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This week at the 2018 Virginia General Assembly-Week 9

March 9, 2018 by Jeff Caruso

This week at the 2018 Virginia General Assembly-Week 9

After nine fast and furious weeks, the Virginia General Assembly hurtled toward its scheduled adjournment on Saturday but as Sine Die approached, Senate and House budget negotiators stalled, without an agreement on a two-year budget. The prospect of a special session on the budget appears likely.

Still, in the waning days of the 2018 session, members of both houses were able to find some agreement as they each passed resolutions honoring two Catholic leaders instrumental to the life of the Church in Virginia and the Conference.
Memorial resolutions: A memorial resolution honoring Virginia Catholic Conference co-founder and Diocese of Richmond Bishop Francis DiLorenzo (SJ 161, Dunnavant), that originated in the Senate and passed that chamber last week, passed the House this week as well. The General Assembly also passed a memorial resolution honoring Diocese of Arlington priest and Holy Family Catholic Church pastor Father Gerry Creedon (HJ 449, Hope), who was a longtime member of the Conference’s Respect Life, Health and Social Concerns Policy Committee. HJ 449 matches SR 23 (McPike), which the Senate also passed earlier this session.
The Conference thanks the General Assembly for celebrating the faith-filled lives of Bishop DiLorenzo and Father Creedon, both of whom made countless contributions to the common good. Both Virginia bishops issued statements praising the General Assembly action.
Said Diocese of Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout: “Catholics throughout Virginia can take great pride in the General Assembly recognizing the work and ministries of two men of faith — Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and Father Gerry Creedon. Both lived out their service to God and the Church through the vocation to priesthood. It is through their vocation and humble service that so many benefited in Virginia and outside the Commonwealth.  Their witness and this recognition by the General Assembly of that witness remind us of the impact we make when we proclaim the Gospel with our actions. Let us continue to keep both of these men of faith in our prayers with deep affection and gratitude for their service to God and to those most in need.”
Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge said, “What a joy it is to bear witness to two great men, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo and Father Gerry Creedon, receiving honors and recognition from the Virginia General Assembly for their hard work and dedication on behalf of the vulnerable in society. They lived lives in service to God and his people, and their testimonies of faith have inspired many throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. I ask all in the Diocese of Arlington to say a prayer of thanksgiving for this wonderful bishop and priest, their service, and the repose of their souls—and also for the wisdom of the General Assembly in granting Bishop DiLorenzo and Father Creedon these honors.”
Budget update: Budget conferees have not resolved differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget, and therefore negotiations will go into overtime. This week, Conference budget advocacy focused on encouraging legislators to seize this opportunity to “cover all, protect all.” The Conference will continue to press for a budget that covers all and protects all as much as possible, by extending access to affordable health insurance to low-income Virginians and by including Hyde Amendment restrictions against abortion funding to protect babies in the womb who may be born with disabilities. Please be on the lookout for a potential alert on this topic next week.
In addition, the Conference will also continue to advocate for: a budget that improves assistance for low-income vulnerable adults in assisted living and for those transitioning from public assistance to work; and against funding a program that would push long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) on low-income women and teens, without parental involvement.
Promoting community policing: A measure that could leave communities less safe because it threatens the willingness of crime victims and witnesses to come forward (HB 1257, Cline) passed the Senate in a 21-18 vote. The Conference has long opposed bills that jeopardize the trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. This unnecessary, unwise and unfunded mandate on Virginia localities now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Student discipline: The Conference supports efforts to reform public school suspension policies in favor of discipline geared toward restorative justice and rehabilitation. SB 170 (Stanley) bans out-of-school suspensions longer than three days for students in third grade and younger. The House passed the bill this week in an 85–11 vote, sending it onto the Governor’s desk.