House GOP Pushes Divisive Social Agenda, Defies Governor’s Request Not to “Overreach”

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House GOP Pushes Divisive Social Agenda, Defies Governor’s Request Not to “Overreach”

 Tuesday was ‘Crossover’ at the General Assembly.  It was the last day for both the House and Senate to consider legislation introduced on their respective sides before ‘crossing the bill over’ to the other legislative body.  That means it was the last chance for House Republicans to drive their dangerous, divisive and distracting agenda, and they did not miss the opportunity.

 On Tuesday House Republicans passed a bill by Del. Kathy Byron (R-Bedford) that would force an intrusive and medically unnecessary ultrasound on a woman – a procedure which includes the insertion of a transvaginal device – before a women can undergo an abortion or medically-induced miscarriage.

 In addition to the “small government” ultrasound bill, House Republicans also passed a bill (HB 1) that would legally define 'personhood' as beginning at the moment of conception.  If a fertilized egg obtains constitutional rights, the next obvious steps are the criminalization of abortion, the banning of FDA-approved contraception, and the eventual outlawing of abortion in Virginia. House Democrats tried to amend the bill to specifically protect birth control, but Republicans rejected the amendment. As a measure of how out-of-touch the majority remains, similar measures were voted down by referendum recently in both Mississippi and Colorado!

 You and I both know that the people of Virginia are not nearly as extreme as the legislation coming from the General Assembly, unfortunately, having taken full control over state government, Republicans are pushing a backward looking agenda without concern for the damage it will do to Virginia families and to our reputation across the country. These extreme bills have created a national media frenzy, drawing embarrassing attention to the Commonwealth. Two days in a row, MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” has run stories about these bills, as did MSNBC’s Morning Joe.  Watch the video here and here.  Look for CNN’s report Sunday.

 Virginia Republicans are rightfully worried about being viewed as outside the mainstream.  They’re trying to convince Virginians that these bills are not that bad, and that they are a small part of their overall agenda.  In his State of the Commonwealth speech, the Governor told House Republicans, ‘don’t be arrogant, don’t overreach.” But he has publicly committed to signing the forced ultrasound bill when it reaches his desk. Go figure.

 At a recent press conference, Speaker Howell said that, “less than 2.5 percent of the bills that have passed the House dealt with socially conservative issues.” That comment hardly compensates for the outrage Virginia women and mainstream citizens are feeling today. The Republican Leadership apparently has no concern about how their agenda will effect the reputation of the Commonwealth.

 The success of the Republican majority is no consolation to women who may lose access to contraceptive options.

 It is no consolation to elderly and minority voters who will have to jump through extra hoops in order to vote by “cracking down” on non-existent voter fraud.

 Whether it’s 2.5% of the total bills or 3% or 10% this anti-woman, anti-voter, anti-middle class agenda by the party of “small government” is turning the Old Dominion into an unrecognizable place.

 It’s time to stop them now. House Democrats are fighting hard on the floor, in the press and through face-to-face conversations with our colleagues to get the word out about what’s going on here in Richmond. 

We need your help.

 Please call your legislators, the Governor and everyone you know to tell them that we deserve a legislature that will put extreme ideology aside and focus on creating jobs, improving schools and fixing transportation.

 We can’t afford to wait until these bills become law to awaken our communities to the dangerous things Republicans are pushing on Virginia. I hope you will join us.

 What's Next?  The Budget

 Next week members will take to the House Floor to debate the state budget. The Governor’s proposed budget slashes Virginia's health care safety net and robs schools, public safety, and care for seniors and individuals with disabilities to pay for asphalt. We need real transportation solutions. Stealing from education isn’t a solution. We will continue to fight for our schools, police, and our most vulnerable citizens.

Stand with us!

 Call your member of the House of Delegates to voice your concerns about cutting education funding! Tell them to protect Virginia's health care safety net and not to take away money from education, seniors, and public safety to fund transportation.

 We're listening to you and we'll continue to fight for you in the House of Delegates.

 Sincerely,

 

Mark Sickles

Caucus Chair

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