From the Virginia Senate Democratic caucus:
SENATE DEMOCRATS’ CROSSOVER UPDATE
In 2019, your support helped us win a Democratic majority in the Virginia Senate. In 2020, we are hard at work delivering on our shared priorities: supporting Virginia’s working families, keeping Virginians safe, expanding voting rights, and preserving our Democratic values. As we mark the halfway point of this year’s legislative session, we wanted to give you an update of what Senate Democrats have accomplished so far.
Supporting Virginia’s Working Families
- Everyone deserves the dignity to provide for themselves and their family, and $7.25 is not a livable wage in 2020. SB 7, carried by Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax), puts Virginia on the path to a $15 minimum wage by the year 2025. Senator Saslaw also introduced SB 8, a measure that requires contractors and subcontractors under any public contract with a state agency to pay workers at the prevailing wage.
- Senator Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake) championed SB 48, a measure that protects employees from discrimination as a result of filing a complaint about nonpayment of wages. This bill passed the Senate unanimously.
- Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) presented SB 481, which requires public and private employers with 15 or more employees to provide employees with earned paid sick leave. When the unexpected happens, Virginians should not have to choose between taking the time they need to take care of themselves or a loved one or risk missing a day of pay.
Keeping Virginians Safe
- The first step to a safer Virginia is making sure that we keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. Senate President Pro Tempore L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) introduced SB 70, which requires a background check on all firearm purchases.
- Senator George Barker (D-Fairfax) introduced SB 240, which creates a procedure for an emergency substantial risk order to prohibit a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to themselves or others from possessing a firearm. Similar proposals — dubbed “Red Flag Laws” — have been very effective in other states at reducing gun-related violence.
- Senator Scott Surovell’s (D- Mount Vernon) SB 35 gives localities the authority to adopt ordinances to prohibit the possession or carrying of firearms in public spaces.
- Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke’s (D-Hampton) SB 69, which reinstates the one handgun a month law, prohibits any person who is not a licensed firearms dealer from purchasing more than one handgun in a month.
Expanding Voting Rights
- The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. Senate Democrats believe that all who are qualified to vote should be able to exercise that right without jumping through unnecessary hurdles. Senator Locke championed SB 65, a measure that removes the requirement that voters show photo ID in order to cast a ballot. This is an onerous barrier to the ballot box that disproportionately affects senior citizens’ ability to make their voices heard.
- Under current Virginia law, when a qualified voter is requesting to vote by absentee ballot, they must provide an excuse as to why they can’t vote in person on election day. Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) introduced SB 111, which allows any qualified voter to vote by absentee ballot without having to give an excuse.
Preserving Our Democratic Values
- For many years Senate Democrats have fought hard to protect a woman’s right to choose. We believe that decisions concerning a woman’s reproductive health should be between a woman and her medical professional, and not the government. Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) introduced SB 773, which removed requirement that a woman go through a medically unnecessary ultrasound before she can access an abortion. This measure removes the barrier between a woman and her constitutional right to choose.
- No Virginian should have to face discrimination for who they are and who they choose to love. Current Virginia law fails to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in housing and employment. Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) championed SB 23, which prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, credit, and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
This is just the beginning! Last November, Virginians sent a resounding message that they wanted a change in our Commonwealth. We listened, and we are committed to bringing that change. Thanks to your support, we are making a real impact on the lives of everyday Virginians.