Socially Conservative Measures Lead the Day in General Assembly

POLL: Is General Assembly on right track with votes on curbing abortion, repealing handgun law, banning of gay adoptions?

If you didn't know that Republicans were in control of the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond, you should know it by now.

While "jobs, jobs, jobs" is the mantra across much of the country, Virginia's Republican senators and delegates have been hard at work during their 60-day session changing the state's cultural landscape.

Since starting work in Richmond last month, members have voted on an array of socially conservative issues including:

  • Drug tests for aid recipients
  • Requiring women considering an abortion to have a sonogram, and look at it, beforehand
  • Ending funding of abortions in cases of "gross incapacity and deformity" for women on Medicaid
  • Allowing state-funded adoptions and foster programs run by religious organizations to turn away gay couples—on religious grounds—as prospective parents
  • Repealing the state's one-gun-a-month law championed by Gov. Doug Wilder
  • Requiring photo identification when voting. (Some say this could deter voters who don't have a drivers' license for one reason or another.) 

Voter ID Bill

The Virginia House and Senate have both passed bills requiring photo ID to vote; the National Conference of State Legislatures' offers a detailed map and information about other states that run the gamut on requirements.

"There are no documented cases of voter impersonation in Virginia and I believe prosecution of a felony is sufficient disincentive to discourage that kind of behavior and I believe the motives of this bill are purely political," Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), said in his blog, The Dixie Pig.

Del. Mark Sickles posted a photo of himself and others on his Facebook page to decry the legislation. "Today I stood with my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus to oppose attempts at limiting the right the vote," he wrote.

Others are for the legislation. "I’m trying to understand what the controversy of the bill is," said Del. Dave Albo, (R-Fairfax), noting that the provisional ballots are reviewed the day after the election by the local electoral board. 

"If they are legit, they get counted," Albo said. "If they’re not legit, they don’t get counted."

A provisional ballot, however, is not counted until the electoral board meets and agrees that the voter is legitimate, the ACLU points out.

A group called Virginia New Majority said Tuesday it went door to door Monday in Albo's district (which he won by 62 percent in November), talking to residents and asking them to contact Albo regarding dissatisfaction over voter ID requirements. Sara Wallace-Keeshen, a spokeswoman for the group, said in a news release that residents were "shocked" at Albo's stance on the issue.

One Gun-Per Month Repeal

Senate Democratic Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) noted that if a person bought a gun each month for the past 20 years, they would have 240 handguns.

“If you need more than 240 handguns, I submit something’s wrong with you,” he said. “Something has gone terribly wrong in your life.”

Former Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for U.S. Senate, said Tuesday that he is disappointed by the repeal of the "one gun per month" law.

“I am very disappointed in the General Assembly's actions toward repeal of one of Governor Doug Wilder’s signature achievements—Virginia's one handgun per month law," he said in a news release. "I was also disappointed to see that at least two of the individuals in this U.S. Senate race, George Allen and Bob Marshall, have already voiced support for repeal of this legislation."

Abortion Curbs

Women lawmakers last week spoke out against House Bill 62, sponsored by Del. Mark Cole (R-Spotsylvania), that would end funding of abortions in cases of "gross incapacity and deformity." 

"Think about the human beings behind this," said Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax), pointing to the "tremendous burden borne by someone on Medicaid" if her child is born in such a condition, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

"I'm sad to see that today we have no compassion for the poor," added Del. Charniele L. Herring (D-Alexandria), saying the bill would "cut the safety net for poor women."

Conservative Agenda: Help or hindrance to McDonnell's political future?

Some pundits say that by signing such conservative measures into law, Gov. Bob McDonnell, often cited as a GOP VP choice, could hurt his chances of becoming chosen for the Republican VP slot by offending independent voters some consider necessary for a general presidential race against President Obama.

The Virginian-Pilot notes in a headline: "Assembly's right turn could be problematic for McDonnell."

McDonnell has to balance politics and policy, Mark Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University, told the paper.

"He has been very successful governing as a moderate conservative and projecting a bipartisan style of leadership that so much of the country yearns for these days. That's his calling card," Rozell said.

It's a political tightrope of sorts. Vetoing or amending the legislation, he said, risks alienating Republican donors and power brokers who demand solid conservative moorings for their 2012 national ticket.

McDonnell is slated to appear this week with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney at a D.C. fundraiser Thursday night and in Reston Friday morning before a technology crowd.

Barbara Dodge February 08, 2012 at 03:03 AM
JMJ My family applauds the hope and change we are seeing by the General Assembly acting in a thoughtful and socially conservative manner this session. If we don't protect the Sanctity of Life, Sanctity of Marriage, and check corruption in government we won't have any culture left in our great Commonwealth.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) February 08, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Thank you for your comments Barbara!
Disgusted with VA right turn February 08, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Culture does not grow from the sancity of life nor from the sanctity of marriage. Culture grows from tolerance and understanding of others. It grows from teaching and helping others to behave compassionately. Have you ever walked a mile in someones shoes that has had to make a gut wrenching choice to terminate a child and live with that choice the rest of their life? Does The United States still stand for freedom of choice? Sad day Virginia must force those to look at a sonagram on one of the most difficult days of their lives.
Common Sense February 08, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Hey Disgusted - So you are saying 'culture' only grows from tolerance, even if what you are tolerating is not right? Say if crime in our society grows, and becomes the "norm" its ok to tolerate it because we have to understand the criminals? Maybe I never walked in their "footsteps" so I may not understand why a person would commit a crime, but does taht make it right? My point here is that it takes more than tolerance & compassion to build a culture. There will always be a status quo for any society & culture. So for the example I gave above, commiting a crime in our culture is generally perceived as "wrong". Imagine a culture where stealing,raping,killing is the "norm"?? can you tolerate that? So with the abortion issue, I beleive educating people to make responsible decisions should be the best way to lower the chances for abortion. If a person can't support a child, he/she should know hte risk and be responsible for it. Is the staus quo of our culture slowly viewing an innocent child as a "disease"? Something we are suppose to treat and eliminate? Getting sick & needing health attention is one thing - some people didn't have the choice to get sick.... Not being responsible and popping babies for fun only to be aborted AND piad for by tax payers is just irresponsible.
Cherie Lejeune February 08, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Thank you Disgusted with VA right turn, well said. The conservative right in their never ending mantra, stop the "Democrat boogie man of diversity and change" are celebrating sadly from what is happening in Richmond this year. They highlight that no matter how much we have gone forward to propose effective legislation that reflects responsibility for all citizens or reverse those that discriminate, these hypocrisy draped conservatives drag us back to their universe of selective humanity. Their charitable vision is as delusional as their faith interpretations of how life should be and their inability to know any real facts. These are the same people who think the Taliban, who by the way are of the same conservative ilk in their part of the world, are freaks...Mirror, mirror.
Scott February 08, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I'm glad to read that our legislators are handling the issues that really matter to our lives. During the Christmas holiday shopping season, I planned to purchase several guns but learned that the liberals infringed on my second amendment right to buy Christmas gifts for family and friends. I mean, how else are we going to defend ourselves from Obama and his Occupy protesters?! I was shocked - shocked! - to learn that I was limited to *only* one gun per month. It's wrong and unconstitutional. I'm happy that someone has our best interests in mind, and that we're getting the government out of our lives and closets. Also, I'm overjoyed that our legislators are standing up to the Gay Agenda. We need more brave politicians to keep family the way it should be, even if that means some children don't have parents (sorry kids, it's for the best of society). I don't hate gay people but they need to see that they can't just willy nilly raise children in our Commonwealth. It's not safe for the children. Let's keep voting for the true patriots who see that the government needs to get involved in our lives to keep things healthy and safe.
patchfan February 08, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Wow, Cherie. In just one paragraph, you shared so much about yourself.
Cherie Lejeune February 08, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Dear Common Sense, Popping babies for fun? There are statistics tabulated since the 1970's of the PUBLIC cost of caring for a child born to parents incapable of supporting themselves or any of their children, which you the tax payer has, whether you like it or not, paid for your entire work life already. There are not waiting homes for all these children, more than 5,000 in Va and 1/2m nationally. Oh and remember you the tax payer, also underwrite those costs to foster caregivers and the admin. who monitor them until 18 and then, money required to monitored them if they end up in the penal system (40% are) or state welfare offices (48%). The cost of the abortion to tax payers compared to these potential lifelong costs, not to mention the staggering human toll, not a political fabrication. Your education point however is correct. But not in my or your lifetime will it end the problem of unwanted births and the consequences, so let us be honest re solutions.
Matt February 08, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Hey Cherie, scumbag, something are more important than money!
Common Sense February 08, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Cherie - I probably should have been more clear, I just got caught up in typing.. What I meant in "Popping babies for fun" was that most people having unwanted babies these days come from the "sex is fun, everyone is doing it" culture we have created. Many young ones don't realize the potential consequences of their actions. (STDs/AIDs/abortions) The poster above was talking about 'culture' - we have created a culture of sexual irresponsibility, and the infulence of sex is shown everywhere - tv,magazines,music, games, etc. I am not saying sex is bad, but people should learn to be responsible for their actions. Majority of abortions are from young teens who did not know better....so like I said, the best way to stop abortions is to "change the culture" of "everyone is having sex" and educate the next generation about sexual responsibility. Other irresponsible consequences include single mothers, broken families, divorces, cheating spouses, etc... You were talking about solutions? best solution is to fix the root of the problem which is the change in our culture of becoming sexually irresponsible. I am not saying people should not have sex, I am only advocating responsibilty for an individuals actions. if we can promote this to the next generation, abortions, diseases, divorces, single mothers, crime, etc can decrease WITHOUT a burden to our society & tax payers.
Cherie Lejeune February 08, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Common Sense, you are 100% right and wish it were so simple. Even since the introduction of birth control pills which were touted as the best solution to stop unwanted pregnancies, plus huge sums spent on teen/and safe sex education campaigns, the statistics continue. And, I need to clarify, I am not for "recreational" abortion, far, far from it. I would just like however that every extremely vocal person who is against all abortion (including rape and known extreme birth defects), to open up their homes, without charge to the tax payers, to those babies whose mothers will not be able to cope. I have volunteered for over 35 years with what used to be labelled as "throw away" children. Just one day with these kids, and or with their parent (most are single), how quickly you understand the gaping deficiencies in the system and the need for bigger, long term solutions. It changes your perspective forever.
What? February 08, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Common Sense, Please check your facts before stating things like "Majority of abortions are from young teens who did not know better". Checking the most recent data gathered by the CDC, their report states: "Women aged 20--29 years accounted for 57.1% of all abortions reported in 2008 and for the majority of abortions during the entire period of analysis (1999--2008)... Adolescents aged 15--19 years accounted for 16.2% of all abortions in 2008...Throughout the period of analysis, abortion rates decreased among adolescents aged ≤19 years, whereas they increased among women aged ≥35 years."
What? February 08, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Forgot to give the citation for the data above: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6015a1.htm?s_cid=ss6015a1_w Also, for conservatives that support making abortion illegal, while still supporting the death penalty, here's some light reading: http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/DonohueLevittTheImpactOfLegalized2001.pdf
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) February 08, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Hi Matt, we appreciate your participation in this discussion but reminder: please keep it civil; thank you!
Common Sense February 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM
What? - Ok, so my comment may not be 100% accurate about teens having the most abortions, but nearing 20% is still quite a high number. Botomline is, no matter what age you are, abortion can be a result od irresponsibility. I wasn't on here to discuss the stats in detail, only the consequences and affects of how our "do whatever you want because you dont have to be responsible for it" culture has resulted in having people not view sex as a responsible action. Of course we will never have 100% responsible people, but if everyone was more accountable for their actions, and learn that certain actions can have unfavorable results, we as a society and culture can help LOWER these abortion percentages. Is our culture slowly shifting towards being irresponsible? not being accountable for your actions? I dont know, but having sex is a choice, and we need to teach those who are not ready to be parents to be responsible for their actions. In China, there is a certain culture tht prefers men over women. Girls are aborted more than men, I personally know one who escaped and came here because the family was almost forced to have her aborted. Is this a right kind of "choice"? Would we want this in our 'culture'? Having the power to choose comes with great responsibility. It does not mean you can "do whatever you want"
What? February 08, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Common Sense, For the China thing, they have their own issues to deal with as a result of their flawed policy. Read here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr051833 And to address your point that we can lower the abortion percentages, guess what? If you read the article, you'll see we have: "Reported abortion numbers, rates, and ratios remained 3%, 4%, and 10% lower, respectively, in 2008 than they had been in 1999." Using this small sample of data in this one very specific area, it seems we made some progress between 1999 and 2008 (the most recent available statistics). My main point is that, according to the CDC, you should think it's getting better, not worse. And if you think an abortion is the easy way out, talk to some women who had them and how they feel about it. Neither decision is without consequences.
JoAnn in VA February 08, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Thus far, over 500 registered voters in just Prince William county alone have been identified as not existing. They are listed as living 50 to a house; or living at an address which is really a parking lot , or when checked there is no such person at that address. The phone numbers for them never seem to work either. You do not need proof of identification of address to register to vote- a number of us have tried it and if we said we forgot our wallets at home we were allowed to register...If you can register a dozen addresses and come in to vote but need no proof of address, just give a name, you can vote a dozen times or more an never worry about getting caught or prosecuted. It is hard to catch a ghost voter the way things are run now. Go to a poll watcher class, volunteer to be an election official, DO SOMETHING to true the vote this year!
T Ailshire February 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Voter ID laws are not because of illegals voting: [a href="http://amcit.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=837&action=edit"] My blog post [/a] explains another reason. I would DEARLY love to see statistics on how many voters who show up without ID (or don't go because they think they don't have "appropriate" ID) would have gone short of being exhorted to go to the polls. One Gun a Month had so many exemptions and exclusions it had completely outlived its usefulness. Similarly, setting different standards for some to carry firearms (as the GA is poised to do *AGAIN* this year) will render permits obsolete in the near future. I'm prepared to actively work against, and campaign and vote against, those who insist on getting involved on the anti-choice or the homophobic bandstands.
Jody February 08, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I'm okay with all the laws except those relating to abortion. The GOP needs to focus on fiscal conservatism and stay out of trying to legislate morality as they see it. The bills they're passing are solely designed to make abortion more expensive and difficult to obtain. Does the law really say that not only must she have a sonogram but that she "must look at it!" Wow, why don't we just pry her eyes open! Ridiculous. She knows that she is ending the life of her baby, why torture her further? Who will take care of all these unwanted babies the far right wants to keep? Trust women and stay out of their lives.
Pam February 09, 2012 at 10:57 PM
I assume, Scott, that you belong to a "well regulated militia". It's funny how gun enthusiasts seem to forget there are two parts to that amendment.
Kim February 10, 2012 at 12:36 AM
If all those people voted multiple times, wouldn't they have voted against the conservatives who just passed this legislation? Obviously, illegal voters don't amount to much and don't pose much of a threat to Virginia.
Laura B. February 10, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Pam, you do realize that Scott was writing tongue-in-cheek, right?


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