End of Session Letter

Dear Friends,



The 2015 General Assembly Session ended without the bi-partisan rancor that has marked other sessions.  Your support and involvement enabled me to successfully pass legislation that will improve the quality of life for those in the 31st District and throughout the Commonwealth.


I am proud to say that my legislative successes protected K-12 education funding; made day care homes safer for children; implemented consumer protection measures in the delivery of health care; and addressed sexual assaults on college campuses. 


Governor McAuliffe’s Mental Health Initiative for Children enjoyed support from both sides of the isle.  Unfortunately, no progress was made on Medicaid Expansion and sensible gun control measures because of election year scares from the tea party.


I vow to keep fighting to take guns away from convicted stalkers and sexual abusers and to put additional teeth into protective orders.  Protecting our families and communities will always be a top priority for me.


It is an honor to represent you in the State Senate and I look forward to connecting with you in the district.  Please see the contact section of this newsletter for specifics.





Barbara Favola

Floor Speech in Opposition to HJ 577, A Constitutional Amendment Taking Control of Public Charter Schools Away from Localities


On Monday, I spoke on the Senate floor against HJ 577, a constitutional amendment that transfers authority to create a public charter school from localities to the state Board of Education. I object to HJ 577 because I support keeping K-12 educational decisions at the local level. This amendment would have allowed the state to take local funds for state-sanctioned charter schools.


Local communities already have the authority to set up charter schools on their own – if they decide it’s necessary. The decision to create a charter school needs to be made locally with the involvement of teachers, parents, and local school boards. Amending the Virginia constitution to transfer the authority to establish charter schools to the Board of Education represents an unwarranted and unnecessary intrusion into local control of education.


The amendment was narrowly defeated on a 20-20 vote; 21 votes were needed for passage.

Sen. Favola's Bills Sailing Through House Committees



Richmond, VA- Today, the House Education Committee voted overwhelmingly to report SB 782, a bill that requires the Board of Education to issue regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools. The bill’s patron, Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), is vice-chair of the Virginia Commission on Youth, a group that recommended this legislation. Although guidelines for seclusion and restraint in Virginia have existed since 2004, only eighty schools have used them to adopt a policy. Thirty-two states have statutes addressing seclusion, restraint, or both. 



After the full committee adjourned, the House Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee met and voted unanimously to report SB 1236, a bill also introduced by Senator Favola. SB 1236 eliminates the term “special diplomas” for students with IEPs and other challenges, and replaces it with “Applied Studies diplomas.” Students would have to complete an individualized education program to receive an Applied Studies diploma. Some find the term “special diploma” offensive, and advocates and educators have responded positively to changing the term.


Sen. Favola: “I am excited that these bills are one step closer to becoming law- SB 1236 helps special needs students be treated with the respect they deserve, and SB 782 protects children from unjust and unwarranted treatment in public schools. Both these bills protect vulnerable populations, and both these bills should land on the Governor’s desk.”


Last week SB 1236 passed the Senate unanimously. On January 27th SB 782 passed the Senate 35-4. The seclusion and restraint bill will now go to the House floor, and the “applied diploma” legislation will be heard in the full House Education Committee. 




Senator Barbara A. Favola represents Virginia’s 31st district, which includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, and a portion of Loudoun County. For the 2015 session, Senator Favola sits on the Local Government, Rehabilitation and Social Services, and Transportation Committees. 



Senator Favola Works with Colleagues to Pass Sexual Assault Bill Out of Senate


Richmond, VA- Today, the Senate voted unanimously to pass SB 1329, patroned by Senator Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham), Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) Senator Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria). SB 1329 seeks to address the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses by requiring universities to create memorandums of understanding with local sexual assault crisis centers and to provide survivors with access to other community resources.


Senator Favola stated: “This legislation represents a positive step in protecting our young people and making college campuses safer. SB 1329 strengthens support systems for sexual assault survivors and empowers these survivors to pursue charges against their assailants.”


Under SB 1329, the universities must provide the sexual assault survivor with an explanation of options for counseling and different disciplinary and law-enforcement investigations that the survivor may initiate. The bill also requires that universities adopt policies addressing nonretaliation for survivors who fear that their conduct related to the incident may also be questioned or who are concerned that an official report might jeopardize their academic status.


Two Senate companion bills, SB 712 and SB 1193, also passed the Senate unanimously.






Senator Barbara A. Favola represents Virginia’s 31st district, which includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, and a portion of Loudoun County. For the 2015 session, Senator Favola sits on the Local Government, Rehabilitation and Social Services, and Transportation Committees. 



Press Release: Republicans in Finance Punt on Domestic Violence Bill: Sen. Favola Vows to Fight On


Richmond, VA – After many twists and turns, Republicans in Senate Finance Committee punted on a bill protecting domestic violence victims, SB 943. Yesterday SB 943 was included in a block of bills passed by for the day, but the committee never addressed the bill this morning. Passing the bill by for the day (instead of recording a vote on the bill’s merits) cleverly avoided the publicity of killing a bill that would protect domestic violence survivors at the expense of convicted offenders.


Carried by Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), SB 943 prohibits the possession or transportation of firearms for individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors: stalking, sexual assault, and assault and battery of a family or household member. The bill provides for the possible restoration of rights after one year.


Sen. Favola: “I am saddened for the domestic violence survivors and their families who would have been protected by provisions in this bill. SB 943 represents a common sense measure to limit gun access for convicted criminals, not take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Studies show that violent behavior always escalates. We should be making policy based on an evidence-based approach.”


Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover County) cited lack of funds as justification for the bill’s failure.  Other firearm bills from the Governor’s initiative, however, were killed in the Courts of Justice subcommittee last week, freeing up adequate funds. SB 943 is estimated to have a fiscal impact of $50,000 annually, a blanket number given to any piece of legislation impacting correctional facilities.


Despite the Finance Committee’s decision, Senator Favola vows to introduce an amendment for funding this measure on the Senate floor.


At least two people die every day from firearm-related injuries in Virginia.  Domestic violence disproportionately affects women, who represent 85% of all domestic violence victims. In domestic violence situations, a woman’s chances of being killed increases five times if the abuser has access to a firearm. The Virginia Sheriff’s Association, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police support the bill.



Women's Reproductive Health Caucus Opposes House Amendments on Abortion


Richmond, VA- In a 9:30 press conference today, the Women’s Reproductive Health Caucus outlined the latest issues regarding women’s health in both Senate and House legislation. The Caucus stated strong opposition to the House budget amendments which are before the House Health and Human Resources Subcommittee this afternoon. The amendments prohibit public funding for abortions in cases of totally incapacitating fetal abnormalities for Medicaid patients. 



Senator Barbara Favola:“These budget amendments stand between a physician and a low-income patient, removing another layer of health care from those already at risk. Every woman, regardless of her station in life, should be given the dignity to make the best decision for her circumstances. I strongly urge my House colleagues to reject these amendments.”


Most pro-choice bills were killed either on Thursday or Friday of last week: including bills rolling back TRAP legislation, defining birth control as separate from abortions, and repealing the ban on insurance coverage for abortion in the state health care exchange. Delegate Watts gave an impassioned speech for her bill defining birth control as separate from abortion, legislation that she has offered for the past thirteen years. While the bill was killed on Friday, Del. Watts noted that some lawmakers finally understand how crucial the bill is.


Senator Donald McEachin spoke to the importance of his bill SB 769, repealing the insurance coverage ban for abortion in the state health care exchange: “This is big government at its worst. Government should not make these decisions. These are private businesses working with their clients, there shouldn’t be government interference.”


Delegate Kaye Kory was unable to attend the conference but expressed her support in a statement: “We must continue to be vigilant in protecting a woman’s right to privacy, a woman’s right to control her body, and a woman’s right to access health care. These issues are important to Virginia’s women and families, and these issues are important to Virginia’s prosperity.” 




The Women's Reproductive Health Caucus meets every Wednesday at 8 a.m. in Senate Conference Room 3 East, General Assembly Building. Caucus members include lawmakers from both the House and Senate, as well as relevant stakeholders: Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Progress VA, JCDC, The ACLU of Virginia, and the League of Women Voters of Virginia.