Monday, January 28, 2013

Wild Day at GA Ends with Several Victories


Victoria Cobb, President

Monday, January 28, 2013


Wild Day at GA Ends with Several Victories


With the halfway point of session fast approaching, legislators lost no time in dealing with legislation during a fast and furious day.  First up this morning was the House Education committee which heard debate on a homeschool sports bill (HB 1442), a college student group protection act (HB 1617), and a bullying definition bill (HB 1871). Passage of the homeschool sports bill and the college student group protection act are legislative priorities for The Family Foundation.


The homeschool sports bill (also know as the Tebow Bill) is patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) and would allow homeschool students to try out for public school sports. This is a bill that Delegate Bell, The Family Foundation and the homeschool community has worked on for years with increasing levels of success. Today, the bill passed 13-8 and will be next voted on by the full House likely later this week.


The second bill considered by the House Education committee is a bill that would allow student groups at Virginia state colleges to organize according to their beliefs. Unfortunately some universities around the country have been enacting “all-comers” policies that essentially eliminate these groups from being able to set criteria for their members and leaders. Free association is protected by our Constitution and this bill seeks to clarify that. This bill, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), passed 19-2 out of committee and will also be voted on likely later this week by the full House.


The third bill considered by the House Education committee is a bill patroned by Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-71, Richmond) that is a comprehensive bullying reform act for Virginia’s public schools. The Family Foundation has been working with Delegate McClellan and interested groups on this bill to ensure that it punishes bullies not based on the characteristics of the victim, but rather based on the act of the bully.  Additionally, language has been added to the bill that would continue to allow protections for first amendment rights.  This bill passed 18-3 and will also be likely voted on later this week on by the full House.


After lunch was no different – committees took up legislation and acted with haste.  First up was an effort by Senator Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) to repeal the ultrasound update to Virginia’s informed consent law.  The legislation that passed last year allows women the opportunity to see their unborn child prior to making a life-altering decision.  Chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), wasted no time in public debate of the bill stating that a bill in a specially called meeting of the Committee on the same topic had been fully debated earlier in session.  The bill died quickly on an 8-3 vote.


Next up was the House Courts committee and HB 1644, a bill patroned by Delegate Vivian Watts (D-39, Annandale), which would have changed the definition of birth control in the Virginia Code to include abortifacients, including the morning after pill.  While advocates of the bill claim this is an innocuous bill, it would actually have the practical effect of forcing pharmacists against their conscience to dispense abortifacients to those 17 and younger. Again, no time was wasted and the bill was tabled on a 10-6 vote.


Later in committee, a bill (HB1642) patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City) was heard that would have made a positive statement declaring that parents have the fundamental right to determine the upbringing of their child.  The committee fully debated the bill, but in the end decided to pass the bill by for the day so that answers could be gathered on serious, lingering questions.  Please contact members of the House Courts committee to encourage them to affirm the fundamental rights of parents to raise their children and to vote yes on HB1644.  Also of interest, the Senate version of HB 1644 (SB908) patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Fredericksburg), passed out of Senate Courts today on a vote of 8-6.


Things are moving quickly at the General Assembly this week.  We will do our best to keep you updated, so please continue to watch your email so that you can be aware of any opportunities to contact your legislator on behalf of bills that will be heard later this week.  It is imperative that legislators hear from pro-family Virginians.

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