Marshall sees hope for ‘personhood’ bill

Now that Democrats no longer control the House or the Senate, Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, is hoping the General Assembly will pass his bill defining a human embryo or fetus is a person under the law.

House Bill 1 would provide that “unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth.”

The bill, which is before the House Courts of Justice Committee, says that this “personhood” status starts “from the moment of conception.”
Marshall said HB 1 is significant for several reasons.

“We have a situation in Virginia where a pregnant woman can be shot, and if you kill the baby, it’s feticide. But she can’t recover damages separately in a civil lawsuit,” Marshall said. “That’s kind of an anomaly.”

Democrats have criticized HB 1 as an attempt to revoke a woman’s right to have an abortion. In past years, when Democrats controlled the Virginia Senate, such bills usually died in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

“This committee kills all abortion bills,” Marshall said. “In 21 years, I have seen only one bill go through the Senate Education and Health Committee.”
But Marshall is hopeful this year will be different. The Republicans not only control the House of Delegates, but last fall, they won two previously Democratic seats in the Senate. Now the upper chamber is equally split between the two parties.

That increases the chances that anti-abortion legislation will make it out of the Senate Education and Health Committee and to the Senate floor for a vote.
“Right now, it’s a swing issue.” Marshall said. “There’s a swing vote in that committee, and I can’t predict which way it will go.”

Democratic legislators have been quick to voice opposition to HB 1.

Sen. A. Donald McEachin, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, called the bill “an attack on women’s rights.”

Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, agreed. She said there is “overwhelming and legitimate concern” because the full ramifications of Marshall’s proposal have not been determined.

“The patron assumes many things with his legislation, in which the language is not consistent with scientific or medical terminology related to the process of becoming pregnant,” Herring said.

Herring said HB 1 could make certain forms of birth control illegal.

“It may outlaw some forms of the birth control which are FDA-approved, which in addition to acting as birth control also has uses such as treatment of endometriosis,” Herring said.

However, HB 1 states that “Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.”

Marshall said his bill is not detrimental to women’s health rights. He says that he doesn’t understand how his critics can say such a thing.

“As far as they know, roughly half of the kids aborted are females. How is saying that a mother can sue for the wrongful death of a female child an attack on women’s rights? They need to explain that.”

You can track or comment on House Bill 1 on the Richmond Sunlight website: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2012/hb1
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New law paves way for delivery robots

Having your groceries delivered by a robot sounds like something out of The Jetsons, but that prospect is not as futuristic as you may think.

For the second year in a row, the Virginia General Assembly has passed a law to legalize the operation of autonomous vehicles. Beginning July 1, “electric personal delivery devices” will be allowed to operate on sidewalks and other shared-use paths throughout Virginia.

> Read more.

Virginia schools must soon test for lead in water

With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, safe drinking water is a high priority nationwide, especially for children. Beginning July 1, schools in Virginia will be required to test their potable water for lead.

Senate Bill 1359, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on March 20, seeks to ensure that local school boards test the drinking water in schools and that it meets federal guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that the level of lead not exceed 15 parts per billion. > Read more.

Business in brief


The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) has announced its officers and Board of Directors for the 2017–18 fiscal year. At-large Board members include: Anne B. Hagen, CPA, of Masonic Home of Virginia in Henrico. The officers and directors were sworn in at the VSCPA’s annual business meeting on May 16 in Williamsburg. > Read more.

Free weekly 5k coming to Henrico

The Richmond metro area is no stranger to 5k races and events. To participate in most 5k events, runners must register and pay a fee. But the Parkrun organization will be providing Henrico County with a free 5k every Saturday at Deep Run Park starting June 3.

Parkrun began in England in 2004 and eventually found its way to the U.S.

The Deep Run Parkrun program will be the 10th one in the U.S., said Darrell Stanaford, the country manager for Parkrun USA. > Read more.

State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

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West Broad Village’s Rock & Roll Summer outdoor concert series continues at “The Pad,” adjacent to Aloft Hotel at 3939 Duckling Dr., from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. KOS Band will perform hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The concert is free and open to the public. Several parking decks feature free parking. The series continues every other Friday through August. For details, visit http://www.shopwestbroadvillage.com or www.facebook.com/WestBroadVillageShopping. Full text

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