To end, or not to end, that is the question

Released: Friday, February 14, 2014

Dear Friend,

As this year’s General Assembly session is coming to a close, we want to remind you that our purpose in having a presence at the Capitol is bigger than just fighting for our positions. We believe that the mission of our independent Baptist churches to proclaim the Gospel in their areas of influence is at risk every day with legislation that seeks to limit our ability to minister effectively to the world around us. This is a task that we treat very seriously as we make sure “your voice for Christian liberties” is heard at the Capitol.

To end, or not to end, that is the question

According to the General Assembly calendar, March 8 should be when all legislation is completed. The hold-up is the budget, however—in particular whether the state will include Medicaid expansion or some sort of expanded coverage for those in Virginia who still lack health insurance coverage. While VAIB takes no position on this policy, as it falls outside our scope of interest, I am sure each of you has a definite opinion on the matter. As far as whether the session will end on time, I will be here to keep you informed.

Legislative Overview

Not every bill has been dealt with as of the writing of this letter, and there will be some additional issues that arise due to:

  • Vetoes by the Governor
  • Budget amendments by the Governor

Below are a few bills I want to highlight. You can find our complete list of priority bills on our web site’s 2014 Legislative Update.

  • It is unfortunate that the Governor has already determined to veto SB236, a bill to provide protection in the law for religious expressions in our public schools. While the Board of Education has guidelines for schools implemented in 1995, there are concerns that these could be changed to be more restrictive. I wonder whether or not Gov. McAuliffe has truly studied the issue. Sen. Bill Carrico, patron of the bill, is concerned that the veto announcement is “premature.” VAIB supports this bill.
  • “Sunday hunting” will be a reality thanks to passage of HB1237 and SB154. They now await the Governor’s signature.
  • Hopefully, churches will receive further protection for certain parcels of real property that some tax departments believe are subject to taxation with passage of SB175 and HB156. They now await the Governor’s signature.
  • Hopefully, churches will receive further protection from being required to collect sales tax with passage of HB1099. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Overall, much of our work this session has been “defensive” with a high percentage of bills we opposed being defeated; unfortunately, a high percentage of bills we supported also failed to pass. This is not surprising, considering the composition of the Senate and the newly elected governor.

Pray for us as we seek ways to “move the ball forward” while not being “thrown for a loss.” Important ground has been gained in critical areas that we do not want to see lost. Be sure you and your friends are signed up for CapitolALERTS, as there are still opportunities for you to contact legislators and the governor regarding legislation.

Make “your voice for Christian liberties” heard!

 

In His Service,

Rev. Eddy Aliff
Executive Director

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