Update 3 // In which the analysis produces results

Unlike in my last post, I actually have results to share! I ultimately ended up with fewer analytical conclusions than I’d hoped, because I just didn’t have much to compare.

As anyone who’s been involved in reproductive health advocacy in this state would be unsurprised to hear, there just haven’t been that many bills passed in the past eight years that expand access to reproductive health services. I had a total of 30 House bills in my sample, and 26 of them died in committee before even making it to the Senate; the remaining four were passed in the Senate as well. The bills originating in the Senate fared little better, with 12 of the 18 failing in the Senate, two more dying in committee after they got to the House, and only two being signed into law.

Having so few successful bills makes it hard to pull apart the factors that led to their success. A couple of clearer patterns did emerge among the House bills, though.

As one would expect, bills that have more support entering the legislative process seem to be more likely to pass. One of the four successful bills in the House had no cosponsors, but the other three were the three bills in the sample with the most cosponsors. The bill with a single sponsor was, of course, not a bipartisan effort. The successful bills with multiple sponsors were three of the four bipartisan bills in the sample. The fourth was introduced the following year in the Senate and passed.

While the House rewarded bipartisanship, the Senate eschewed it entirely – none of the bills introduced in the Senate had sponsor/cosponsor lists that included multiple political affiliations. This may have been related to the Senate’s smaller numbers of cosponsors. The highest number represented in my sample is four, compared to 67 in the House.

Also probably unsurprising to anyone who’s been involved in Virginia reproductive health advocacy, 17 of the 18 Senate bills that expanded access to reproductive health services were sponsored by Democrats. Of the 30 House bills in my sample, one was sponsored by a Republican and one was sponsored by two Republicans and a Democrat. And the single bill introduced by a Republican in each house? The same bill. It failed in the House in 2016 but was signed into law after being introduced in the Senate in 2017, providing parental leave to certain small business employees.