2020 Policy Victories

2020 Special Session (August - November 2020) 

Democracy 

Required the state to provide funding to the Dept. of Elections for providing prepaid postage for the return of absentee ballots.

Housing 

Virginia Residential Landlord & Tenant Act; landlord remedies, noncompliance with rental agreement. 

Budget 

Eviction Moratorium,Budget Enactment: Prevents landlords from terminating a residential tenancy, or taking any eviction actions, for non-payment of rent through December 31, 2020 and allows tenants facing financial hardship to enroll in a payment plan for existing rent debt for six months or the remainder of their lease term.

Utility Moratorium, Budget Enactment: Provides policy to extend statewide utility service disconnection moratorium, requires utilities to provide customer debt repayment plans for up to 24 months, and calls on Dominion Energy to forgive accounts 30 days in arrears or more.

Criminal Justice

Enables the creation of a Marcus alert system to help those experiencing mental health crises by utilizing law enforcement and behavioral health workers.

Marijuana related offenses can be prepaid, avoiding the need for a court appearance.

Allows a prosecutor the authority to dismiss a criminal case.

Limits the circumstances for lawful traffic stops or pedestrian stops. Also prohibits a stop solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana. Evidence found under these circumstances are not admissible in court. The bill also updates other traffic/ vehicle regulations.

Law enforcement duty to intervene and render aid. 

Prohibits neck restraints unless the use of a neck restraint is immediately necessary to protect the law enforcement officer or another person. 

Limiting the circumstances under which search warrants (especially no knock warrants and nighttime warrants) can be requested from a judge or magistrate and execution to daytime, unless good cause is shown upon warrant request. 

Requires the adoption of standards of conduct and expanded the criteria for decertification when a law enforcement officer is found guilty of misconduct and mandates reporting to the Criminal Justice Services Board in writing.

Mandates law enforcement agencies and jails request the prior employment and disciplinary history of new hires.

Authority for localities to create Civilian Review Boards. 7/1/21 Effective Date

Establishes a structure for incarcerated individuals to earn credits against their sentence by completing recommended programs and displaying good behavior. 07/1/22 Effective Date

2020 Session (January - March 2020) 

Democracy 

Establishes Election Day as a state holiday.

Establish absentee voting without a needed excuse (e.g. business trip, student attending college, etc.).

Create 45-day early vote and absentee voting period before primary and general elections.

Repeals strict photo ID requirements for voting. 

Require election materials and voting information be provided in multiple languages.

Establish redistricting criteria for how legislative maps protect communities of interest.

Economic Justice 

Increase Virginia’s minimum wage by 30% for nearly 1 million people and puts us on the path to $15/hour.

Health Care 

Establish a state-based health exchange that provides access to health coverage.

Cover doula and midwifery services for Medicaid beneficiaries to help reduce the number of Black maternal deaths.  

Ensure that health insurance plans sold in Virginia cannot discriminate based on health status and must cover essential health benefits.

Fear & Hate 

Allow all immigrants regardless of status to drive legally.

Remove the mandate that law enforcement report to ICE individuals they have in custody.

Prohibit law enforcement from asking the immigration status of victims and witnesses of crime.

Criminal Justice

Allowed for community service to be done as credit towards court fines/ fees

Ban the Box on applications for public employment

Simple possession of marijuana was decriminalized

Grand Larceny threshold increased to $1000

Community Policing Act which prohibited certain biased based policing practices

The process for granting bail was made easier so less people would be held pretrial

Environmental Justice

Requires Norfolk Southern Railroad Company to include a cost-benefit analysis of covering rail cars carrying coal and for enclosing with a dust suppression system the twin rotary dumpsters in Norfolk in their annual report to the General Assembly.

Defines environmental justice in state law and declares it the policy of the Commonwealth to promote and ensure environmental justice is carried out throughout Virginia. 

Formally established the Virginia Environmental Justice Council, so it cannot be dissolved at the will of the Governor, and enshrines their duties and powers in law.

Budget 

Amendment 101: Item 402 Governor’s Budget Item allowing for the release of those incarcerated who had less than 1 year remaining on their sentence. Over 1000 people have since been released.

Housing

Tenants cannot be discriminated against based on their source of income allowing those with housing vouchers to more easily find housing

Created a Tenants Bill of Rights that defines and informs tenants of their rights and responsibilities, as well as provides the contact information for necessary resources to protect those rights

 


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