Yesterday afternoon after hours of procedural maneuvering and partisan speeches, the Senate of Virginia finalized their rules for this year’s session, including the make-up of their committees. Key to The Family Foundation’s agenda is the Education and Health Committee. Long known as the place where all pro-life measures go to die, under both Republican and Democrat rule, the appointments to this committee has widely been seen as the first key demonstration of the direction of the new Republican majority in the state Senate.

The committee will have eight Republicans and seven Democrats, a pivotal departure from the past four years when the committee was dominated by ten pro-abortion Democrats.

The new committee chair will be Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield). Senator Martin is a long standing pro-life conservative with an impeccable voting record. A former Family Foundation legislator of the year, he has championed pro-life and pro-family measures for many years. His Republican colleagues on the committee will be:

Steve Newman (R-23, Lynchburg) Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) Ralph Smith (R-19, Roanoke) Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach) Dick Black (R-13, Sterling) Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) Tom Garrett (R-22, Bumpass)

The Family Foundation has high expectations that these eight, the large majority of whom have 100% pro-life records, will forward to the full Senate pro-life proposals so they can get a full up and down vote by every member of the state Senate.

The democratic make up is as follows:

Dick Saslaw (D-35, Fairfax) Janet Howell (D-32, Reston) Louise Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth) Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton) George Barker (D-39, Fairfax) Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) John Miller (D-1, Newport News)

For a closer look at previous voting records, visit http://familyfoundation.org/report-card/.

Earlier, the state Senate voted 21-20, with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling casting the 21st vote, to organize under new rules and under Republican control. This after several hours of procedural motions by Democrats who argued for a power sharing agreement where committees would have equal party representation.

These decisions by the state Senate launch what promises to be one of the most challenging but promising in our history. With a tied Senate, just one or two Republicans breaking ranks can stop many bills. Two Democrats, Senators Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Senator Charles Colgan (D-29, Manassas), have voted for pro-life legislation in the past, including last year’s abortion center safety regulations. Consequently, it will require you, the citizens of Virginia, to be especially active and vigilant this year and encourage your representatives in the state Senate to vote pro-life.