Winter storm Jonas put an early end to last week’s business at the Virginia General Assembly, but delegates and senators returned to Mr. Jefferson’s capitol on Monday as the Commonwealth continued to dig out from as much as 30” of snow!
Conference staff didn’t skip a beat, working hard to ensure passage or defeat of several bills. Here’s a look at how some of our priorities fared these past two weeks:
Viewing an Ultrasound: The Conference opposed a bill, SB 53 (Senator Locke), considered by the Senate Education and Health Committee that would have removed the requirement in the informed-consent statute that a transabdominal ultrasound be performed by a physician at least 24 hours prior to an abortion and that the mother be offered the opportunity to see the ultrasound. The Senate Education and Health Committee tabled the bill for the year in an 8-7 vote on Thursday (YEA reflects the Conference’s position). This ensures Virginia women are provided a window into the womb before making a potentially tragic and irreversible decision.
Preventing Taxpayer-Funded Abortion on Demand: In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation (the “abortion opt-out provision”) that prohibited health plans operating on the health exchange in Virginia from providing coverage for abortion on demand. Conference-opposed legislation, HB 1225 (Del. Boysko), that would have repealed this protection against taxpayer-funded abortion on demand was tabled Thursday in a voice vote by the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee #2.
Death Penalty: Conference-opposed legislation, HB 815 (Delegate Miller), provides that electrocution shall be used to administer the death penalty if the Department of Corrections certifies that lethal injection drugs are not available. Unfortunately, the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Criminal Law passed the measure last Wednesday in a 5-2 vote (NAY reflects the Conference’s position). The bill will now be heard by the full House Courts of Justice Committee.
Scholarship Tax Credit Program: The Conference is supporting three bills aimed at improving and expanding the Scholarship Tax Credit Program, which benefits a large number of Catholic school students across the Commonwealth. Two of those bills have been heard thus far. HB 1017 (Delegate Massie), which increases the number of days scholarship foundations participating in the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits program may use to process donations of marketable securities, was passed by the House Finance Subcommittee #1 last Wednesday by an 8-2 vote (YEA reflects the Conference’s position). HB 1019 (Delegate Massie), which would expand the program by allowing students enrolled in private pre-kindergarten programs to receive scholarships, was passed by the House Finance Subcommittee #3 this morning on a 3-2 vote (YEA reflects the Conference’s position).
Minimum Wage: The Conference supported a bill, HB 623 (Delegate Krizek), that would have raised Virginia’s minimum wage to $10.10/hour for employees age 25 and older. The bill was tabled by the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee #1 in a 6-4 vote on Tuesday (NAY reflects the Conference’s position).
Earned Income Tax Credit: A Conference-supported bill, HB 598 (Delegate Plum), that would allow low-income families to claim a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit equal to 10% of the federal EITC was tabled in House Finance Subcommittee #3 by a voice vote.
Join us for these upcoming prayer and advocacy events:
- Virginia Vespers: Evening Prayer for the Commonwealth: 5 p.m., Wednesday, February 17. At the midpoint of the General Assembly session, join our bishops, lawmakers, public officials, Catholic leaders and parishioners, educators and social service practitioners and others of goodwill for this special evening prayer liturgy for the needs of Virginia at Richmond’s historic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, pilgrimage site for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Reception follows. Please register here.