2020 Policy Victories

The 2020 General Assembly session was full of victories for justice and progress. Below is a list of our priority legislation that successfully passed both the House and the Senate. 

Expanding Democracy

Our democracy is strongest when we all have the opportunity to participate. The right to vote, to choose our leaders and to weigh in on issues affecting our lives is at the heart of what it means to be an American. We want our elections to be fair, our votes to count and our voices to be heard

Successful bills:

  1. Establishes Election Day as a state holiday.
  2. Establish absentee voting without a needed excuse (e.g. business trip, student attending college, etc.).
  3. Establish automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration.
  4. Create 45-day early vote and absentee voting period before primary and general elections.
  5. Repeals strict photo ID requirements.
  6. Out-of-state student IDs added to the accepted forms of voting identification. 
  7. Extend polling place hours on Election Day. 
  8. Allow for permanent vote-by-mail absentee voting.
  9. Allow last minute emergency absentee voting.
  10. Provide pre-paid return postage for absentee ballots.
  11. Allow all ballots post-marked on or before Election Day to be counted up to three days after the election.
  12. Require election materials and voting information be provided in multiple languages.
  13. Establish redistricting criteria for how legislative maps protect communities of interest.

Freedom from Fear & Hate

We believe in a Virginia that is welcoming and provides an opportunity for all of its residents to succeed and live happy and healthy lives. This means that we must include and protect all that call Virginia home regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, immigration status and more. Successful bills: 

  1. Establish a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the executive branch.
  2. Allow all immigrants regardless of status to drive legally.
  3. Prohibit law enforcement from asking the immigration status of victims and witnesses of crime.
  4. Remove the mandate that law enforcement report to ICE individuals they have in custody.
  5. Prohibit discrimination in public accommodations and create cause of action.
  6. Establish Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention Fund. 
  7. Create a state Tenants Bill of Rights.
  8. Allow localities to remove Confederate monuments.

Healthcare

Access to affordable and quality health care is the foundation of building strong and thriving communities. This means that everyone deserves access to health care no matter where they live, work, or play. Successful bills:

  1. Ensure that health insurance plans sold in Virginia cannot discriminate based on health status and must cover essential health benefits.
  2. Cover doula and midwifery services for Medicaid beneficiaries to help reduce the number of Black maternal deaths.   
  3. Provide targeted support to increase the number of women of color who obtain medical, nursing, doula, or midwifery, education or credentials. 
  4. Prohibit conversion therapy by certain health care providers.
  5. Prohibit health insurance providers from discriminating against patients based on their gender identity or transgender status. 
  6. Codify in state law the reproductive health rights guaranteed through Roe v. Wade
  7. Establish a state-based health exchange that provides access to health coverage.

Criminal Justice

We believe that a fair and just criminal justice system ensures that law enforcement officers are accountable to their communities, there are more community-based alternatives to incarceration, poverty is decriminalized, and returning citizens have a fair shot to succeed. Successful bills:

  1. Allow for individuals to do community work during imprisonment to earn credit against fines and court costs imposed upon them.
  2. Limits public employment applications from including questions about arrests and convictions (ban the box).
  3. Raise the felony larceny threshold from $500 to $1,000.
  4. Decriminalize marijuana usage and possession from a maximum fine of $500 and/or a maximum 30-day jail sentence for first offense and Class 1 misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, to no more than a $25 civil penalty for simple possession. 
  5. Repeal the requirement that the drivers license of a convicted person be suspended for failure to pay fines and court costs.
  6. Remove the presumption that, in order to receive admission of bail, those accused of an offense must make a case for their freedom pretrial with a judge.
  7. Prohibit law enforcement officers from using bias-based profiling, and creates a database to collect information related to the use of profiling during police stops and to catalog complaints about officers’ use of excessive force. 

Worker Protections, Wages, & Tax Equity

We want an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few. Virginians deserve a fair and equitable tax system that advances racial justice, stronger worker protections, and living wages so families can thrive and invest in their future. Successful bills:

  1. Increase Virginia’s minimum wage by 30% for nearly 1 million people and puts us on the path to $15/hour.
  2. Establish worker protections so employees do not live in fear of losing their jobs due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.
  3. Remove prohibition against collective bargaining for public employees. 
  4. Provide consumer protections and cap predatory loans at a maximum 36% interest rate.

Education 

We believe that all Virginia students should have access to a high-quality education, regardless of their zip code, race, or country of origin. This includes fully funded schools, affordable higher education and workforce training, and safe and supportive learning environments. Successful bills:   

  1. Allow undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition.
  2. Allow refugee students to pay in-state tuition.
  3. Clarify that the legal status of parents of students does not impact the student’s eligibility for in-state tuition.
  4. Increase the ratio of teachers to English-language learners.
  5. Provide for policies that increase the fair treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools.
  6. Require training of school resource officers and put limitations on reporting disorderly conduct to law enforcement. 
  7. Collect and report data on the use of force, arrests, and other disciplinary actions taken by school resource officers or other school security personnel.
  8. Increase funding to provide more grants to cover the cost of tuition, required fees, and book allowances for low-income students and families.
  9. Requires local school boards to use donations and other funds received to eliminate or offset students school meal debt.

Environmental Justice

We believe that communities should be informed of and have the power to make decisions about environmental policies, projects, and practices that impact their health and daily lives and have access to workforce training and education for the green jobs of tomorrow. Successful bills:  

  1. Permanently codify the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice in law.
  2. Establish the Virginia Environmental Justice Act to promote environmental justice and ensure that it is carried out throughout the Commonwealth.
  3. Require annual reports on the effect of coal dust blown from moving trains, its impact on surrounding communities, and feasibility of covering the  coal to mitigate pollution. 
  4. Establish the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund to provide for low-income loans and loan forgiveness programs for flood damage prevention.
  5. Restore to the State Corporation Commission (SCC) with the power to amortize the cost of retired fossil fuel-based power plants, allowing for bill refunds to be issued when customers are overcharged by utilities.  

 


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