Virginia NOW - Achieving Equality Through Targeted Legislative and Political Action
Our 2021 legislative priorities
Criminal Justice Reforms
Shift School Resource Officer (SRO) Funding, Invest in Student Success – Virginia incentivizes unnecessary school policing and criminalization of ordinary student behavior with grants for School Resource Officers (SRO) and School Security Officers. We support budget amendments (introduced by Delegate Kory) to shift $4.7 million in federal grant funds from SROs to school counselors. This would help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.
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. Bill # pending
Expunge Criminal Records in Certain Cases - Virginia has some of the most restrictive expungement laws in the country. The refusal to allow those who are involved in Virginia’s justice system to move on with their lives is needlessly cruel and one of the most invidious sources of racial disparities. HB 2113, HB 2133
Drug Policy Reform - Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by marijuana convictions that remove a parent and wage earner from the home and community and penalize women who are accessories. We support studying potential regulatory models for legal sales. HB1815 Legalization and Taxation of Marijuana
Economic Justice for Women and Families
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. HB2016, SB 1330
Paid Sick Leave – We support emergency paid sick leave for COVID-19 related illness. This would require two weeks of sick time for COVID-19 purposes. HB2137
TANF Reform - TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the welfare program) reserves should be used immediately to increase monthly cash assistance to families in the program and pass legislation to increase cash assistance yearly. Also, we support: expanding the number of people eligible, suspending work requirements, freezing lifetime use limits, automatically recertifying all recipients, basing eligibility on expected income rather than previous income, and allowing childless adults to sign up, at least during the crisis. HB 1820
Domestic Service Workers Bill of Rights - – Domestic workers - predominantly women of color - have suffered some of the worst economic consequences of the pandemic. More than 90% of Spanish-speaking domestic workers lost their jobs, and 75% of all domestic workers did not receive compensation when their jobs were canceled. This bill provides that individuals engaged in domestic service will not be excluded from employee protection laws and removes all exemptions from the Virginia Minimum Wage Act. HB 1730
Women's Health and Safety
Essential Health Benefits, Abortion - This bill would remove the prohibition on coverage for abortions in any qualified health insurance plan offered on the health benefits exchange. HB1896, SB1276
Medical assistance; coverage for reproductive health services – This bill 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. HB 1922