Today, the House of Delegates passed two Family Foundation priorities while the Senate passed a bill protecting parental rights. Also, a Senate committee advanced another Family Foundation priority.
In the Senate, after hearing from many of you over the past several days, SB 908, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Fredericksburg) passed 26-14! This is a key victory for ensuring that state courts continue to recognize parental rights as fundamental and not reduce them to simply “ordinary” as has happened in 24 states. By maintaining them as fundamental, it continues to require that the government meet a higher legal standard before infringing on those rights. Many thanks go to the Home School Legal Defense Association, who advanced the legislation. The House version of this legislation will be voted on tomorrow afternoon in the House Courts of Justice Committee.
The Senate Education and Health Committee advanced SB 1074, legislation that protects the free association rights of Virginia public college students to assemble in groups according to their religious and political beliefs. The bill, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) passed 9-6, with Senator George Barker (D-39, Alexandria) being the lone Democrat to join all committee Republicans to pass the bill. Opposition was led by the ACLU, which questioned the motives of those advancing the bill and made claims about court decisions surrounding the issue that were incomplete at best. This bill should be voted on by the full Senate early next week.
In the House, the student group bill, HB 1617, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), the companion to SB 1074, passed overwhelmingly, 80-19. The House also advanced the “Tebow Bill,” (HB 1442) legislation that would give homeschool kids the opportunity to participate in public school sports. The bill, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville), passed 56-43. Supported by nearly two-thirds of Virginians, this bill is about treating students in our communities fairly and simply giving homeschoolers an opportunity to try out for teams.
Thank you to all of you who sent e-mails or contacted your elected officials on these and other issues so far this session. They have had an impact! Next Tuesday is the mid-point, or “crossover” of session, meaning that each body must act on its own legislation by that time. We will continue to keep you informed an ask for your action as needed.