Virginia NOW - Achieving Justice & Equality Through Targeted Legislative and Political Action
Virginia NOW advocates for legislation furthering justice and equality, especially on measures impacting women, girls, and vulnerable populations. This includes advancing policies addresssing women’s health and safety, including abortion rights, sexual assault, domestic violence, and all forms of discrimination in the workplace which includes sexual harassment and unequal pay. Virginia NOW also advocates for economic justice and criminal justice reforms.
Our 2023 Legislative Priorities
Workplace Fairness, Human Rights, Workers' Rights, Voting Rights, and Economic Justice for Women and Families
To address pervasive problems in the workplace we support bills that work to end all forms of discrimination (including harassment):
SB 1248: Gender Balance and Diversity on Corporate Boards, a bill requiring gender balance and diverse members on the boards of corporations asking for tax and other incentives from the state of Virginia
HB 1895: "The Silenced No More Act" is a bill to strengthen a statute protecting employees from retaliatory termination by further protecting persons who speak out or discuss/disclose conduct believed to be illegal discrimination (including sexual assault and harassment), or waste, fraud or abuse (strengthening protections for whistleblowers), and to void and make unenforceable nondisclosure agreements (but for settlement amounts) and nondisparagement agreements (unless otherwise requested by the victim).
HB 2148: "A Know Your Rights Bill" to require employers to inform workers of their rights to file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Office of the Attorney General within 300 days after an alleged unlawful discriminatory practice occurred.
HB 2003: Employment Training and Education on sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, a bill to reduce legal costs, protect corporations from liability and workers from discrimination by mandating regular anti-harassment and workplace discrimination training across industries to cover all forms of unlawful discrimination. The appropriate state agency is to make available online courses for such training to employers on its public website at no charge.
SB 1136: Salary History Ban, a bill to prohibit a prospective employer from seeking the wage or salary history of a prospective employee. Relying on salary history to set future salary assumes that prior salaries were fairly established in the first place. Using salary histories, which may have been tainted by bias, means that discriminatory pay follows workers wherever they go, whatever their job, no matter their abilities. Curtailing this practice will go a long way in our fight for pay equity.
Protections for Child Abuse Victims
HB 2129: Protect Child Victims from Experiencing Further Trauma in the Courtroom A bill amending existing statute to permit testimony by child victims and witnesses under the age of eighteen to use two-way closed-circuit television if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, based upon expert opinion testimony, that the child will suffer at least moderate emotional or mental harm from so testifying in front of their alleged perpetrators, oftentimes someone known to them.
Women's Health and Safety
Coverage for reproductive health services in state medical assistance plan – This would include in the state plan for medical assistance services a provision for the payment of medical assistance for medically necessary reproductive health care service for eligible individuals.
The spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 and the attendant family disruption and economic losses have made it clear there is a great need for paid medical and family leave (long-term) and paid sick leave (short-term). The most vulnerable families are at risk. In one estimate, about 1.2 million Virginia private sector workers have no paid sick leave, most of whom are low-wage workers such as restaurant employees and housekeepers.
Paid Family and Medical Leave – We support establishing a fund at state level, run by the Employment Commission, with contributions by employers and employees.
Criminal Justice Reforms
Remove Mandatory Minimums: Originally touted as a tool to deter serious crime and eliminate sentencing disparities, mandatory minimum sentences have had no measurable impact on deterrence and have coincided with the mass incarceration of African American citizens.
HB 1391: Establish a Commission on Social Media to study and make recommendations on the impacts and harms to Virginians caused by social media platforms hosting or amplifying content that includes threats or suggestions of physical violence or danger.
SJ 255: Constitutional amendment; fundamental right to reproductive freedom (first reference).
SJ 242: Constitutional amendment; repeal of same-sex marriage prohibition (first reference).