Legislative Updates – Pray for America's Leaders

Legislative Updates

Virginia | September 21, 2021

McAuliffe Taps Onetime Vaccine Skeptic To Slam Youngkin on COVID

Virginia | September 21, 2021

Surgeon Joseph Sakran said Trump could use politics to compromise vaccine’s approval process Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe employed a left-wing doctor who questioned the efficacy of the vaccine during the Trump presidency to portray his GOP opponent as anti-science.

In an ad released Friday, McAuliffe trotted out trauma surgeon Joseph Sakran to argue Youngkin “won’t listen to doctors and scientists.” While the ad presents Sakran as an unbiased expert who merely cites “the science,” Sakran himself sowed doubt about the vaccine during its development and has a long history as a liberal activist and donor. Sakran in May 2020 questioned a Moderna announcement that touted “promising vaccine results,” suggesting that the company only did so to manipulate its stock price.

“Moderna announced promising vaccine results…..and the executives then sell 30 million in stocks,” Sakran wrote. “Something smells funny!” Months later, he contended that the Trump administration could use “political pressure” to “circumvent” health experts and create “an expedited vaccine making healthy people sick.” Prominent liberals echoed Sakran’s rhetoric at the time. MSNBC host Joy Reid, for example, asked in September if “anyone at all” will “ever fully trust the CDC again” as “Trumpist nonsense has infected everything.”

“And who on God’s earth would trust a vaccine approved by the FDA?” Reid added. She has since claimed “anybody rational was hesitant” to take the vaccine because “Donald Trump was out there controlling the CDC and controlling the FDA and manipulating them and making them put out falsehoods.” Reid now regularly criticizes those who express vaccine hesitancy.

Sakran, meanwhile, called the vaccine “promising” just weeks after he warned that Trump could use politics to compromise its approval process—and just days after Biden won the November election. In December, he praised the Food and Drug Administration for recommending authorization of the Pfizer vaccine and declared himself “ready to get vaccinated.”.. (Excerpts from the Washington Free Beacon)

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Virginia | August 20, 2021

George Mason University Grants Professor Exemption From COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate After Lawsuit Filed

Virginia | August 20, 2021

George Mason University has granted a medical exemption from its COVID-19 vaccination mandate to Todd Zywicki, a professor at the university’s Antonin Scalia Law School who filed a lawsuit against the mandate two weeks ago.

In a statement, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), serving as legal counsel for Zywicki in the lawsuit, announced the update on Aug. 17.

Zywicki filed suit against the university over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in early August, claiming that he has fully recovered from the disease, and vaccination is unnecessary and potentially risky for him.

Zywicki gained national attention because he wrote an op-ed about his case, which was published in The Wall Street Journal. In the piece, he cited a March 2021 study that suggests that COVID-19 survivors are more likely to experience severe side effects from vaccination than those who have never been infected…. (Excerpts from the Epoch Times)

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Virginia | August 19, 2021

Craig County School Board Approves Religious, Medical Exemption Forms for Mask Mandates

Virginia | August 19, 2021

The Craig County School Board decided Tuesday to provide medical mask mandate exemption forms that don’t require a physician’s signature and religious exemption forms, although the medical exemption form requires an explanation.

“I do not think the physician should have to sign off, no physician is going to sign off on any of these forms,” Vice Chair Gina Smith said. “I think as parents we are responsible for our kids and it should be enough just to have a diagnosis or a medical reason that your child doesn’t need to wear a mask.”

During recent school board meetings, public commenters have spoken out against a mask mandate in the schools, with some calling for the board to resist despite the risk of being defunded or face legal repercussions. On August 9, the board decided to not mandate masks despite instructions from Governor Ralph Northam. A day later, Board Chair Susan Crenshaw resigned over the decision.

“Yesterday’s four-one decision to not follow the mask mandates and social distancing mitigation standards as required by chapter 456 of the Acts of Assembly was my breaking point. I took an oath to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” she said, saying the decision was politically motivated. “Ethically, I cannot support this position nor the direction this board seems to be taking.”

On August 12, Northam issued his own mandate for masks in schools… (Excerpts from the Virginia Star)

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Virginia | August 18, 2021

George Mason grants professor COVID vaccine mandate exemption after ‘natural immunity’ lawsuit

Virginia | August 18, 2021

George Mason University granted a professor a medical exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate after he filed a lawsuit that included an affidavit from his doctor citing “natural immunity” to the coronavirus — though the school denied a settlement had been reached.

Todd Zywicki, the law professor at the Fairfax school who sued, said he had COVID-19 and successfully defeated it, therefore his natural immunity, he argued, should prevent him from being required to get the vaccination.

His lawyers announced Tuesday that the school agreed to give their client an accommodation…. (Excerpts from the Washington Times)

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Virginia | August 17, 2021

Two Teachers Ask to Join Lawsuit Challenging Loudoun School Division’s Transgender Policy

Virginia | August 17, 2021

The legal team representing Byron “Tanner” Cross, the teacher placed on leave after criticizing the Loudoun County Public Schools’ transgender protections, is asking the Circuit Court to add two more teachers to the lawsuit and to halt the school district’s implementation of Policy 8040.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed the request on Monday to add Monica Gill, a history teacher at Loudoun County High School, and Kim Wright, a Smart’s Mill Middle School English teacher, to the suit. The request to change the suit will need to be approved by a Circuit Court judge.

The controversial Policy 8040, which was adopted by the embattled School Board last week, complies with a Virginia mandate that school divisions enact protections for transgender and gender expansive students by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Under the policy, students are entitled to be called by their chosen name and pronouns, and to use facilities that correspond with their gender identities. The policy, as well as other initiatives to protect marginalized students, have been viewed by some parents in Loudoun as divisive, and have spurred on a recall effort against six members of the School Board… (Excerpts from Loudoun Now Daily)

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Virginia | August 16, 2021

Virginia teachers’ union backs vaccine or testing requirement; New law changes process for student mandate

Virginia | August 16, 2021

(WRIC)-A push to mandate coronavirus vaccines or require regular testing for Virginia’s educators gained momentum this week as the state’s largest teachers’ union backed the policy for the first time.

A possible vaccine mandate for students is likely to take much longer. A new decision-making process just took effect last month and, unlike past immunization requirements, the Virginia General Assembly will not have a say.

In an interview on Friday, Virginia Education Association President Dr. James Fedderman said the union, which represents more than 40,000 teachers and support professionals, is encouraging school districts to consider vaccine mandates or required weekly testing for staff.

Fedderman’s comments are in line with the National Education Association, which shifted its stance in a statement on Thursday. 

Fedderman said about 90 percent of their membership nationwide is already fully vaccinated, though he acknowledged some are opposed to the idea of a mandate.

“We’re hearing concerns from members who feel as though their rights are being violated,” Fedderman said. “We just want to ensure the health, safety and welfare of students and employees.”

California recently became the first state to announce the adoption of this policy for all public and private schools statewide.

So far, Gov. Ralph Northam is leaving it up to localities. .. (Excerpts from ABC 8 News)

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