From the Virginia Latino Caucus:
RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Latino Caucus (VLC) is pleased to share its legislative and policy agenda now that the 2024 General Assembly session is underway in Richmond.
VLC Members Delegates Alfonso López, Phil Hernández, Michelle Lopes Maldonado, and Marty Martínez are proud to highlight bills in the General Assembly this session that are important to our community.
“The VLC’s bill priorities will help benefit all Virginia families, not just Latinos and immigrants,” said Del. Alfonso López (D-Arlington). “By increasing funding for public education, making sure families can put food on the table, and expanding access to healthcare for ALL Virginia residents, we are showing that the Commonwealth is serious about listening to its residents’ concerns.”
“As a father to two children, it is extremely concerning to know that many Virginia families are struggling to balance childcare costs and other critical expenses,” said Del. Phil Hernández (D-Norfolk). “The bills included in this policy agenda, including my proposed improvements to the Child Care Subsidy Program, are effective first steps in ensuring the needs of Virginia families are met.”
“As the representative of a House District that is nearly 50% Latino, I am acutely aware of the need for the VLC’s bill priorities, such as increased funding for ELL education, to pass,” said Del. Lopes Maldonado (D-Manassas). “For too long, Virginia’s immigrant and ELL groups have had to navigate their local communities without the full support they need, and these bills and policy initiatives will help prepare them to be more integrated Virginia residents.”
“Alongside many other Virginia families, many of the Commonwealth’s Hispanic residents and families are struggling with housing and rental costs,” said Del. Marty Martínez (D-Leesburg). “A number of the bills contained in this VLC bill priority list will provide additional resources for tenants and strengthen protections in the landlord-tenant relationship.”
These bill priorities have been decided on after consulting with Latino and Latino-adjacent advocacy groups. It consists of a series of proposals supported by the VLC in the 2024 legislative session, focused centrally on reforms that will improve the economic, political, and social conditions of Latino Virginians and of marginalized communities across the Commonwealth. The following are the VLC’s policy priorities this session:
HB 211 (Martínez) – Changes from once every seven years to every two years the frequency with which the Department of Education is required to audit each education preparation program for compliance with relevant law relating to student coursework and mastery in science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction.
HB 386 (Hernández) – Increases the number of specialized student support positions required to be employed by each local school board from at least three to at least four such positions per 1,000 students in the local school division. Such specialized student support positions include school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, licensed behavior analysts, licensed assistant behavior analysts, and other licensed health and behavioral positions.
HB 1247/SB 272 (Lopes Maldonado/Hashmi) – Requires state funding to be provided to support divisionwide ratios of ELL students in average daily membership to full-time equivalent teaching positions. Current law requires state funding to be provided to support one teaching position per 50 ELL students, regardless of the identified English proficiency level of such students.
SB 227 (Hashmi) – Adjusts Standards of Quality (SoQ) funding calculations performed by the Department of Education.
SB 228 (Hashmi) – Requires state funding to be provided to cover the actual average school division cost to educate children with disabilities and a per-pupil SoQ funding add-on for English language learner (ELL) and special education students.
HB 192 (Martínez)- Establishes the Landlord and Tenant Fairness Act that requires any landlord who owns more than nine rental units or more than a 10 percent interest in more than nine rental units, whether individually or through a business entity, in the Commonwealth, to meet certain requirements with respect to the advertisement of any rental unit, the charging of application fees, and terms of rental agreements.
HB 955 (López) – Requires landlords (at the request of the tenant) to include a summary page with any written rental agreement offered to a prospective tenant in a language other than English in an area where that language is commonly used. The summary page shall include the duration of the lease, the amount of rent and the date upon which such rent shall be due, an explanation of any deposits and late fees that may be charged, and any termination provisions.
HB 957 (López) – Provides a rebuttable presumption of a landlord’s material noncompliance with the rental agreement if the leased premises was condemned by an appropriate authority due to the owner’s refusal or failure to fix a condition for which he was served a condemnation notice, unless such condition was caused by an act of God. The bill requires a court, when such rebuttable presumption is established, to award the tenant the amount of three months’ rent, any prepaid rent, and any security deposit paid by the tenant.
HB 970/SB 231 (Tran/Hashmi) – Establishes a health coverage program in Virginia available to children from low-income families regardless of immigration status.
HB 956/SB 332 (López/Salim) – Reduces from 12 months to 364 days the maximum term of confinement in jail for a Class 1 misdemeanor.
HB 962 (López) – 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 throughout the Code of Virginia.
HB 1 (Ward) – Increases the minimum wage from the current rate of $12.00 per hour to $13.50 per hour effective January 1, 2025, and to $15.00 per hour effective January 1, 2026.
HB 157 (McClure) – Eliminates the exemptions from Virginia’s minimum wage requirements for persons employed as farm laborers or farm employees and certain temporary foreign workers.
Taxes and Social Services
HB 407 (Hernández) – Provides that any family that receives public assistance through Medicaid or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children shall be deemed categorically eligible to receive assistance through the Child Care Subsidy Program.
HB 408 (Hernández) – Requires the Department of Education to periodically reimburse child care providers that are vendors through the Child Care Subsidy Program on the basis of authorized child enrollment but provides that if any such enrolled child is absent from the provider for 10 or more days during one month, the Department shall periodically reimburse such provider on the basis of such child’s attendance.
HB 621/SB 183 (Price/Rouse) – Allows eligible low-income taxpayers to claim a refundable income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the federal earned income tax credit claimed that year by the taxpayer for the same taxable year. The bill also states that individuals who would have been entitled to the federal equivalent of this credit but for the fact that the individual, the individual’s spouse, or one or more of the individual’s children does not have a valid social security number are eligible to claim this credit.
HB 969 (Tran) – Creates a tax credit for taxable years 2024 through 2028 for individuals whose households include dependents younger than the age of 18. The bill provides that the amount of the credit will be equal to $500 for each such dependent whose family Virginia adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed $100,000.
Public Safety and Judicial
HB 470 (Martínez) – Authorizes an attorney or guardian ad litem representing a minor, or a parent, guardian, or other representative of a minor, to file a petition for a child in need of services with the clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court. Under current law, such petitions are required to be filed with an intake officer and are prohibited from being filed directly with the clerk.
HB 972 (López) – Provides that no Virginia court shall inquire into the immigration status of any defendant unless such inquiry is relevant to the offense for which such defendant is being prosecuted. The bill requires that before the start of proceedings, Virginia courts shall advise any defendant that immigration consequences are possible if such defendant is convicted of a criminal violation of state or local law.
HB 1454/SB 246 (López/McPike) – Extends the validity of limited-duration licenses and driver privilege cards and permits to match the validity of driver’s licenses under current law.
The Virginia Latino Caucus (VLC) is the legislative caucus representing Virginia’s diverse Hispanic and Latino community in the Virginia General Assembly. The VLC’s mission is to advance legislation and policies in the General Assembly that will improve the lives of Latinos, New Americans, and other underrepresented communities across the Commonwealth. This email was sent out by Lopez for Delegate on behalf of the Virginia Latino Caucus.