Virginia Chapter
National Organization for Women

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Virginia NOW Priority Bills 2022

Reproductive Health

     

HB1274/Freitas

SB70/Chase

SB735/ Ruff

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act- 20 week abortion ban

Pending

OPPOSE

HB983/Scott

Abortion Prohibitions

Pending

OPPOSE

HB212/ Greenhalgh

Biased Counseling

Pending

OPPOSE

HB304/Freitas

Treatment of “Born-Alive” Infant

Pending

OPPOSE

HB937/LaRock

Targets Planned Parenthood Funding

HWI

OPPOSE

HB823/Torian

Task Force on Maternal Health Data & Quality Measures; study

Committee on Rules

SUPPORT

SB163/Peake

Selective reduction in surrogacy

Judiciary

OPPOSE

HB1107/McQuinn

Hospitals; direct readmission of certain post-partum patients

HWI/Subcommittee #2

SUPPORT

Women’s Health,  Safety

     

HB1105/McQuinn
SB456/Locke

Unconscious Bias Training as a Licensing Criterion

HWI/Subcommittee #3

SUPPORT

HB1051/ Scott

Protective orders/possession of firearms; removes requirement that anyone subject to a protective order must surrender his firearms etc.

Committee on Rules

OPPOSE

SB658/McClellan
Filler-Corn

 

Mandatory storage of Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (evidence of rape)

 

 

Committee on the Judiciary

SUPPORT

SB407/Dunnavant

 Disability insurance; disability arising out of childbirth. Requires each insurer proposing to issue individual or group accident and sickness insurance policies providing short-term disability income protection coverage whose policies provide coverage for short-term disability arising out of childbirth to provide coverage for a payable benefit of at least 12 weeks following childbirth.  Labor and Commerce  ??

Voting Rights

HB121/ Wyatt

Numerous Republican Bills to Restore Obstacles to voting.

HB121 is a catch-all bill; in Privileges & Elections Subcom #1

OPPOSE ALL

Criminal Justice

     

SB2 Cosgrove
SB36 Norment
HB4   Wyatt
HB59 McGuire 

SB415

HB873

Requires principals report certain acts that may constitute a misdemeanor offense.  Would increase police presence in schools 

 

Requires School boards to employ at least one school resource  in elementary & secondary schools. Defeated in Senate Education and Health Committee, 4 - 11 (with Republicans Suetterlein and Pillion voting with the Democratic majority)

Identical ro SB415. Awaiting a vote in the Edfucation and Health Committee.

Sen Comm on Ed and Health: House Comm on Ed

OPPOSE

School-to-Prison Pipeline

SB104 /Morrissey

Eliminate Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Finance and Approps Comm

SUPPORT

Economic Justice

     

SB1/Boysko

Paid family & medical leave program 

 

SUPPORT

SB15/ Favola

Establishes paid family leave as a class of insurance.

 

SUPPORT

Educational Equity

     

SB157/Hashmi 
SB490/ McClellan
HB1135/ Bourne
SB481/  McClellan 

Codify, fully fund Standards of Quality, remove arbitrary “cap” on school support personnel in budget. No cuts, redirection of funding

 

SUPPORT

SB608/ Suetterlein

SB/635 Chase

HB355/Davis 

would enable State Board of Ed to take over charter schools.

 

OPPOSE; we support local control

Constitutional Amendments

     

Ebbin, Sickles

Marriage Equality

 

SUPPORT

Locke, Cherry

Restoration of Voting Rights

 

SUPPORT

Human Rights

     

SB766/Kiggans

Targets trans kids in sports

Education & Health Comm

OPPOSE

SB20/Hackworth

Reverse legislation re school policies on transgender students

Education & Health Comm

OPPOSE

 Virginia NOW advocates to the General Assembly for issues and legislation furthering justice and equality, especially on measures impacting women and girls: this includes voting rights, criminal justice reforms, economic justice advances, educational equity, and women’s health and safety. Abortion rights and gun safety are under attack this session. We support the two constitutional amendments: marriage equality and restoring the right to vote. 

Women’s Health and Safety

Support Unconscious Bias Training Licensing Criterion by Virginia Board of Medicine (HB1105 Delores McQuinn / SB 456 Mamie Locke)
We support this bill, as an intervention in the maternal mortality crisis in Virginia. Racial disparities in maternal mortality are greater in Virginia than they are on the national level. Nationally, Black women are dying two to three times more than their counterparts in pregnancy associated deaths; in Virginia, the mortality rate is three to four times more. This bill establishes two hours of Unconscious (implicit and cultural competency) Bias Training as a criterion of eligibility for all health care professionals seeking renewed licensure every biennium by the Virginia Board of Medicine.

Virginia’s Maternal Mortality Review Team, which was established in 2019, found that provider-related factors were the most prevalent contributors to mortality in pregnancy-associated deaths in Virginia. These factors were a lack or delay in diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, referral, and consultation. These factors are recognized as results of unconscious bias. Evidence of the effectiveness of implicit bias training in reducing disparities in the current maternal mortality crisis was first identified in the State of California in 2020. But there exists more than 20 years of data on the effectiveness of the training broadly, eliminating any need for a study in Virginia to pass this measure. The Virginia Board of Medicine currently provides implicit bias training resources to its members in its monthly newsletter, Board Briefs, and on its website, which affirms its understanding of the need and relevance of unconscious bias training. This bill aims to move these resources from a voluntary consideration by VBM members—the preference of some members of the VBM Board—to a criterion of license eligibility. By its nature, unconscious bias is not something a person is aware of. The Board of Medicine’s board—while not unanimously supportive of this criterion eligibility when its Legislative Committee placed it on its June meeting agenda—did not take a unanimous position to oppose this bill.

Reproductive Health and Rights  

We oppose the  unconstitutional bill HB1274, Nicholas Freitas, which would create the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act , a ban on abortion at and after 20 weeks gestation. This is the most serious challenge to acess to safe, legal abortion in the event Roe v Wade is undermined by the US Supreme Court.  

We support the Reproductive Health Protection Act and oppose all attempts to undermine access to abortion in Virginia, including 
HB983, Phillip Scott, which would reinstate the targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP), which have been proven to be medically unnecessary and designed to limit access and shut down health clinics.
HB212, Karen Greenhalgh, which would require someone seeking an abortion to receive biased counseling 24-hours before having an abortion. Attempts like this are meant to create an additional burden on health centers providing abortion care and to stigmatize that care. They have nothing to do with health or safety.
HB304, Nicholas Freitas, which seeks to shame and criminalize clinicians who perform abortions.
All of these bills seek to limit access to abortion, shame people seeking abortion, and insert politicians into decisions that should be between a person and their medical provider. 

Guns Violence That Particularly Harms to Women -We oppose HB1051 Phillip Scott - Protective orders; possession of firearms. Firearms in the home put women at greater risk of death. This bill would allow a person subject to a protective order to continue to possess any firearm while in his place of residence that was possessed by such person at the time of service, provided that he is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. The bill removes the requirement that any person subject to a protective order must surrender his firearms within 24 hours of being served with a protective order.

 Protect Voting Rights

Voting was made more accessible in the past session. We oppose bills that would reverse that progress and support steps that remove obstacles to voting. We oppose :  HB24 Wendell Walker Voter identification; identification containing a photograph required. HB34 Ronnie Campbell Absentee voting; return of absentee ballots; drop-off locations. Repeals the provisions of law providing for the establishment of drop-off locations for the return of absentee ballots. HB35 Ronnie Campbell Absentee voting; excuse required to vote absentee by mail; excuse required to vote absentee in person prior to the second Saturday preceding an election. HB39 Philip Scott Absentee voting in person; available beginning on the fourteenth day prior to election; hours of operation. Limits absentee voting in person to the two weeks immediately preceding an election. HB46 Lee Ware Elections; voter identification containing a photograph required; permanent absentee voter list repealed. HB121 Philip Scott Elections; voter identification containing photograph required; who may register up to and including the day of the election; availability of absentee voting in person; return of absentee ballots. A "catch-all" bill including many restrictions and obstacles.

Criminal Justice Reforms 

Stop Republicans from Increasing Police Presence in Schools – We support discontinuing state- mandated and funded School Resource Officers  - who are armed police, working inside schools - in the interests of dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Localties can determine if they want and need SROs. At least six bills have been introduced to reverse legislation that took modest steps to decriminalize youth behavior in schools and begin to dismantle the pipeline. Four of these bills read "School principals; incident reports. Requires that school principals report to law enforcement certain enumerated acts that may constitute a misdemeanor offense and report to the parents of any minor student who is the specific object of such act that the incident has been reported to law enforcement. Under current law, principals are required to make such reports only for such acts that may constitute a felony offense."  If any of these pass, principals would have to report misdemeanors to police; students would benefit more from school counselors than armed police. The bills are SB2 John Cosgrove,  SB36 Tommy Norment, HB4   Scott Wyatt , and HB59 by John McGuire. Two of these bills would require school boards to contract with law enforcement to place SROs in all elementary and secondary schools. SB415 has failed in the Education committee. HB873 is pending in committee. 

 
Eliminate Mandatory Minimum Sentences; modification of sentence to mandatory minimum term of confinement for felony offenses. SB104 Joseph Morrissey. Originally touted as a tool to deter serious crime and eliminate sentencing disparities, mandatory minimum sentences have had no measurable impact on deterrence and have coincided with the mass incarceration of African American citizens.  Except for aggravated murder of a law-enforcement officer, this bill eliminates all mandatory minimum sentences of confinement from the Code of Virginia. The bill directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to establish a work group to evaluate the feasibility of resentencing persons previously convicted of a felony offense that was punishable by a mandatory minimum term of confinement and to report its findings by November 1, 2022. 

Economic Justice 

Paid family and medical leave program. SB1 Jennifer Boysko. Requires the Virginia Employment Commission to establish and administer a paid family and medical leave program with benefits beginning January 1, 2025. Under the program, benefits are paid to eligible employees for family and medical leave. Funding for the program is provided through premiums assessed to employers and employees beginning in 2024. The amount of a benefit is 80 percent of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 80 percent of the state weekly wage, which amount is required to be adjusted annually to reflect changes in the statewide average weekly wage. The measure caps the duration of paid leave at 12 weeks in any application year. The bill provides self-employed individuals the option of participating in the program. 

Insurance; paid family leave. SB15 Barbara Favola. Establishes paid family leave as a class of insurance. The bill defines "paid family leave insurance" as an insurance policy issued to an employer related to a benefit program provided to an employee to pay for the employee's income loss due to (i) the birth of a child or adoption of a child by the employee; (ii) placement of a child with the employee for foster care; (iii) care of a family member of the employee who has a serious health condition; or (iv) circumstances arising out of the fact that the employee's family member is on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States. Under the bill, paid family leave coverage may be written as an amendment to a group disability income policy, included in a group disability income policy, or written as a separate group policy purchased by an employer. 

Education Equity 

Fully Fund Our Public K-12 Schools: Support SB157 Ghazala Hashmi; SB490 Jennifer McClellan; HB1135 Geoffrey Bourne; SB481 Jennifer McClellan – Lawmakers will have more than $10 billion dollars in general funds available to finally move Virginia out of the bottom tier for state pre-K-12 funding. We support codifying and fully funding the current Virginia Standards of Quality and removing the arbitrary “cap” on school support personnel currently in the Virginia budget. We oppose cuts or redirection of K-12 public school funding and initiatives shown to hurt student outcomes.

Oppose State-Controlled Charter Schools. SB608 Suetterlein, SB 635 Amanda Chase, HB355 Glenn Davis all would enable the State Board of Education to take over charter schools. Primary control for launching charter schools should continue to be a  local function.

Marriage Equality - Both the House and Senate passed a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment repealing the Marshall-Newman Amendment and replacing it with an affirmative right that all marriages be treated equally. Marshall-Newman was struck down by the US Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 but remains on the books. These amendments must pass in the 2022 General Assembly session, then will go to the voters in November 2022. JH57, HB605 Mark Sickles, SJ5, SB557 Adam Ebbin

Automatic Restoration of Voting Rights -  Currently, people who have served time for felony convictions are not guaranteed the right to vote under Virginia's constitution, meaning that over 250,000 Virginians are barred from the ballot box as an additional punishment to being incarcerated. Lawmakers in 1902 purposefully and consciously banned anyone convicted of a felony from voting to suppress the Black vote, knowing that Black people were – and would continue to be – disproportionately criminalized. People who have served their sentences and paid taxes deserve a chance to vote for those who represent them.  Broadening the electorate to as many people as possible is a huge step toward eliminating the vestiges of Jim Crow that remain in the Virginia constitution.

 Constitutional amendment (second reference); qualifications of voters and the right to vote; persons not entitled to vote. Provides that every person who meets the qualifications of voters set forth in the Constitution shall have the fundamental right to vote in the Commonwealth and that such right shall not be abridged by law, except for persons who have been convicted of a felony and persons who have been adjudicated to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting. A person who has been convicted of a felony shall not be entitled to vote during any period of incarceration for such felony conviction, but upon release from incarceration for that felony conviction and without further action required of him such person shall be invested with all political rights, including the right to vote. Currently, in order to be qualified to vote a person convicted of a felony must have his civil rights restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority. The amendment also provides that a person adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction as lacking the capacity to understand the act of voting shall not be entitled to vote during this period of incapacity until his capacity has been reestablished as prescribed by law. Currently, the Constitution provides that a person who has been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent is not qualified to vote until his competency is reestablished.   -  SJ1 Mamie Locke,  HJ9 Mike Cherry