Updated Non-discrimination Policy, Health Care Reform, and Pro Choice License Plate
A bill that would add sexual orientation to the state’s existing non-discrimination policy will go before a house sub committee today, state Republican leaders are once again calling on Congress and the President to start over on health care reform and a pro choice license plate has again been approved by the House, with a significant change.
Last month, Governor McDonnell signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination in hiring practices for state jobs based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.
Unlike Democratic Governor’s Tim Kaine and Mark Warner before him, McDonnell decided not to include sexual orientation in the list of prohibited discriminatory criteria…saying he believed that decision was best left to the legislature.
In response Democratic Senator Don McEachin of Richmond crafted Senate Bill 66, which would specifically codify the before mentioned criteria as well as sexual orientation as prohibited conditions when considering candidates for state employment.
Don McEachin: I think what has crystallized the issue, in such a remarkable way is that this Governor has said, do it through legislation. We’ve taken him at his word and for reasons that sort of escape me, he’s introduced his own executive order that he says has no force of effect, because he said Tim Kaine’s had no force of effect. I have awaited and regrettably still await his advocacy on behalf of this legislation.
This legislation will not cause any employer to ask any potential employee about his or her sexual orientation. If we are not discriminating, we don’t need to know and we won’t ask, just like we don’t need to know about a person’s race or gender today. There’s absolutely no evidence that this will lead to increased litigation. Once again if we are not discriminating, then no one will be in a position to litigate. In both companies and states that have this policy, there has been no increase in litigation. There is no better time than to do this than today, it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
McEachin’s bill will go before the House subcommittee on General Laws today.
In other news Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and some fellow Republicans took time yesterday to once again call on President Obama and the Democratic leaders in congress to scrap the Health Care Reform bill and start over.
Republican Senator Jill Vogel patroned legislation that passed the Senate that would make it illegal to mandate that any Virginian buy health insurance.
Jill Vogel: From my perspective there is no question that this is something that should be left to the states. Frankly I feel that many of us in the legislature feel very strongly that the government closest to the people governs best and the only way for us to make meaningful reform in health care is to let the states be the breeding ground for competition, the breeding ground for ideas and let state legislators consider what’s the right outcome.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, himself an insurance executive, reiterated his long held stance that there is a better way to address health care reform.
Bill Bolling: I believe based upon everything I have seen and heard and read there are at least a dozen concrete proposals that the President and Republicans and Democrats alike ought to be able to agree on.
The need for more aggressive group purchasing pools, the need for more tax credits to encourage employers, especially small businesses to provide health insurance for themselves and their employees, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, the ability to invest more in community health centers and free clinics and medical caravans that provide needed care to those who don’t have access to care, the need for tort reform, which will bring down the cost of medical liability insurance and also the cost of healthcare, by taking away the disincentive to practice defensive medicine. The need for reforming our Medicaid and Medicare systems to make certain that we eliminate fraud and abuse, to make certain that those systems are more focused on disease prevention than they are on simply disease treatment and medical reimbursement…the need to reform insurance programs to address the problem of pre-existing conditions and portability and the need continue looking for ways to improve efficiencies and eliminate redundancies by improving medical technologies all across the country. These are things that would have a positive impact on reducing the cost of healthcare and health insurance and it would improve the access and affordability to quality care for the people of the country and it would do so on a bipartisan basis.
And finally the House of Delegates again voted along party lines on a Senate bill to establish the Trust Women, Respect Choice license plate, but only by attaching an amendment to divert any revenue generated from Planned Parenthood to an account unrelated to any Planned Parenthood program.
The plate was a response to the Choose Life license plate which passed last year and generates funds for crisis pregnancy centers, something many Democrats have objected to because the centers have been found to often give misinformation on dangers of abortion to women seeking guidance, in an effort to convince them not to terminate their pregnancy.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.