General Assembly Legislative Session Roundup Part 2
We’re sending our compliments to the chefs in the General Assembly who’ve been cooking up all sorts of progress for the Commonwealth! Our mouths are watering as we’re waiting for the Governor to put his pen on progressive bills so they can become law. There’s just so much good happening in Virginia that we’re blowing *chef kisses* out the wazoo over here.
Dismantling White Supremacy Bit By Bit
Virginia is the first in the South to declare racism a public health crisis. Racism keeps people from getting adequate housing, education, and employment and that affects people’s health.This bill from Delegate Lashresce Aird deserves a category of its own because declaring racism a public health crisis will help us allocate the resources necessary to tackle systemic injustice.
And another thing that’s racist…pretrial detention. People are stuck in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay cash bail. It’s no secret that Black and Brown people are criminalized and sent to jail at a disproportionate rate compared to white people. It’s also no surprise that there’s little information about people who are held in pretrial detention in Virginia, so the General Assembly approved legislation that will collect data on those numbers. Armed with that info, we can make a good argument for getting rid of cash bail next legislative session.
Virginia Welcomes Everyone
Did you know that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sells your information to 3rd party vendors? Even worse, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) can get the personal information of undocumented drivers from the DMV without a warrant and use it to detain and deport people. Thanks to pressure from Virginia’s immigrant community, the General Assembly passed legislation so the DMV won’t be able to give away your information willy nilly and ICE won’t be able to access immigrants’ private data without a warrant.
On top of protecting private information at the DMV, the legislature also made it possible for undocumented to access financial aid. Pursuing higher education should be affordable to ALL Virginia residents and undocumented students shouldn’t be locked out from getting financial aid.
Also, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and neither should Medicaid. The General Assembly approved legislation that would make emergency Medicaid cover COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and treatment regardless of immigration status!
Virginia Is Getting Better For Workers
No one is surprised that the Commonwealth is the worst state for workers’ rights. It’s time to change that in Virginia, and make sure that all workers in the Commonwealth have safe and dignified employment. This session, lawmakers passed legislation requiring paid sick days for home healthcare workers. For being on the frontlines of the pandemic, home healthcare workers certainly need to know they can take time off from work without worrying about how it will affect their paychecks. Also, we are first in the South (again) to pass a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which ensures that all domestic workers are included in all existing Virginia worker protections.
No Longer the Dirty South
We keep making strides in protecting our environment in the Commonwealth! Lawmakers approved bills that would end coal tax credits that encourage coal production and coal use. Coal is so last century. It’s time we incentivize renewable energy production instead of dirty coal! We’re banning the use of styrofoam containers by 2025 because those things don’t decompose. And finally, Virginia continues to build on its Environmental Justice Act of 2020 by integrating environmental justice throughout state agencies to ensure impacted communities are properly identified in permitting processes and have mandated influence over infrastructure siting and permitting decisions.
That’s a lot of progress to take in all at once, but the fight for a Commonwealth where everyone is thriving isn’t over! Now’s not the time to rest on our laurels, however, we have an election coming up where all statewide offices and House of Delegates seats are up, so we need you to stay tuned in for that! There’s a million things our Commonwealth hasn’t done, just you wait!