On Thursday, the Conference was pleased to host a group from Richmond for a “Catholics in the Capital” day. A special thanks to those who attended!
This 4th week of the Virginia General Assembly session also saw action on several of the Conference’s legislative priorities. Here’s a look at how those priorities fared:
Defunding Abortion Providers: Conference-supported legislation, HB 1090 (Delegate Cline), would prohibit the state from contracting with, or providing a grant to, any entity that performs abortions outside of the three Hyde Amendment exceptions (life of the mother, rape and incest). The legislation would also divert public health funds toward community health centers and away from abortion clinics. The bill was passed in a 6-3 vote by the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Subcommittee #1 (YEA reflects the Conference’s position). The bill will be heard by the full HWI committee next week.
Electric Chair Expansion Bill: 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 Committee passed the measure in a 14-7 vote (NAY reflects the Conference’s position). Please take action now on the Conference’s alert on this bill.
Death Penalty Moratorium: The Conference supported legislation, SB 312 (Senator Dance), which would have placed a moratorium on executions in the Commonwealth until a study is conducted. The bill was Passed by Indefinitely (defeated) in a 9-6 vote by the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee (NAY reflects the Conference’s position).
Scholarship Tax Credit Program: The Conference is supporting three bills aimed at improving the Educational Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits (EISTC) program. One of those bills, HB 1017 (Delegate Massie), which increases the number of days scholarship foundations participating in the EISTC program may use to process donations of marketable securities, was passed by the House in a 66-32 vote (YEA reflects the Conference’s position).
Protecting our Coast: Conference-supported legislation, SB 571 (Senator McEachin), would fund coastal flooding mitigation projects in the Hampton Roads area, energy efficiency programs for low- and middle-income households and economic development assistance for communities affected by the reduction in the use of fossil fuels, via proceeds from the auction of carbon emissions permits. The bill was defeated in an 8-7 vote by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee (YEA reflects the Conference’s position). The Conference supported this bill as a response to Pope Francis’ call to action in addressing climate change and to growing concern expressed by Hampton Roads residents about flooding and damage to homes and businesses.
Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants: Conference-supported legislation, SB 390 (Delegate Surovell),would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a temporary visitor’s driver’s license to an applicant who is unable to present valid documentary evidence of legal permanent residency in the United States or conditional resident alien status if certain requirements are met. The bill was Passed by Indefinitely (defeated) in a 7-6 vote (NAY reflects Conference’s position). The Conference supported this common-sense measure as a means to promote public safety and encourage safe transport of individuals to church, work and school.
Protecting the Privacy of Public School Students: Conference-supported legislation, HB 781 (Delegate Cole), would require that public school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers accessible by multiple students at the same time can only be used by students of the same biological sex. The bill was passed on a 5-2 vote by the House General Laws Subcommittee #4 (YEA reflects the Conference’s position).
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.
Catholics in the Capital: Wednesday, Feb. 17. Set up appointments with your legislators in Richmond. Conference staff will meet informally with advocates before legislative meetings to provide resources. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org.