The highlight of the week was a visit to the Capitol from the great-great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who visited Richmond with a group of women from around the Commonwealth to reignite the conversation about the Equal Rights Amendment. They held a rally and several meetings to discuss the issue, and I took the opportunity to make remarks on the floor of the House along with my colleague Delegate Kathleen Murphy. It has been 36 years since the equal rights issue has been discussed in the House of Delegates--1979!
A growing number of people are encouraging lawmakers to reconsider its ratification. If only three more states would take action, the ERA would finally pass and women would have protection under the law to be treated equally. Women are typically paid 78 cents to every dollar earned by our male colleagues in Virginia. Unlike the days of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, in today’s world, a woman is expected to be able to support herself and contribute financially to her family’s earnings. I would argue that we have to empower our daughters with the assurance that they are on equal footing with our sons. You can watch my speech here.
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As always, I met with several constituents coming to the Capitol to talk about a variety of issues including education, transportation, healthcare and the economy. I even got to test drive an automated car on the highway! Volkswagen and Audi, whose headquarters are located in our district, visited the General Assembly with JACK, the driverless car. It was really interesting and I must admit a little bit thrilling to be in the car when it was driving itself.
This week we officially completed all of the consideration of House bills and have crossed over to consider the Senate’s legislation. As I mentioned in last week’s Boysko Bulletin, we saved the most politically divisive bills for this week. After weeks of working across the aisle to find solutions to common sense problems, I was terribly disturbed and disappointed to see the following bills pass out of the House of Delegates. My hope is that my colleagues in the Senate will stop them:
- HB 773 – A bill that allows discrimination of people who have sexual relationships out of wedlock or same-sex relationships dealing with any government entity – from clerks of court to school sports coaches. The bill will prohibit government from taking action against those who refuse to do their job because it goes against their personal religious beliefs pertaining to their views on marriage, and would allow clerks and others to refuse to provide service if they have a religious objection to doing so. It’s important to note that Virginia already has strong protections for religious freedom in place. And this term we also passed a bill, the Act for Religious Freedom. It reaffirms that the religious rights asserted in § 57-1 of the Code of Virginia are the natural and unalienable rights of mankind, which I supported. But HB 773 actually allows someone to refuse service to another person they find morally objectionable. In a time when we are trying to encourage businesses to come to Virginia, when people are working to make ends meet, with all of the other issues that we face like the lack of access to affordable healthcare... And we are focusing on this? I don’t get it.
Restricting access to healthcare
- HB 1090 – This bill will defund clinics like Planned Parenthood. In addition to leaving residents without access to comprehensive healthcare, family planning and abortion services, this could potentially increase the rates of sexually transmitted infections, increase health care costs resulting from undiagnosed disease, and lead to increased cases of ophthalmic gonorrhea/chlamydia in the newborns of infected women. The Virginia Department of Health would be prohibited from contracting with or paying non-hospital providers to conduct state-funded abortions for rape or incest, or gross fetal anomalies.
Restricting voter access
- HB 9 – Makes more stringent rules about what has to be on a voter registration form, allowing incomplete forms to be rejected.
- HB 1379 – Cancels the voter registrations of people who may be registered in other states and puts the burden to pay for this work on our local government, whereas currently the state government covers the costs.
Three of my bills have successfully moved out of the House of Delegates:
- HB 106 - Amending the Town of Herndon Charter.
- HB 355 - Adding a new member to the Forensic Science Board.
- HB 199 - was incorporated into a duplicate bill, HB 233 (patroned by Delegate Randy Minchew) and I am now serving as chief co-patron. It allows localities to provide volunteer firefighters and EMTs access to mental health treatment and counseling programs.
Two bills were rolled in with other similar bills and are moving forward with studies:
- HB 1082 - Expanding the eligibility for who can hold a driver’s license.
- HB 1078 - Publishing local legal notices on websites.
One bill I withdrew:
- HB 509 - A bill to create the position of Chief Information Security Officer. Although it had the full support of the Secretary of Technology and from leading cyber security experts, it did not have the support of the committee. I plan to reintroduce it next year.
One bill was tabled:
- HB 1225 - A bill to remove the ban on abortion coverage under the federal health care exchange. It also lacked support from the committee.
Visiting the Capitol
While the General Assembly is in session, feel free to stop by my Richmond office in room 715 of the General Assembly Building. Be sure to keep an eye on the day’s schedule, which can be found at the GA’s website, and also call at 804-698-1086 to get on my calendar.
If you have a matter that concerns state government, contact my Richmond office during session at 804-698-1086 or send an email to DelJBoysko@house.virginia.gov. Even if it’s with another government level, we can help you get connected with the appropriate person.