Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Crossover Week!

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Leading up to Crossover, legislators rush to finalize their legislation and enter into one of the most productive few days of the Session.

The week before Crossover, the halfway point of the legislative calendar, is traditionally one of the most productive weeks of every General Assembly session. This year was no exception.

Every so often, a national issue coincides with one being discussed in Richmond. The Obama Administration's decision to mandate that faith-based institutions offer coverage in their health care packages that violate the tenets of their faith brought about a great deal of discussion about "the conscience clause".

Conscience clauses are not new to legislation. They are intended to protect individuals from being required by the government to act in a manner that would violate their religious beliefs. Without them, many faith-based organizations that do important charitable and social work would not be able to function. In the case of the Obama Administration's new policy edict, the change they are suggesting would affect Christian hospitals and universities.

The Senate, this week, passed legislation that provided a conscience clause for organizations dealing with adoptions. The bill would enable organizations that place children in families do so in a manner consistent with the tenets of their faith. In one state where the courts imposed same-sex marriage, the largest private child placement agency, a division of the Catholic Church, ceased operations because of states mandates on child placement that conflicted with their faith.

Senate Bill 349 protects these agencies, preserving an essential component of Virginia's social service network. The passage of legislation exempts child placement agencies from being forced to comply with provisions that are in conflict with their beliefs. The bill is headed to the House, which has already passed similar legislation.

The Senate passed a lot of bills this week, including SB 564, Patroned by Senator Black, which limits the required description of the curriculum a home school student will follow to a list of subjects to be studied in the coming year. Until now, the law was very vague as to what specifically home-schoolers were required to communicate to their school administrators. This bill significantly clarifies the law and helps both home-schoolers and school administrators in their attempts to comply with the law.

We have to wrap up work on all of the bills filed by Senators by next Tuesday, so I'll have a complete wrap up of the first half next week. Until then, have a great week!


Senator Richard Black
13th Senate District

Follow Senator Black on Facebook to keep up with the goings on in Richmond, and please don't hesitate to contact our office during the legislative session at (804) 698-7513.


Black For Senate
Leesburg, Va

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