Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Victory Alert: Student, Parental Rights Bills Advance!

Victoria Cobb, President
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Victory Alert: Student, Parental Rights Bills Advance!

Today is “crossover,” the mid-point of the 2013 General Assembly session and the day when each chamber must complete work on its own bills.  It’s also a day that saw two substantial pro-family victories.

The Senate passed a priority for The Family Foundation, legislation that protects the free association rights of students on public college campuses.  SB 1074, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), ensures that the current practice on the majority of our campuses will continue and that religious and political organizations will not be discriminated against because of their beliefs and values.  The bill passed 22-18 with several Democrats joining Republicans to pass the legislation.  The House companion bill, HB 1617 patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), passed late last week.

In the House, legislation protecting parental rights as fundamental passed 70-30!  The bill, HB 1642 patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown), reflects the current position of state Courts that recognizes parental rights as fundamental.  However, 24 states have reduced parental rights from fundamental to “ordinary,” making it easier for government bureaucrats to interfere with families.  A similar bill has already passed the Senate, but because the bills are slightly different, we will continue to work with the patrons and representatives of parental rights groups to bring them into “conformity” for final passage later this session.

In the past two days, other legislation supported by The Family Foundation also advanced, including bills that combat human trafficking, help ease restrictions on the creation of charter schools, and provide a definition of bullying for the Department of Education as it works on guidelines to help schools combat that serious problem.

Unfortunately, all news today wasn’t good news.  The Senate decided to send SJ 287, a religious liberty amendment, back to committee, effectively killing the bill for this year.  Based on an amendment that passed last year in Missouri, the amendment would have given Virginians the opportunity to vote to reestablish our right to pray at the start of government meetings and protect students’ religious liberty rights.  As we continue to watch the federal government infringe upon our God-given right to express our faith in the public square, Virginians want to be able to respond.  Our goal will continue to be to reinforce our First Freedom, through statute and if necessary, a constitutional amendment.

In the coming days we will again be contacting you to urge action on key bills.  Thank you to everyone who has sent emails to their legislators so far!  You voice does make a difference.

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