The five Virginia Senate Democrats who voted for SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417, the Senate bill for health care freedom and defense of the 10th Amendment, are: Senators Charles Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell), who both voted for it committee, as well as Senators Edd Houck (D-17, Spottsylvania), John Miller (D-1, Newport News) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville). See the vote for SB 283 here, which is identical to the votes for the subsequent bills. The bills are patroned, respectively, by Senators Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester).
The two identical bills to SB 283 — SB 311 and SB 417 — also passed just seconds ago, by identical 23-17 margins. At first glance, the six vote margin is surprisingly large. More details to come. SB 417 is patroned by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) and SB 311 is patroned by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield).
Our Quote of the Day normally is reserved for General Assembly session (during which there are too many to post). But tonight at Richmond International Airport, at the GOP ticket's second-to-last stop on its final fly through tour, attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli again stole the show, earning himself yet more ink.
You know the Democrats are desperate for help when they even fly Tim Kaine into Virginia to campaign for them!
Fun aside, and there was much of it, the event was serious, with exhortations to not let up over the next 24 hours. Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling joined Senator Cuccinelli in asking the crowd of about 300 to do the blocking for them, to be the boots on the ground, to continue calling and e-mailing and Facebooking and Twittering friends, family, neighbors and colleagues; to man the polls tomorrow and give people rides to vote; to knock on doors and volunteer. Still lots to be done was the message. Taking nothing for granted, these men, not after eight years in the desert.
There were two surprises: Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) emceed the event and Jeanine McDonnell, the Republican's eldest daughter and Iraq War vet (Army Lt., platoon leader), who first starred in the campaign as the his designated introducer and later in a campaign ad, sang the national anthem. What a great voice! Tomorrow night, she and the McDonnell family hope to be singing another song.
Tuesday is "crossover" day in the General Assembly, the day when work on bills from their respective chambers must be complete. The past two weeks have been long and intense, as you have been able to tell by reading this blog and by the number of e-mail alerts you've received. (If you don't receive our e-mail alerts, you should. They are informative, fun, fast and have received critical acclaim. People tell us that when they read them, they feel as if they were in the committee room. Click here to sign up.) Several bills in The Family Foundation's bill profile were acted on recently. Here's an update:
This legislation, introduced by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), would have required abortion centers to become licensed, have life-saving equipment in their facilities and submit to one yearly inspection. It was drafted to make abortion centers safer for the women who visit them. In fact, the original bill had numerous regulations, many of which pro-abortion activists claim are onerous and designed put these centers out of business. Anticipating this argument, Senator Vogel stripped down the bill to the three simple requirements listed above.
The fact is that there are several types of medical facilities that are much less invassive, such as podiatry centers; and altogether different types of facilities, such as puppy mills, that have much tougher regulations. Furthermore, all medical disciplines and specialities have oversight by peer review boards, with the notable exception of abortionists.
Finally, the pro-abortion side traditionally argues that the Board of Medicine regulates Virginia's abortion clinics. Fine. Senator Vogel presented SJ 276, which the Senate passed unanimously last year, that slams the Board of Medicine, citing a 1999 JLARC report, that discovered "the Board of Medicine took too long to resolve cases, did not adequately protect the public from substandard practice by doctors, and did not handle medical malpractice cases adequately," among other charges. When confronted with its hypocrisy and the truth, the pro-abortion side did the only thing it could do — ignore it.
So, this bill, which seemed like a logical and bipartisan issue, failed in the Senate Education and Health Committee by a party line vote of 10-5. So much for "safe, legal and rare." Instead, in Virginia, abortion centers remain an exempted class, untouchable and protected by their overlords in the Senate. Read more about this issue here and see video of the Ed and Health hearing here.
SB 801: "Choose Life" License Plates (Support)
This legislation, from Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), not only would have created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of the proceeds from the plates to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. The bill was debated in the Senate Transportation Committee. Of course, the opposition denounced the plates, claiming they are political in nature and out of the purview for recognition.
Even more infuriating, a family practitioner unashamedly attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. The bill died in committee by a vote of 6-6 with Senators Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) abstaining. Senator Blevins was in the room up until just before the vote and then walked out — leaving a "proxy" vote of "abstain" behind.
HB 2579: Informed Consent, Ultrasound Requirement (Support)
Delegate Kathy Bryon's (R-22, Lynchburg) bill would require abortionists to take an ultrasound and allow the woman to view it if she desires before having an abortion. The Family Foundation supports this bill not only because it would give women medically accurate information to aid their decision making, but also with hopes that more women would choose life after clearly seeing that life inside them. The House Courts of Justice Committee reported this bill 15-6. It now goes to the House floor.
HB 2634: Providing Information on Fetal Pain
Another informed consent bill, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), would require that a woman be told that her unborn child could feel pain during the abortion process and provide her with information on anesthesia for the child. Again, the House Courts of Justice Committee passed this bill 17-5, and the House will vote on it this week. See some of the sub-committee debate here.
With homosexual rights advocates feeling emboldened by recent election victories, every effort has been made this legislative season to make sure that the term "sexual orientation" finds its way into Virginia code. It has been attempted in every form from group life insurance and housing discrimination, to making sure that it becomes a protected class under Virginia's human rights laws. Any incremental step they believe they can take, they will. Thankfully, we can report that all efforts to expand the homosexual agenda have failed thus far, with the exception of SB 945 (life insurance).
These battles are far from over and other skirmishes over other issues undoubtedly will materialize. If ever it was all to play for, this year's second half is it.
One thing that has always frustrated me about the life debate, especially during the General Assembly, is that pro-lifers sometimes concede the semantics to the pro-abortion side. Simple case: Each year we support legislation that would license abortion "clinics" — the only type "medical" facility that escapes such basic oversight, especially considering the importance of the situations in which women who visit them find themselves. I hate using the word "clinic" in conjunction with abortion. A clinic is where you go to get well — not to kill a baby. I've tried "facility" but that does not capture the graveness of the activities that go on in these buildings. Friday, in a meeting, someone hit it spot on: "centers," as in abortion centers, because that's exactly what they are; centers carrying the connotation of "mass scale" or "large" — a place where much rote assembly line acitvity goes on. Using it already, people have caught on — the understanding is immediate. It conveys exactly the heinous nature of what takes place in these centers of destruction.
Which leads to this Thursday in the Senate Committee on Education and Health (see members here to contact), which happens to its last meeting before crossover, and which also happens to be Planned Parenthood's lobby day. Here is the great tradition the two have worked out: Save the pro-life bills for PP's day at the GAB and kill them all to appease the committee pro-abortion majority's biggest supporters. But that also happens to be The Family Foundation's virtual lobby day, and we hope you participate by contacting your senators and delegates about defunding Planned Parenthood and supporting pro-life legislation.
So, not so coincidentally, E&H will hear SB 1270, patroned by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester). The bill will be amended and offer three simple requirements: A yearly inspection, life-saving equipment (which our lawmakers have in the GAB) and a registration/licensure of some type with an oversight agency. Let's see how those who claim to be for "safe, legal and rare," vote and if they think abortion centers should still claim exemption from the slightest of regulations, much less than what even podiatrists are subjected to. If they find excuses for defeating this, their cover, however, thin it is now, will be completely blown — as shattered as the term abortion "clinic."
Fresh off our large turnout of more than 250 grassroots Christian conservative activists at our annual lobby day yesterday, we have another day at the capitol: for pastors. It will be on February 5 and those attending will be treated to every bit the great lineup of speakers and lobbying opportunities with their senators and delegates.
The theme of Pastors Day At The Capitol is:
Restoring A Culture Of Life.
No coincidence, then, that February 5 is the same day as Planned Parenthood's lobby day.
Among the speakers confirmed are Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), who is carrying SB 1270, a bill to licence abortion facilities; Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg), the 2007 Family Foundation Legislator of the Year; and Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), who doubles as the co-chairman of the Virginia Conservative Caucus, a group of conservatives senators and delegates who shape alternative and innovative conservative proposals during the General Assembly.
Among the non-legislators slated to speak are the Rev. Bill Haywood and former Virginia State Police Chaplain Steve Lambert, one of the six who resigned rather than obey an order prohibiting prayer "in Jesus' name."
Please make your pastor aware of this unique opportunity. For more information, contact The Family Foundation of Virginia at 804-343-0010.
This was a strange one: Lobby Day and I had nary a thing to do with it. My first two sessions, 2006 and 2007, I was knee deep in planning and executing the event. Last year, not so much. This year, virtually nada. That's what happens when you're trying to put coalitions together in support of various bills. Somebody had to mind the store and work on our legislative initiatives, research and make lawmaker contacts. Still, it's pretty impressive to see more than 250 people, with yellow "I Vote Values" stickers enter Mr. Jefferson's capitol. More people than last year, even. Who said values voters no longer matter? Here's how the day went:
More than 250 people from around the commonwealth met in the capital city today to support traditional values in Virginia this legislative season. They were energized by elected officials such as Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Centerville), and Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Independence), who spoke of the opportunities that currently exist to promote fundamental rights, such as chaplains being allowed to pray "in Jesus name," as well as seeing to it that Planned Parenthood doesn't continue to receive taxpayer funds.
These encouraging messages were followed by keynote speaker, Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, who affirmed the fact that by championing traditional values one also is championing the ideas believed in and sacrificed for by the constitutional framers. Attendees also heard from Adam Schaeffer (TQ Radio interview here) of the CATO Institute who addressed education freedom after also addressing the House Education Committee earlier in the morning.
After hearing from this great line up, citizens made their way to the Capitol where they observed both legislative bodies in action. While in the galleries and watching in other rooms they were introduced in the House of Delegates by Delegate Kenneth Alexander (D-89, Norfolk), who also is the new chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, and in the Senate, by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester).
Equipped and encouraged, these hundreds of grassroots conservative activists then went in small groups and met personally with more than half of the legislators in the General Assembly. Because of their efforts to make their voices heard we know that we will see victories in this year's General Assembly, and we are thankful for their time and commitment to traditional values.
Although you may not have been able to join us today, if you are reading this, you will have another opportunity to participate in a Family Foundation Lobby Day — on February 5 we will have a Virtual Lobby Day when we use the power of the Internet to promote our message. Continue to check back here and future e-mail alerts for more details as we make staying connected to your government and elected officials as easy as logging on and clicking a mouse. It may be short session, but we have a lot planned, both in person and online to make a significant impact on our elected officials.
Speaking of which, pay close attention to our e-mail alerts throughout the session and be prepared to call, write and e-mail your legislators to remind them that Virginia is and should remain a great place to raise a family.
Delegate Ben Cline's (R-24, Amherst) online budget/budget transparency bill (HB 2285) has been referred to the House Science and Technology Committee (click here for members), which is a change from last year, where it was heard in the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Technology, Oversight and Government Activities, where it was held over for study (i.e., killed). It still may be referred to Appropriations, especially if a fiscal impact is attached to it (no word on that yet, though we expect one, which will hurt its chances), but this is certainly something to watch. Last year, the Department of Planning and Budget stated an online budget would cost the commonwealth $400,000, although the feds were able to put its budget online for $600,000 (for a $2 trillion annual budget vs. two-year $78 billion budget; somehow that reminds us of fuzzy math). Meanwhile, Tertium Quids debunks the cost estimates, here, and comments on the GOP leadership's growing support for transparency, here.
The Science and Technology Committee meets Mondays at 4:00 p.m. and its first docket does not include the transparency bill, so the earliest it could be introduced is next Monday, January 26. However, it is never too early to contact legislators. See the link above for the c0mmittee members.
As for the Senate bill (SB 936) there still is no word on when it will get heard in the General Laws Committee (see members here). We are wary of a last minute fiscal impact statement and hearing notification, so as to give committee members a reason to kill it quietly before too much attention is given to the bill. Don't let them get away with it. Contact those committee members (see link above), ASAP, as well. There was some good news on Friday, however: Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27, Winchester), a committee member, signed on as a co-patron.