Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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