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NASWVA Policy
and Legislative Updates

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Are you a Virginia social worker looking for opportunities to advocate and engage in social and political action? Do you want to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities that they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully? 

 

Then join social workers across Virginia to make your voice heard on issues related to the social work profession, priority social justice problems, and mental health and other challenges faced by your clients! Below are frequently asked questions, resource links, and a list of bills and resolutions included in the chapter’s advocacy strategy for the 2024 General Assembly.

What does NASW Virginia Chapter do to influence state policy and regulations?

 

Advocacy on professional practices and social justice has been core to the mission of NASW and its Virginia Chapter since its inception. The chapter monitors bills; communicates chapter stances to legislators; educates elected officials on behavioral health and social justice issues; helps craft or influence bill/resolution language; and alerts and activates social workers and chapter members and students about when and how to use their power as knowledgeable constituents to influence legislative and regulatory outcomes. 

 

The chapter also is deeply involved in or collaborates with numerous Virginia coalitions and organizations or partners, since rarely is genuine policy progress made by advocating alone. These coalitions include the following:

  • Compassionate Choices

  • Solitary Confinement Coalition

  • Voices for Virginia’s Children

  • National Association of Mental Illness

  • Poverty Law Center

  • Equality Virginia

  • ACLU Virginia

What is the chapter doing now on advocacy?

 

The Virginia General Assembly is in its winter 2024 session, but it’s a short, busy session with only 60 days to propose, vet, vote, and get governor sign-off on hundreds of bills. In preparation, NASWVA Chapter staff have been working with the chapter’s Policy and Social Justice Committee and board of directors to identify priority bills and issues; establish an advocacy strategy; educate legislators, especially newly elected leaders; monitor the status of bills and resolutions; and activate members to make their voices heard via action alerts as needed.

 

In 2024, the chapter is focused on the following issues:

 

  • Social work license mobility via a Interstate Social Work Compact

  • Establishment of a Social Work Advisory Board to advance the profession and advise the governor

  • Potential social work licensure exam alternatives

  • Other social work licensure issues

 

    Social workers: Bookmark this page, so you can check this website often for updates!    


 

NASWVA Policy Focus and Bill Status as of April 17, 2024

Social Work Profession

Passed and Signed: VICTORY! HB 326 and SB239: VICTORY! This bill authorizes Virginia to become a signatory to the Social Work Licensure Compact. The Compact allows social workers who have or are eligible for an active, unencumbered license in the compact member state where they reside to apply for a multistate license. Effective July 1, 2024. Identical to SB239.

 

Continued to 2025: HB 178 This bill would establish the Social Work Advisory Board to advise the Governor on efforts to improve the social work profession in the Commonwealth. 

 

Failed to report—Social Work Licensure Exam Requirement Change: HB 606 This bill directs the Board of Social Work to amend the regulations for the licensure of clinical social workers to allow applicants to utilize an examination alternative, which shall consist of at least 1,500 hours of supervised experience that is obtained within the five calendar years immediately preceding the date of application. This bill failed to report, Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services (6 Y, 8 N).

 

Passed and Signed: SB 403-This bill adds behavioral health technicians and behavioral health technician assistants to the professions governed by the Board of Counseling. The bill also establishes qualification, scope of practice, and supervision requirements for qualified mental health professionals and qualified mental health professional trainees. 

 

Passed and Signed: HB 168 Homeless students, Department of Education; resource document on supports and services for homeless students. Requires the Department of Education to develop and make available to each school board a resource document containing guidance and best practices for providing the necessary supports and services to homeless students, including guidance and best practices relating to (i) decisions regarding whether and when such a student should remain enrolled in a school in a previous school division of residence, (ii) wrap-around supports and services for such students that include the parents when they are available and specific wrap-around supports and services for such students who may have experienced additional trauma prior to becoming homeless, and (iii) any other means by which such students can be best served and protected, particularly those homeless children and youths who are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.


Continued to 2025: SB 682 This bill requires health regulatory boards within the Department of Health Professions to recognize licenses or certifications issued by other U.S. jurisdictions, as defined in the bill, as fulfillment for licensure or certification in the Commonwealth if certain conditions are met.


Mental Health

Vetoed: HB81 Suicide; abolishes common-law crime. Abolishes the common-law crime of suicide. Suicide is currently a common-law crime in Virginia, although there is no statutorily prescribed punishment. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2025, and also requires the Bureau of Insurance of the State Corporation Commission to review the effect and implication of abolishing the common-law crime of suicide on insurance throughout the Commonwealth and submit its findings and any recommendations by November 1, 2024, to the Chairs of the House and Senate Committees for Courts of Justice.

 

Amended: HB603 Public elementary and secondary schools; health instruction, certain topics relating to mental health. Requires health instruction provided to elementary and secondary school students to include certain topics relating to mental health that are enumerated in the bill, including (i) general themes of social and emotional learning [Proposed amendment to change that to “life skills”], including self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social awareness; (ii) signs and symptoms of common mental health challenges; and (iii) mental health wellness and healthy strategies for coping with stress and negative feelings, including conflict resolution skills. Proposed amendment: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?241+amd+HB603AG

Solitary Confinement ("Restorative Housing")

Vetoed: SB719 Restorative housing and isolated confinement; restrictions on use. Prohibits the use of isolated confinement in state correctional facilities, subject to certain exceptions. The bill requires that before placing an incarcerated person in restorative housing or isolated confinement for his own protection, the facility administrator shall place an incarcerated person in a less-restrictive setting, including by transferring such person to another institution or to a special-purpose housing unit for incarcerated persons who face similar threats. The bill requires that if an incarcerated person is placed in restorative housing or isolated confinement, such placement shall be reviewed every 48 hours, and the facility administrator shall ensure that the incarcerated person receives a medical and mental health evaluation from certified medical and mental health professionals within one working day of placement in restorative housing or any form of isolated confinement. The bill also requires the facility administrator to notify the regional administrator in writing that an incarcerated person was placed in restorative housing or isolated confinement within 24 hours of such placement. Finally, the bill requires that formal reviews of an incarcerated person's placement in any form of isolated confinement shall be held in such person's presence, inform him of any reason or reasons administrative officials believe isolated confinement remains necessary, and give the incarcerated person an opportunity to respond to those reasons, and a formal ruling shall be provided to the incarcerated individual within 24 hours. This bill is identical to HB 1244.

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Reproductive Justice/Abortion Rights

Amended: HB 609 Contraception; establishes right to obtain, applicability, enforcement. Establishes a right to obtain contraceptives and engage in contraception, as defined in the bill. The bill creates a cause of action that may be instituted against anyone who infringes on such right. This bill is identical to SB 237. 

Amendment: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?241+ful+HB609H1 That the bill ”shall be the public policy of the Commonwealth, independently of the requirements of the Constitution of the United States, that individuals possess the right to access contraception as set forth in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), and Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972).” 

NASWVA comment: The amendment would avoid contraception as a basic right and instead rely on whether the two court cases mentioned hold up to future court challenges, as some U.S. Supreme Court have questioned.   

Vetoed: SB 716 Unprofessional conduct; disciplinary action against doctor for providing abortion care, etc. Board of Medicine; unprofessional conduct. Prohibits the Board of Medicine from taking disciplinary action against a doctor based on the alleged provision or receipt of abortion care that is not prohibited under the laws of the Commonwealth, regardless of where such abortion care was provided or received. The bill also specifies that grounds for refusal to issue a certificate or license to any applicant or to take disciplinary action for procuring or performing an abortion apply to such action only as it is prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth. Under current law, such grounds for refusal or disciplinary action apply for procuring or performing a criminal abortion. This bill is identical to HB 519. 

 

Failed to Report: SB 852 Search warrants; menstrual health data prohibited, definition. Prohibits the issuance of a search warrant for the search and seizure of menstrual health data, as defined in the bill, stored on a computer, computer network, or other device containing electronic or digital information. The Senate passed the bill in a bipartisan vote 31-9, but after Gov. Youngkin noted his opposition, the bill was defeated 5-3 in a House subcommittee.

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Voting Rights

Vetoed: HB26 Voter identification; accepted forms of identification, private entities licensed or certified. Adds to the list of accepted forms of identification for purposes of voting a valid identification card that contains a photograph of the voter and is issued by any private entity that is licensed or certified, in whole or in part, by the Department of Health, Department of Social Services, Department of Medical Assistance Services, or Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

 

Amended: SB196 Voter registration; list maintenance data standards, challenges to a voter's registration. Prohibits the use of voter data received from another state or jurisdiction or through a list comparison for list maintenance purposes when the data file does not include a unique identifier for each individual whose information is contained in the data file. The bill requires the Department of Elections to conduct an annual review of all sources of data utilized for list maintenance activities in the preceding 12-month period for the purpose of determining the validity, completeness, accuracy, and reliability of the data received from each source and to include the results of such review in its annual report to the House and Senate Committees on Privileges and Elections regarding its list maintenance activities. Lastly, the bill removes provisions allowing general registrars to adjudicate challenges to a voter's registration, reserving such process to the courts. The bill includes technical amendments.

 

Gun Violence and Safety (Youngkin vetoed 30 gun safety bills, signed four, and amended six by April 8.)
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Read NASW Virginia’s April 16, 2024, statement on the mental harm caused to both direct victims and community members due to gun violence. This is a response to emergency tactics taken after eight shootings in Richmond in a two-week period.
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Vetoed: HB46 Firearm; transfers to another person from a prohibited person. Provides that a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a protective order or conviction of an assault and battery of a family or household member may transfer a firearm owned by such prohibited person to any person who is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing such firearm, provided that such person is 21 years of age or older and does not reside with the person subject to the protective order. Under current law, there is no requirement that such transferee cannot be younger than 21 years of age and cannot reside with such prohibited person. 

The bill also provides that such prohibited person who transfers, sells, or surrenders a firearm pursuant to the provisions of the bill shall inform the clerk of the court of the name and address of the transferee, the federally licensed firearms dealer, or the law-enforcement agency in possession of the firearm and shall provide a copy of such form to the transferee. The bill also provides that such a prohibited person shall be advised that a law enforcement officer may obtain a search warrant to search for any firearms from such person if they have reason to believe that such a person has not relinquished all firearms in his possession. This bill is identical to SB 47.

Amended: SB515 Weapons; carrying into hospital that provides mental health services or developmental services; penalty. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to knowingly possess in or transport into the building of any hospital that provides mental health services or developmental services in the Commonwealth, including an emergency department or other facility rendering emergency medical care, any (i) firearm or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile or projectile of any kind; (ii) knife, except a pocket knife having a folding metal blade of less than three inches; or (iii) other dangerous weapon, including explosives and stun weapons. 

The bill provides that any such firearm, knife, explosive, or weapon shall be subject to seizure by a law enforcement officer and forfeited to the Commonwealth and specifies exceptions to the prohibition. This bill is identical to HB 861. Amendment: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?241+ful+SB515S2

Vetoed: HB175 Assault firearms; carrying in public areas prohibited, penalty. Prohibits the carrying of certain semi-automatic center-fire rifles and shotguns on any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, or public right-of-way or in any public park or any other place of whatever nature that is open to the public, with certain exceptions. This bill is identical to SB 99. 

Vetoed: SB 447 Firearm in unattended motor vehicle; civil penalty. Provides that no person shall leave, place, or store a handgun in an unattended motor vehicle, as defined in the bill, when such handgun is visible to any person who is outside such motor vehicle. Any person violating such prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of no more than $500, and such unattended motor vehicle may be subject to removal for safekeeping. This bill is identical to HB 1462.

Amended: SB225 School board policy; parental notification of responsibility of safe storage of firearms in household. Requires each local school board to develop and implement a policy to require the annual notification of the parent of each student enrolled in the local school division, to be sent by email and, if applicable, SMS text message within 30 calendar days succeeding the first day of each school year, of the parent's legal responsibility to safely store any firearm present in the household, risks associated with improperly stored firearms, statistics relating to firearm-related accidents, injuries, and death among youth, and other tips and strategies. The bill requires each school board to make such parental notification available in multiple languages on its website. This bill is identical to HB 498. 

Amendment to SB225 with much broader implications: That the provisions of the first enactment of this act shall not become effective unless reenacted by the 2025 Session of the General Assembly, and that the Department of Education shall (i) collaborate with relevant stakeholders to create a list of (a) parental rights, including the right to be notified of sexually explicit materials, to express disagreement with a school's or a school board's policies or decisions, and to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent's child, and (b) parental responsibilities, including safeguarding their child against access to drugs, ensuring their child is protected from exploitation or abuse, maintaining their child's school attendance, participating in their child's school discipline proceedings, monitoring their child's behavioral and educational process, and, if applicable, paying child support; and (ii) develop an efficient method for distributing such list to parents at the beginning of each school year. The Department of Education shall submit a report on such list to the Chairs of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health by December 1, 2024.

Vetoed: HB 183 Firearms; storage in residence where minor or person prohibited from possessing is present, penalty. Requires any person who possesses a firearm in a residence where such person knows that a minor or a person who is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm is present to store such firearm and ammunition in a locked container, compartment, or cabinet that is inaccessible to such minor or prohibited person. A violation is a Class 4 misdemeanor. The bill exempts (i) any person in lawful possession of a firearm who carries such firearm on or about his person and (ii) the storage of antique firearms and provides that the lawful authorization of a minor to access a firearm is not a violation of the bill's provisions. The bill also requires firearm dealers to post a notice stating such firearm storage requirements and the penalty for improperly storing such firearms. This bill is identical to SB 368

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Human Rights/ Discrimination

Passed and signed: VICTORY! HB174 Marriage lawful regardless of sex, gender, or race of parties. A victory for longtime gay marriage advocates such as NASW Virginia and NASW.

 

Passed and signed: SB07 Adds ethnicity to hate crimes definition. Hate crimes and discrimination; ethnic animosity, penalties. Safeguards all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination in employment and in places of public accommodation because of such individual's ethnic origin and prohibits such discrimination. The bill also adds victims who are intentionally selected because of their ethnic origin to the categories of victims whose intentional selection for a hate crime involving assault, assault and battery, or trespass for the purpose of damaging another's property results in a higher criminal penalty for the offense. The bill provides that no provider or user of an interactive computer service on the Internet shall be liable for any action voluntarily taken by it in good faith to restrict access to material that the provider or user considers to be intended to incite hatred on the basis of ethnic origin. This bill incorporates SB 120 and is identical to HB 18.

Passed and Signed: HB633 Forced labor or service (labor trafficking); civil action for trafficking, penalties. Expands the offense of abduction to penalize any person who, by force, intimidation or deception, and without legal justification or excuse, obtains the labor or services of another, or seizes, takes, transports, detains or secretes another person or threatens to do so. The bill also expands the offense of receiving money for procuring a person to penalize any person who causes another to engage in forced labor or services or provides or obtains labor or services by any act as described in the offense of abduction. Lastly, the bill allows any person injured as a result of an abduction for the purposes of forced labor or services to commence a civil action for recovery of compensatory damages, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney fees and costs.

 

NASWVA Comment: Virginia has been the only state that did not classified labor trafficking as an enforceable state law. All prosecution of Virginia cases had been conducted through the federal system. This bill achieves what the governor calls a “signature goal” and complements establishment of a commission to recommend tactics for preventing human trafficking in the state. 

 

Vetoed: SB 570 Virginia Human Rights Act; definition of "employer." Waives the Commonwealth's sovereign immunity to a civil action under the definition of "person" in relevant law. The bill also expands the definition of "employer" as it relates to the requirement to provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities under the Virginia Human Rights Act to include any government or political subdivision, or agent of such government or political subdivision, employing more than five employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The bill also reduces the number of employees from 15 to five for the definition of employer of domestic workers.

Where can I find information about Virginia bills and learn more?

 

 

Learn you can advocate on Virginia social justice and professional issues!

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