McAuliffe opens 2015 session with pleas for reduced abortion regulations, equal pay for women, and LGBTQ inclusiveness
In a move he said would boost the state’s economy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe asked legislators Monday for a number of changes to existing legistlation around women’s health and rights as well as LGBTQ inclusion in the workforce.
“In a new Virginia economy, we need to be able to attract the best and brightest entrepreneurs here, build a workforce for the 21st Century, and ensure that the next generation of Virginians has greater opportunity to succeed,” stated Governor McAuliffe in a release sent out yesterday. “All that depends on having a business-friendly environment where every Virginian is treated equally and fairly under the law, no matter their background, gender, or whom they love.”
McAuliffe has taken steps to support LGBTQ first executive order banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the state work force. McAuliffe’s next step is replacing any part of Virginia’s marriage laws that use “husband and wife” or “man and woman” with “spouse” now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state.
The governor’s proposal has some teeth to it as well, including a new penalty for business owners who violate Virginia’s equal pay laws.
To ensure equal pay for men and women, businesses would have to pay at least twice the lost wages of the employee.
Gov. McAuliffe is also asking the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to help public schools update their sexual misconduct policies by July 2015. He also wants companies to allow employees who are survivors of sexual or domestic violence to leave work for treatment.
His last proposal is the repeal the section of Virginia code which requires women to obtain an ultrasound before having an abortion.
Liberal advocacy groups applauded McAuliffe’s proposals.
“We commend the Governor for prioritizing women’s health care access and economic opportunity,” said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl in a press release. “These are key priorities of the Women’s Equality Coalition and we look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to support Virginia women in all their decisions concerning when and if to start a family.”
The Women’s Equality Coalition also supports the changes. Their legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly includes the repeal of the mandatory ultrasound for women seeking an abortion and equal pay for men and women.
But social conservatives criticized the governor’s announcement. In a press release, the Family Foundation of Virginia said Gov. McAuliffe’s list shows that he has no idea how to improve Virginia’s economy.
“This list seems to have been pulled off of the same campaign brochures Democrats used as they lost election after election in November,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia. “There is nothing here that will attract small businesses, the heart and soul of a growing economy, or encourage businesses that are seeking a fair tax or regulatory environment to come to Virginia. No one who truly wants to grow Virginia’s economy can take this governor seriously.”
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