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Virginia Latino Caucus Releases Crossover Update

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From the Virginia Latino Caucus:

Virginia Latino Caucus Releases Crossover Update

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Latino Caucus (VLC) wishes to highlight the status of its policy priorities at Crossover, the moment in session where the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates review bills that have passed in the opposite chamber.

VLC Co-Chairs Delegates Alfonso Lopez and Elizabeth Guzman remain committed to shepherding Latino priorities through the General Assembly, including support for English Language Learner (ELL) students, affordable healthcare, criminal justice reforms, support for New Americans, and aiding Virginia’s undocumented community.

Education

SB 1109, sponsored by Senator Hashmi, unanimously passed the Senate but unfortunately failed to pass the House Education Committee.  The bill would have created the College and Career Readiness for English Language Learners Grant Program and Fund to support ELL students as they prepare for postsecondary opportunities and careers. We are frustrated the House Republican majority did not allow this critical support for Virginia’s ELL students to pass.

SB 1118, sponsored by Senator Hashmi, unanimously passed the Senate but unfortunately failed to pass the House Education Committee. The bill would have established an English as a Second Language Incentive Reward Program and Fund to encourage Virginia public school teachers to obtain ESL endorsements. We are disappointed the House Republican majority voted down this common-sense support for Virginia’s ELL teachers.

SB 1325, sponsored by Senator McClellan, unanimously passed the Senate and has been referred to a House Appropriations subcommittee. The bill aims to increase the required number of specialized student support positions from at least three to at least four positions per 1,000 students. These positions include school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, licensed behavior analysts, licensed assistant behavior analysts, and other health and behavioral positions.

Health

SB 886, sponsored by Senator Surovell, passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Commerce and Energy Committee. The bill requires employers to provide paid sick leave to health care providers and grocery store workers.

SB 1327, sponsored by Senators McClellan and Ebbin, passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. It establishes a program to provide state-funded comprehensive health care coverage for people under 19 years of age regardless of immigration status.

HB 2147, sponsored by Delegate Guzman, unanimously passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. It creates a work group to study the process for including direct translations for prescriptions in languages other than English.

Immigration

HB 2056 and HB 2057, sponsored by Delegate Lopez, were stricken from the docket in their respective committees.

The first bill would have replaced the requirement of proof of citizenship to do business in the Commonwealth with proof of identity and confirmation of applicants’ current address. The second bill would have allowed undocumented immigrants (currently barred from accessing certain public benefits) to access them.

The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear how absurd it is to deny health benefits for a group of people in the Commonwealth. Indeed, a disease does not care if an individual is documented or not.

Although these bills did not pass this session, studies will be conducted to determine how to bring about these changes in a fashion that does not run afoul of federal regulations.

Criminal Justice

The VLC has taken an opposition stance on the following two bills.

HB 1365, sponsored by Delegate Williams, was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would repeal a 2021 law that ended presumptions against bail. We are heartened to learn that the Senate voted down this harmful legislation.

HB 1401, sponsored by Delegate March, was defeated in a General Laws subcommittee. The bill would have repealed the 2020 Community Policing Act that prohibits law-enforcement officers and State Police officers from engaging in bias-based profiling in the performance of their official duties. Bias-based policing has no place in the Commonwealth and we are pleased that the House voted down this bill.

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