VoterVoice Post

This Week at the 2020 Virginia General Assembly--Week 7

February 21, 2020 by Jeff Caruso

This Week at the 2020 Virginia General Assembly--Week 7


In these final weeks of session, the number of bills still being debated has narrowed, but the intensity of the debate surrounding some of the remaining bills continues to increase as they near their ultimate conclusion. There are only two more weeks left in the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session!
Attend Virginia Vespers in two weeks on March 5!  Please register now for Thursday, March 5, 2020, 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!
Act Now to Stand Against Extreme Abortion Bills!  As our past alerts have stated, these bills would allow abortions to be performed by nurse practitioners, with fewer safety standards, and without an ultrasound beforehand.  On Thursday morning, a Senate committee declined to take any public testimony and passed HB 980 on a vote of 9-6, clearing the way for floor action.  On Wednesday evening, a House committee attempted to ram SB 733 through committee without warning.  The bill was added to the already-set docket only 5 hours before the hearing, yet the committee room was packed with dozens of abortion advocates.  We expect they will try to vote the bill out of committee very soon, so let your voice be heard that Virginia is still a pro-life state!

Religious Liberty: A final House vote on SB 868 has been delayed all week. The identical HB 1663 will be heard in a Senate committee next week. That same Senate committee held an extensive hearing in a Senate committee this past Wednesday on HB 1049 and then decided to delay a vote on the bill until next Wednesday to allow for further consideration of language to protect the ability of Catholic Charities and other faith-based organizations to partner with the state to provide refugee resettlement and other services. We appreciate the extensive time the committee spent discussing this concern and its decision to provide the opportunity for further consideration over the next several days. Stay tuned for updates and possibly another alert next week.

Protecting Consumers from Predatory Lending: SB 421, a bill to extend a 36 percent interest rate cap to “short term” (payday) loans, passed this afternoon 61-36. 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 – HB 789.  That measure also advanced in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee by a vote of 11-4 (with an amendment), but was re-referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee – meaning it will be reviewed for fiscal implications. 

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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.