Photosynthesis » ACLU-VA Legislative Agenda’s Portfolio

26 bills are being tracked.

Grand larceny; increases threshold. (HB1369)

Patron: Del. Joe Lindsey (R-Norfolk)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports an increase in the felony larceny threshold. The legislature set a $200 threshold in 1980 and has not adjusted it since. Adjusted for inflation, the current threshold would be approximately $573. A majority of states have set their felony larceny threshold at $1000 or more, including Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and North Carolina. Adjusting the threshold would not increase theft or harm public safety, but would save Virginia taxpayers millions annually.

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Elections; absentee voting; no-excuse, in-person. (HB1394)

Patron: Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that expands the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot without having to provide a reason or excuse; however this bill only applies to in-person absentee ballot voters. There are too many Virginia voters who do not have access to in-person absentee voting sites because of disabilities, lack of transportation, or work schedules that conflict with in-person absentee voting hours. Additionally, voters should not have to provide statutory permitted reason or excuse to vote by absentee ballot because disclosure of confidential or sensitive information raises privacy concerns. No-excuse absentee voting should be available to all qualified voters through the mail and by in-person methods.

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Budget Bill. (HB1400)

Patron: Del. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk)
Status: signed by governor

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes Budget Amendments 4-5.04 2h and 4-5.04 5h, which repeal funding for Medicaid-eligible women who seek abortion after a physician certifies in writing that the fetus has an incapacitating physical or mental anomaly. By holding back healthcare assistance funds from women who qualify for them, politicians are to attempting to control women’s healthcare decisions just because they disagree with some women’s decisions. This is wrong – a woman’s healthcare decisions must be left to her and her doctor. Medicaid-eligible women in Virginia should not face limited reproductive healthcare options just because they are poor. Though we can each have different personal feelings about abortion, it’s not okay for some politicians to withhold health care assistance funds from women who qualify for them. We can use the resources our Commonwealth has to make sure that each woman is truly able to make a real decision about whether to have an abortion.

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Government-issued licenses, etc.; obtaining or renewing, conscience clause. (HB1414)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this legislation. This legislation is nothing more than a state-sanctioned license to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Virginians, including married same-sex couples, simply because of who they are. The bill would do nothing more than reignite the Commonwealth’s historical hostility toward LGBT Virginians. We’ve been down the path of legalized discrimination before, and the members of the General Assembly should know that this is not a path we should willingly walk ever again.
Religious freedom in America ensures that every person has the right to freely express and practice his or her own personal, religious beliefs. That freedom does not, however, grant individuals, professionals or employers a free pass to discriminate against others in the name of those beliefs. Sadly, discrimination under the cloak of religion is nothing new, and the transparency of that cloak is as clear now as it was 50 years ago when some business owners used it to challenge the end of legal segregation of the races in public accommodations. The issue is simple – either you support discrimination or you oppose it. The members of the General Assembly should make clear that they oppose discrimination by rejecting this legislation.

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Prayer at public events; authority to adopt an ordinance to allow. (HB1437)

Patron: Del. Dickie Bell (R-Staunton)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this legislation because it would allow any “deliberative body” of government to adopt a policy that permits an elected official, chaplain, or invited speaker to deliver a sectarian prayer before the meeting of a that body. The ACLU of Virginia opposes legislation that allows the government to take a position on questions of faith or promote one religion over others.

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Reports of substance abuse by a pregnant woman; child-protective services. (HB1456)

Patron: Del. Les Adams (R-Chatham)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this bill because it prevents women from receiving the healthcare they need and does not promote healthy pregnancies. Policies that threaten women with the loss of their children drive women away from health care and discourage them from seeking invaluable prenatal and pregnancy-related care. To best promote healthy pregnancies, we should provide pregnant women easy access to comprehensive family-based treatment programs so they may get the help they need. Several major medical groups oppose punishment of pregnant women and recognize that drug dependency is a medical condition that responds to appropriate treatment.

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Justice for Victims of Sterilization Act; established, sunset provision. (HB1504)

Patron: Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this bill because it compensates victims of the shameful practice of forced sterilization. Virginia’s legal sterilization program was enacted into law in 1924 – the same year the legislature adopted the Racial Integrity Act that prohibited interracial marriages. It is estimated that between 7,200 and 8,300 people were sterilized in Virginia from 1927-1979 because they were deemed by society at the time to be unworthy or unfit to procreate. In most cases, the individuals were “patients” at state mental institutions who were sent there because of alleged mental illness, physical deformity, “feeble-mindedness,” or simply because they were homeless. Twenty-two percent of the individuals sterilized were African Americans (about equal to the population in the state at the time) and two-thirds were women. Many of those sterilized were not even told they were being sterilized, but instead given some other explanation for their operation. We wholeheartedly support the effort to compensate victims of the state’s forced sterilization law.

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Ultrasound prior to abortion. (HB1524)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this legislation because the mandatory ultrasound law is intended to shame, judge, and make a woman change her mind by requiring doctors to provide the woman with the option to view the ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat. Requiring an ultrasound before abortion is about political interference, not informed consent. Information should not be provided with the intent or result of shaming, judging, or making a woman change her mind, and health care decisions are best made by a woman and her doctor, not politicians.

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Voter registration; proof of citizenship. (HB1574)

Patron: Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes legislation seeking to mandate proof of citizenship for voting because it poses potentially insurmountable burdens on qualified voters and is unnecessary given there is no evidence demonstrating problems of non-citizens committing voter fraud in Virginia. Investigations have not uncovered non-citizens intentionally registering or voting while aware that they were not eligible to do so. The end result: proof of citizenship laws are far more likely to stop qualified Virginia voters from accessing the polls than to stopping a non-existent problem, resulting in a violation of constitutional rights. There is a sizeable portion of the electorate for whom obtaining proof of citizenship may be impossible. People with low-income, the elderly, women and people of color living in rural Virginia are the least likely to have proof of citizenship. Nationally, 7 percent of U.S. citizens do not have ready access to proof of citizenship---more than 13 million Americans. Additionally, 32 million women of voting-age do not have ready access to a citizenship document with their current legal name. Naturalized citizens who have lost their proof of citizenship must apply to USCIS for documentation---a process that takes several months, may require in-person interviews, and costs $345 and possibly, their constitutional right to vote.

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Virginia Human Rights Act; public employment; prohibited discrimination; sexual orientation. (HB1643)

Patron: Del. Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this legislation that is much broader than the catch line suggests. The bill would, for the first time, codify in the state code protections against discrimination in all state and local employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as veteran. Currently, while state and local employees may file grievances regarding some discrimination on the job, there is no state law prohibiting such discrimination against teachers, college professors and other state and local employees. It is past time for the legislature to enact protections against discrimination for all state and local workers, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. Historically, this legislation has been supported by the VEA, the VGEA, the AARP, Equality Virginia, VACOLAO and a number of other organizations concerned about discrimination in the workplace.

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Capital cases; mental retardation. (HB1720)

Patron: Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that would bring Virginia’s intellectual disability threshold vis-à-vis eligibility for the death penalty in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Hall v. Florida. The Court found that Florida’s use of a hard 70 IQ cutoff was unconstitutional. Virginia uses the same hard 70 IQ cutoff. While the ACLU of Virginia continues to advocate for death penalty repeal, we also support legislation designed to ensure better procedural safeguards for intellectually disabled defendants accused of a capital offense.

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Drone aircraft; limitations on use, penalties. (HB2077)

Patron: Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this legislation that regulates the use of drones by government agencies. The legislation requires a search warrant for drone use by law or regulatory enforcement agencies and establishes reporting requirements so that the public is aware of the uses being made of drones. The bill also requires approval to purchase drones from the legislature or local governing bodies as appropriate. The bill also makes it a crime for any person to operate a weaponized drone in the Commonwealth.

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Use of unmanned aircraft systems; search warrant required. (HB2125)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this bill that imposes a warrant requirement on the use of drones by law enforcement and regulatory agencies and prohibits the introduction of evidence obtained without a warrant in any criminal or civil proceeding. The bill also prohibits deployment of weaponized drones by governmental agencies.

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Reproductive health care; adverse action against employee by employers prohibited. (HB2287)

Patron: Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this bill. In 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. For the first time in history, the Court held that closely held corporations with religious objections cannot be required to provide birth control coverage for their employees, and that business owners can force their personal religious beliefs on their employees. This bill ensures that, regardless of an employer’s personal beliefs, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee because of an employee’s reproductive health care decisions, including the decision to access birth control. Private decision making about birth control and other reproductive health care decisions should be left to a woman and her doctor, not her boss or a politician. Religious liberty means the right to hold and preach your beliefs, but not to impose them on others.

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Virginia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; created, penalty. (HB2321)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this bill because it poses a serious threat to women’s health, ignoring women’s health needs and individual circumstances, and seeking to ban abortions at twenty weeks gestation, with only the most narrow of exceptions. This bill is blatantly unconstitutional, prohibiting abortions when the Supreme Court has held that states may not do so and failing to protect women’s health. The bill is meant as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, could lead to an expensive and prolonged legal battle for Virginia. Additionally, this bill would impose severe criminal and civil penalties on physicians for providing women with abortions necessary to preserve their health. A woman’s doctor must be able to provide the care she needs for her health, and criminal and civil penalties prevent the doctor from providing that care. Every pregnant woman’s circumstances are different and many things can go wrong in a pregnancy. A woman seeking an abortion in that circumstance may be facing an extremely complicated pregnancy and must have every medical option — including ending the pregnancy — available to her to consider in consultation with their doctor. The very narrow, limited exceptions in this bill would not permit abortions even in situations where one might be medically necessary. We may not all feel the same way about abortion, but we can agree that these are personal, private decisions between a woman and her doctor. Even if we disagree about abortion, it is better that each person can make her own decision. Politicians should not interfere in a woman’s personal, private medical decisions.

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Constitutional amendment (first resolution); qualifications to vote; executive clemency;restoration. (HJ491)

Patron: Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Salem)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation to amend the Virginia Constitution to repeal the Commonwealth’s felon disenfranchisement provision. The ACLU strongly supports automatically restoring the rights of all persons convicted of felonies without being conditioned on payment of fines, fees, and restitution. Supporting proposals without conditions does not absolve individuals convicted of felonies from their duties to pay the court or victims. A vast majority of disenfranchised citizens in Virginia are not incarcerated and are tax-paying citizens with jobs and families who are involved in their communities. For the purposes of voting, financial obligations should not prohibit citizens from exercising their constitutional rights. Virginia, one of the worst states in the nation for felon disenfranchisement, has an estimated 450,000, or nearly 7.3 percent, citizens who have permanently lost their constitutional right to vote.

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Constitutional amendment; general warrants of search or seizure prohibited. (HJ578)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports HJ 578 which would create a 21st century Fourth Amendment for the Commonwealth. It would require a probable cause warrant for surveillance of communications content and “metadata,” prohibit dragnet surveillance, and narrow the “third-party doctrine.” The ACLU of Virginia supports legislation that would place checks on the ability of the government to gather data and surveil law abiding Virginians. The Constitution of Virginia does not explicitly protect the privacy of Virginians. And, although Virginia courts have interpreted the Constitution of Virginia to provide the same protections as the Fourth Amendment, the reality is that Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has not caught up with modern technology, putting every Virginian’s privacy at risk.

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Absentee voting; persons eligible to vote absentee in person. (SB677)

Patron: Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that expands the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot without having to provide a reason or excuse; however this bill only applies to in-person absentee ballot voters. There are too many Virginia voters who do not have access to in-person absentee voting sites because of disabilities, lack of transportation, or work schedules that conflict with in-person absentee voting hours. Additionally, voters should not have to provide statutory permitted reason or excuse to vote by absentee ballot because disclosure of confidential or sensitive information raises privacy concerns. No-excuse absentee voting should be available to all qualified voters through the mail and by in-person methods.

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Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, penalty. (SB686)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports efforts to decriminalize marijuana for adults. Marijuana prohibition imposes arbitrary, often harsh penalties for private conduct for which no criminal penalty is appropriate and imposes all of the hardships of an arrest, arrest record, and often a prison term on otherwise law-abiding people. In addition, the enforcement of marijuana prohibition diverts law enforcement money and manpower from the enforcement of laws against serious crimes. Finally, African Americans are disproportionately targeted. While African Americans and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rate, African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in the Commonwealth.

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Abortion; requirement for ultrasound. (SB733)

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this legislation because the mandatory ultrasound law is intended to shame, judge, and make a woman change her mind by requiring doctors to provide the woman with the option to view the ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat. Requiring an ultrasound before abortion is about political interference, not informed consent. Information should not be provided with the intent or result of shaming, judging, or making a woman change her mind, and health care decisions are best made by a woman and her doctor, not politicians.

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Public employment; prohibits discrimination based on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (SB785)

Patron: Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this legislation that is much broader than the catch line suggests. The bill would, for the first time, codify in the state code protections against discrimination in all state and local employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as veteran. Currently, while state and local employees may file grievances regarding some discrimination on the job, there is no state law prohibiting such discrimination against teachers, college professors and other state and local employees. It is past time for the legislature to enact protections against discrimination for all state and local workers, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. Historically, this legislation has been supported by the VEA, the VGEA, the AARP, Equality Virginia, VACOLAO and a number of other organizations concerned about discrimination in the workplace.

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Budget Bill. (SB800)

Patron: Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-Manassas)
Status: failed committee

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes Budget Amendment 4-5.04 #1s, which repeals funding for Medicaid-eligible women who seek abortion after a physician certifies in writing that the fetus has an incapacitating physical or mental anomaly. By holding back healthcare assistance funds from women who qualify for them, politicians are to attempting to control women’s healthcare decisions just because they disagree with some women’s decisions. This is wrong – a woman’s healthcare decisions must be left to her and her doctor. Medicaid-eligible women in Virginia should not face limited reproductive healthcare options just because they are poor. Though we can each have different personal feelings about abortion, it’s not okay for some politicians to withhold health care assistance funds from women who qualify for them. We can use the resources our Commonwealth has to make sure that each woman is truly able to make a real decision about whether to have an abortion.

Be the first to comment on this bill »

Capital cases; determination of mental retardation. (SB855)

Patron: Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke)
Status: signed by governor

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that would bring Virginia’s intellectual disability threshold vis-à-vis eligibility for the death penalty in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Hall v. Florida. The Court found that Florida’s use of a hard 70 IQ cutoff was unconstitutional. Virginia uses the same hard 70 IQ cutoff. While the ACLU of Virginia continues to advocate for death penalty repeal, we also support legislation designed to ensure better procedural safeguards for intellectually disabled defendants accused of a capital offense.

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Overdoses; establishes an affirmative defense to prosecution of an individual, etc., safe reporting. (SB892)

Patron: Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax)
Status: signed by governor

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that treats drug use as a matter of health rather than criminal justice. This legislation would provide an affirmative defense to prosecution of an individual for certain drug and alcohol offenses if the evidence for the charge was gained as a result of the individual seeking or obtaining emergency medical attention for himself or for another individual because of a drug or alcohol-related overdose. Drug use is fundamentally a public health issue and must be dealt with as such.

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Prescription contraceptives; insurance policies to cover. (SB1277)

Patron: Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria)
Status: failed committee

SB1277 protects Virginian’s access to birth control in the event the Supreme Court or Congress overturns the federal rule that requires new health insurance plans to cover birth control. Without the federal rule in place, such coverage is offered only as an option in Virginia. The strongly ACLU supports this legislation because birth control coverage is a breakthrough for women’s health and access to birth control is a critical factor in ensuring a woman’s ability to participate equally and fully in civic, economic, and political life.

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Unmanned aircraft systems; use by public bodies during execution of a search warrant, exception. (SB1301)

Patron: Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond)
Status: signed by governor

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this legislation that regulates the use of drones by government agencies. The legislation requires a search warrant for drone use by law or regulatory enforcement agencies and establishes reporting requirements so that the public is aware of the uses being made of drones. The bill also requires approval to purchase drones from the legislature or local governing bodies as appropriate. The bill also makes it a crime for any person to operate a weaponized drone in the Commonwealth.

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