This Week at the 2022 Virginia General Assembly–Week 2
Since last week’s update, big events have occurred here in Richmond and in our nation’s capital. Last Saturday, Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares were sworn in as Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. And today, so many are gathered in DC for the March for Life. We join our prayers to all who are attending today!
Overturning Roe v. Wade is of primary importance nationally. In addition, many key pro-life battles play out at the state level. We are working to restore a number of pro-life policies that were eliminated in Virginia over the past couple years. Please join these critical state efforts by attending the first ever Defending Life Day on February 9th in Richmond! This event will bring together the pro-life voice of Virginia into the halls and offices of the General Assembly building. Our goal is to assemble pro-life advocates from every district in the Commonwealth – and we need you. No prior experience is necessary! Help us to fill the halls of the General Assembly building and be a voice for life! Learn more and sign up by visiting VaProLifeDay.org where you will find important information about being a district captain, the schedule of the day and the map. Talking points, legislative updates and tips for effective advocacy will be provided to make your constituent meetings easy and successful. Please join us!
As we prepare for Defending Life Day, we are also spending a lot of time at committee hearings and in one-on-one meetings with legislators. Here are some developments this week.
Marriage: Virginia’s constitution defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman – a definition approved by Virginia voters in November 2006. Last year, however, a VCC-opposed resolution to remove this provision from Virginia’s constitution, and to replace it with language to “recognize marriages … regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage”, passed the General Assembly. If the resolution passes the full General Assembly again this year, it will appear on the ballot in November 2022. Earlier this week, a Senate committee voted 10-5 to approve the resolution again. We testified against it, and though we anticipate it will pass the Senate, our focus will be on stopping this measure in the House.
Restoring voting rights: In 2021, the General Assembly passed a resolution to amend Virginia’s constitution to restore voting rights for persons convicted of a felony, once they have completed their sentences. To become law, the resolution would need to pass during the 2022 General Assembly session as well, and then be approved by voters this November. This resolution, which we support, was approved 9-6 by a Senate committee again earlier this week.
Limiting isolated confinement: Late last week, a Senate committee also voted 8-6 to advance legislation to limit isolated confinement in prisons to no more than 15 consecutive days in any 60-day period. Testifying in support of the bill, we noted that isolated or solitary confinement has many negative consequences. Acknowledging these consequences as well as circumstances in which limited isolated confinement is necessary, we encouraged the committee to support the bill as an appropriate way to curb the damaging effects of this practice while simultaneously protecting the life, dignity and safety of all members of a prison community.
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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.