This week both the House and Senate voted to pass similar bills to repeal Virginia’s TRAP (targeted restrictions on abortion providers) laws, that restrict access to safe and legal abortions. The bills remove the 24 hour waiting period and ultrasound requirement, expand who may perform abortions, and reduce some of the anti-abortion informational materials that a provider must give to the patient.
On the Senate floor, there was some surprisingly level-headed discussion on SB733 (McClellan-SD9, with Saslaw-SD35 and Locke-SD2 rolled in) about whether nurse practitioners were qualified to perform abortions. Jen Kiggans (R,SD-7), herself a nurse practitioner, wanted the bill to be amended to take them out.
The Senate ultimately voted on the bill as reported from the committee, and the result was a tie 20-20 vote, with Senator Morrissey (SD-16), who is known to be somewhat anti-choice, voting with the Republicans. The tie was broken by the Lieutenant Governor, who voted yea, so the bill passed.
In the House, HB980 (Herring-HB46, with Adams-HB68 rolled in) advanced to the floor, where Minority Leader Gilbert (HD-15) tried to trip it up with some last-minute dog whistle floor amendments. One was to add a “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” regarding attempted late-term abortions that result in a live birth; the second was to add language prohibiting the sale of fetal tissue.
Delegate Simon (HD53) argued that the amendments were not germane (meaning that they weren’t really amending the underlying bill, as much as just trying to tack on some unrelated language). Speaker Filler-Corn ruled that they were not germane. Amusingly, Gilbert tried to push her around, talk over her, question her authority (according to their own rules, the decision of the Speaker is final and not negotiable), and she was NOT HAVING IT.
The bill passed on a 52-45 vote. Democrat Cliff Hayes (HD-77) voted against the bill.
Note: the House bill that passed allows physician’s assistants to perform abortions, while the Senate version struck that part out. When the bills cross over to the other body, this will have to be resolved.
Minimum wage more complicated than it seemed
In the Senate, things got heated during the Commerce and Labor Committee, taking up SB7 (Saslaw-SD35) and SB81 (Marsden-SD37)
Saslaw’s bill set the minimum to $10July 2020, and increased by $1 per year until 2025, indexing to CPI thereafter. It did not change the tipped minimum, nor change any exempted categories of workers.
Marsden’s bill set the minimum to $9.75 July 2020, and increased by $1 until 2023; remaining at $11.75 thereafter for employers providing health benefits to workers, and increasing $1 per year for those who do not until 2025. It also allows a 320 hour lower training wage, changes the tipped wage credit, requires a regional study before next year; and specifically includes home health care workers.
Numerous retail and industry lobbyists stepped up to testify against raising the minimum. Saslaw rejected the idea of stopping the minimum at $11.75 with benefits, saying workers deserved to earn decent pay AND benefits.
Ultimately, the committee voted to incorporate Marsden’s bill into Saslaw’s, substituting in Marsden’s language, making this a substantially weaker bill.
Over in the House, HB395 (Ward-HB92) underwent some transformations too as it moved through the subcommittee, although this was less contentious, at least at first.
Ward’s original bill set the minimum wage to $9 July 2020, increasing by $2 per year until 2023, with no changes to exemptions, no indexing after 2023, no mention of home health care workers, no changes to tipped minimum.
The version coming out of the subcommittee set the minimum to $10 July 2020, increasing by $1.25 until 2024, after which it is adjusted upward according to the CPI-U. It also removed exemptions for farm workers, domestic workers, piece rate workers, those working in businesses with fewer than five employees; and raised the tipped wage credit.
This version reported out of the House Commerce and Labor subcommittee on a 5-3 partisan vote. When it came up in the full committee, however, numerous bartenders and retail food servers spoke out against the changes to the tipped wage, arguing that it would hurt them dramatically. The bill was tabled for the day, and will be back next week, possibly with more changes.