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2019 Virginia Catholic Conference legislative agenda

The Virginia Catholic Conference — the public policy agency of the Commonwealth’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses — will pursue the initiatives described below during the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session, which began Jan. 9.

Respect Life

— Abortion: Defend existing pro-life laws; support adding protections for unborn children to state constitution; oppose ERA, which does not include necessary abortion-neutral language.

— Assisted suicide: Oppose legislation that would legalize assisted suicide.

— Death penalty: Ban death sentences for people with severe mental illnesses when they committed their crimes; support legislation to repeal Virginia’s execution drug secrecy law.

— Gun safety: Preserve, and where possible strengthen, all current restrictions against guns in places of worship and on school property; support requiring background checks; support legislation establishing temporary risk warrants to remove firearms from persons who pose substantial risks of injury to themselves or others.


Religious Liberty

— Protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience to uphold beliefs on marriage and human sexuality.

— Oppose legislation seeking to require health plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilizations and other morally objectionable procedures.

— Oppose defining birth control as anything the FDA considers a contraceptive.


Families and Children

— Preserve state provisions affirming marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

— Preserve freedom of conscience for health-care providers and families that choose to engage in sexual orientation change efforts.

— Oppose loosening current restrictions on changing how one’s sex is listed on a birth certificate.

— Oppose making laws gender neutral in cases where doing so would be a substantive change (e.g., assisted conception and parenting).

— Oppose allowing “second parent adoption” by a person other than the spouse of a birth parent or the spouse of a parent by adoption.

— Support parental rights in Family Life Education.

— Support adding clergy to state list of mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect, with exemptions for clergy-penitent communications.


Parental Choice in Education

— Expand the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits (EISTC) program to include pre-K students.

— Oppose any attempts to repeal or weaken the EISTC program.


Poverty and Economic Justice

— Support making Virginia’s earned-income credit refundable for the lowest-income working families.

— TANF advocacy: Increase safety-net assistance; lift lifetime ban for drug-possession convictions; fund postsecondary education scholarships to break cycle of poverty.

— Support increasing minimum wage.

— Improve protections against predatory lending.


Immigrants and Refugees

— Oppose enforcement-only legislation, and support legislation to build trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement and to encourage crime victims and witnesses in those communities to come forward.

— Support legislation to expand immigrants’ access to driving privileges.

— Support legislation to codify in-state tuition eligibility for students granted federal DACA status.


Care for Creation

— Support the Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act to improve coastal protections, energy efficiency and southwest Virginia workforce development.



— Attain Hyde Amendment restrictions against state abortion funding.

— Oppose funding for “long acting reversible contraceptives.”

— Increase auxiliary grant rates for assisted-living care for low-income aged, blind and disabled individuals.


Stay informed

Sign up for alerts and updates and register for Virginia Vespers Feb. 12 at vacatholic.org. Contact the VCC at 804/225-8565 or office@vacatholic.org.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019