General Assembly

Our Team Has You Covered: Special Session, LGBTQ+ meetings, and more

News out of Richmond yesterday focused entirely on the General Assembly, which convened a rare Special Session on gun control at the call of the Governor in response to the deadly shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. (Read our critique of the Governor's rhetoric in our blog entitled Why We Need More "Thoughts and Prayers") Realizing that this gathering was little more than a political exercise to boost the Governor’s party in November’s election, we used the opportunity to meet with as many legislators as possible to discuss other important pro-family issues.

The day was over as quickly as it started.  Leaders from both chambers sent the handful of bills introduced to be studied by the Virginia State Crime Commission, and moved to reconvene on November 18.

While some of our Policy team was at the Capitol for the Special Session, others were monitoring the Department of Health's presentation on "Virginia's LGBTQ+ Health Equity Symposium and Data Collection for LGBTQ Populations."

Yes, this is what our state government is busy doing! And we’re here to make sure that someone is watching, speaking, and acting on behalf of your values.

The Symposium overview, provided by the state's "Transgender Health Services Specialist", centered largely on recommendations for the state to change its medical processes, forms, and state employee training and policies to fully incorporate transgender ideology into state government. (See sample below.)

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It was clear from this meeting that our state government is seeking to eliminate what it believes are “social stigmas” because, according to them, that is the cause of higher levels of HIV, stress, anxiety and even clinical depression in those identifying as LGBTQ+. While its important to treat every person with the utmost dignity and respect and to help every person struggling with physical and mental health issues, it's dangerous of the Department of Health to overlook the reality of the negative health consequences directly associated with these lifestyles.

The Department of Health is also pursuing the same radical compelled speech that caused West Point high school teacher Peter Vlaming to get fired.  As the presenter of the study stated, "people need to use preferred pronouns, even if they're uncomfortable with it."  Here are some more troubling things we learned at the meeting:   

  • Planned Parenthood was touted for its services to LGBTQ+ patients

  • The Department of Health intends to implement questions involving gender identity, “sex assigned at birth”, and “preferred gender pronouns” into all its patient intake forms.

  • LGBTQ+ training needs to be done with all VDH staff, and possibly with all state employees.

  • The Governor is currently looking to hire a Director of Equity and Inclusion to implement all of the presenter's recommendations for implementing these policies throughout all state agencies.

Of course, any of these changes would infringe on many state employees’ deeply held religious and personal convictions. Commissioner Norman Oliver understands this and stated that to implement these recommendations would “require a cultural change within the state agencies" that he expected to take place in between one to two years.

There are so many important issues to stay on top of in our Commonwealth, and we are here working hard – often in several places at once – to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks as we seek to preserve and promote strong families. We appreciate your continued partnership and prayers.

These Important State Laws Take Effect Today

Every year on July 1st, hundreds of new changes to Virginia’s laws officially go into effect. Here’s a few The Family Foundation fought hard for and against that you may want to know:

TFF Supported

  • More educational options for parents and kids through expansion of the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program (EISTC).The program has been a huge success in recent years and continues to enable more children in families who cannot otherwise afford private education to receive a private scholarship to use towards a qualifying private school. SB 1015 (R-Stanley) expanded this flagship school choice initiative to include pre-kindergarten.

  • More parental oversight and involvement regarding sensitive materials in public schools. HB 2107 (R-Ransone) provides parents the opportunity to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools, and the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.

  • More protection for property rights in eminent domain situations. SB 1256 (R-Ruff) creates an income tax subtraction for gain recognized by a taxpayer from a government’s taking of real property. Landowners should not have their property taken, only to be slapped with a new tax liability.

  • More parental authority regarding the delegation of temporary custody. HB 2542 (R-Byron) allows a parent or legal custodian of a minor to delegate temporary custody in limited circumstances for up to 180 days, with the assistance of a private organization, without government intrusion.

TFF Opposed

  • Expansion of assisted conception through surrogacy laws to remove any biological significance for parenthood. HB 1979 (D-Sullivan) allows non-married individuals with no biological connection to an embryo to contract with a surrogate mother to birth a baby for them. The negative consequences of this bill range from children growing up without any knowledge of one or both biological parents, no protections against “selective reduction” abortions, and no limitations on the proliferation of new lab-created human embryos. This recent article from The Federalist also gets at the fundamental problems with this kind of policy.

To see the full list of laws taking effect today, click here.

The Governor Couldn't Resist!

The state budget process is finally over, and with it came some big wins and also disappointments.  Last week Governor Northam submitted his final actions on the budget to the House of Delegates. They included leaving in place the federal “Hyde Amendment” language, which ensures taxpayers will not be forced to pay for abortions of babies with supposed disabilities, and vetoing a modification to the existing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program that would have stopped nearly $2 million from being funneled to the abortion industry.

For more details about these budget provisions, you can read about them here on our blog.

We cannot overstate how important of a win it is for the protection of pre-born babies to have the Hyde Amendment language included in the budget, especially given the complete disregard for human life that was on full display during session this year.  This achievement is the result of strong legislators willing to stand firm for the protection of pre-born babies, as well as the unwavering resolve of The Family Foundation, the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL) to push for these types of protections year after year.

In the end, the Governor did not accept the Hyde Amendment language willingly, since he was actually prohibited by the Virginia Constitution from vetoing that particular type of budget amendment. Of course, he couldn’t let the Hyde language stand without offering this hypocritical comment indirectly criticizing pro-life conservatives: "the General Assembly's action is cruel and out of touch with the difficult reality some families face."   Remember, this is the same Governor who tried to explain that leaving a baby on a table after a failed abortion while the parents and physician had a discussion over whether or not the baby should live or die, was somehow morally acceptable.

The Governor’s actions also demonstrated his total commitment to Planned Parenthood by vetoing an amendment introduced by Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12, Glen Allen) to limit “LARC” funds to only the purchase of IUD devices.  His veto, which will continue to allow millions of dollars in grants being allocated to the abortion industry, was simply a ‘wink and a nod’ to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to say “I’ve still got your back.” 

All of this goes to show how elections have consequences, and how important it is for voters to be aware of the values that their legislators espouse.  That’s why The Family Foundation Action works so hard to create a General Assembly Report Card to show you exactly how legislators voted on specific legislation that has a significant impact on families.

To order the 2018-2019 Report Cards for your church or community group, click HERE.

The 2018-2019 Report Card is Here!

The Family Foundation Action today released the 15th edition of its non-partisan General Assembly Report Card. This educational document informs citizens on key votes taken by the General Assembly during the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions that relate to the issues of life, marriage, parental authority, religious liberty, and constitutional government.  Click the icon below to view the new Report Card to see how your legislators voted:

It is our hope the 2018-2019 Report Card, along with Voter Guides that will be distributed this fall, will help motivate citizens to vote and enable them to make informed choices.  All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 Virginia Senate seats are up for reelection, which will be held Tuesday, November 5th.  Voters will also have the opportunity to review the scores of several legislators seeking re-nomination by their party prior to the June primary elections scheduled for Tuesday, June 11th.

As with each Report Card distributed over the years, hundreds of votes taken by the legislature during the past two years were reviewed.  The first page of the Report Card explains the criteria used in determining which votes to include.  Non-partisan and broad-based, the Report Card seeks not to benefit one party or candidate over another, but to equip voters with the information they need to make an informed choice when they go to the ballot box.

This year’s Report Card has fourteen “100 percenters” in the House of Delegates and three in the state Senate.

To order additional copies of the Report Card to distribute in your church, community groups, or to like-minded friends and neighbors, click here or contact The Family Foundation Action at 804-343-0010 or at info@tffaction.org.  A suggested donation of $.25 per copy is encouraged to help defray costs of printing and distribution.  Please also consider sponsoring the distribution of 100, 500 or even 1,000 Report Cards with a donation of $25, $125, or $250.  Checks should be made out to "TFF Action" and mailed to 919 E. Main Street, Suite 1110, Richmond, VA 23219, or you can pay by credit card here.  Thank you for your support!

The mission of The Family Foundation Action is to protect families and promote responsible citizenship by giving Virginians the tools they need to hold their elected officials accountable.  The Family Foundation Action is not a PAC and does not endorse candidates. Therefore, please be advised that political campaigns and candidates for public office may not use either The Family Foundation or The Family Foundation Action logo for any campaign-related publications.  Any such use of these logos is not authorized and should be ceased and corrected immediately.

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. 

Budget Update: Victory for Life!

We are thrilled to tell you that, at yesterday's "Veto Session" in Richmond to consider the Governor's vetos and budget recommendations, the House of Delegates rejected Governor Northam's attempts to make taxpayers pay for abortions and to funnel millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood! This is a huge win for the protection of unborn life, and a great end to a day that began with Virginia's first-ever (and highly successful) statewide March For Life at the Capitol.

For more details of the pro-life budget provisions that were successfully defended yesterday, read about them here on our blog.

The Governor's amendment to keep millions in tax dollars flowing to abortion facilities was defeated 50-49, and his amendment to fund abortions failed on a vote of 50-45. We want to thank several Delegates who made compelling floor speeches in support of the pro-life language, including Delegates Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), who has been a champion for the budget's "Hyde Amendment" language, Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), and Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg). Look out for videos of these and others like them on our Facebook page soon - The Family Foundation Action

Believe it or not, there is still one more round left to go in the budget process. It will now be sent back to the Governor, who will have a final veto opportunity. With yesterday’s success, we crossed another major hurdle in protecting life in Virginia. It's a great day to be a pro-life Virginian! Thank you for all your support and prayers.

Pro-Family Tax Reform [General Assembly Update Part 5]

Pro-Family Tax Reform [General Assembly Update Part 5]

During the year leading up to the 2019 session, The Family Foundation was apart of a workgroup coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Institute to put forward a proposal for what to do about the windfall in revenue that was coming to the state. Along with several other conservative groups, we helped craft and jointly endorsed a tax reform plan that looked a lot like the one that ultimately passed.

Will Virginia Become Las Vegas? [General Assembly Recap PART 4]

Besides issues involving life and abortion, this year became the year of gambling. There were at least 15 bills to expand gambling in Virginia, including full-scale Vegas-style casinos in as many as five cities, the legalization of sports betting and online gambling, expansion of the Lottery, and the commercialization of charitable gaming. We had our work cut out for us to educate and provide testimony on the many reasons why these predatory industries are a bad bet for Virginia fiscally, economically, and socially.  

With over 50 well-paid lobbyists roaming the Capitol halls on behalf of the gambling interests that flooded the Commonwealth this year, in the end SB 1126 (D-Lucas) was the last bill left standing, and the House and Senate versions of the bill could not be further apart. Then late on a Saturday evening, while no one else was at the Capitol and the session was wrapping up its last full day, the bill's conference committee members met to “resolve” the significant differences in the House and Senate versions. 

Unfortunately, and to our great surprise, what they created in this back-room deal was a bill that would seem to satisfy the deep pockets of the numerous gambling interests and billionaire benefactors. The legislature essentially threw the entire gambling 'wishlist' – full-scale casinos in five or more cities, college and professional sports betting, online gambling, etc. – into one giant gambling bill. Only one casino in each city would be allowed, and only investors who can put up a minimum of $200 million in capital investments would qualify. (Hence, why we called this "crony capitalism", with the government granting monopolies to favored parties.) 

The bill does require a commission to first “study” the matter and provide a report in only about 7 months from now, but with something of this magnitude, a half-year study is nowhere near long enough to show they're serious. The bill also stipulates that casinos have to be approved by the city residents in a voter referendum, but gives no say to the countless people in the adjacent localities who will also be impacted, while also ignoring the fact that big-money interests will likely pump millions into a local referendum to effectively buy the support they'll need. The bill also requires the legislature to pass the bill again next year in order for it to become law, so at least there is still time to influence legislators on these policies.  

This gambling 'omnibus' bill reflects a combination of ‘kicking the can down the road’ to give the General Assembly another year to figure out exactly how much and what kinds of new gambling they want to foist upon Virginians, and also a strong legislative 'tipping of the hand' suggesting that they’re primed to expand gambling in one way or another no matter what this “study” uncovers or recommends. 

A big part of the challenge this year was that the General Assembly was so preoccupied with other important matters like the ERA, tax reform, abortion and infanticide, and the improper behavior of our top three elected officials, that there was virtually no time - and no real opportunity provided - to engage in any serious policy discussions on the issues of casinos or sports betting. Much more robust discussions need to take place before the General Assembly thinks about making such a major shift in public policy. 

Also noteworthy, HJ 658 (R-Pogge), a Constitutional Amendment we drafted that would have required statewide approval of any casino gambling the legislature were to pass, never made it out of committee. The bill was modeled after Florida, whose citizens voted last November by a 71% margin to put this requirement into their state constitution. 

The debate over major new gambling schemes in Virginia is far from over. There is still much work and education to be done on these issues over the next year. Stay tuned as things continue to develop.  


This is Part 4 of a multi-part General Assembly Recap Blog Series.
Read Part 1 Here
Read Part 2 Here
Read Part 3 Here

More Threats to Religious Freedom Than Ever [General Assembly Update Part 3]

More Threats to Religious Freedom Than Ever [General Assembly Update Part 3]

This year we faced a record-setting 32 bills aimed at advancing the “LGBTQ” agenda, which not only has a corrosive effect on the family and society, but always inevitably leads to conflicts with religious liberty and conscience rights. These bills included attempts to add special rights for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) to virtually every area of the law. (e.g. in housing, employment, businesses, public accommodations, health insurance benefit requirements, apprenticeships, hate crimes, assisted conception/surrogacy, etc.)

A Tragic Loss for Life and Family

On Wednesday, by a vote of 63-36 the House of Delegates, unfortunately, agreed to the Senate’s nominally-amended version of HB 1979 (D-48, Sullivan). (The Senate passed it 28-12.) The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Make no mistake, this legislation will bring a dramatic and harmful policy shift concerning the creation and treatment of human life, the rights of children, the basis for parenthood, the significance of marriage, and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. Despite the numerous victories so far this session, the passage of HB 1979 is of profound damage to the family. 

Some have called this bill "pro-life" because it will now allow single people and same-sex couples to contract with a surrogate mother to implant one or more of the one million "snowflake babies," which have been created in labs and are currently frozen. But those same legislators completely disregarded the obvious incentives this bill creates, which will only lead to countless more human embryos being created in labs, frozen, and left to languish. While we, too, want existing human embryos to have the opportunity to fully develop, this bill will only ensure this problem is multiplied. 

Another reason this bill cannot be pro-life is because it allows surrogacy contracts to include forced abortions, including “selective reductions,” which is the horrific practice of killing some of the babies in the womb, while leaving one or more alive. Some contracts also allow the intended parents to be able to require abortion of the child(ren) if the child appears to have a disability, or simply if they change their minds about wanting the child. This is commonplace in surrogacy contracts, and current Virginia law does not prohibit these types of agreements. This bill will greatly expand the number of surrogacy contracts, but without doing anything to protect against forced abortions at the demands of the “intended parents.” 

For the first time, this bill would sever the biological connection between a child and his or her parents before the child is ever born. Current law requires at least one parent to be a genetic parent of the child who is being intentionally created through assisted conception. This bill allows for there to be no genetic connection at all, replacing the legal basis for parenthood with a mere contract among willing adults, which effectively flips the current custodial paradigm of “best interests of the child” to one of merely the desires and intentions of any adult. 

Tragically, this bill, for the first time, allows for a child to be intentionally and permanently deprived of either a mother or a father before they are even born, and for the entirety of their life. (The bill removed all the references to “father”, “mother”, “husband” and “wife”.) Yet every person innately understands the value of having both a mother and father, and those who grow up without either a mother or a father tend to have a deep longing to have and to know them. Since the bill now allows single and non-married persons to contract with someone to produce a child for them through surrogacy simply because they want one, this Commonwealth has just declared that when it comes to bringing children into the world, married homes are no more preferred than single-parent homes. 

While the outcome is incredibly disappointing, we witnessed throughout the process incredible courage on the part of some legislators who did not succumb to the outside pressures to support this bill.  We want to especially thank Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton) for his commitment to protecting unborn life and speaking on the House floor in opposition to HB 1979 several times, including his great floor speech yesterday. Watch it HERE

HB 1979 is a clear illustration of the lengths that the Left (and now, even some on the Right) will go to in order to redefine the family by stripping away the biological connections between parents and children and to protect the barbaric practice of selective reduction and abortion. 

Please pray for us as we continue to fight against these dangerous anti-life and anti-family policies.