The second week of the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session saw a lot of action on legislation of concern to the Conference, including an attempt to deny in-state tuition for childhood immigrants and a bill to lift a lifetime ban on TANF benefits.
Our staff has also been busy preparing for our 10th annual Catholic Advocacy Day next Thursday, Jan. 29 in Richmond! Don’t miss this opportunity to join fellow Catholics and other interested parties in Richmond and personally lobby your Delegates and Senators on a wide variety of issues important to Catholics. You’ll also get to hear from Bishop DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Loverde of Arlington, attend Mass, and discuss your legislator visits with fellow citizens over lunch. Click here to register!
We hope to see you next Thursday!
Here’s what happened this week at the Virginia General Assembly:
Seclusion and restraint regulations: Conference-supported legislation (SB 782, Sen. Favola) would require the state Board of Education to adopt regulations consistent with U.S. Department of Education guidelines on the use of seclusion and restraint techniques in elementary and secondary public schools in the Commonwealth. Currently, there are no regulations for the use of these dangerous behavioral support techniques, which are disproportionately used on students with physical and intellectual disabilities. The use of seclusion and restraint has resulted in bodily and psychological injury to Virginia students, and schools currently have no obligation to inform parents when seclusion and restraint practices are utilized. The proposed regulations would require the use of evidence-based behavioral support techniques. The bill passed the Senate Education and Health Committee on an 11-4 vote, and is now awaiting consideration by the full Senate.
In-state tuition for childhood arrivals: Conference-opposed legislation (SB 722, Sen. Black) was defeated in a 20-19 vote by the Senate. Republican Sen. John Watkins joined with Democrats in opposition to this bill, with Sen. Jill Vogel not voting. The bill would have prohibited students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status from receiving in-state tuition even if they meet all other requirements for Virginia domicile. DACA students are considered to be lawfully present in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security. Those voting NAY supported the Conference’s position.
Lifting the lifetime ban on TANF benefits: Conference-supported legislation (HB 1569, Del. Orrock) passed the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee 21-1 earlier this week and will next be considered in the House Appropriations Committee. The bill would lift the lifetime ban on TANF benefits for individuals with prior drug felony possession convictions, as long as the individual complies with all obligations imposed by the court and the Department of Social Services, is actively engaged in or has completed a substance abuse treatment program, and participates in drug screenings. A similar Senate bill passed the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee 8-7 earlier today and will next be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.