Home Virginia Politics Three Items Worth Noting from Today’s Virginia General Assembly

Three Items Worth Noting from Today’s Virginia General Assembly

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It’s mostly been a quiet day today (UPDATE: I just posted an item which makes the first clause of this sentence moot, null and void, etc.) – the calm before the storm (literally) – but I saw a few items from today’s Virginia General Assembly that I thought were worth pointing out.

First, some good news courtesy of Sen. Adam Ebbin. Hopefully, this perverse, bass-ackwards piece of public policy – penalizing people for purchasing vehicles with high fuel economy, at a time when we need to be slashing our consumption of fossil fuels due to global climate change – will soon be gone and forgotten, never to return. Let’s hope. Meanwhile, thanks to Sen. Ebbin, Del. Scott Surovell, and others for their efforts at repealing this idiocy.

Now, some frustrating news – although with a glimmer of hope in it – courtesy of Del. Scott Surovell. It’s frustrating, of course, because discrimination is not something that anyone should support, whatever your political affiliation. A glimmer of hope, though, as Republicans increasingly seem to be realizing that they’re just dead wrong on this one (or at least that the politics of this issue are moving against them, fast). One way or the other, either through the courts or the legislature, the disgraceful enshrinement of anti-LGBT bigotry in Virginia’s constitution is going down the tubes. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.

Finally, here’s a sign that as much as Virginia has changed – and continues to change – for the better, “Ol’ Virginny” isn’t totally dead yet. Hopefully in a few more years, this type of thing (honoring Confederate generals) will be looked at as a weird relic of a strange, bygone era. Just like taxing fuel efficient vehicles and discriminating against a whole class of citizens simply because of their sexual orientation. Let’s hope.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Does Ben Cline know that Lee-Jackson Day was Friday, not today?. Does he realize that today’s holiday celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., not Robert E. Lee?  Or, is this his back-handed way to belittle the holiday dedicated to the great civil rights leader by bringing up the Civil War?

  • After passing in 2013, Democratic bill fails in near-party-line vote

    RICHMOND, VA – On a 7-7 vote today, the Senate Committee on General Laws voted to kill a bill that would have protected state workers from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a veteran.

    SB 248, co-patroned by Senator Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) and Sen. Adam Ebbin (D – Alexandria), garnered the support of all six Democrats and one Republican senator. The measure failed because an outright majority is needed to report bills from committee.

    Last year, a similar bill – SB 701 – reported from the same committee on an 8-7 vote. It won bipartisan support in the full Senate, passing 24-16 before failing in the House of Delegates.

    Senator McEachin said, “Last year, a very similar bill passed the full Senate last year with bipartisan support. This year, Republicans wouldn’t even let it out of committee. I am bitterly disappointed to see us regressing. State employees – like all workers – deserve to know that they’re being judged on the merits, and not irrelevant details from their personal lives.”

    Senator Ebbin said, “I am pleased that Gov. McAuliffe used his first executive order to ban employment discrimination, but future governors could easily reverse that ruling. Passing this law is the only way we can permanently protect gay and lesbian Virginians from discrimination, and I would like to know why my Republican colleagues chose to withhold that protection.”

    Representatives from many business and advocacy groups appeared to testify in favor of the bill.

    A spokesman with the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists was the sole witness to speak against the bill, comparing hardworking gay and lesbian Virginians to – among other groups – pedophiles, polygamists, alcoholics, drug addicts, and those who commit bestiality. He went on to allege that sexual orientation is “a choice,” that LGBT Virginians are “sick,” and that SB 248 “will elevate these protections above religious values and protections”

    In response, Sen. McEachin said, “This testimony was insulting, offensive, and totally inappropriate. It only serves to show why this legislation is so necessary. In a world where some people believe our gay and lesbian friends, neighbors, and family members are “sick,” it’s absolutely imperative that we protect every Virginian from discrimination.”

    Reverend Robin Gorsline, president of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV) and a witness in favor of the bill, added “I can speak for many people of faith when I say that we categorically reject this argument. Gay and lesbian Virginians are not ‘sick,’ and like anyone, they deserve protections. We are all equal in God’s eyes, and we should all be equal before the law.”

    Background Information

    Supportive  business groups included the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

    Supportive advocacy groups included the Alliance for Progressive Values, the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Virginia, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, and Virginia Organizing.

  • From Del. Alfonso Lopez:

    (Richmond, VA) The Virginia House of Delegates has again killed legislation to require universal background checks for gun purchases and limits on high capacity gun magazines. Despite support from 92% of Virginians for universal background checks and 62% of Virginians for limits on high capacity gun magazines, the Virginia House of Delegates refuses to act.

    “These are commonsense gun violence prevention measures that will make it harder for criminals to obtain military grade weaponry and commit violent acts, while still protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of all Virginians” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), the sponsor of the legislation.

    Lopez continued, “It is time we stop playing politics with people’s lives and start working on meaningful gun violence prevention legislation.”

  • REPUBLICANS KEEP NONDISCRIMINATION BILL BOTTLED UP IN COMMITTEE

    Ebbin vows to keep fighting

    RICHMOND, VA – In a disappointing mostly party line vote, Republican Senators voted against SB248, which would discourage workplace discrimination of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees. State employees are currently protected from such discrimination by Gov. McAuliffe’s Executive Order No. 1. Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) introduced the bill to codify the protections. Employment protections are already taken for granted at most top-flight private companies and in at least fifteen other states. Without legislation, though, any future governor could fail to renew the existing policy, thereby allowing the Commonwealth to discriminate.

    “Discrimination is wrong, and the law should reflect that,” said Ebbin. “LGBT Virginians need to know that they’re being hired (or fired) on the merits, and not because of their sexual orientation. I’ll continue to fight for equality and fairness for all Virginians.”

    Senator Ebbin took office in January 2012 after serving for eight years in the House of Delegates. He represents the 30th Senate District, consisting of approximately 200,000 residents in portions of Arlington County, Alexandria City and parts of Fairfax County’s Mount Vernon and Lee Magisterial Districts. The 30th district borders the Potomac River and includes Reagan National Airport, Old Town Alexandria and George Washington’s Mt. Vernon Estate. Senator Ebbin is the co-chair of the Virginia Progressive Caucus and is also a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.