Photosynthesis » ACLU-VA Legislative Agenda’s Portfolio

25 bills are being tracked.

Incarcerated persons, certain; compliance with detainers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (HB1468)

Patron: Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas)
Status: vetoed by governor

ACLU-VA strongly opposes this unconstitutional, confusing "message" bill. Virginia already has some of the toughest laws regarding compliance with federal immigration law. Everyone's status is check when arrested and there is a presumption against bail for immigrants with detainers who have been accused of serious crimes. As well, federal courts have already declared that, absent a criminal warrant, people cannot be held in local jails for violation of civil immigration law. This bill also creates a conflict between a judge's order to release someone on bond for a minor crime and the local jail official's refusal to release that person except to federal officials. It is not the job of sheriffs and jail officials to enforce immigration law.

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Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; penalty. (HB1473)

Patron: Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes HB1473 because it is cruel, dangerous, and unconstitutional. This bill poses a serious threat to women’s health, ignoring women’s health needs and individual circumstances and seeking to ban abortions at twenty weeks. The sponsors of this bill seek to deny a woman the dignity to make personal, private decisions. Every pregnant woman faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications. It isn’t always possible for a woman to get an abortion as soon as she has made her decision – many things can stand in her way. A woman’s health is what should drive important medical decisions – not political agendas.

There are 11 comments about this bill »

Hospitals; regulations governing, facilities performing abortions. (HB1563)

Patron: Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HB1563, which would bring Virginia law in line with the constitutional standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Abortion is incredibly safe—99% safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is also incredibly common—approximately three in ten women will have an abortion in their lifetimes, and will need access to safe, legal facilities to obtain abortion care. Despite the safety of the procedure, in 2011 the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law that requires abortion providers to follow burdensome and unnecessary regulations designed to close them down and make it harder to access abortion care in Virginia. Leading medical associations and medical professionals have consistently opposed this law because it puts women’s safety at risk. In June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt held that clinic shutdown laws, like Virginia’s, that do not benefit women’s health are unconstitutional. HB1563 would repeal Virginia’s unconstitutional clinic shutdown law and ensure that no abortion provider in Virginia will be shut down unless it is a bone fide threat to public health.

There are 3 comments about this bill »

Voter registration; proof of citizenship required to register to vote in certain elections. (HB1598)

Patron: Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this bill. Because Virginia cannot legally impose this requirement in federal elections, this bill proposes to create a separate system for state and local elections with additional requirements. A two-tiered registration and voting system would be impossible to efficiently administer, cost the taxpayers untold amounts of money to implement, and create confusion and long lines at election time. This is an ill-considered proposal that seeks to put further barriers in the entrance to the voting booth without any reason, basis in fact or thought about the administrative and human costs. It is an effort to further suppress the vote in Virginia.

There are 7 comments about this bill »

Physical Privacy Act; created. (HB1612)

Patron: Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes House Bill 1612, proposed by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Manassas). HB1612 is about invading privacy, not protecting it. Among other things, this bill would require anyone who wants to avoid harassment or an interaction with a government official to carry a copy of their birth certificate on their person anywhere they may need to use a restroom on state property. Transgender people need and deserve privacy, too. Their privacy includes being able to use restrooms that conform with their gender identity without confrontation or hassle. We already have criminal laws on the books that protect everyone from violations of their persons and privacy while in public restrooms. This bill does nothing to protect anyone and only serves to invite public attacks on people using restrooms who do not conform to someone’s expectations of what a person of a particular sex or gender looks like. We already have laws on the books that protect parental interests, including the federal law that assures that every parent has access to the school records of their minor children. We would have hoped that Virginia legislators would have learned valuable economic and civil rights lessons from their colleagues in North Carolina, but certain lawmakers seem committed to taking the Commonwealth down the wrong path.
Similar measures died in committee in 2016, and we are confident that HB1612 is destined for a similar fate.

There are 17 comments about this bill »

Felony homicide; certain drug offenses constitute second degree murder, penalty. (HB1616)

Patron: Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge)
Status: passed senate

ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this bill. This legislation would create a new felony homicide offense for offenders who sell drugs to another person, which results “in the killing of one accidentally, contrary to the intention of the parties.” This legislation is a direct response to a recent Virginia Court of Appeals decision, Woodard v. Commonwealth, 61 Va. App. 567 (2013), aff’d, 287 Va. 276 (2014), which held that such individuals could not be convicted of homicide under current state felony homicide law. The concept of felony homicide laws is to punish someone that commits a violent act that inadvertently causes the death of a person who was not the intended victim (such as accidentally shooting someone during a robbery). Felony homicide was not meant to apply to just any non-violent underlying felony (it is a felony to steal over $200 worth of merchandise from a store and if a thief accidentally killed someone as they were stealing such merchandise, by say hitting a pedestrian with their get-away car, the law of felony homicide would not apply – that would be manslaughter). This legislation is a misplaced relic of the failed War on Drugs. Under § 18.2-248 of Virginia law, drug dealers can already be sentenced up to 40 years for their first offense of manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance listed in Schedule I and II (narcotics and marijuana among others).

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Public contracts; gender identity, civil liability. (HB1667)

Patron: Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes House Bill 1667 that authorizes discrimination by all public contractors and immunizes all private companies and non-profit organizations and their employees from liability for discriminating against and denying benefits or services to people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

One person has commented on this bill »

Resettlement of refugees; notice to localities, the Sec. of the Commonwealth, and General Assembly. (HB1723)

Patron: Del. Rich Anderson (R-Woodbridge)
Status: failed committee

ACLU-VA strongly opposes this bill. Refugees undergo strict screening by Homeland Security and the FBI before resettling to this country. Publicly notifying local politicians of exactly when and where they are resettled is to mark an already vulnerable population for unconstitutional intimidation and harassment. As well, Virginia is constitutionally preempted from imposing additional standards on federal agencies, their contractors, or their public or private subsidiaries. This bill would mandate action by federal service providers - something Virginia does not have the power to do.

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Abortion; informed written consent required, civil penalty. (HB1762)

Patron: Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes HB1762, which would force physicians to communicate inaccurate and misleading warnings about abortion to their patients for the sole purpose of shaming them and coercing them to change their minds. Even if we disagree about abortion, we can agree that every woman deserves to have medically accurate, unbiased information so that she can make the best choice for her and her family. Women’s health providers already provide this information. By forcing medical professionals to share medically inaccurate information with their patients, this bill would let politicians, not doctors, decide what information a woman receives.

There are 3 comments about this bill »

Sanctuary policies; prohibited. (HB2000)

Patron: Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Glade Hill)
Status: vetoed by governor

ACLU-VA strongly opposes this bill. Virginia already has some of the strictest laws pertaining to enforcement of federal immigration laws, including status checks for everyone arrested and presumption against bail if there is a detainer placed on an immigrant accused of violent crimes. These type of bills could have an unintended reverse effect of making our communities less safe by forcing local police to void "don't ask" policies relating to crime victims and witnesses in the immigrant community. Virginia should welcome newcomers and promote cooperation between immigrants and local police - not create fear of detention and removal for coming forward to report crimes.

There are 5 comments about this bill »

Higher educational institutions; immigration enforcement. (HB2001)

Patron: Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Glade Hill)
Status: failed committee

ACLU-VA strongly opposes this bill. University staff and instructors are there to teach, not enforce federal immigration law. The bill is vague as to what university officials should do to "cooperate" with immigration enforcement. Such cooperation could violate federal and state laws meant to protect student's privacy.

There are 6 comments about this bill »

Refugee and immigrant resettlements; reports to Department of Social Services. (HB2002)

Patron: Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Glade Hill)
Status: vetoed by governor

ACLU-VA strongly opposes this bill. Refugees undergo strict screening by Homeland Security and the FBI before resettling to this country. Virginia is constitutionally preempted from imposing additional standards on federal agencies, their contractors, or their public or private subsidiaries. This bill would mandate action by federal service providers - something Virginia does not have the power to do.

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Driver's license; suspension of license for nonpayment of fines and court costs. (HB2049)

Patron: Del. Paul Krizek (D-Alexandria)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU-VA strongly supports this bill. Virginia needs to put the brakes on automatically suspending a person’s license for unpaid court fines and crimes unrelated to driving. License suspension should be an enforcement tool against bad drivers, not for minor, unrelated crimes such as simple drug possession. Recent national reports puts Virginia first in the nation with over 38,000 annual license suspensions for minor, unrelated drug crimes. This record number of suspensions strains limited police resources, wastes tax-payer dollars, and makes our roads less safe. The majority of states have opted out of the archaic “tough on crime” federal mandate and have not lost highway funding. Federal law allows for a simple process to opt out of automatically suspending licenses for drug offenses and it is time for Virginia to join the 38 states that have already done so. ACLU of Virginia supports legislation that would repeal automatic license suspensions for minor, unrelated crimes.

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Whole Woman's Health Act; performance of abortions. (HB2186)

Patron: Del. Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HB2186, which would bring Virginia laws governing abortion in line with the U.S. Constitution. In June 2016, the United States Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt reaffirmed that access to abortion is a fundamental constitutional right and held that abortion restrictions are unconstitutional unless the medical benefits they confer outweigh the burdens they impose on access to safe, legal abortion care. The Court also held that states must do more than simply claim an abortion restriction benefits women’s health; they must prove it through credible, reliable evidence. Currently, a woman seeking an abortion in Virginia faces mandatory waiting periods, lack of insurance coverage, and a lack of qualified abortion providers and high-quality health clinics due to onerous TRAP laws calculated to close women’s health clinics and discourage doctors from providing abortion care to their patients. Leading medical professionals oppose these restrictions, which delay a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion care in Virginia. Delays serve no positive medical purpose and, in fact, make health care harder to access and more expensive. HB2186 would repeal these restrictions and ensure abortion care, like all medical care in Virginia, is driven by evidence-based standards supported by medical professionals- not politics.

There are 2 comments about this bill »

Employment; break to express breast milk. (HB2210)

Patron: Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HB2210, which would require all Virginia employers to provide employees with reasonable breastfeeding accommodations during work hours unless doing so would unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Under current Virginia law, a nursing mother’s right to pump breast milk during work hours depends on how she is paid and/or the type and amount of business her employer conducts, not whether her employer has the resources to accommodate her needs. This bill would change that. While not all employers have the resources or facilities to accommodate nursing employees, those that do should be required to provide reasonable accommodations to pump breast milk at work. A woman should not have to choose between keeping her job and nursing her child, and this bill is designed to ensure Virginia’s nursing mothers do not have to make that choice.

There are 3 comments about this bill »

Sanctuary policies; enforcement of federal immigration laws (HB2236)

Patron: Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst)
Status: failed committee

ACLU-VA strongly opposes this bill. Virginia already has some of the strictest laws pertaining to enforcement of federal immigration laws, including status checks for everyone arrested and presumption against bail if there is a detainer placed on an immigrant accused of violent crimes. These type of bills could have an unintended reverse effect of making our communities less safe by forcing local police to void "don't ask" policies relating to crime victims and witnesses in the immigrant community. Virginia should welcome newcomers and promote cooperation between immigrants and local police - not create fear of detention and removal for coming forward to report crimes.

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Department of Health; restrictions on expenditure of funds related to abortions and family planning. (HB2264)

Patron: Del. Ben Cline (R-Amherst)
Status: vetoed by governor

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes HB2264, which is yet another attempt shut down trusted healthcare providers that provide women with safe, legal abortion services. The attacks on Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are part of a broad and consistent pattern by anti-abortion extremists to interfere with women’s personal decision-making and block access to abortion and reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood is a critical safety-net provider: one in five women will visit local Planned Parenthood centers for health care during her lifetime, and many low-income women and women of color rely on Planned Parenthood as their primary health care provider. These politically-motivated attacks on women’s health and the providers we rely on are a distraction from the real issues. Across the country, communities are calling for more access to reproductive health care, not less, greater economic security, and the ability to support and protect their families. Those are the priorities our elected representatives should be focused on.

There are 10 comments about this bill »

Abortion; informed written consent. (HB2286)

Patron: Del. Jeion Ward (D-Hampton)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HB1424, which would give back to patients their right to true informed consent by allowing them to waive non-medical, ideological, and medically unnecessary state requirements that are not intended to enhance informed consent. Each patient needs to be able to trust her doctor is providing her with timely care, free from judgment and stigma. Virginia law currently requires physicians to communicate biased information about abortion to their patients, perform unnecessary diagnostic testing, and to delay care for 24 hours against their patient’s wishes. These laws violate the basic tenants of informed consent, and delay a woman’s ability to access safe, legal abortion care by requiring multiple trips to a clinic for no other reason than to show the state’s disapproval of a woman’s personal, constitutionally protected medical decision. This bill would allow a woman and her doctor to determine which actions and information would add to her ability to make an informed medical decision, not politicians.

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Virginia Human Rights Act; pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; causes of action. (HB2295)

Patron: Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HB 2295. Virginia law currently creates a private right of action for employees that have been discharged by their employer for pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, so long as the employer employs more than five but less than fifteen people. HB 2295 would extend that right of action to all Virginia employees, regardless of how many people are employed by their employers, and clarifies that nursing mothers are protected from employment discrimination on the basis of lactation. This bill takes the first step in safeguarding all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination, regardless of the number of persons employed by the employer.

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Unborn children; abortion law and personhood. (HJ589)

Patron: Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes HJ589, which would have wide-ranging, unforeseen, and unconstitutional consequences for a woman’s health and for a family’s private decision making. This bill could ban some methods of emergency contraception or prevent couples from using in-vitro fertilization to have a family. It could even deny a woman life-saving medical treatment for a disease, like cancer, if the treatment might harm her pregnancy or mean that a woman who suffers a miscarriage, and her doctor, could face an investigation and potentially a prosecution simply because an extreme politician thinks a miscarriage might be “suspicious”. This bill is way too extreme for our state.

There are 2 comments about this bill »

Public employment; prohibits discrimination on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (SB783)

Patron: Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this bill that would for the first time codify explicit protections against discrimination by state and local agencies, including schools, and constitutional officers based on discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a veteran.

One person has commented on this bill »

Crimes against law-enforcement officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel; penalty. (SB790)

Patron: Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes SB790 which would implement enhanced penalties for certain crimes against people who are public safety workers regardless of whether they are on the job at the time of the alleged crime. The bill would extend existing Virginia law that establishes higher penalties for anyone who violates our capital murder, malicious wounding and assault statutes by harming or killing a public safety person or first responder while they are engaged in official duties to apply to any incident in which the victim is a public safety officer even if they are not on the job when the incident occurs. The penalties already imposed in Virginia’s “hate crimes” penalty enhancement laws are significantly higher than those imposed when the victim is not a public safety officer, even when acts are motivated by animus toward the victim because of race, religious conviction, color or national origin. The proposed legislation would remove language requiring proof that the victim was engaged in public safety duties in the Commonwealth before the higher penalties would apply. This change would create a situation in which some people’s lives would be classified by law as more valuable simply because of where they work. Under the proposed bill, a bar room brawl involving off duty public safety officers and ordinary persons could result in assault on an officer felony charges against the ordinary persons carrying mandatory minimums of 6 months in prison even if the public safety person is not injured, and simple assault charges against the off duty public safety officer which would be a misdemeanor with no required jail time. Even worse, under the proposed law, a person who kills a public safety officer in a domestic situation would be subject to capital murder charges simply because of the job of the victim regardless of where and why the killing occurred.

One person has commented on this bill »

Regulations governing hospitals; facilities performing abortions. (SB877)

Patron: Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports SB877, which would bring Virginia law in line with the constitutional standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Abortion is incredibly safe—99% safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is also incredibly common—approximately three in ten women will have an abortion in their lifetimes, and will need access to safe, legal facilities to obtain abortion care. Despite the safety of the procedure, in 2011 the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law that requires abortion providers to follow burdensome and unnecessary regulations designed to close them down and make it harder to access abortion care in Virginia. Leading medical associations and medical professionals have consistently opposed this law because it puts women’s safety at risk. In June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt held that clinic shutdown laws, like Virginia’s, that do not benefit women’s health are unconstitutional. SB877 would repeal Virginia’s unconstitutional clinic shutdown law and ensure that no abortion provider in Virginia will be shut down unless it is a bone fide threat to public health.

One person has commented on this bill »

Riots; unlawful assembly, penalty. (SB1058)

Patron: Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Westmoreland)
Status: in committee

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this bill. Absent a real danger to the community, predicated by increased incidents or actual threats to public safety, there is no need to heighten penalties for non-violent civil disobedience. This bill proposes felony charges against protesters who choose to participate in civil disobedience and block a highway (broadly defined as any road in VA). If convicted, protesters could face 5 years in prison for blocking a road. Virginia should be moving towards reforms that decrease our prison population rather than increasing penalties for non-violent crimes.

There are 23 comments about this bill »

Abortion; informed written consent. (SB1424)

Patron: Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HB1424, which would give back to patients their right to true informed consent by allowing them to waive non-medical, ideological, and medically unnecessary state requirements that are not intended to enhance informed consent. Each patient needs to be able to trust her doctor is providing her with timely care, free from judgment and stigma. Virginia law currently requires physicians to communicate biased information about abortion to their patients, perform unnecessary diagnostic testing, and to delay care for 24 hours against their patient’s wishes. These laws violate the basic tenants of informed consent, and delay a woman’s ability to access safe, legal abortion care by requiring multiple trips to a clinic for no other reason than to show the state’s disapproval of a woman’s personal, constitutionally protected medical decision. This bill would allow a woman and her doctor to determine which actions and information would add to her ability to make an informed medical decision, not politicians.

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