| From Sen. Mark Herring's office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BUDGET PASSES WITH HERRING PUBLIC SAFETY AMENDMENTS, OBENSHAIN AMONG FOUR ‘NO’ VOTES
Leesburg – Today, the Virginia Senate adopted a budget with overwhelming bipartisan support on a vote of 36-4. Unfortunately, Republican State Senator and candidate for Attorney General Mark Obenshain refused to be part of the solution. Continuing his tradition of opposing bipartisan budgets, Obenshain was one of only four Senators, all Republicans, to oppose the budget.
“Senator Obenshain once again put extremist politics first today by voting against a bipartisan budget that works on the challenges facing Virginia families," Democratic candidate for Attorney General State Senator Mark Herring (Loudoun & Fairfax) stated. “Senator Obenshain sided with those in his own caucus who are the most out of touch with mainstream Virginia, voting down funding for education, public safety and transportation. Adding insult to injury, Senator Obenshain opposed a bipartisan amendment to expand Medicaid and pave the way for healthcare coverage to 300,000 uninsured Virginians.
“Mark Obenshain’s vote against budget was a vote to put partisan politics ahead of solutions,” Herring stated.
Two public safety amendments offered by Senator Herring were included in the budget that Obenshain opposed.
The first amendment, conceived in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, CT, will address gaps in Virginia’s mental health infrastructure.
“The senseless violence that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School this past December was, and continues to be, difficult to understand. Tragedies like these have become all too common in our society in recent years and as legislators, we need to do what we can to keep our children and Virginia citizens safe. We need to enact common sense solutions to solve the deficiencies we have in our mental health system. While we still have a lot of work to do, today I feel like we are taking a step in the right direction,” Herring said.
Since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, Virginia’s mental health system has seen many reforms, however, the availability of school-based mental health services remains inconsistent.
The amendment requires the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and Secretary of Education to collaborate on a review of the relationship between the Commonwealth’s community-based mental health services system and Virginia’s public schools.
“We need to make sure that those who need help or those who may be dangerous don’t slip through the cracks,” Herring stated. “This is about keeping the public safe and making sure parents all across the Commonwealth don’t have to be nervous to send their kids to school.”
The second amendment offered by Herring directs the Department of Criminal Justice Services to study the costs and benefits of establishing a lethality assessment program in Virginia.
Lethality assessment programs feature evidence-base screening tools to determine whether victims of domestic violence are at risk of greater violence, enhancing their chances of survival.
“Reports of domestic violence are on the rise in Virginia and we need to take action to protect victims,” Herring stated. “Lethality assessment programs are working well in several states, including in certain localities in Virginia, and we should give law enforcement and first responders across the Commonwealth the tools they need to help save lives in domestic violence situations.”