would be

    ” As a experienced legislator why does the G.A shy away from tackling the big issues, Medicaid Reform, reforming the Virginia Tax code, meaningful Education Reform ( school choice, vouchers, charter schools ) and Illegal Immigration, costing Virginia 1 billion annually ” ?

    We can often learn the Bio stuff just doing a search on their websites. Someone like Janis who has been in the Lions den is well positioned to ask about these issues that the G.A, ( absent some token school choice measures this year) has once again passed by without addressing.

    Bob Shannon

  2. Scott says:

    I would have liked to know more about his positions and his philosophy. Where is he on the asset forfeiture laws,government snooping and interference such as recording license plates of citizens, the repeal of the car tax. Is he in favor of term limits? Will he commit now to term limit himself? How is he more qualified than the other candidates, and what can he do that others cant?

    And, how come every time the assembly or the governor “find” money, they also find a way to spend it? They talk about teachers, cops, government workers needing raises, but what about the taxpayer? If you rebate or reduce taxes, EVERYONE that puts the money in is benefited, not just a few. So, use this “found” money to repeal the car tax or some other taxes.

  3. Carolyn

    I would like to know who asked him not to attend a finance/budget subcommittee meeting when Mark Warner was Governor that resulted in the largest tax increase Virginians had ever seen and why did did a Repub. On the General Assembly change parties to run as an Independent against a Republican party nominee for the Henrico Cointy Commonwealth Attorney only to loss.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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