Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Victory Alert: Several Pro-Family Bills Pass House and Senate

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Victoria Cobb, President

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Victory Alert: Several Pro-Family Bills Pass House and Senate


Yesterday was “crossover” at the General Assembly, a day that provided pro-family Virginians with several significant legislative victories!


Among the most important victories were four bills that seek to protect pregnant mothers and their children in the womb.  The state Senate passed SB 277, patroned by Senator Ralph Smith (R-19, Roanoke), legislation that criminalizes the coercion of abortion through the threat of violence by a vote of 22-18.  It also passed with bipartisan support SB 674, a bill patroned by Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta), that creates a wrongful death civil cause of action for a woman whose pre-born child is killed due to the negligent act of another, by a vote of 28-12.  On the House side, HB 462 and HB 1 both passed with wide margins.  HB 1, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), also functions as a wrongful death statute for the pre-born and passed 66-32.  HB 462, patroned by Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg), requires that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion and that the woman be offered a chance to see the ultrasound and hear the child’s heartbeat.  HB 462 passed 63-36 (the Senate version passed earlier this session.)


Also yesterday, the House of Delegates passed HB 321, legislation that provides a tax credit for donations to private school scholarship programs, by a vote of 64-45.  Patroned by Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico), the programs would provide scholarship for low-income children desperate for a pathway to education success.  Earlier in the day, two similar proposals in the Senate, SB 241 and SB 131, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Senator Stanley respectively, were debated for over an hour in the Senate Finance committee.  Fiercely opposed by the education establishment, the two bills were amended multiple times and combined into one, SB 131.  The bill then survived numerous procedural motions, passing the committee 8-7.  Because tax credits are “revenue bills,” they did not have to pass respective chambers today, so the Senate has more time to act on this particular initiative.  The bills have been priorities for The Family Foundation, and are modeled after very successful scholarship programs in Florida, Pennsylvania and several other states.


In another significant victory yesterday, the Senate made history by bucking parliamentary tricks and scare-tactic rhetoric from opponents and passed SJ 3, the proposed constitutional amendment to protect Virginians’ property from eminent domain abuse – seven years after the infamous Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The vote was 23-17.  The House was less dramatic on HJ 3, which garnered 80 votes after little debate.  Earlier in the day, each chamber adopted the remaining legislation in the eminent domain reform/property rights package, including HB 1035 and SB 437, which define lost access and lost profit and provides for just compensation in those land takings, as well as for the land. SB 437 survived a procedural scare to kill it only by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling’s tie-breaking “no” vote.  Each chamber also passed measures which instruct the State Board of Elections to place the question of ratification to the voters on this November’s ballot, as well as its wording, although the Senate went through a series of reconsideration votes to get there yesterday, after an amendment that would have killed it died on Monday.


In short, thus far this session both the House and Senate have already passed identical legislation protecting the conscience rights of private child placement agencies, requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, a Constitutional amendment protecting property rights, as well as bills providing wrongful death protections for the unborn, though in different formats.  All these advancements indicate that this year could indeed turn out to be a historic session for pro-family, pro-life Virginians.

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