Democratic majority making Virginians cry happy tears!

Democratic majority making Virginians cry happy tears!
Democratic majority making Virginians cry happy tears
Democratic majority making Virginians cry happy tears!
Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Newsletter
February 7, 2020

It’s so great to watch the Democratic majority moving legislation along through the House and Senate that is so meaningful and so long-overdue, to help ordinary Virginians live better, safer, and more prosperous lives. Sometimes it gets emotional, as you’ll see below!

Check out the phenomenal work that was accomplished just this week:

Legislative Update

Driver’s Licenses for All brings tears of joy!
  • HB1211 (Tran-HD42) to remove the citizenship requirement for the issuance of a driver’s license was heard in House Transportation subcommittees and committees. The bill is now in a House Appropriations subcommittee, due to be heard today.
  • One woman heart-breakingly testified that in 2014, she went into labor and couldn’t drive to the hospital because she and her ex-husband didn’t have driver’s licenses, and by the time she found someone to take her to the hospital hours later, she lost her baby.
  • In the Senate, there was some reluctance in the Transportation Committee to pass a true driver’s license for all bill, SB643 (Boysko-SD33), with some Senators only willing to support a driver’s privilege card, which is a more temporary form of identification for driving, requires proof of Virginia income taxes paid, and which is differentiable from a license. This was the option in SB34 (Surovell-SD36)
  • In a deft maneuver, Senators Boysko and Surovell agreed to incorporate Boysko’s bill into Surovell’s as a substitute, so that the Finance Committee it would be sent to next would be able to vote first on whether to accept the substitute (driver’s license instead of privilege card) and then whether to report a bill. That way, the bill wouldn’t die just because the patrons gambled on the more progressive version.
  • The Senate Finance Committee voted to report the driver’s license version of the bill to the floor. The room, completely filled with advocates from CASA in Action and VACOLAO, erupted into tears of joy. This is truly impactful legislation that has failed year after year under the Republican majority, and seems on its way to passage now.
Democrats take on climate change

The process has been a little murky, but some fairly substantive bills to move Virginia off fossil fuels and switch to clean power and to reduce energy consumption, are finally sailing through the House and the Senate.

  • The Solar Freedom bill to remove certain obstacles to the adoption of rooftop solar projects, which died last year in both chambers on party-line votes, has now passed out of Labor/Commerce committees in both chambers and is on the floor for a vote soon. (HB572 Keam-HD35, with Simon-HD53 rolled in; and SB710 McClellan-SD9) 
  • HD77 the Virginia Green New Deal (Rasoul-HD11) to halt all future fossil fuel projects, and to replace 80% of retail electric with renewables by 2028, reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee on a party-line vote, and is next to be voted on in House Appropriations.
  • The Virginia Clean Economy Act (HB1526 Sullivan-HD48; and SB851 McClellan-SD9) is a sweeping plan to create a mandatory renewables portfolio standard that requires all retail electric to come from renewables by 2045, creates an efficiency standard reducing demand by up to 2% each year, declares a substantial offshore wind investment to be in the public interest, and requires the SCC to consider the carbon effects of any future energy projects. 
    • Amendments and substitutions were forthcoming up to the 11th hour, while negotiations continued behind the scenes between the various stakeholders (i.e. renewables industry leaders, industrial utility consumers, Dominion and Appalachian utilities, and environmental organizations).
      • Finally, a version reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee. In the Senate, there was some frustration from Senator Spruill that the bill was reported out of the Energy Subcommittee he chaired, but changed again before the full committee met. The bill is expected to be taken up in full committee on a Sunday afternoon special extra meeting. 
      …and more good work for Virginians
      • Public worker collective bargaining: Virginia is one of only THREE states in the nation that do not allow public workers to collectively bargain. HB582 (Guzman-HD31 with Levine-HD45 rolled in) to allow them to do just that, passed the House floor on a party-line vote. In the Senate, a similar bill SB939 (Saslaw-SD35 with Boysko-SD33 rolled in) has advanced to the floor. 
      • Virginia Values Act: This long overdue legislation (HB1663 Sickles-HD43, incorporating elements from a number of other Delegates; and SB868 Ebbin-SD30 incorporating elements from other Senators) provides legal protections in employment, credit, housing, and public accommodations for people who might otherwise be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
      • Assault weapons ban: Just this morning, the House Public Safety Committee reported out HB961 (Levine-HD45) prohibiting the sale and restricting the transfer of assault weapons, and restricting trigger activators, silencers, and high-capacity magazines. The testimony was very heated and emotional, and after the vote, the room had to be cleared by the Capitol Police for everyone’s safety.
      • Lee-Jackson Day no more: HB108 (Lindsey-HD90) to eliminate Lee-Jackson Day and add an Election Day public holiday in its place passed the House with just a handful of Republican votes in favor. SB801 (Lucas-SD18) passed the Senate on a party-line vote.
      • Redistricting progress: The Senate reported SB203 (Lucas-SD18), the enabling legislation for the Redistricting Constitutional Amendment to the floor, as well as the Redistricting Amendment itself, SB236 (Barker-SD39 with others incorporated) and SB717 (McClellan-SD9) to set the criteria by which the commission draws districts, including counting incarcerated persons at their last residential address, rather than the prison. The House is taking a more careful approach, holding the vote on the Amendment itself until after criteria (HB1255 Price-HD95) and enabling legislation (HB758 VanValkenburg-HD72 with Price-HD95 rolled in) as well as alternative legislative solutions (HB1256 Price-HD95) have been thoroughly discussed and advanced as far as possible.
      • Voter ID law repeal: SB65 (Locke-SD2) to repeal Virginia’s law requiring voters present a photo ID to vote, passed the Senate on a party-line vote, following a nasty exchange between the patron and Senator Obenshain, who wanted to interrupt her to whitesplain to her why it wasn’t a racist law. HB19 (Lindsey-HB90) has passed out of committee and will be heard on the floor.

      If any of the above bills are important to you, now is the time to contact your legislators and tell them how this bill affects you and your family. Contact information for Delegates and Senators can be found HERE; if you aren’t sure who represents you, put your address in HERE to find out.

      Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network

      PO Box 2612, Merrifield
      Virginia 22116-2612 United States

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