WLRT Pre-Session: All In for All Issues

Martha Rollins, LWVSHR

LWV-VA President Deb Wake quickly summarized the overall message of our day of legislative issues for the upcoming General Assembly: “Public Education!” With great resolve she added, “We must get this information out.”

A record-breaking number of about 150 League members and allies met on December 4, 2019, at The John Marshall Hotel Ballroom in Richmond to grasp the array of topics for legislative action. The enthusiasm reflected the high voter turnout of the off-off-year election of the General Assembly—the members who will act on decennial redistricting.

The Pre-Session edition of the Women’s Legislative Roundtable (WLRT) continued the tradition of leading with a report of the fiscal framework. Current Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne delivered a positive report for revenue that he labeled “cautiously optimistic.” He explained that Virginia was responsive to defense spending of the federal government and finally shows benefit from the lifting of sequestration. He acknowledged high consumer confidence. He commented that 2.6% was the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia history. Secretary Layne also expressed concern for the impact of mandated expenditures, particularly the impact of Medicaid. Without upstaging the release of the Governor’s budget on December 17, Secretary Layne anticipated significant “investment” in K-12 education and higher education, as well as attention to mental health services. He also raised expectations for change in the process of the legislative branch because of new leadership and a substantial number of newly elected members in the committee structure. 

The Issues Slam began with Edgar Arando Yanoc’s pitch on behalf of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations that our roads would be safer if driver’s licenses were issued to all drivers, including undocumented drivers. Kim Bobo of the Interfaith Center called for paid sick days for low-wage workers. Commenting that because she spends so much time in front of the Commerce and Labor Committees, she predicts passage of the modest proposal being developed by Senator Barbara Favola. Bobo noted that Virginia could be the first state in the South to support the paid leave issue. The Interfaith Center’s message to increase the minimum wage was echoed by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. Chris Duncombe said that Virginia’s minimum was the lowest comparable in the country and that over a million people would benefit.

[CONTINUE READING FROM NEWSLETTER ARTICLE HERE]

The pace of presentations roared through housing and human equality to pro-choice protection. Then Brian Koziol of the Virginia Housing Alliance noted that League legislative priorities lacked housing provisions but listed components that impacted housing, especially education and non-discrimination. LWV-VA Chair of the affordable housing study, Alice Tousignant, caught up with Koziol at the first break.

Andy Goddard, a loyal advocate for gun safety since the violence at Virginia Tech in 2007, represented the Virginia Center for Public Safety. In a carefully nuanced message, Goddard quoted a passage from Justice Antonin Scalia in the US Supreme Court decision in Heller, in support of reasonable regulation of firearms. Goddard urged support for the eight bills submitted by the administration and characterized the bills as common-sense measures that have shown a reduction of gun violence in other states. Goddard will meet safety supporters on January 20 on the steps of the Capitol at 2 P.M.

Brian Cannon of OneVirginia2021 & Deb Wake, President LWV-VA

Brian Cannon of OneVirginia2021 & Deb Wake, President LWV-VA

Brian Cannon of OneVirginia2021 & Deb Wake, President LWV-VA

As the speakers’ lineup reached the last third, Susan Burk of the American Association of University Women, commented that she felt as though she was “speed dating with policy wonks.” Danny Plaugher from the Virginia Transit Association packed the most information of the day into one message. Overall, he called for sustainable funding. Brian Cannon of OneVA2021 raised the cheering level in the ballroom to celebrate how far the fair redistricting proposal has come and he carefully outlined the steps remaining, including passage of a constitutional amendment establishing a commission, criteria legislation, and ratification at the ballot box in the 2020 general election on November 3.

In the home stretch, Katie Hornung, VAratifyERA. rocked the ballroom. Everyone knew what she would say, and she did. In the 100th Anniversary Year of gaining the right of women to vote, the Equal Rights Amendment will be ratified by Virginia, the 38th state to ratify, and the last state necessary for ratification. Hornung instructed all to contact their delegates and senators by January 1st. She invited all to the Capitol to welcome the Assembly on January 8 and to participate in the Women’s Summit, Welcome Lineup, and Party for Parity.

Key reports on election process came from Allison Robbins, President of the Voter Registrars of Virginia; Megan Rhyne, Virginia Coalition for Open Government (VCOG); and Chris Piper, Commissioner of Elections. Rhyne recognized the role of the League in the founding of VCOG. She acknowledged that “WE ARE STILL WATCHING.”

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU), delivered a vigorous account of the importance of our fundamental right to vote. She noted that Virginia ranked second in a recent university study as the hardest state in which to vote. She explained that the best way to overcome disenfranchisement of people convicted of a felony is to adopt a state constitutional amendment. The ACLU is developing tool kits to mobilize PeoplePower to remove arbitrary barriers to voting. She reviewed the Reconstruction to Jim Crow legacy of voting in Virginia with multiple examples. She fielded questions with a clear vision of effective engagement in the upcoming legislative session.

LWV-VA’s Advocacy team sent us homeward with the League’s priority list for legislation and the schedule for 8:30 A.M. Wednesday morning sessions of WLRT at SunTrust Center. The team reminded us to stay connected: Julia Tanner, Advocacy; Carol Noggle and Mary Crutchfield, Legislative Coordinators; and Carolyn Caywood, Facebook.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU)

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Dec 30, 2019 Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting

Now is the time to add your voice for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The League of Women Voters of the U.S. supports the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), as set forth in this letter.

Please contact your lawmakers now for the ERA.

🔸 Virginia legislation: HJ 1, SJ 1, & SJ 5

🔸 Questions? See the U.S. League letter

🔸 Newly elected legislator? See “Special Cases” below

🔸 All others, click here to support the ERA

Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support the ERA this session. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address. You can point out:

  • Virginia General Assembly bills for ratification of the ERA are HJ 1 and SJ 1.
  • 80% of Virginia’s registered voters support ratification, according to a poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy, https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/surveys/2019-12-16/
  • The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee equal rights without discrimination based on sex. The Equal Rights Amendment will help ensure that the government discriminates based on sex only when it has compelling reasons. As stated by the American Bar Association, this will “assure that gender equality is recognized as a fundamental, irrevocable right protected by the highest law of the land.”
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January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Perspective by: Jill Follows,
LWVFA and UN Observer LWVUS

One year ago, a U.S. Presidential Proclamation declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Proclamation called on all of us to raise awareness of the need to end all modern forms of slavery. “As a Nation, we cherish and uphold the notion that all people are created with inherent dignity and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Human trafficking and enslavement robs victims of these God-given endowments.” Read the full text here. 

The Presidential Proclamation is a ceremonial announcement of a policy and does not have the force of law. As with many policies, the title of the Proclamation is suitable and the text requires scrutiny, if only to crystallize the facts and appreciate diverse perspectives. The perspectives of the United Nations, LWVUS and the Commonwealth of Virginia vis a vis human trafficking are presented in this article.

The Title of the Presidential Proclamation is Suitable: On the first anniversary of the Proclamation, it is appropriate that the Virginia League of Women Voters recommit itself to raise awareness of and support steps to combat human trafficking within our own state and national borders. Estimates are that human traffickers exploit 77% of victims within the borders of their own country.  People do not have to move across international borders to be exploited by human traffickers. Indeed, the vast majority of trafficked persons do not move across such borders. 

Tackling the scourge of human trafficking in the “hot spot” known as the Metro DC region has been a priority initiative of the Virginia LWV. Previous League reports of studies on human trafficking noted that women and teens are disproportionately affected. 

The Position of the National League on Human Trafficking: “The League of Women Voters opposes all forms of domestic and international human trafficking of adults and children, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking. We consider human trafficking to be a form of modern-day slavery and believe that every measure should be taken and every effort should be made through legislation and changes in public policy to prevent human trafficking. Prosecution and penalization of traffickers and abusers should be established, and existing laws should be strictly enforced. Extensive essential services for victims should be applied where needed. Education and awareness programs on human trafficking should be established in our communities and in our schools.”

Human Trafficking Hotline

 [CONTINUED FROM NEWSLETTER]

The Perspective of the Virginia State Crime Commission and Virginia General Assembly on Combatting Sex Trafficking: The Virginia State Crime Commission (Commission) tackled the plague of human trafficking a year ago. In January 2019 the Commission concluded that Virginia needed to address the root causes of sex trafficking, identify at-risk youth, increase awareness and education and training across relevant professions and reduce the demand for commercial sex trafficking. The Commission endorsed 11 recommendations to combat sex trafficking. The following six recommendations were enacted during the Regular Session of the 2019 General Assembly:

  • allow the Department of Social Services to take emergency custody of children who are victims of sex trafficking; 
  • authorize charging sex traffickers for each individual act of commercial sex trafficking; 
  • increase penalties for aiding in prostitution and using a vehicle to promote prostitution when the victim is a minor;
  • create a statewide Sex Trafficking Response Coordinator position; 
  • create a fund to promote training and education awareness related to sex trafficking; 
  • allow juvenile victims to testify via two-way closed-circuit television

The Perspective of the United Nations on Combatting Human Trafficking- Scrutiny of the Text of the Presidential Proclamation: The UN perspective is premised on two fundamental principles: (1) human rights are at the center of all efforts to combat trafficking AND (2) anti-trafficking measures should not adversely impact the human rights and dignity of the persons trafficked.

In stark contrast to the Presidential Proclamation that persons receive God-given endowments of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the United Nations makes it clear that human rights are inalienable rights. People are not endowed by God with rights or granted rights by anyone or any entity. The UN leaves no space for discriminatory language that restricts human rights protections to trafficked persons based on their personal belief in God, creed, race, age, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship status, nationality, ethnicity or class.

The Proclamation’s claim that the construction of a physical wall at the southern border of the USA will stop human trafficking belies the fact that 77% of human traffickers operate within a country’s borders. The United Nations clearly articulates that basic human rights do not discriminate against persons based on nationality or citizenship status.

The UN also highlights the fact that women and children are disproportionately traumatized by human trafficking. Any failure to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of human trafficking on women and children miscalculates and minimizes the facts and may adversely impact their lives and livelihoods.

In 2004, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (the precursor to today’s Human Rights Council) threw its support behind the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons; in 2017, the mandate was extended three more years. The Special Rapporteur’s primary mandate is to focus on the human rights of the victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children and “take(s) action on violations committed against trafficked persons and on situations in which there has been a failure to protect their human rights.”  The Special Rapporteur identified the PILLARS of human rights-based response to trafficking with the catchy mnemonic known informally as the “5P’s and 3 R’s: Protection; Prosecution; Punishment; Prevention; Promotion AND Redress; Rehabilitation; Reintegration.

  • Protection-the rapid identification and protection of victims of trafficking;
  • Prosecution-State Parties must investigate and prosecute allegations of trafficking;
  • Punishment-sanctions should subject responsible traffickers to effective and dissuasive punishment;
  • Prevention-recognize the causes of trafficking and implementing positive measures to stop future acts;
  • Promotion of international cooperation-human trafficking does not recognize geographic borders.
  • Redress- State Parties shall compensate the lost income of victims from the proceeds of traffickers;
  • Rehabilitation-restore the victim’s status and position in the eyes of the law and in the community;
  • Reintegration of Victims into Society-show respect for the repatriated individual’s rights, including their right to privacy and right not to be discriminated against.

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Trafficking/FirsDecadeSRon_%20trafficking.pdf

The United Nations has a History of Advancing Human Rights of Trafficked Persons. Two of the more recent and relevant UN human rights instruments are highlighted.

First, the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (Convention) entered into force in July 1951. It focuses on the punishment and prosecution of traffickers and social measures in aid to the trafficked persons. The Preamble to the Convention lists the already existing instruments, dating back to 1904, targeting the suppression of traffic in women in children. In doing so, the Convention acknowledged the historic and horrific impact of trafficking on women and children. Some Articles in the Convention called on the Parties to the Convention to address specifically the needs of trafficked women and children. For example:

Article 17(1): “To make such regulations as are necessary for the protection of immigrants or emigrants, and in particular, women and children, both at the places of arrival and departure and while en route.”

Article 20: “The Parties to the present Convention shall, if they have not already done so, take the necessary measures for the supervision of employment agencies in order to prevent persons seeking employment, in particular women and children, from being exposed to the danger of prostitution.”

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/TrafficInPersons.aspx

The United States is not a Party to this Convention. https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=VII-11-a&chapter=7&clang=_en

The second recent and relevant UN human rights instrument is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (Protocol.) (November 2000) The Preamble and General Provisions of this Protocol place the plight of trafficked women and children at the center of its approach and calls on all Parties to protect their internationally recognized human rights.

The second section of the Protocol sets forth the means by which governments shall protect the victims of trafficking, such as protecting the victim’s privacy and physical safety and assisting the victim with court proceedings, housing, counseling, medical and psychological and material assistance, employment, education, and training opportunities. There are also provisions dealing with the repatriation of victims of trafficking. (Articles 6-8)

The third section of the Protocol sets forth the measures by which governments shall prevent trafficking. The Protocol calls on governments to cooperate with non-governmental organizations to strengthen measures that will reduce poverty and increase opportunities for trafficked persons, especially women and children. (Articles 9-13)

The final section of the Protocol addresses the procedural mechanisms for settling disputes between State Parties and the ratification process for the Protocol. Of particular note is the non-discrimination language in the text. Article 14 (2) states: The measures set forth in this Protocol shall be interpreted and applied in a way this is not discriminatory to persons on the ground that they are victims of trafficking in persons. The interpretation and application of those measures shall be consistent with internationally recognized principles on non-discrimination. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ProtocolTraffickingInPersons.aspx

The United States is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime with respect to the offenses established in the trafficking Protocol. https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XVIII-12-a&chapter=18&clang=_en#EndDec

In Support of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month: It is vital to the health and welfare of victims of human trafficking, especially women and children, that the League continue to raise awareness of human rights and the Commonwealth’s initiatives to combat human trafficking.

 

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Connecting the Dots: The Link between Poverty and Affordable Housing

Alice Tousignant, LWV-VA Housing Study Chair

People who wait on you at restaurants and care for seniors and people with disabilities earn about $9.50 per hour, while those who clean stores and offices pull in $11.50 and those who assist teachers make $12.50 an hour. All of these workers are considered very low income using the statewide income limits for Virginia for a one-person household– $31,000. What can they afford for rent? Housing is considered affordable if you don’t spend more than 30% of your income on it.

Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) releases its Out of Reach (OOR) report, which documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the US. In order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in Virginia, you would need to work 109 hours per week at the State’s minimum wage of $7.25. The average US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia is $1,025 per month. In order to afford this rent, you must earn $19.70 an hour or $40,981 a year. None of the workers mentioned above could afford the average one-bedroom apartment in Virginia. These numbers differ substantially depending on where you live in Virginia: Arlington – $1,454, Richmond City – $932, Blacksburg – $759, and Giles County – $529 for a one-bedroom apartment. To obtain data specifically for your area, click here, scroll to Jurisdictions, and plug in your city or county.

If you pay more than 30% of your income on housing, you are considered cost-burdened. The lower your income, the higher the cost burden, making it difficult for persons earning low wages or those on fixed incomes to pay for basic necessities such as food, medicine, and transportation. While the very low-income earners mentioned above would pay more than 30% of their income on rent, 69% of extremely low-income households ($18, 650 annually for a one-person household) pay more than 50% of their income for housing according to the NLIHC.

[CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE HERE]

Extremely low-income people have the most difficult time finding available and affordable housing in Virginia. NLIHC also publishes a GAP report showing the shortage of affordable homes in the US. This report shows that there are only 36 available and affordable rental units for every 100 extremely low-income households in Virginia.

While an increase in the minimum wage would certainly help remedy some of this housing problem, it is not the only answer, especially for low wage earners and for those on fixed incomes such as Supplemental Security Income, which is currently $771 monthly.

What are the most effective solutions to this housing shortage? One answer is the State-funded Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF) which provides low-interest loans to preserve and build housing as well as homeless reduction grants. Since its inception in 2014, the VHTF has provided over $26 million to create/preserve over 3,000 units of affordable housing with approximately 67% of these rental units for very low-income households.

In his budget, Governor Northam has proposed a large increase for the VHTF with $84 million over the next three years. The General Assembly will take up this recommendation when they convene in January for their 2020 session. These funds would go a long way to creating housing for Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens. Since the LWV-VA does not yet have a position on affordable housing, the League cannot take a formal position on supporting this budget item. (The Affordable Housing Study Committee is working on this issue which we hope will culminate in a State housing position at the 2021 League Convention.) In the meantime, if you feel this issue is important, you are encouraged to personally advocate with your legislators in the General Assembly. For more information on the Affordable Housing Study, please contact Alice Tousignant.

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The time is now for People-Powered Fair Maps©!

Chris DeRosa
Co-chair LWV-VA Redistricting Committee

In the next 3 months, the Virginia General Assembly will have the opportunity to take a huge step towards ending gerrymandering in the Commonwealth. We are very close!

Gerrymandering rigs the system. It robs the citizens of fair representation. It allows legislators to draw maps to protect their own seats. It allows them to choose their voters, rather than the voters choosing their representatives. Gerrymandering is voter suppression and must end now.

In 2019, the General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 306, a constitutional amendment*, with strong bipartisan support. The General Assembly must pass the constitutional amendment once again, in its entirety, with nary a comma nor word substituted or deleted, in the 2020 session before it comes to the voters for approval in November 2020. Once Virginia voters approve the constitutional amendment at the polls, it will set the stage for the drawing of fair maps in 2021 after the 2020 census. According to the recent Wason Center Poll conducted by Christopher Newport University, 70% of Virginians support passing the constitutional amendment a second time.

The constitutional amendment may not be perfect; few, if any, bills or amendments are. However, there are many important features that merit our approval:

  • For the first time, citizens will serve on the commission that draws the maps. Eight members of the sixteen-member commission will be non-politicians. One of the citizen-members will serve as the commission chair. A super-majority of at least 6 (of 8) citizen members plus 6 (of 8) legislator members must approve the maps that are drawn.
  • For the first time, transparency will be required of the commission and its decisions. Redistricting decisions will be brought out into the light, not hidden away in dark, secret backrooms. All meetings shall be open to the public, and at least three public hearings must be held in different parts of the Commonwealth. All records, documents, and internal and external communications shall be available to the public. 
  • The maps drawn by the commission will be submitted to the General Assembly, which will vote “yea” or “nay”; the General Assembly may not amend the maps.

[CONTINUED FROM NEWSLETTER]

Criteria contained in the amendment include “contiguous and compact territory” and “representation in proportion to the population of the district”. Maps must be “drawn in accordance with the requirements of federal and state laws that address racial and ethnic fairness, including the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment … and provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” The maps shall provide “opportunities for racial and ethnic communities to elect candidates of their choice.” (note: bolded quotations are the new language that would be added to Article II, Section 6, of the Virginia Constitution). These requirements will be protected and enshrined in the Constitution and cannot be easily changed when political leadership changes.

Enabling legislation that clearly defines the criteria is necessary. The League of Women Voters of Virginia supports criteria legislation that:

  • Requires maps that:
    •  respect geographic and jurisdictional boundaries, as well as communities of interest;
    • result in competitive elections;
    • do not favor one political party over another; and
    • protect the voting strength of minority groups;
  • Establishes criteria for selecting the citizen commissioners, including the representation that reflects the diversity in our Commonwealth;
  • Directs the Supreme Court of Virginia to appoint a qualified special master to draw the maps, should the Commission and the General Assembly fail to draw and approve maps.

We are heading in the right direction. The eyes of the nation are on Virginia. Respected voices have expressed support for the Constitutional Amendment, including Michael Li of the Brennan Center, Common Cause, author David Daley, and Senator Tim Kaine.

There are legislators who are getting “cold feet” and walking back from their previous support of fair maps. Some seem tempted to keep their newly-gained power for themselves. They want voters to “trust” them to draw the maps. We do not support backing away from the constitutional amendment passed last session.

The time is NOW. Virginia is ready to show the nation what fair redistricting can look like. We need YOU to contact your legislators and urge them to support the Constitutional Amendment – and pass strong enabling legislation. Fair elections are under threat, and all of us are needed at this moment in history.

  • Many local Leagues have organized pre-session forums, and many of your legislators are scheduling their own town halls. Plan to attend and let your voice be heard! You can find a list of town halls here.  
  • Contact your lawmakers via email, phone calls, or postcards. Let them know that you support People-Powered Fair Maps© and that you want them to support this Constitutional Amendment when the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2020.
  • A very easy way to send an email is via the LWV-Virginia’s action alert: Just click here.  

Thank you for helping to make People-Powered Fair Maps© a reality in Virginia!

*A summary of the Constitutional Amendment can be found on the One Virginia 2021 website.

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Gun Violence Legislation

Christine Payne, LWV-Williamsburg

We have a gun violence problem in the Commonwealth. Since the tragic mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, the General Assembly has demonstrated a woeful lack of political will to enact any meaningful legislation to address the greater-than 1000 gun deaths each year. Virginia Voters spoke out on November 5th. They elected a majority who ran on the commitment to enact evidence-based legislation intended to reduce gun violence in our communities. A Forbes study reported that gun safety was the top issue for Virginia Voters. “It’s clear that the public doesn’t just support gun safety, but are now deciding their votes based on where candidates stand on gun policy.”

Currently, attention has been focused on the extremist gun lobby’s attempt to promote sanctuary status as it applies to gun ownership. A concerted effort to designate localities as 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries has grown, primarily in rural counties. These largely symbolic gestures have no basis in the law.

The 2020 General Assembly session promises to bring real change to the state code as it pertains to dangerous weapons. The LWV Gun Violence Prevention Interest Group advocates for legislation intended to enhance public safety while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. We will maintain our vigilance during the session, and communicate with our state senators and house delegates. Thus far, bills that have been filed to address Gun Violence in the Commonwealth reflect those filed during the Governor’s Special Session in July. Policies addressing who can have weapons and legal mechanisms to remove them from dangerous individuals are essential and include categories of prohibited purchasers; intersection with domestic violence; disarming prohibited purchasers; extreme risk protection orders; and minimum age. These policies are built on cornerstone legislation, Universal Background Checks, the foundation upon which all other gun violence prevention policies must build.

[CONTINUED FROM NEWSLETTER]

The following information is from the original VA Gun Bills Chart: Ruth Hoffman December 8, 2019

Area: Universal Background Checks

  • Objective
    • Impose mandatory background checks on all sales with exceptions for certain family; penalties
  • Senate Bill
    • SB12 Saslaw; Firearm transfers; criminal history record information; penalty Class 1 misdemeanor charge transferor, no penalty on transferee
    • SB70 Lucas;Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty Class 6 Felony on transferor/Class 1 Misdemeanor on transferee 
  • House Bill
    • HB2 Plum; Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty (companion bill to SB; also establishes appropriations) 

Area: Extreme Risk Protective Order 

  • Objective
    • Allow law enforcement officials, often at the request of family members, to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a person behaving dangerously before tragedy occurs. 
  • Senate Bill 
    • Legislation Pending
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

Area: Child Access Prevention (CAP)

  • Objective
    • Prevent young people from accessing firearms to reduce youth-related gun violence, unintended shootings and suicide.
  • Senate Bill
    • SB18 Saslaw; Firearms criminal history record information checks, age requirements, penalty. 
    • SB75 Howell; Minors; allowing access to firearms, penalty
  • House Bill
    • HB72 Kory; Children; allowing access to firearms by children; recklessly leaving loaded, unsecured firearm

Area: Lost and Stolen Weapons

  • Objective
    • Require individuals to report their lost or stolen weapons to law enforcement within 24 hour of discovery to reduce the flow of  illegal guns
  • Senate Bill
    • SB67 McClellan; Firearms; reporting lost or stolen, civil penalty.
  • House Bill
    • HB9 Bourne (Companion Bill)

Area:  1 Gun a Month

  • Objective
    • Reinstate the limitation on purchasing no more than 1 handgun a month, repealed in 2012. Reduce the flow of illegal guns.
  • Senate Bill
    • SB22 Saslaw; SB69 Locke; Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

Area:  Ban on Dangerous Weapons

  • Objective
    • Prohibit weapons designed to maximize lethality from civilian ownership, including semi-automatic assault rifles, suppressors, high capacity magazines and bump-stocks
  • Senate Bill
    • SB14 Saslaw; Trigger activators; prohibition, penalty.
    • SB16 Saslaw; Assault firearms and certain firearm magazines; prohibiting sale, transport, etc., penalties.
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

Area: Disarm Domestic Violence

  • Objective
    • Protective Orders should prohibit respondents from possessing firearms. Broaden restraining order to include temporary orders, dating partners and a relinquishment law to ensure that firearms are removed from abusers.
  • Senate Bill
    • SB76 Howell; Protective orders; possession of firearms, penalty.
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

The 28th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr Vigil and Advocacy Day for the Victims of Gun Violence will be held Monday, January 20th, beginning at 2 p.m.on the Capitol Steps, in Richmond. This will be followed by legislator visits in the Pocahontas Building, beginning at 3 p.m.

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Congratulations to Lisa Koteen Gerchick of Arlington LWV

Lisa Koteen Gerchick, member of Arlington League and co-chair of the LWV-VA voting and elections position study group, was appointed to the State Board of Elections Advisory Review Workgroup on December 18, 2019.  The workgroup is composed of representatives of local government agencies involved in the electoral process and of private citizens from the election community.

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Dec 17, 2019 Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting

Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting 

 

Fair elections are under threat, and all of us are needed at this moment in history. Please contact your lawmakers to support the redistricting amendment. You can click through here to send them a message you can modify before sending. 

 

Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information. Then, email them a request to vote for the redistricting amendment this session. Let them know you are a constituent and your address. 

 

Talking points:

 

  • This amendment is the first time citizens will be on the redistricting commission. Only an amendment can change the constitutional provision that lawmakers (not citizens) draw districts. 

 

  • An amendment must be passed two years in a row, and this is the last chance to get one in place before 2021.

 

  • 70% of Virginians support the second passage of the redistricting reform amendment, according to a poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy, and Mason-Dixon Polling shows 72% of registered Virginia voters support the proposed amendment.
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