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Ben Cline

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Ben Cline

Ben Cline
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 24th district
Assumed office
November 26, 2002
Preceded by Vance Wilkins
Personal details
Born ( 1972 -02-29) February 29, 1972 (age 42)
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth
Children Catherine and Sarah
Residence Rockbridge County, Virginia
Alma mater Bates College
University of Richmond Law
Profession Attorney
Committees Commerce and Labor; Courts of Justice; Finance; Militia, Police and Public Safety
Religion Roman Catholic

Benjamin L. "Ben" Cline (born February 29, 1972 in Stillwater, Oklahoma) is an American politician of the Republican Party. He is currently serving his sixth term in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was first elected in 2002 by special election, replacing incumbent Delegate Vance Wilkins who resigned the seat. He currently represents the 24th district, consisting of Bath and Rockbridge Counties, the cities of Buena Vista and Lexington, and parts of Amherst and Augusta Counties.[1]

Early life

Cline was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma and grew up in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He graduated from Lexington High School in 1990. Cline graduated from Bates College in 1994 and the University of Richmond School of Law in 2007. He served as Chief of Staff for United States Representative Robert "Bob" Goodlatte before running for office. From 2002 to 2007, he was president of NDS Corporation, a Virginia-based company providing sales and marketing assistance to rural Internet and technology businesses. After graduating from law school, he was hired as an assistant Commonwealth's Attorney for Rockingham County and Harrisonburg.[2] Cline is the son of Philip L. and Julie Cline and husband to Elizabeth Rocovich Cline.

Political career

Cline started his political career in 2002 by running for the House of Delegates seat left vacant by Vance Wilkins, who resigned due to sexual harassment allegations.[3] Cline won in 2002 with 57.43% of the vote despite Democratic opposition from current Lexington Mayor Mimi Elrod. In 2003, Cline won again with 69.17% of the vote against Independent E.W. Sheffield. In 2005, he won with 62.44% of the vote against Democrat David Cox. Cline ran unopposed in 2007.[4] In 2009, Cline ran against Amherst native and Democrat Jeff Price and won with 70.86% of the vote, taking the Lexington City precinct for the first time since his election in 2002 and also taking every precinct in the 24th House of Delegates district. [5]

Legislative career

Committee assignments

Currently, Cline serves on the House of Delegates Committees on Commerce and Labor, Courts of Justice, Finance, and Militia, Police and Public Safety. He chairs Finance Subcommittee #3 and Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #2. He also is a member of Commerce and Labor Subcommittee #2, Commerce and Labor Special Subcommittee on Energy, Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Criminal Law, Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Judicial Systems and Finance Subcommittee #2.[6] Cline is also the House co-chair of the Virginia Joint Legislative Conservative Caucus, which is also co-chaired in the Senate of Virginia by Mark Obenshain.[7]


In 2006, Cline patroned HB1125, which created a school sales tax holiday in the Commonwealth, and HB1135, which allowed for members of the military stationed in the Commonwealth to receive in-state tuition in Virginia.[8][9] In 2007, he patroned HB2168, which created the Community College Transfer Grant Program.[10] In 2008, Cline supported the opening of an Amherst branch of Central Virginia Community College and new facilities for the Rockbridge branch of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. In 2009, Cline patroned, but did not have included in the final state budget, amendments that looked to cut the budget of the Virginia Lottery in half, which would in turn put those fund into the Literary Fund used to fund public schools in Virginia. [11]

Government regulation

In 2006, Cline passed two bills, HB1130 and HB1131, which changed the administrative setup of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.[12][13] In 2009, he passed HB2285, which created a searchable database of Virginia’s agency expenditures.[14] Additionally, Cline went after the Virginia Lottery in 2009 for the allotment of over $1 million of state funds to use the likeness of Howie Mandel and Donald Trump on lottery tickets.[15]

Criminal prosecution

In 2003, Cline introduced HB2229, which deals with probation for underage alcohol possession.[16] In 2004, he introduced HB1204, which increased penalties for people having multiple offenses pertaining to driving while intoxicated.[17] In 2007, he patroned HB2453, which enhanced penalties for repeated offenders of driving without a license, and HB2459, which increased the penalties for elder abuse.[18][19] In 2008, he passed HB1362, which established a penalty for the misuse of public assets, and HB1363, which increases penalties for trademark counterfeiting.[20][21] In 2009, he patroned HB2441, which requires Virginia Department of Corrections to notify prosecutors of gang affiliation of inmates charged with an offense committed while in prison, and HB2637, which requires fingerprinting of individuals arrested for the violation of a protective order.[22][23]

Interstate 81

Interstate 81 is the main branch of the Interstate Highway System in the 24th district. In 2005, Cline patroned HB2554, a bill that created the I-81 Safety Task Force, and HJ709, a resolution that encouraged Congress to develop a multistate I-81 initiative.[24][25] In 2006, he patroned HB1581, which created the I-81 Intermodal Rail study.[26]

Women's rights

On February 9, 2012, Cline, as chairman of Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #2, recommended laying HB836 on the table by a voice vote among the five-person subcommittee. On February 14, the bill died in committee after a 4-1 vote and was therefore never presented to the House for a general vote. The bill would have prohibited correctional facilities (including juvenile detention centers) from shackling pregnant inmates during labor, delivery, and immediate recovery. It provided for an exception if the warden believed that the inmate posed serious risk of harm to herself or others, was a flight risk, or could not be restrained by other means. The bill also instructed that the least restrictive restraints necessary be used on any inmate during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.[27] Cline received heavy criticism for the decision from several public-interest groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Family Foundation of Virginia, and the Alliance for Progressive Values. Heather Rice of the NRCAT relayed to the Associated Press the story of a nonviolent Virginia inmate who gave birth while shackled at the legs (despite orders from doctors to unshackle her), was discharged from the hospital an hour later and hemorrhaged and expelled the placenta while in prison. Responding to Rice, Cline asked, "Does it show concern for the child for the mother to engage in criminal activity when she knows she's pregnant? Do you agree choices have consequences?"[28]

On February 13, 2012, Cline co-patroned HB462, which required all women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound prior to having an abortion, except in cases of rape and incest, wherein police reports must be presented.[29] The bill incorporated the earlier HB261; which required women seeking an abortion to undergo only "limited ultrasound examination."[30] While massive silent protests outside the Virginia state capitol initially resulted in the bill’s patronholding off on the vote on the bill, it was passed the next day.[31] On March 1, 2012, Cline voted in favor of an amended version of the bill requiring women to undergo an transabdominal ultrasound prior to an abortion if written consent for a transvaginal ultrasound is not obtained, and no ultrasound at all if the physician deems it impossible to determine fetal age through the prescribed means.[32]

24th district

Cline represents the 24th House of Delegates district in Virginia. The district covers all of Rockbridge County, including the cities of Buena Vista and Lexington, all of Bath County, almost all of Amherst County, and portions of Augusta County extending towards the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. There are four four-year institutions in the district including Sweet Briar College, Southern Virginia University, Washington and Lee University, and the Virginia Military Institute. Also located with the district are area branches of two community colleges, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and Central Virginia Community College. Natural wonders in the area include the Natural Bridge, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Maury River, the James River, and Goshen Pass.


External links

  • (Campaign Website)
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