General Assembly News and Action Alert
February 4, 2011
Bills Eroding Religious Liberty Survive House and move to Senate
Two bills aimed at diminishing religious freedom by amending the Virginia Constitution have passed the House and are now in the Senate awaiting committee action. Contact members of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee to voice your opposition to HJ 593 (permitting unconstitutional prayers in public schools) and HJ 614 (permitting state funding for religious education). Read our blog for more about HJ 593 and Del. Carrico’s purpose in proposing the amendment. Meanwhile HB 1409, a bill to allow prayer at government-sanctioned events, was re-referred to House Courts of Justice. Take action to oppose HB 1409!
Reproductive Freedom Victories in Senate, but Threat Lingers in House
The Senate Education and Health Committee voted against all anti-choice legislation. Bills to ban abortion insurance coverage, give constitutional rights to fetuses, and to mandate medically unnecessary ultrasounds prior to abortions were easily defeated. Unfortunately, a proposed ban on abortion coverage in health insurance survived a House committee and is headed for a floor vote. Contact your delegate to oppose HB 2147!
Senate Passes LGBT Protections, while House Kills Similar Bills
A House subcommittee hastily rolled four different bills to protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination into one, despite objections from the patrons, then quickly killed the legislation by an unrecorded voice vote. Meanwhile, the Senate passed SB 747, a bill prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in state employment by a vote of 22-Y, 18-N. SB 747 is now headed to the House of Delegates. Take action and contact members of the House General Laws Committee to support LGBT rights!
Voting Rights Restoration Survives Senate, but Similar Bills Killed in House Subcommittee
Several organizations and former felons testified in favor of several bills that would grant the General Assembly the authority to restore voting rights to people convicted of felonies. Despite the strong show of support, a House Privileges and Elections subcommittee failed to pass the bills by a vote of 1-Y, 5-N. Fortunately, the Senate passed its version of the legislation (SJ 284) by a vote 23-Y, 13-N. SJ 284 is now headed to the House Privileges and Elections Committee. Take action to support voting rights restoration!
Take Action to Oppose Anti-Immigrant Legislation!
We expect the House Courts of Justice committee to report today several bills targeting Virginia’s immigrant population for reduction or denial of services, or in ways that are likely to increase racial profiling based on national origin. Ostensibly aimed at undocumented immigrants, most of these bills would affect both legally present and undocumented immigrants in Virginia. Take action by urging your delegate to oppose legislation that would have a chilling effect on Virginia’s immigrant population!
Death Penalty Expansion Bill Killed
We managed to stave off expansion of capital punishment for another year when the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted down SB 1200, a bill to eliminate the triggerman rule, by a vote of 8-6. The triggerman rule provides, with few exceptions, that only the actual killer of a capital murder is eligible for the death penalty.
Taken from the ACLU of VA’s Email List