Thanks to the Family Foundation for assembling this great summary of bills heard this week in the General Assembly.
Still Fighting: Repealing Natural Marriage – HJ 557 (Lopez – D), HJ 539 (Levine – D) and HJ 582 (Sickles – D) seek to amend the Virginia Constitution to remove language affirming natural marriage. HJ 557 seeks to just remove from Article I, Section 15 A of the state Bill of Rights, while HJ 539 (Levine – D) and HJ 582 (Sickles – D) would also seeks to replace it with language that would recognize all marriage licenses “regardless of sex or gender of the parties to the marriage.” These would enshrine in the state constitution the right to “marriage” between individuals of the same sex even if the Obergefell (2015) is ever overturned by the newly comprised Supreme Court. The House Privileges and Elections committee will vote on these resolutions February 1. The Senate version, SJ 270 (Ebbin – D), has not been heard.
Life and Medical Rights
Passed House: Suicide Decriminalization – HB 1951 (Simon – D) repeals the common-law crime of suicide, which will remove legal obstacles that could open the door to physician-assisted suicide. The bill passed the House 66-34.
Defeated: Freedom From Medical Mandates – HB 2335 (Walker – R) declared that each adult has a fundamental right to be free from medical mandates from the government, private employers, health care entities, or providers of public accommodations. The bill would prevent people from being forced to undergo treatments or procedures, including receiving vaccines, against their will. The bill failed in the Health, Welfare, and Institutions committee on a vote of 15-6.
Defeated: Religious Exemption for COVID Vaccine – HB 2268 (Cole, M – R) sought to protect individual freedom by preventing Virginians from being forced to get a COVID-19 vaccine despite their sincere religious objections, and by protecting parents’ rights to object to mandated vaccinations for their children during a declared emergency. It was defeated on a party-line vote 13-9, with Democrats voting against it.
Passed Senate: Health Insurance Coverage of Abortion – SB 1276 (McClellan – D) would allow coverage of abortion on demand in health insurance plans in Virginia’s Obamacare health exchange. Taxes pay for managing the exchange and for subsidizing health plans in many cases. The Senate passed the bill 20-17, and it now goes to the House for consideration.
Religious Conscience Protections
Passed House: “Nanny State” Bill – HB 1864 would treat anyone who hires just one person, even if it’s part-time (a few hours a week), as an in-home nanny, babysitter, or tutor for their child, as an “employer” and open them up to civil lawsuits under the Human Rights Act from the Attorney General and/or disgruntled applicants or former employees. (Click HERE to read more.) The bill passed the House 55-44.
Still Fighting: “Nanny State” Bill – SB 1310 is the same as HB 1864, but goes even further by authorizing the Health Department “to enter without delay” the home/premises “to inspect, investigate, and take samples,” and it creates numerous requirements for families hiring a “domestic worker.” The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Labor committee 12-3 (party-line) and was referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations committee. The bill will be taken up in committee next week.
Passed Senate Committee: Conscience Protections for Genetic Counseling – SB 1178 (Ebbin – D) seeks to eliminate the religious conscience protections for genetic counselors who assist a patient in understanding certain genetic tests and any inheritable diseases, which could be used to choose an abortion or the destruction of a human embryo. The Senate Education and Health reconsidered the bill on Thursday (even though it was not on the docket), and passed it 11-4. (Click HERE to read more.)
Passed Senate Committee: “Workplace Harassment” based on SOGI – SB 1360 (McClellan – D) is a dangerous “workplace harassment” bill that would punish virtually all private employees for dissenting over the LGBTQ ideology. It would make any “direct or indirect” and “verbal or nonverbal” conduct on the basis of “sexual orientation,” or “gender identity”, etc. “workplace harassment” – even when the accusation occurs outside the workplace. The Senate Commerce and Labor committee voted to pass the bill 10-1, with 3 abstentions. The House version, HB 2155 (Watts – D), was approved by the House General Laws committee on a party line vote 13-9.
Parental Rights and Education
Passed Senate Committee: Prohibit Anonymous Teen Sex Text Lines – SB 1235 (Peake – R) would prohibit the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) from facilitating dangerous programs that involve contacting children without parents’ consent or knowledge, like the Teen Sex Text Hotline. The bill passed the Senate Education and Health committee 8-6. The House version, HB 2084 (Byron – R), failed in a subcommittee for lack of a motion because some legislators raised concerns about how broad the bill could be interpreted.
Passed Senate: Expanding Who Can Become a Parent – SB 1321 (Boysko – D) would amend current law to allow “a person with a legitimate interest” to file a petition to the circuit court for adoption of a child. This bill could potentially allow a live-in boyfriend or former step-parent, with no real connection to the child, to be able to petition the court for adoption. The bill passed the Senate 24-13.
Passed Senate Committee: In-Person Learning Option – SB 1303 (Dunnavant – R) would require every public school district to give parents the option for their child to attend either in-person or virtual schools, like some localities are offering. The Senate Education and Health committee voted to approve the bill 8-7.
Constitutional Government and Limits on Executive Powers
Defeated (Stricken by Patron): National Popular Vote Compact – SB 1101 (Ebbin – D) would add Virginia to the National Popular Vote Compact that would allocate Virginia’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, regardless of the candidate Virginians choose. It would effectively end the Electoral College by joining Virginia into a compact with some of the deepest blue states, such as California and New York, to do the same. The patron asked the bill to be stricken. The House version, HB 1933 (Levine – D), has not yet been heard.
Defeated: Executive Power Limit (30 days) – SB 1378 (Newman, R-Forest) provide that any rules, regulations or orders pertaining to a state of emergency expires after 30 days from the date of issuance unless the General Assembly takes action. would still allow the Governor to issue the same rule, regulation, or order for an additional 30 days if the General Assembly takes no action.
Defeated: Executive Power Limit (45 days) – SB 1131 (Sutterlein, R-Roanoke), is very similar to SB 1378 except it would provide that emergency rules, regulations or orders expire after 45 days unless the General Assembly takes action.
Legalization of Marijuana
Still Fighting: Legalized Marijuana – SB 1406 (Ebbin – D) would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee approved a 500+ page bill (a substitute version dropped on them at the last minute with no time to read) and referred it to the Courts of Justice committee. A subcommittee recently debated the specifics of the bill. (Click HERE to learn more about the dangers of legalized marijuana.). The House version, HB 2312 (Herring – D), was debated in a House General Laws subcommittee. They will meet again this weekend to vote and likely send the bill to the Courts of Justice Committee.