The Final Four

Sunday was the deadline for Governor Terry McAuliffe to take action on legislation that passed this year’s General Assembly. On Friday, I told you about his unfortunate, shortsighted veto of the “Tebow Bill,” but there was some good news on the legislative front. The Governor signed into law four, important new laws supported by The Family Foundation. Earlier this month, the Governor signed SB 690, legislation that protects the free speech rights of Virginia National Guard chaplains. The bill, co-patroned by Senators Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg) and George Barker (D-39, Alexandria), is similar to legislation the Governor vetoed last year, but Senator Barker worked with opponents and the Governor’s office to add language to the bill that addressed their concerns. In an age where military chaplains are being removed from service simply for teaching Biblical sexual ethics, this is an important victory.

The Governor also signed legislation supported by The Family Foundation that increases the penalty for human sex trafficking. SB 1188 and HB 1964, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Delegate Tim Hugo (R-40, Centreville) respectively, create a separate sex trafficking crime in Virginia, making the Commonwealth the 50th state to do so.

The Governor also approved HB 324, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton), that will greatly expand the use of virtual schooling in Virginia by creating full-time virtual public education. HB 324 requires the Virginia Virtual School to be open to any school-age child in the Commonwealth and provide an educational program meeting the Standards of Quality for grades kindergarten through 12. The bill was actually introduced in 2015, carried over, survived numerous committees and revived countless times, but eventually passed with a “delayed enactment clause,” so it won’t take effect until July of 2016.

The Governor also signed HB 1750 and SB 732, commonly called the “Right to Try” law. The “Right to Try” law removes bureaucratic obstacles from people with terminal illnesses who have run out of treatment options by providing them with access to the use of live-saving drugs still undergoing testing. The bills were patroned by Delegate Margaret Ransone (R-99, Kinsale) and Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta).

The Governor signed several other bills that protect student information privacy, but unfortunately, vetoed two bills that would have prohibited the inclusion of “Common Core” curricula in Virginia public schools. HB 1752, patroned by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton) and SB 724, patroned by Senator Dick Black, would essentially have codified what has been the stated position of the Commonwealth. As more and more states have rejected the atrocious “Common Core” standards, it’s hard to come up with a rational reason for the Governor’s veto.

Once again, thank you to all of you who responded to our email alerts this year and took action when called upon! Your voice makes a difference.