The staff at the Virginia Interfaith Center, together with faith leaders, congregations, and volunteers worked countless hours to advocate social justice issues at the General Assembly this year.

We met with legislators, community leaders, advocates and adversaries. We wrote hundreds of letters to legislators sent thousands of emails and made countless phone calls. We showed up. We marched. We supported our partners in the fight for social justice and we’re proud to share the results of our efforts.

LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES

ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Minimum wage; end Jim Crow-era exemptions

VICPP, working with our legislative patrons, led the effort to pass two bills that support workers in Virginia: SB 1079 – Sen. Spruill (D-5th) and HB 2473 – Del. Price (D-95th). The bills remove discriminatory, Jim Crow-era language from Virginia’s Minimum Wage code. The racist language read, “Newsboys, shoe shine boys, ushers, doormen, concession attendants and cashiers in theaters” are exempted from earning minimum wage in Virginia. These professions, historically held by African-Americans, deserve to be paid at least the minimum wage. Both bills passed and were signed by the Governor.

HB 2473 – Del. Cia Price (D- 95th), passed House, passed Senate, signed by the Governor.

SB 1079 – Sen. Spruill (D- 5th), passed Senate, passed House, signed by the Governor.

Paystubs for all Employees

VICPP was the lead organization in helping to pass legislation with bi-partisan sponsors, HB 2664 – Del. Aird (D-63rd) and SB 1696 – Sen. Wagner (R-7th), that ensures all employees receive an online or paper paystub that shows the name and address of the employer, the number of hours worked and the rate of pay. Both bills passed and were signed by the Governor. This is a great victory for workers in our Commonwealth.

HB 2664 – Del. Aird (D- 63rd), passed House, passed Senate, signed by the Governor.

SB 1696 – Sen. Wagner (R- 7th), passed Senate, passed House, signed by the Governor.

VICPP will continue to OPPOSE bills like this:

Through the grassroots efforts of our network of 20,000 members and partners across Virginia, we were able to defeat SB 1024 – Sen. Black (R-13th).

Guns in Worship
SB 1024 – Sen. Black (R- 13th), passed Senate, sent to House Rules, died in House Rules.

This bill “repeals the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place.”

Anti-Sanctuary Cities
SB 1156 – Sen. Black (R- 13th), passed Senate, passed House, vetoed by Governor.
This bill “provides that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

Forcing Localities to Collaborate with ICE
HB 2270 – Del. Poindexter (R-9th), passed House, passed Senate, vetoed by Governor.
This bill “requires that the sheriff, jail superintendent, or other official in charge of a local correctional facility or a regional jail in which an alien is incarcerated shall notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the release or discharge of the alien at least seven days prior to the date he is to be released or discharged from custody”

 


 

2019 Priority Legislation that Failed:

Pay piece workers the minimum wage (FACT SHEET)
Currently, if workers are paid “by the piece,” (e.g. by the widget made, or garment sewn) they are exempt from the law.  Only one other state still has this exemption.
**SB 1103 – Sen. Howell (D- 32nd), died in Senate Commerce & Labor

Protect workers against retaliation (FACT SHEET)
Virginia workers can be fired simply for filing a wage complaint so of course, many workers never report wage theft.
**HB 2363 – Del. Leftwich (R- 78th), failed in House Commerce & Labor Subcommittee #1**

Give DOLI the ability investigate all workers at a business (FACT SHEET)
Currently, DOLI can only investigate for an individual complainant, not for all workers who may be victims of wage theft in a business.
**HB 2349 – Del. Leftwich (R- 78th), failed in House Commerce & Labor Subcommittee #1**

Let workers take their claims to court (FACT SHEET)
If workers are not paid all of their wages, they should be able to take their claims to court.  Currently workers in Virginia do not have this right.  The VA Consumer Protection Act provides for a similar cause of action.  If consumers have this right, so too should workers.
**HB 1687 – Del. Krizek (D- 44th), laid on the table in House Commerce & Labor Subcommittee #2**
**HB 2524 – Del. Ronnie Campbell (R- 24th), passed House Commerce & Labor, re-referred to House Courts of Justice, where it died.

Create a driver’s privilege card (FACT SHEET)
In Virginia, people who are undocumented or fall into 12 categories of lawful presence are barred from taking a written driving exam, road test, or purchasing auto insurance.  One of the primary ways that people end up in deportation proceedings is through traffic stops.  Creating a Driver’s Privilege Card would be good for the safety of all Virginians.  Many other states have such policies.
**HB 1843 – Del. Bloxom (R- 100th), failed in House Transportation, Subcommittee #4**
**HB 2025 – Del. Tran (D-42nd), failed in House Transportation, Subcommittee #4**
**SB 1641 – Sen. Boysko (D-33rd), incorporated into SB 1740 by Sen. Surovell**
**SB 1740 – Sen. Surovell (D- 36th), failed in Senate Transportation**

Codify the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (ACEJ) (FACT SHEET)
In October 2017, former Governor McAuliffe announced the creation of Virginia’s own Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (Executive Order 73). The goal of this council is to provide advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch on ways in which environmental justice should be incorporated into decision-making in Virginia. The Advisory Council on Environmental Justice should be strengthened to have formal decision-making authority. The Virginia General Assembly should permanently acknowledge the importance of these issues by codifying the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.
**HB 2330 – Del. Keam (D- 35th), failed in House Rules Subcommittee #1**
**HB 2696 – Del. Herring (D- 46th), failed in House Rules Subcommittee #1**

 

Additional 2019 Legislation where we played a collaborating or supporting role:

Welcoming All
-Tuition-equity

Currently, DACA holders have access to in-state tuition, but if these students were to lose their DACA status due to capricious federal policy shifts, these students would lose the ability to in-state tuition.  Other immigrant students who meet Virginia’s residency requirements are also denied in-state tuition.  We want these students to be able to continue their education and help Virginia prosper.
**HB 1882 – Del. Keam (D- 35th), laid on the table in House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee**
**SB 1640 – Sen. Boysko (D- 33rd), passed Senate Education & Health, referred from Senate Finance, failed in Senate Education & Health**

Environmental Justice
-Adapt our coasts to rising seas and limit carbon pollution from power plants (FACT SHEET)
The Virginia Coastal Protection Act, joining Virginia to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), would benefit consumers by conserving energy. The bill would also become the first source of constant revenue for The Shoreline Resiliency Fund to help our neighbors facing frequent flooding in our warming climate. Governor Ralph Northam is supporting this bill.
**SB 1666 – Sen. Lewis (D- 6th), failed in Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources**

-Safe and responsible closure of toxic coal ash ponds (FACT SHEET)
Too often, when coal plants have closed, utilities have put only thin covers over the toxic coal ash ponds they leave behind. The ponds can leak toxins into drinking water for decades. This year, a two-year moratorium on “cap-in-place” closure of coal ash ponds expires. This session, the Virginia General Assembly must enact legislation to solve our coal ash problem permanently—by requiring excavation of coal ash to modern, lined landfills or for use in safe recycling projects. Governor Ralph Northam is supporting this bill.
**HB 2105 – Del. Carroll Foy (D-2nd), tabled in House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee #3**
**SB 1553 – Sen. Surovell (D- 36th), passed Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, sent to Senate Finance, incorporated into SB 1355 by Sen. Wagner**

-Increase access to clean solar energy for homes, congregations, and communities (FACT SHEET)
The Solar Energy Freedom Bill would reduce the barriers to solar power. Distributed solar means saving money for taxpayers, creating jobs, reducing our carbon footprint, and making our communities more resilient in the face of climate change and threats to the grid. Distributed solar ensures the benefits of our clean energy future will be shared with all of our neighbors.
**SB 1456 – Sen. McClellan (D- 9th), failed in Senate Commerce & Labor**
**HB 2329 – Del. Keam (D- 35th), failed in House Commerce & Labor**

The People’s Clean Energy Bill sets aside $1 billion in grant funding from Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to provide free solar installations to lower energy costs for communities. Preference would be given to low-income urban and rural areas. Grants would be available to religious institutions, schools and government-owned buildings.”
**HB 1902 – Del. Rasoul (D- 11th), failed in House Appropriations Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources & Technology**

Reducing Evictions
-Eliminate repetitive filing of eviction lawsuits for nonpayment of rent
This would prevent repeat filings of multiple lawsuits that reflect poorly on tenant records and also save both parties court costs.
**HB 1922 – Del. Bourne (D- 71st), passed House, sent to Senate Courts of Justice**
**SB 1627 – Sen. Barker (D- 39th), passed Senate Courts of Justice, sent to Senate Floor**

-Require written leases
This is sensible improvement.  If no written lease is provided, 7 default provisions will apply, so both landlords and tenants know their rights and duties.
**HB 1898 – Del. Carroll Foy (D- 2nd), passed House, sent to Senate General Laws and Technology**
**HB 2054 – Del. Carr (D- 69th), passed House, sent to Senate General Laws and Technology**

-Reduce the time during which a landlord can seek eviction after a judgment of possession
Currently, landlords have 12 months to act on a judgment of possession.  Reducing the time to 6 months means that a landlord who wants a writ of eviction must either use it or lose it.
**HB 2007 – Del. Aird (D- 63rd), passed House, sent to Senate General Laws and Technology**

-Allow a tenant to “pay and stay” up to 2 business days before the eviction.
This would increase the time tenants have to avoid eviction by coming current with their landlords.  More time to pay is exactly what low-income tenants often need.  This also means the landlord is made whole.
**SB 1445 – Sen. Locke (D- 2nd), passed Senate, sent to House General Laws**

-Establish 3 pilot eviction diversion programs
Modeled on successful eviction diversion efforts in other states, this would entitle tenants in certain cases to have a payment plan for past due rent and avoid a judgment of possession and eviction.
**SB 1450 – Sen. Locke (D- 2nd), passed Senate General Laws and Technology**
**HB 2655 – Del. Collins (R- 29th), passed 
House General Laws, sent to House Floor**

Economic Justice
-Raise the minimum wage

Virginia’s $7.25 hourly minimum wage is not nearly enough to pay for today’s basic necessities like food, rent, clothing, healthcare, and more.  We can lift thousands out of poverty by raising the minimum wage.
**HB 2157 – Del. Plum (D- 36th), failed in House Commerce & Labor Subcommittee #2**
**HB 2195 – Del. Rodman (D- 73rd), failed in House Commerce & Labor Subcommittee #2**
**SB 1017 – Sen. Marsden (D- 37th), failed in Senate Commerce & Labor**
**SB 1200 – Sen. Dance (D- 16th), failed on Senate Floor**

-Earned Income Credit
The Governor has proposed using part of the state revenue windfall from the recent changes in taxes to help low-income Virginians.  People earning less than $54,000 per year are the majority of Virginia’s taxpayers, but they only got 7% of the benefits from the federal tax code changes.  The Governor proposes to make Virginia’s Earned Income Tax Credit refundable, like it is at the federal level.  The EITC is a targeted program that gives credits to those who work and are still low-income.  Eligible workers would receive the difference in cash if their credit is more than the taxes owed.  This is a great program to encourage and reward work.
**HB 2160 – Del. Plum (D- 36th), failed in House Finance**
**SB 1297 – Sen. Barker (D- 39th), failed in Senate Finance**


Criminal Justice Reform
VICPP supports the criminal justice reformd agendas of RIHD, RISE for Youth, and the Virginia Civic Engagement Table (VCET).

End the suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of fines or costs (FACT SHEET)
One in six Virginia drivers (approximately 900,000 people) has had his or her license suspended because of owing court fines and fees. Almost any poor person who has interacted with the criminal justice system owes some court fines and fees. Essentially, by taking away someone’s license and the person’s ability to find or keep a job, the state denies the person opportunity to escape from poverty (and ever pay back those fines & fees).  This policy has created debtor’s prisons in Virginia.
**SB 1013 – Sen. Stanley (R- 20th), passed Senate, sent to House Courts of Justice**

-Decriminalize disorderly conduct in schools
Virginia’s disorderly conduct statute is extremely vague and students in Virginia can & have been charged with disorderly conduct while acting out in class.  This statute disproportionately affects students with disabilities and people of color.  Basic school discipline issues should be dealt with in schools, not courts.
**HB 1685 – Del. Bourne (D- 71st), failed in House Courts of Justice**
**HB 1688 – Del. Mullin (D- 93rd), failed in House Courts of Justice**
**SB 1107 – Sen. McClellan (D- 9th), passed Senate, sent to House**