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.
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.
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.
Stop a bill that would allow guns in houses of worship 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).
OTHER LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES SUPPORTED BY VICPP
Cleanup of toxic coal ash HB 2786 – Del. Ingram (R-62nd) and SB 1355 – Sen. Wagner (R-7th) require Dominion Energy to clean up toxic coal ash ponds near several Virginia rivers. Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, a program of VICPP, helped support this effort.
Banning religious data collection VICPP supported HB 2494 – Del. Tran (D-42nd) focused on banning religious data collection by state entities, which passed with near unanimous support.
Defeating two anti-immigrant bills SB 1156 – Sen. Black (R-13th) (Anti-sanctuary cities) passed the Senate and HB 2270 – Del. Poindexter (R-9th), (Requires notification of ICE upon release from jail). Both bills passed the House and Senate. VICPP helped ensure that the Governor vetoed both of these bills.
2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
- Paid Sick Days – 5 paid sick days for full-time employees, or a pro-rated share for part-time employees.
- Increase the Minimum Wage – It’s been almost 10 years since an increase in the Federal Minimum Wage, the longest span since it was created in 1938. Virginia needs to take action to ensure workers receive better wages.
- Energy Burden – No one should spend more than 6% of their income on heating/cooling their home. We will work to reduce this economic stress for low-income communities.
- Health Equity – We’re looking at potential legislation around dental insurance as part of Medicaid. We will also support legislation insuring that communities have access to healthy, fresh food.
- Criminal Justice Reform – We’re working to decriminalize poverty and reduce mass incarceration in the Commonwealth.
FAILED 2019 BILLS THAT VICPP WILL SUPPORT
WAGE THEFT REFORM
- Funding & Empowering the Dept. of Labor and Industry (re: investigating wage theft claims), HB 2363 and HB 2349 – Del. Leftwich (R-78th)
- Creating a “Private Cause of Action” on wage theft cases, HB 2524 – Del. R. Campbell (R-24th)
- Removing minimum wage exemptions, SB 1103 – Sen. Howell (D-32nd)
- Codifying and empowering a state Environmental Justice Council HB 2696 – Del. Herring (D-46th), HB 2330 – Del. Keam (D-35th)
- Allowing access to Driver’s Privilege Card (driver’s license) for immigrants, HB 1843 – Del. Bloxom (R-100th), HB 2025 – Del. Tran (D-42nd), SB 1641 – Sen. Boysko (D-33rd), SB 1740 – Sen. Surovell (D-36th)
- In-state tuition for immigrants who meet state residency requirements, HB 1882 – Del. Keam (D-35th), SB 1640 –Sen. Boysko (D-33rd)