Why Richmond Matters
Help Elect Democrats to The Virginia Legislature This Fall
Republicans currently control both houses of the Virginia legislature, but only by two seats in each chamber. If we work hard, Democrats could win both houses in November. With our Democratic governor, Virginia could then move forward on many fronts where progress has long been thwarted by Republican legislative majorities. These are issues that affect all of us and are at the core of our Democratic values.
What difference would Democratic majorities make? Here are just some of them:
Climate change: Republicans have blocked all legislation aimed at taking serious steps to mitigate climate change. Most recently, they blocked most elements of an effort to deregulate the use of solar energy in Virginia, leaving in place restrictive rules that curtail its use. Democrats supported legislation that would have enabled a significant increase in the use of solar energy, along with other steps to combat climate change.
Health care: Republicans in the Virginia legislature continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats are working to strengthen it. Democrats are also working to ensure that the Trump administration’s relaxation of standards for qualifying health plans does not result in Virginians being misled about the limited protection offered by newly approved discounted health plans. Democratic majorities in Richmond would work with Governor Northam, for whom health care is a signature issue, to improve the availability and affordability of robust health coverage for all Virginians.
Gun-safety laws: Governor Northam has repeatedly urged the state legislature to pass common-sense gun-safety laws. The Republican majorities have refused to pass even a red-flag law, which permits police or relatives to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may be a danger to himself or the community. After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, even Florida passed such a law. With Democratic legislative majorities, Virginia would join the nearly dozen other states that have adopted this gun-safety measure.
Equal Rights Amendment: Women continue to earn substantially less than men for similar work. The differential for fulltime, year-round workers is nearly 20%. When women enter traditionally male-dominated fields, average pay declines even though the work being performed is the same. An effort to revive the Equal Rights Amendment by making Virginia the 38th state to ratify it fell one vote short in the House of Delegates earlier this year. A Democratic majority would ratify the amendment.
Criminal justice reform: Virginia’s monetary threshold for felonies, $500, is far too low and results in felony charges for relatively minor crimes. This in turn leads to over-incarceration. The threshold was raised from $200 in 2018 in part with Republican votes. But Governor Northam, and Governor McAuliffe before him, have urged that it be raised to $1000, more in line with the threshold in other states. Republicans have opposed any further increases. If control of the Virginia legislature passes to Democrats, Virginia would update its criminal laws so that persons accused of minor crimes would not be overcharged and face disproportionate punishment if convicted.
Gerrymandering: Now that the Supreme Court has held that political gerrymandering is not an issue the courts can resolve, the fairness of Virginia’s district lines for the next decade is on the line. Following the 2020 census, Virginia will undergo comprehensive redistricting. The new district lines will be in place from the 2021 election until after the 2030 census. Virginia Republicans have used their legislative majorities to draw district lines that suppress the impact of African-American votes and artificially reduce the number of Democrats in the state legislature. If Democrats gain control of the General Assembly this fall, they will pass the bi-partisan Virginia Redistricting Reform Amendment, which is supported by Governor Northam. This state constitutional amendment would end partisan gerrymandering in the Commonwealth.
Voting access: Democrats believe voting should be easy, while the current Republican state legislative majority does not. Democratic bills to ease voting access in Virginia, for example through automatic voter registration, have been killed in Republican-controlled committees. By preventing a full floor vote or even a committee hearing on these measures, Republicans have been able to keep their opposition to better voter access out of the public eye. With Democratic majorities in the General Assembly, we can enact legislation that fosters greater participation in elections and a healthier democracy.
Women’s health and reproductive rights: Anti-abortion extremists in several states are passing laws that restrict or even effectively ban abortion, hoping that the Supreme Court will strike down the constitutional right to an abortion secured in Roe v. Wade. If the Supreme Court indeed overrules Roe, a woman’s right to choose will be controlled by state law. In Virginia’s last legislative session, Democrats introduced a bill requiring health insurers to cover abortion to the extent it is a permitted procedure under their plans. Even this modest provision died in a Republican-controlled committee. Democrats will continue to fight for comprehensive women’s health care nationwide, but until they succeed, a Democratic majority in the General Assembly is necessary to ensure that women in Virginia retain the right to choose.
What can you do?
We’ll be able to make significant progress on these and many other issues if we flip both houses of the Virginia Legislature this November. You can help by volunteering to help elect Democrats in Falls Church City.
Finally, you can contribute funds to support efforts to turn Richmond blue in November. Your donation will enable Falls Church City Democrats to send more canvass teams to purple districts and to send voting reminders to residents in purple districts.