Controversial bills: How your legislators voted
The General Assembly adjourned March 10— without a budget, which some might consider the most important reason communities send legislators to Richmond.
Nonetheless, legislators got a lot of bills passed and signed into law, thanks to an overwhelmingly Republican majority in the House of Delegates and the evenly matched state Senate with Republican Lieutenant Bill Bolling as 20-20 tie breaker.
And several of them grabbed national attention. Here's a rundown of some of the more controversial bills, and how local legislators voted.
Abortion: Informed consent with a transvaginal probe ultrasound (HB462, SB484)
This is one of the two bills that subjected Virginia to national derision on Saturday Night Live— and elsewhere. The original bill required women seeking abortions to pay for an expensive, invasive procedure called a transvaginal ultrasound, wait 24 hours, and have it go on their permanent record. The bill was revised to require an abdominal ultrasound, and signed into law March 7 by Governor Bob McDonnell.
Yeas: Delegates Rob Bell, Matt Fariss, Steve Landes, Senator Bryce Reeves
Nay: Delegate David Toscano, Senator Creigh Deeds
It's okay to discriminate against gays wanting to adopt (HB189, SB349)
The conscience clause allows private adoption services to refuse to place children with homosexual couples if it violates their religious beliefs— and they still get to keep state funding.
Yeas: Delegates Bell, Fariss, Landes, Senator Reeves
Nays: Delegate Toscano, Senator Deeds
Buy as many handguns as you like (HB940, SB323)
The law enacted under former Governor Doug Wilder that limited handgun purchases to one in a 30-day period was in response to Virginia's notoriety as a source for gun trafficking. Deemed too restrictive, Virginians can now stock up on handguns because Governor McDonnell has already signed this into law.
Yeas: Senators Deeds and Reeves, Delegates Bell, Fariss, and Landes
Nay: Delegate Toscano.
Ignition interlocks for first-time DUIs (HB279)
Virginia steadfastly refuses to make texting while driving illegal— or even a primary offense, but the state just got tougher on first-time DUI offenders, who must install an ignition interlock to get a restricted license, previously a requirement for second- and third-time offenders. McDonnell has signed this bill.
Yeas: Delegates Bell, Fariss, Landes, Toscano, Senators Deeds, Reeves
Don't forget a photo ID at the polls (SB1, HB9)
Although voter fraud has never been much of an issue in Virginia, the General Assembly is not taking any chances. And a voter registration card is not going to cut it if you want to vote in this state, although provisional ballots are allowed. The Senate split along party lines on this with Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling casting the tie-breaking vote.
Yeas: Delegates Bell, Fariss, and Landes, Senator Reeves
Nays: Delegate Toscano, Senator Deeds
Life sentence for child rape (HB973, SB436)
Rob Bell says he carried this bill mainly because pedophiles are among the worst recidivists— even after serving the current 25-year sentence. But some parents worry that with a life sentence, child molesters have no incentive not to murder their victims.
Yeas: Delegates Bell, Fariss, Landes, and Toscano, Senator Deeds and Reeves
Unborn embryos are people, too (HB1)
The personhood bill, which says life begins at conception and that the unborn have the same rights as those living outside the womb, is the other bit of General Assembly legislation to get guffawed on SNL. Sponsor Bob Marshall, who has made a career of anti-abortion legislation, is challenging George Allen for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator. The bill died quietly in the Senate after passing the House 66-32.
Yeas: Delegates Rob Bell, Matt Fariss, Steve Landes
Nay: Delegate David Toscano
Sunday hunting (SB464)
Supported both by the board of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the governor, the bill sailed through the Senate, only to die in committee in the House. It'll be back.
Nays: Senators Deeds, Reeves
Urinate in a bottle to get social services (HB73)
Requires that people in VIEW— Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare— get screened by program heads to see if there's probable cause to suspect drug use, and if so, get a drug test. This bill foundered in the House Appropriations committee after it passed Health, Welfare, and Institutions committee.
Yea: Rob Bell
Study the revenue impact of selling marijuana in ABC stores (HJ140)
Pot continues to be a political hot potato in the tough-on-crime-even-if-you-used-to-do-it-yourself yet revenue-strapped General Assembly, and a resolution just to study the issue languishes in the Rules committee, as did its sister bill that asks Governor McDonnell to petition the DEA to reclassify marijuana out of the same category as heroin. Steve Landes sits on the Rules committee.
Forget the human papillomavirus vaccine (HB1112)
Carried by the same delegate who urged transvaginal ultrasounds, Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg), the bill would eliminate the HPV vaccine that girls are now required to have before entering the sixth grade. The bill passed the House of Delegates; the Senate dispatched it to committee.
Yeas: Delegates Bell, Fariss, and Landes
Nays: Delegate ToscanoRead more on: general assembly