It's hard to believe the 2009 General Assembly is over. It seems like it was just yesterday that we red flagged HB 1671 and SB 1094 (the "blight bills") and "created controversy," (according to the big-government types who said we shouldn't be involved). But we got the two bills amended to where they won't affect property rights. It was an improv act, to be sure, but that type of nimbleness is needed during session because rarely does anything go to plan. We had many other important victories in both chambers and some good legislation is on its way to the governor's desk — unlike the above, legislation we either initiated or supported from before session. Only 46 days ago these victories were mere drafts of bills on the desks of lawmakers. Through the Family Foundation's advocacy, and legislator contact from concerned citizens, many pro-family bills passed both chambers — some even with unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. But even that doesn't make it easy (see why here).
We have five core principles upon which we advocate in the legislature: Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty, Constitutional Government and Parental Authority. To put our 2009 victories in perspective, we received major victories on four priority bills reflective in five of those principles:
- Life: A bill that creates a Choose Life license plate (see here), the purchase of which would provide a percentage of the revenue to pregnancy resource centers throughout Virginia, awaits Governor Tim Kaine's signature (contact here).
- Marriage: A positive reference about the benefits and responsibilities of marriage (see here) will now be included in the public school's Family Life Education guidelines. This is a modest, but important, step in educating the next generation about the value and benefits of marriage. This guideline improvement was a recommendation of The Family Foundation Marriage Commission.
- Constitutional Government: Companion bills, increasing spending transparency, passed unanimously in both chambers (see here), and will allow citizens to better see where their tax dollars are spent.
- Parental Authority: A bill passed requiring schools to provide parents a summary of what is being taught in public school Family Life Education (see here). It also gives parents the opportunity to review the curriculum so they have the information necessary to either allow their children to stay in the class or opt out their child.
While we are pleased with the successes we had this year we understand that there are still many obstacles to make Virginia more family friendly, including an upcoming veto session in which we may see a veto threat against the Choose Life license plates. So, while the 2009 General Assembly is for the most part over, and we prepare for veto session, we are already working on our plans for 2010.
We thank each of you who took the time to contact your legislators during this past session. Our e-mail alert system generated nearly 25,000 e-mails to legislators this year! Your action does make a difference and, we at The Family Foundation, always are encouraged by your response. Additionally, we enjoyed bringing the General Assembly to you via video on this blog and our YouTube page. We had more unique visitors in the 28 days of February than in the 31 of January!
We also offer our humblest thanks for allowing us to represent you in the General Assembly. We take the responsibility very seriously and look forward, with your help, to continued success.