Reflecting on the 2014 General Assembly Session
Released: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
While the biggest issue, the budget, has yet to be resolved, we are thankful for a relatively good General Assembly session. Thanks to the persistence of VAIB and others who stand for biblical, conservative values, we were pleased to see many harmful bills stopped and some good bills get through—bills that help protect the rights of Independent Baptists in Virginia to proclaim the Gospel and minister effectively in their sphere of influence. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure “your voice for Christian liberties” is heard at the Capitol throughout the year.
By now you may know that two religious liberty bills (SB236 and SB555) were defeated as a result of the Senate allowing the governor’s veto to stand. I appreciate those who responded to our CapitolALERTS and contacted their legislators to encourage them to support these bills. If you have not signed up, go to our web site and do so today!
Legislative Overview: Bills Supported by VAIB
PASSED SB175 (Sen. Dick Black) and HB156 (Del. Randy Minchew) provides better protections for churches who own certain parcels of real property that some local tax departments believe can be taxed.
PASSED HB1099 (Del. Peter Farrell) provides better protections for churches and non-profits that hold certain fund-raising meals to avoid paying meals taxes.
PASSED HB258 (Del. Scott Lingamfelter) removes restrictions limiting free speech in outside venues to only “free speech zones,” which impacted those who attempted to share the gospel on college campuses.
FAILED SB236 (Sen. Bill Carrico) would have protected religious expressions in Virginia public schools. While the bill passed the General Assembly, the governor’s veto was sustained, with 17 siding with the governor and 22 voting to override the veto. This was four short of the twenty-six votes needed.
FAILED SB555 (Sen. Dick Black) was designed to protect chaplains in the Virginia National Guard from having their sermons edited by superiors. While this has been a limited problem, it still needed to be addressed. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the bill, even though it had passed the General Assembly with little opposition, when the ACLU stated it would do more harm than good. VAIB strongly disagrees with the view of the ACLU on this matter.
FAILED SB53 (Sen. Richard Stuart) was an effort to give churches relief regarding storm water fees. This bill was initiated by VAIB, and we appreciate the efforts of Sen. Stuart to help churches. Unfortunately, senators on the committee believed that “unintended consequences” might result from passage of the bill, and they sidelined it.
Bills Opposed by VAIB
PASSED “Sunday hunting” will be a reality thanks to passage of HB1237 (Del. Todd Gilbert) and SB154 (Sen. Phil Puckett). Fortunately, this is very limited in its application.
FAILED Efforts to expand gambling (casinos and poker) in Virginia were stopped, but expect these to be back next year. [SB19 (Sen. Louise Lucas) and SB223 (Sen. Chap Petersen)]
FAILED Efforts to give special protections for sexual orientation in various areas failed. VAIB continues to support current law, which already grants protection from discrimination equally to all citizens. [HB417 (Del. Simon), HB418 (Del. Simon), HB562 (Del. Villanueva), HB815 (Del. Lopez), HB883 (Del. Yost), SB248 (Sen. McEachin)]
FAILED Efforts to reverse or weaken the ultrasound mandate prior to an abortion failed. [HB546 (Del. Filler-Corn), HB547 (Del. Filler-Corn), SB617 (Sen. Locke)]
FAILED Efforts to recognize same-sex marriage in Virginia failed to move forward but will return next year. Much still rests on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on this issue in influencing where the definition of marriage in Virginia will land; however, God has not changed, and He has the final say.
For a complete look at our 2014 legislative overview, see 2014 Legislative Update on our web site.
14,000 Voices Campaign Making Headway!
With the launch of our campaign to involve more Independent Baptists through VAIB, we are thrilled at the number of new signups for our CapitolALERTS and to see increased donations to continue moving VAIB forward. The reception by new churches is especially encouraging—our schedule is over two-thirds filled!
More Independent Baptist voices speaking to our senators and delegates will make a difference!
Please consider asking your people to become actively involved with VAIB by singing up to receive CapitolALERTS.
Make “your voice for Christian liberties” heard!
In His Service,
Rev. Eddy Aliff
Executive DirectorDownload this Virginia Voice (PDF) →