General Assembly Update

(updated 1/29/20)

2020 General Assembly

This page is designed to inform you of legislation of concern to VAIB for the latest General Assembly session. This list is intended to highlight certain important issues but is by no means exhaustive of the hundreds of bills we follow. 

Bills are divided into two lists: those "We SUPPORT" and those "We OPPOSE." Each item is listed with a brief explanation. By clicking on the bill number, you can see more information on the bill and the progress of the bill. 

Need more information? Contact our office at 804-299-3986 or send an email to ealiff@vaib.org with your comments or questions. 

REMEMBER: You have a voice! You can contact your delegate or senator regarding your position on these items or any other issue. Be kind, be brief, and be thankful when you contact a legislator.

Explanations:

  • CO - legislation is "Carried Over" to the next session for consideration.
  • PBI- "Passed By Indefinitely" means the legislation has failed.
  • Tabled- means the legislation has failed.
  • Left in committee- means the legislation has failed.
  • Stricken-  means the patron has removed the bill from consideration.
  • Reported- means the bill is progressing.
  • Failed to report- means the bill was voted down or failed.

Click on the bill for more information.

We SUPPORT the following legislation: 

Clarification on staff-to-children ratios in religious-exempt child day centers- HB 1235 and SB 927: These two bills have not been heard in committees yet, but passage is important to help clarify an area of confusion for inspectors from the Department of Social Services. Some local inspectors have required more adults for mixed groups of children than are necessary. This has necessitated that some of our day cares hire more staff than anticipated. Passage of these bills will ensure clarity on the issue relieving the stress and confusion caused by some inspectors. VAIB support these bills to ensure clarity for staffing ratios of religious-exempt child day centers. 

Removing prohibition of guns in places of worship- HB373; HB596; HB1486; SB958: TABLED. These bills would delete the law prohibiting guns in churches. VAIB supports these bills and believes churches should have the freedom to develop their own policies on guns.

Income tax credits for cost of Christian/private school education and home schooling costs- HB158- TABLED. This bill would provide some financial relief for parents using education other than public schools. VAIB supports this bill.

Permitting talk therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction- HB966: PBI. Allows licensed counselors and other professionals to engage in talk therapy to assist those facing unwanted same-sex attractions. 

We OPPOSE the following legislation:

Allowing minors to consent to vaccinations/immunizations without parental consent- SB104 : STRICKEN. Provides that a minor shall be deemed an adult for the purpose of consenting to medical or health services related to receiving vaccinations and immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if the individual is at least 14 years of age and demonstrates to the satisfaction of a health care practitioner the ability to understand at the same comprehension level as an adult the risks and benefits associated with vaccinations and immunizations.

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)- SJ 1 & HJ 1: PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE. On Friday, January 10, the Senate Privileges and Elections committee was dedicated to this one topic, the Equal Rights Amendment. As this was a familiar topic, committee chairman Sen. Deeds limited testimony to five minutes for each side. I was not able to give testimony to the bill as it was determined others should represent our opposition position. It was clear that the Democratic majority had the votes for passage, therefore the bill passed. The only disappointing vote for passage of the ERA is Republican Senator Jill Vogel who has voted for the bill in the past. On Thursday, an opinion from the US Justice Department stated that the Equal Rights Amendment had expired in 1979 and passage by any state now was meaningless. HJ1 passed House Privileges & Elections committee on January 14. Each of these bills passed the House and Senate with much fanfare on January 15. VAIB opposes the ERA believing it will have drastic negative impacts on abortion and treatment of women who it is intended to help.

Prohibition of conversion therapy by professional counselors- SB245 (PASSED SENATE) & HB386: These bills prevent professional (licensed) counselors from even counseling an individual away from same-sex attractions or non-biological gender identities along with any type of activities classified as conversion therapy. SB245 has passed Senate Education & Health Committee; HB386 has not yet been presented in House Health, Welfare, and Institutions. VAIB opposes these bills as it will prohibit professional Christian counselors who hold certain values from using those values in counseling.

Implementing policies on treatment of transgender students in public schools- SB 161. PASSED HOUSE. Model policies will be developed by the Virginia Department of Education and ready for implementation by December 2020. Bill passed Senate Education & Health Committee. Will religious liberties be impacted? VAIB is concerned that these new policies will negatively impact students who hold religiously held values which may be in conflict with these policies.

Decriminalizing/Legalizing Marijuana- HB87; HB269; HB301; HB962; HB972; SB2; SB815: These bills either weaken the penalty for possessing marijuana or allow for possession of “small” amounts for personal use. VAIB opposes any effort to legalize marijuana. We believe the statistics in states which have legalized marijuana show definite harm to individuals and to the state as a whole.

Weakening abortion regulations- HB980; HB1060; HB1356; SB21; SB68; SB635; SB733. VAIB opposes each of these bills. Current standards protect the health of women and allow proper consideration before a woman undertakes an abortion.

Reproductive Rights Amendment- SJ2. CARRIED OVER TO 2021. This bill would create an amendment to our state constitution giving complete freedom to women regarding abortion at any point during the pregnancy. VAIB opposes this bill.

Removal of Virginia’s marriage amendment- SJ3. CARRIED OVER TO 2021. VAIB supports marriage as between one man and one woman. VAIB opposes SJ3 which seeks to remove this amendment.

Nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity: HB3HB7; HB488; HB580; HB618; HB623; HB696; HB1049; HB1051; HB1429; HB1490;  HB1663 (includes HB21; HB23; HB217; HB1050; HB1200; HB1512); HJ85; SB17; SB23; SB66; SB159; SB179.  Just by the number of bills introduced, the effort to protect sexual orientation and gender identity is expansive. The only areas protected are religious organizations and certain non-profit entities which have religious beliefs protected. VAIB opposes these bills.

Repeal of the Educational Improvement Scholarship Tax Credits (EISTC)- HB 521- CARRIED OVER TO 2021. : Established in 2012, this tax credit would be discontinued. Many private schools were able to enroll low-income students who qualified for tuition scholarships through this program. Numerous small Christian schools had begun using the program. I visited the office of Delegate David Bulova who introduced the bill. His office received calls, emails, and visits from numerous other groups who opposed the bill. Thankfully, Delegate Bulova had decided to carry his bill over to the 2021 General Assembly session to further investigate the matter for one year. VAIB supports EISTC as it has benefitted many Christian schools across the Commonwealth. Therefore, VAIB opposes HB521.

Corporal punishment with inanimate object- SB32- CARRIED OVER TO 2021. . This bill would have only allowed corporal punishment (spanking) using an open hand. VAIB opposes this bill as it would unnecessarily limit a parent's ability to discipline his or her child. 

Allowing casino gambling- SB36; SB102; SB374; HB428; HB560Authorizes casino gaming in the Commonwealth to be regulated by the Virginia Lottery Board (the Board). Casino gaming shall be limited to certain cities that meet the criteria that is outlined in the bill, and a referendum must be passed in the city on the question of allowing casino gaming in the city. VAIB opposes allowing casino gaming and the potential damage it will do to individuals and families.