Richmond Free Press Column: General Assembly Session Update #6

A message from Senator McClellan

We’re in the final days of the 2017 Session, and are scheduled to adjourn Saturday, if not sooner. A number of controversial bills have already been vetoed by the Governor this week.  First, HB 1582 (Campbell) would have expanded eligibility for concealed handgun permits for individuals 18 years or older an on active military duty or have been honorably discharged from service. The Governor vetoed this bill because weapons training provided as a component of an individual’s military basic training does not qualify that individual to carry weapons after service.  Under the bill, an individual who completed basic training but was subsequently disqualified from having access to weapons could apply for a concealed handgun permit.

Second, HB 1432 (Ware) would have legalized carrying a concealed switchblade knife when for the purpose of engaging in a “lawful profession” or “lawful recreational activity” that would be aided by the knife. The bill also would have legalized the sale, bartering, giving or furnishing of switchblade knives. The Governor vetoed this bill because it would be unenforceable. Because the bill does not define “lawful profession” or “recreational activity,” there would be no way for law enforcement to determine whether a person is legally carrying a concealed switchblade. Moreover, federal law prohibits the manufacture, transportation or distribution of switchblade knives.

Third, the Governor vetoed HB 1578 (R. Bell), the so-called Tim Tebow bill, prohibiting public school divisions from participating in the Virginia High School League unless it permits home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competition. As he did last year, the Governor vetoed this bill because allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competitions would disrupt the level playing field Virginia's public schools have developed over the past century. Virginia's public schools provide a complete package of scholastic offerings and access to extracurricular activities. Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements. Opening participation in those competitions to individuals who are not required to satisfy the same criteria established academic inequality in interscholastic competition.
Finally, the Governor vetoed HB 2264 (Cline) defunding Planned Parenthood by prohibiting the Department of Health from spending any funds on an abortion that is not qualified for matching funds under the Medicaid program, or providing any grants or other funds to any entity that performs such abortions. The bill also prioritizes the types of entities that the Department of Health contracts with or provides grants to for family planning services. As a practical matter, the bill would prohibit any Medicaid funding for abortions in the case of gross fetal abnormalities, and prohibit the Department from providing any grants to Planned Parenthood for sexually transmitted infection testing. As he did last year, the Governor vetoed this bill because it would harm tens of thousands of Virginians who rely on the health care services and programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers, by denying them access to affordable care. Many Virginians, particularly low-income Virginians, use Planned Parenthood for primary care medical services and preventative screenings, and this bill is an attempt to shut down these health centers.
To receive email updates or follow me on social media, visit If you would like to share your views on any issue, or would like assistance with a state government matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at or (804) 698-7509.