Volume 2 | January 24, 2020

Released: Friday, January 24, 2020

General Assembly Update  #2, January 24, 2020
The week started with what was predicted to be a huge “gun rights” rally with liberals expecting it to become violent. For that reason, many did not come which usually show up on Martin Luther King Day. And all the hype about the “gun rights” rally was just that—a bunch of hype. Unlike years past, it was huge: an estimated twenty-two thousand came to express concerns for second amendment rights. I’ve never seen that many for this cause. What astounded me was the calm and quiet inside the General Assembly building and Capitol building, and how respectfully the crowd behaved outside. In my ten years at the General Assembly, this was by far the quietest MLK Day I’ve experienced. Of course, the gun bills continue to move through the General Assembly.
The House of Delegates had a slow start under new leadership, but committees were sure to move certain bills forward to achieve their liberal agenda. Some bills which may have an impact on our ministries are bills to increase the minimum wage and bills to provide paid time off and earned sick leave. These bills could have heavy financial impacts on church ministries. 
Insofar as the bills that have my focus, here is a brief overview. If you want to see more, go to https://vaib.org/education/legislative-overview/ on VAIB’s web site.

  • Equal Rights Amendment: Both HJ1 and SJ1 passed their respective chambers and are being considered by the other chamber with HJ1 in the Senate and SJ1 in the House. Both are expected to pass. VAIB opposes HJ1 and SJ1.
  • Repeal of educational scholarship program for private schools, HB521, took an unexpected turn when it was sent to the House Finance committee. The patron said he wanted to carry the bill over to next year. But the committee decided otherwise. This move is usually bad for a bill but who knows what to expect with committees under different leadership. VAIB opposes HB521 as it supports EISTC.
  • Removing prohibitions on guns in churches: HB373HB596HB1486; SB958. All of these bills were TABLED, which essentially ended these bills for this session. Fortunately, unless the current Attorney General says otherwise, current law has not hindered citizens from protecting themselves. VAIB supports allowing churches the freedom to set its own policies.
  • Corporal punishment with inanimate object- SB32- CO to 2021. VAIB opposes SB32.
  • Nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity: A subcommittee of the  House Committee on General Laws took HB1663 and “rolled in” HB21HB23HB217HB1050HB1200HB1512. One bill, HB1663 now becomes the vehicle to add discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and employment (both private and public employment).  Our greatest need is that enacting these protections will not impair our religious liberties both in the church and in the community. Pray for God’s help in this area. VAIB opposes bills to give special protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Other related bills which passed out of the subcommittee are HB3HB7HB1049HB1418.
  • Casino bills- HB428HB560HB1661SB36SB102SB374. All of these bills are expected to be heard next week in House General Laws and Senate General Laws and Technology committees. VAIB opposes casinos and other forms of gambling.
  • Marijuana decriminalizing or legalizing- HB87HB265HB269HB301; HB481HB962HB972SB2SB815. All of these bills are in either House Courts or Senate Judiciary committees. With so many bills in each committee, these are likely to be heard next week or later! VAIB opposes efforts to weaken penalties related to marijuana or to legalize marijuana.
  • Clarification on staff-to-children ratios in religious-exempt child daycenters- HB1235 and SB927: There seems to be good reception by legislators for these bills as the Department of Social Services is in agreement with the bills. VAIB strongly supports these bills.
  • Weaken or eliminate abortion restrictions- HB980 (HB1060); SB733 (SB21+ SB68). All of these bills passed out of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee and head to the full Senate. VAIB opposes each of these bills.

Bills to amend the state constitution have been “carried over” to the 2021 session due to procedural rules. In the Senate, SJ2 (reproductive liberty) and SJ3 (repeal marriage amendment) were carried over in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee.

Your prayers and participation are appreciated!

Eddy Aliff
Executive Director