On Wednesday, the Conference hosted Catholics from various districts who came to lobby their Delegates and Senators on issues of life, family, justice and the common good on our final “Catholics in the Capital” day. The Conference extends our sincere thanks to all those who made the trip to Richmond.
Later that same day we hosted the first “Virginia Vespers: Evening Prayer for the Commonwealth.” Bishop Loverde of Arlington and Bishop DiLorenzo of Richmond welcomed more than 200 people to the historic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart to pray for the needs of the Commonwealth. We were honored to have several state public officials in attendance, including Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, former First Lady and Secretary of Education Anne Holton, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Paul Reagan, Delegate Jimmie Massie, Delegate David Bulova and Senator Glen Sturtevant.
Earlier this week, the 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly reached the half-way point known as “crossover,” after which the House of Delegates may only consider bills passed by the Senate and vice versa.
Here’s a look at how the Conference’s priorities fared this week:
Defunding Abortion Providers: Conference-supported legislation, HB 1090 (Delegate Cline), would prohibit the state from contracting with, or providing a grant to, any abortion provider 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 away from the abortion industry toward vital community health centers. The bill passed the House on Tuesday in a 65-34 vote (YEA represents the Conference’s position). It will next be considered by the Senate Education and Health Committee.
Protecting Religious Liberty: HB 773 (Delegate Gilbert), the Conference’s top religious liberty initiative, would prohibit the government from discriminating against ministries and individuals that hold and practice now unpopular beliefs about marriage and human sexuality. It is modeled after the USCCB-endorsed First Amendment Defense Act being considered by Congress. The bill passed the House on Tuesday in a 55-42 vote (YEA reflects the Conference’s position). It will next be considered by the Senate General Laws Committee.