For the first time in 25 years, the Virginia General Assembly begins its session under complete Democratic control. With Democratic Governor Ralph Northam in the governor’s mansion and democratic majorities in both the House of Delegates and State Senate, Democrats are looking to pass legislation long-thwarted by Republicans.
The governor and legislative leaders announced their “Virginia 2020 Plan” which includes 11 different measures they will advance. Of the measures listed below, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment will be relatively easy with complete democratic control. However, the U.S. Justice Department wrote a memo stating the 1979 ratification deadline has passed, thus making Virginia’s ERA passage a futile attempt. There is currently a lawsuit disputing this claim working its way through the federal courts.
Here’s the 2020 Virginia Dem Agenda:
- Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s long overdue.
- Restore women’s reproductive rights. Overturn laws that have injected politics into women’s healthcare.
- Expand affordable housing. More funding for the Virginia House Trust Fund. Establish an Eviction Prevention and Diversion Pilot Program.
- Ban discrimination in housing and employment. Codify prohibitions on housing and employment discrimination against LGBTQ people.
- Raise the minimum wage. Virginians have waited too long. Legislative process will determine specifics and timeframe for implementation.
- Make voting easier. End the requirement to tell the state why you need to vote early. Make Election Day a state holiday.
- Reform criminal justice. Make permanent the current temporary ban on suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines. Raise the threshold for felony larceny. Hire more public defenders.
- Advance common-sense gun safety measures. Keep prohibited persons away from firearms. Universal background checks. “Red flag” law. Restore longstanding “1 handgun a month” law.
- Fight climate change, protect natural resources. Advance clean energy. Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Increase water funding to clean the Chesapeake Bay.
- Increase education funding. Early childhood education. K-12 funding, including teacher raises and “at-risk add-on” special funding for high-poverty schools. Fund HBCUs. College affordability and free community college for low- and middle-income people going into high-demand fields. In-state tuition for DREAMers.
- Expand transit and broadband. Move commuters and passengers faster, more efficiently. Bring broadband to more parts of Virginia.