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VA House Democrats Use Session to Protect Virginia’s Progress

"By contrast, Governor Youngkin and House Republicans catered to a vocal minority in their party’s base."

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From the VA House Democratic caucus:

House Democrats Use Session to Protect Virginia’s Progress

RICHMOND, VA—Today, the Virginia General Assembly concluded business for the 2022 Regular Session. House Democrats are proud of the progress they have continued to make in such areas as criminal justice, education, and equity, building on the growth and advancements made during the previous two years of Democratic majority.

“Our Democratic caucus has focused on legislation that will help working Virginians by improving access to quality affordable healthcare, strengthening public education for all children, protecting our environment, and more,” said House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn. “By contrast, Governor Youngkin and House Republicans catered to a vocal minority in their party’s base. Their relentless attacks on public education, clean air and water, affordable housing, and the accurate teaching of history are not what working families want as they recover from the pandemic.”

House Democrats fought Republican efforts to move Virginia backward. House Republicans introduced numerous bills aimed at undoing years of bipartisan work. Under Democratic Leadership Virginia was named the best state in the nation for business two years in a row and second best state in the nation for education. While there is still work to do, significant steps were made toward improving the Commonwealth’s standing for how workers are treated, welcoming all individuals and families, and making it easier for voters to cast their ballot. Protecting this progress was the primary goal of the House Democratic Caucus.

“In our two years of majority, House Democrats worked hard to unravel decades of harmful, discriminatory, and outright dangerous policies,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “From the start of this session, we set out to make sure Republicans couldn’t take us backward. I’m proud of the issues we fought for and grateful to our partners in the Virginia Senate for helping us to protect this crucial growth and progress.”

Unfortunately, key issues were blocked by Republicans, who chose to focus on satisfying a narrow political base and left the people of the Commonwealth without resolution or relief on matters such as automatic voting rights restoration, marriage equality, and the establishment of a legal retail marijuana market. Despite bipartisan support in previous years on these issues, legislation was killed in committee, never even making it to the House floor.

Now, Governor Youngkin has brought the budget process to a halt as he insists on keeping his failed agenda items in the budget despite the General Assembly and the people of Virginia rejecting them outright. By cutting public education funding and targeted tax relief for low-income families in favor of pet education projects and blanket tax rebates that put money back into his friends’ pockets, Youngkin and House Republicans are truly showing us their priorities.

The House Democrats look forward to the governor calling soon for a special session and getting back to work fighting for Virginia’s families.

Issues addressed by House Democrats in legislation during the 2022 Regular Session:
Protecting Our History and Our Environment – House Democrats know the unique gifts we have been given and take seriously the responsibility we bear in preserving and protecting them.

  • Recognizing and Preserving Virginia’s History
    • HB139 (McQuinn) Extends from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2024, the expiration of the Commission to Study Slavery and Subsequent De Jure and De Facto Racial and Economic Discrimination Against African Americans.
    • HB141 (McQuinn) Establishes the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Historic Preservation Fund to award grants to recognized Indian tribes, private nonprofit organizations, and localities to acquire land or permanent protective interest therein, and of undertaking preservation activities on such land, that is of cultural or historic significance to Black, indigenous, or people of color communities.
    • HB891 (Lopez) Removes the term “alien” as it pertains to persons who are not citizens or nationals of the United States and replaces it with synonymous language, as appropriate, throughout the Code of Virginia.
  • Protecting Virginia’s Natural Resources & Coastline
    • HB443 (Bulova) Gives park authorities created by a locality the authority to locate, operate, regulate the use of, and install signage relating to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on property under its jurisdiction.
    • HB516 (Bulova) Implements recommendations from the first Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan.
    • HB517 (Bulova) Clarifies the designation and role of the Chief Resilience Officer, moves the CRO from the Sec. of Public Safety and Homeland Security to the Sec. of Natural and Historic Resources, and adds provisions related to the CRO’s role in creating and overseeing the implementation of a Virginia Flood Protection Master Plan and a Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan.
    • HB1309 (Bulova) Creates the Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund.

Creating Equity in Opportunity – House Democrats have fought hard to make sure that all Virginians have the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they live, who they love, or who they are. Everyone deserves to have access to the resources they need to support themselves and their families.

  • Respecting the Dignity of All Virginians
    • HB397 (Sullivan) Modifies the formula for compensating wrongfully incarcerated persons to equal $55,000 per year of incarceration, adjusted for inflation.
    • HB614 (Bourne) Removes the requirement for an indigent defendant, as defined in the bill, to post an appeal bond in an unlawful detainer action appealed from the general district court.
    • HB1281 (Glass) Prohibits law-enforcement officers from using inauthentic replica documents during a custodial interrogation to secure a person’s cooperation or confession or to secure a conviction.
    • HB573 (Clark) Sets statute of limitation for medical debt at 3 years.
    • HB820 (Torian) Requires the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity to conduct a disparity study every five years.
    • HB1265 (Subramanyam) Directs DHCD to develop a plan, to be known as the Commonwealth Digital Affordability and Cost Effectiveness Plan, to access federal infrastructure funding for a broadband affordability program.
    • HB802 (Price) Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; enforcement by localities.
    • HB718 (Filler-Corn) Requires the Workforce Development Board to evaluate current apprenticeship programs and provide recommendations to establish a central office for apprenticeships.
  • Preparing Our Children for the World
    • HB389 (Bulova) Provides and enhances access to early childhood education and the child care subsidy program.
    • HB649 (Carr) Provides language development and assessment resources for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
    • HB1023 (Guzman) Permits family life education curricula to include optional age-appropriate instruction on human trafficking of children.
    • HB1026 (Guzman) Creates the Digital Citizenship, Internet Safety, and Media Literacy Advisory Council under the purview of the Board of Education to develop a model policy for local school boards that would enable such school boards to better support digital citizenship, Internet safety, and media literacy.
    • HB582 (Roem) Requires each public institution of higher education to ensure that all students have access to accurate information about SNAP.

Protecting All Virginians – Keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe and empowering those who have already been victimized must be a priority.

  • Securing Quality, Affordable Health Care for All
    • HB642 (Carr) Health care coverage; premium payments for certain service members.
    • HB481 (Helmer) Hospitals; price transparency.
    • HB646 (Carr) Nursing homes; standards of care and staff requirements, regulations.
    • HB717 (Filler-Corn) Unaccompanied homeless youths; consent for housing services.
  • Preventing Tragedy and Protecting Victims’ Rights
    • HB258 (Simonds) Directs DCJS to develop online training (or approve existing training done by hotel chains) for hotel employees to recognize and report instances of suspected human trafficking.
    • HB451 (Bennett-Parker) Allows a person to be prosecuted for stalking in the jurisdiction where the person at whom the stalking conduct is directed resides or resided at the time of receiving a communication.
    • HB719 (Filler-Corn) Eliminates exemptions for the storage of physical evidence recovery kits (PERKs), sets a standard for 10 years for all kits and enhances victim notification requirements.
    • HB623 (Hudson) Amends the appointment of guardian ad litem to establish that it is the duty of a guardian ad litem to notify the court as soon as practicable if the respondent requests counsel regardless of whether the guardian ad litem recommends counsel.
    • HB634 (Roem) Directs DARS to convene a work group to review and evaluate guardianship visitation requirements.
    • HB525 (Murphy) Creates comprehensive statewide anti-hazing mandates within public and private  higher education institutions.
    • HB1306 (Simon) Makes selling, possessing or giving firearms with a removed or altered illegal.
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