Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Video of VA Progressive Caucus press conference; 1-23-13

Lisa M. Guthrie, Executive Director, Virginia Progressive Caucus, 804-240-1976, Twitter: @VaProgCaucus Facebook: Virginia-Progressive-Caucus

Virginia Progressive Caucus Releases 2013 Agenda


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                       Contact: Lisa Guthrie; (804) 240-1976

January 23, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                                     



Announced Goals Include Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Immigration


Richmond – Today, members of the Virginia General Assembly Progressive Caucus announced their agenda for 2013.


The Progressive Caucus released policy goals in areas including gun safety, electoral reform, education, health care, and immigration. In the words of co-Chairman of the Progressive Caucus Delegate Patrick Hope, "The legislative agenda of the Virginia Progressive Caucus will focus on policies that continue to promote Virginia's economic growth and protect civil liberties and freedoms. We will aggressively fight back attempts to undermine Virginia's ability to compete in the 21st century economy and take away hard fought gains in human and civil rights." Senator Adam Ebbin, also a co-Chairman of the Progressive Caucus, echoed Delegate Hope's sentiments and noted that "It is quite appropriate that the Progressive Caucus take even deeper root in Virginia's General Assembly."


The Caucus will take positions on individual bills on an ongoing basis. These positions will be posted online at as they are announced.


The policy goals of the Progressive Caucus include the following subjects on which Caucus members released statements:


Protecting Access to Education. Education is the cornerstone of any successful society. To ensure the continued success of our Commonwealth in the 21st century, we must have a topnotch public education system, from pre-k through higher education and vocational training. We cannot achieve these necessary goals by taking resources from public education and giving it, as a band-aid, to transportation.


Promoting Healthy Families. By expanding Medicaid eligibility, we can ensure that 420,000 more Virginians will be able to live without the fear that getting sick will break the bank. The Affordable Care Act and our federal tax dollars already pay for it. When people without health insurance end up in the emergency room, not only are they there with expensive medical emergencies that might have been preventable, but that cost is built in to the premiums of people who do have insurance. By implementing a Medicaid solution and getting more people insurance, we all pay less.


Protecting Women's Health and Reproductive Rights. Legislation that restricts a woman's right to choose will not help Virginia businesses, make college more affordable for young adults or make our streets safer. It is unnecessary and amounts to an attack on personal freedom which could have many unintended consequences.


Welcoming New Americans into our Community. Immigration is an essential part of the American dream—the dream for a better life, higher education, and an opportunity to succeed. While working to achieve this dream, immigrants contribute to our economy and the Progressive Caucus will put their concerns ahead of politics.


Expanding Access to Democracy. Bills designed to suppress voting rights have a disproportionate impact on minority communities, the elderly, and the poor. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose history is scarred by the legacy of Jim Crow, we have a special responsibility to oppose any efforts to restrict one of our most fundamental rights. We owe it to those who fought, and indeed died, to ensure the right of all citizens to vote.


Protecting and Preserving Our Natural Resources. Our commitment to a healthy environment is a measure of our investment in Virginia's economic future. We must protect the natural resources we need for a healthy and prosperous future, chief among them our air and our water. Water source reliability and quality is key to maintaining the businesses we have worked so hard to attract. Furthermore, we must not subject our citizens' health and safety to short-term corporate interests.


Fair Civil & Criminal Justice System. Virginia is the birthplace of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which laid the groundwork for the Bill of Rights. Our heritage demands that a civil and criminal justice system that is fair to all. We support the automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons who have served their time.


Investing in Infrastructure. Virginia's businesses need adequate infrastructure to get goods to market and workers to their jobs.  Home front investments in infrastructure are needed but the Governor's transportation proposal diverts resources from core public investments and places more of a financial burden disproportionately on our most vulnerable. If this kind of policy had been in place in recent years, lawmakers would have had to cut even more from education, public safety, health care, and other services funded through the General Fund.


The Virginia Progressive Caucus was formed in February 2011 to fight for the interests of the average citizen and to educate the public on progressive issues.

Members of the Virginia Progressive Caucus:

Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington-47th District), co-Chairman of Progressive Caucus

Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria-30th District), co-Chairman of Progressive Caucus

Delegate Mamye E. BaCote (D-Newport News-95th District)

Delegate Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington-48th District)

Delegate Betsy B. Carr (D-Richmond-69th District)

Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-31st District)

Delegate Matthew James (D-Portsmouth-80th District)

Delegate Mark L. Keam (D-Vienna-35th District)

Delegate Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church-38th District)

Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria-45th District)

Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton-2nd District)

Delegate Alfonso H. Lopez (D-Arlington-47th District)

Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond-71st District)

Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico-9th District)

Delegate Delores L. McQuinn (D-Richmond-70th District)

Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Henrico-74th District)

Delegate Kenneth R. Plum (D-Reston-36th District)

Delegate James M. Scott (D-Merrifield-53rd District)

Delegate Scott A. Surovell (D-Mount Vernon-44th District)

Delegate Roslyn C. Tyler (D-Jarratt-75th District)

Delegate Jeion A. Ward (D-Hampton-92nd District)

2013 Agenda


Virginia must prepare the next generation of American innovators by investing in 21st century schools

·         Fully fund our constitutional obligation to provide a quality K-12 public education

·         Oppose vouchers and other programs that divert public dollars away from public schools

·         Ensure just and competitive compensation for Virginia's educators

·         Support measures to curb bullying in our schools  (support SB 951-Favola)



Virginia must protect the health and safety of our communities and secure our bountiful natural resources and landscapes that support Virginia's economy and contribute to our unique character and way of life

·         Keep the ban on uranium mining (Oppose SB 919, SB 1353-Watkins; Oppose HB 1804, HB 2330-Miller)

·         Support and incentivize renewable energy (Support SB 1269-McEachin; Support HB 1946-Lopez; Oppose SB 1339-Saslaw; Oppose HB 2261 – Kilgore)

·         Protect water quality

·         Continue land preservation tax credits (Oppose HB 2253-Albo)


Gun Safety

Virginia should act now to make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns and easier for police and prosecutors to stop them.  Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people from buying guns.

·         Support adding "firearms show vendor" requirements at gun shows (Support SB 1001-Marsh)


Good Government
Voting restrictions and gerrymandering threaten Virginia's democracy. The Commonwealth must ensure all Virginians have a voice at the ballot box.

·         Support nonpartisan or bipartisan redistricting (Support SB 724-Miller; SJ 303-Deeds; HJ 663-Carr)

·         Expand voting access for eligible citizens (Support SB 967; HB 1471)

·         Oppose suppression of voting rights (Oppose SB 719-Black; SB 1256-Obenshain; HB 1787-Bell)

·         Support restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons who have completed their sentences (Support SB 266-Lucas; HB 1905 – Carr)


Health Care

Everyone needs health care at some point and Virginians shouldn't go bankrupt trying to get it. We must expand access to affordable health care options through consumer-friendly implementation of health care reform and protect access to Medicare and Medicaid.

·         Support Medicaid expansion to cover 420,000 more Virginians under the Affordable Care Act

·         Protect home and community-based services



When it comes to immigration, we need workable solutions that uphold our nation's values and moves us forward together. We need a system that is fair and effective for everyone. Proposed anti-immigrant laws are impractical, violate our values, and divide our communities. We need real solutions so that people can contribute and participate fully in American economy and society.

·         Support expansion of in-state tuition eligibility to students who have provided an affidavit to the public institution of higher education for which he has registered stating that he has been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Support SB 1233-Ebbin; SB 1090 – McEachin; HB 1490-Kory; HB 2159-Lopez)


Reproductive Health Care

Women's access to critical health services and information shouldn't be obstructed by ideologically driven legislator-activists. The choice to terminate a pregnancy is a difficult personal decision – not a government decisions – that should be left to a woman, her family, her health care providers, and her faith.

·         Support optional ultrasounds (Support SB 1332-Northam)

·         Support the "grandfathering" of abortion facilities constructed before July 2013 (Support HB 2163-Sickles)

·         Support the definition of "birth control" as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Support HB 1644-Watts)



Virginia needs comprehensive transportation funding that provides for adequate maintenance, transit and rail, and new construction in corridors that will significantly reduce vehicle miles traveled.

·         Oppose diversion of General Fund dollars necessary to fund public safety, education, and other core public services

·         Oppose increasing the sales tax because it disproportionately impacts Virginia's most vulnerable citizens

·         Oppose tolling of existing highways without General Assembly approval (Support SB 977 – Lucas; HB 2258- James; HB 1460-Tyler)


Workers' Rights

Our future depends on working families, and we have a responsibility to ensure that all Virginians can lead safe, secure, and rewarding lives. Economic security starts with good jobs, and Virginia's workers are ready to go back to work. Our lawmakers must ensure that Virginia is worker-friendly, not just business-friendly.

·         Oppose "secret ballot" constitutional amendment (Oppose HB 1385-Comstock; HJ 611-O'Bannon)

·         Fully fund and protect the Virginia Retirement System

·         Oppose an unnecessary "right to work" constitutional amendment  (Oppose SJ 293-Black; HJ 536-Bell)

·         Support protection of an employee's existing private right of action for unpaid wages (Support SB 816- McEachin; HB 1729-Toscano)

·         Support nondiscrimination in state employment (Support SB 701-McEachin)


Lisa M. Guthrie, Executive Director, Virginia Progressive Caucus, 804-240-1976, Twitter: @VaProgCaucus Facebook: Virginia-Progressive-Caucus

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

VA Progressive Caucus Media Advisory; 1-22-13

For Immediate Release
January 22, 2013

WHAT:    The Virginia Progressive Caucus will outline caucus legislative priorities for the 2013
                    General Assembly session.
WHEN:    Wednesday, January 23, 2013; 10:30 a.m.
WHERE:  House Briefing Room; General Assembly Building
Lisa M. Guthrie; Executive Director
Virginia Progressive Caucus

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Democratic Delegates and Senators to Hold Public Safety Press Conference

Democratic Delegates and Senators to Hold Public Safety Press Conference

RICHMOND, VA — As Congress and state legislatures around the country consider new safety measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy, Democratic members of the House and Senate will hold a press conference about steps to enhance public safety on Thursday, January 17th at 11:00 AM in the House Briefing Room.

Senators Donald McEachin, Mark Herring, and Ralph Northam and Delegates David Toscano, Delores McQuinn, and Alfonso Lopez will present legislation to improve mental health services, prohibit military-grade weapons, institute universal background checks, and provide local school districts the flexibility needed to implement sound school security policies. Lori Haas, the mother of a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre, will speak from her perspective as a family member of someone who survived gun violence.

WHO: Democratic Members of the Virginia Senate and House
WHAT: Public Safety Press Conference
WHERE: House Briefing Room
WHEN: TODAY, Thursday, January 17th at 11:00 AM

McEachin and Ebbin to Introduce Bill Protecting LGBT State Employees

McEachin and Ebbin to Introduce Bill Protecting LGBT State Employees
State senators joined by over 45 co-patrons and community leaders supporting SB 701

RICHMOND, VA — Today, Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) will join co-patrons from the House and Senate to announce support for Senate Bill 701. Equality Virginia and community leaders in support of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees from discrimination will also be available for comment.

WHO: Senator Donald McEachin, Senator Adam Ebbin, and members of Equality Virginia.
WHAT: SB 701 Press Conference
WHERE: House Briefing Room
WHEN: TODAY, Thursday, January 17th at 9:30 AM

There are currently no employment protections for LGBT state employees in Virginia. Currently there are no workplace protections at the state or federal level for sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Consistent polling shows that 90% of Virginians believe that LGBT people should have the right to work for the government without discrimination.

Most businesses already extend these protections to their employees, leaving the state government at a competitive disadvantage. In Virginia, most top private employers already extend these protections leaving state government at a competitive disadvantage. Eighty percent of Virginia’s top 25 largest private employers have policies including at least sexual orientation which helps in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Bill Description
Nondiscrimination in state employment. Prohibits discrimination in state employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran covered by the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended. The bill defines “sexual orientation” as a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Delegate Hope: "Expand Medicaid Eligibility for Virginians"

Delegate Patrick Hope Introduces Legislation to Expand
Medicaid Eligibility to More Virginians

Nearly 400,000 Virginians will gain access to health insurance through Expansion

Richmond, VA - Yesterday, Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) introduced HR 129, to expand Medicaid coverage to several hundred thousand of Virginia’s poorest citizens as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act.  The resolution seeks broad state flexibility to reform Virginia’s Medicaid program, making it sustainable and redesigning the system to make it more efficient, improve quality, and lower costs. 

In a House floor speech asking for support of the resolution Delegate Hope said, “Extending Medicaid without adequate safeguards and sustainable reforms would be a huge mistake.  And reforming Medicaid without extending it would be a costly error.  We must do both.”

Delegate Hope also said, “And if you're worried about the costs of extension, nothing compares to the costs of doing nothing. But let’s do this in a responsible manner.  Let's not squander this opportunity to do what we all want to do: cover more Virginians, make needed reforms to ensure the sustainability of the program, improve our economy, and lower costs.”

Delegate Hope pressed House Republican Leadership to bring the resolution to the floor for a vote saying, “What better message can we send to the Obama Administration to ask for broad state flexibility to take more control over our Medicaid program.  Please give every member of this body the chance vote overwhelmingly to send this bipartisan message to Washington.”
Patrick A. Hope is a Member of the Virginia General Assembly as the Delegate from the 47th District representing part of Arlington County.  He serves on the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee.

Help us Protect Women's Health and Privacy

Tomorrow at 8:30am the Senate Education and Health Committee meets to vote on two bills introduced by Democratic Senators that would overturn Virginia's forced ultrasound bill.  Virginia Republicans last year passed a bill mandating an abdominal ultrasound before an abortion even if the woman did not want one or her doctor did not think it was medically necessary.  

Now is your chance to let the Republicans know what you think and help us protect women's health and privacy.  Call the offices of the Republicans on the Education and Health committee or come to the open committee hearing tomorrow morning at the General Assembly Building (right next to the state capitol in Richmond).

Senate Democrats also have bills overturning Gov. McDonnell's abortion clinic regs that could force some clinics to close. A bill to protect Virginia women's right to contraception will also be heard. 

Last year Virginia Republicans went too far.  This year let's show 'em they need to stop moving Virginia backwards.

Donald McEachinVA Senate Democratic Caucus Chair

Virginia Lawmakers propose gun safety legislation


Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Patrick Hope purchased handgun and 30-round magazine without undergoing background check
RICHMOND, VA—Virginia State Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) have introduced a package of gun safety legislation to require universal background checks on prospective firearms purchasers (SB 1232 / HB 2025), close the gun show loophole, and tighten restrictions on the sale of weapons to the mentally ill (SB 1109 / HB 2221).

SB 1109 and HB 2221 would make it a Class 6 felony to sell firearms to persons found mentally incapacitated or who have been involuntarily admitted.  

Ebbin also introduced legislation to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms (SB 
965) and to outlaw firearms in legislative buildings (SB1012).

"We easily purchased a handgun at a Virginia gun show, without undergoing a background check. Sadly, nearly 40% of all gun sales are conducted without a background check. In the interest of community safety, it's not too much to ask for responsible gun purchasers to undergo a background check to screen for criminal history or history of serious mental illness," the two wrote in a joint statement.

The lawmakers discussed their visit to a gun show in a January 15thnews conference at the Virginia Capitol. Hope showed the High Standard Sentinel Revolver he bought for $175; because he purchased the gun from a private dealer, he did not have to undergo a background check to screen for a criminal record. "Today, a felon with a violent past can walk into a gun show or go on the Internet and buy any gun with no questions asked,” Hope said. “A law we could pass today, requiring universal background checks for all gun sales, would have an almost immediate impact on gun safety.  No responsible gun owner is afraid of a background check."

Displaying a 30-round ammunition magazine he purchased for $20, Ebbin said, "Buying a 30-round magazine should not be as easy as buying a candy bar.” He noted that a 30-round magazine was used in the recent Newtown, Connecticut tragedy that left 26 dead.

Citing the need to pass SB 965, Ebbin said, “When a gun is stolen, a deadly weapon is in criminal hands—a combination we all want to avoid. Reporting lost or stolen guns can help police avert a tragedy.”

Hope and Ebbin called on Virginians to contact their legislators in support of the gun safety legislation.