This Week at the 2020 Virginia General Assembly--Week 6
Crossover Day was this past Tuesday, the Tuesday of Week 6 at the Virginia General Assembly. At this point in the session, all bills that haven’t been passed by their chamber of origin are dead for the year. But since the House is now considering Senate-passed bills and the Senate is now considering House-passed bills, much legislating still needs to be done before the General Assembly adjourns in just 3 weeks. Here is what the Virginia Catholic Conference has been working on this week:
Yesterday’s Virginia March for Life was a great success! Thousands of people showed up in Richmond despite cold temperatures and rainy weather to send a message to our elected officials that all life must be protected. We thank Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Knestout, the thousands of marchers and volunteers, and everyone who stood with us here and elsewhere throughout the state to pray for life and to advocate in person or via our email action alert. While the march may be done, the legislative fight for life against extreme abortion legislation in Richmond continues. Click here to tell your Delegate and Senator to vote no on HB 980 and SB 733!
Religious Liberty: Three bills (SB 868, HB 1049, and HB 1663) to make “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” protected classes in various areas of state law including housing, employment, public accommodations and public contracts continue to move. Yesterday, a House committee forwarded SB 868 to floor consideration on a 13-9 party line vote. The Virginia Catholic Conference opposes these bills. Though they are very likely to pass in some form, it is absolutely essential that – at a minimum – they include protections to protect the fundamental right of religious organizations to practice their beliefs regarding marriage, family life and human sexuality. Currently, and despite repeated attempts by the Virginia Catholic Conference to add religious liberty protections to these bills, none of them include provisions that protect religious organizations’ rights to follow their religious tenets, such as the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. If essential religious liberty protections are not added, these bills would have considerable consequences for a wide range of faith-based organizations in their employment, housing and services. Please stay tuned for another critical action alert on this issue early next week!
Protecting Consumers from Predatory Lending: Also this week, SB 421, a bill to extend a 36 percent interest rate cap to “short term” (payday) loans, passed in the Senate 23-16. The bill now goes to the House Committee on Labor and Commerce. SB 421 would also apply the laws regulating consumer finance companies to loans contracted over the Internet. Conference staff testified in support of the House companion version – House Bill 789 (Bagby). That measure passed the House 65-33 on January 31 and will next be taken up by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
Attend Virginia Vespers on March 5! Please register now for Thursday, March 5 as the Virginia Catholic Conference once again presents a special opportunity to come together with Catholic bishops, priests, parishioners, people of all faiths, educators, social service providers and public officials to pray for the needs of Virginia. Bishop Knestout, Bishop Burbidge and the Virginia Catholic Conference will host the fifth annual Virginia Vespers: Evening Prayer for the Commonwealth at the beautiful historic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond. The liturgy begins at 5 p.m. A reception follows, and all are invited!
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In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you.
~~~The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses.