Virginia House Democrats announce 2014 legislative agenda

The Virginia House Democratic Caucus announced its priorities for the 2014 legislative session on Thursday.

state-capitol2“The House Democratic Caucus is focused on finding bipartisan solutions to the problems of the Commonwealth,” said House Democratic Leader David Toscano. “Governor McAuliffe has made it clear that he will seek common ground – and we will do the same.”

“There are several issues that our caucus will be working on this session to help grow our economy and create a better quality of life for all Virginians,” said House Caucus Chair Mark Sickles. “We want to ensure that all Virginians have access to quality education and affordable health care; and that the rights and equality of all of our citizens are protected.”

 

1.)  A Budget that Builds a Robust Economy and Greater Opportunity for all Citizens

“As elected officials, we serve at the pleasure of the people of the Commonwealth, and the budget should reflect their priorities,” said Delegate Luke E. Torian, member of the House Appropriations Committee. “We need to ensure that Virginians continue to have access to high quality education. In order to compete in today’s economy, we must support and fund Pre-K education, our colleges and universities, and workforce training programs.”

 

2.)  Health Care Reform

“The House Democratic Caucus is committed to finding common ground to extend health care coverage in an economically and socially responsible way,” said Delegate Bob Brink. “By following the ‘Virginia way’ to reform our health care system, we can expand access to affordable health care coverage for up to 400,000 Virginians while creating jobs in the Commonwealth and ensuring that Virginia taxpayers’ money is invested in Virginia.”

Democrats also support more resources for mental health and are pleased to support Governor McDonnell’s $38 million proposed budget increase. This is a positive development and will begin to address our problems,” said Delegate Vivian Watts. “We need to provide adequate funding to our current system for more beds and expanded services. But we also need reforms in the system to improve the response of law enforcement and local health services by enacting HB 544 (Filler-Corn) and improving our ECOs and TDOs protocols.”

 

 

3.)  Education Reform

“The ability of our children to compete will largely be determined by the critical thinking skills they develop in schools,” said Delegate Rob Krupicka. “The Standards of Learning (SOLs) need reform to allow more flexibility for schools and teachers, while still measuring students’ progress (HB 498-Krupicka). We also must provide support to our teachers and schools by increasing teachers’ salaries, supporting our challenged schools, and expanding access to quality pre-school education throughout the state (HJ 10-Kory).”

 

4.)  Voter Rights

“As a Caucus, we support common-sense proposals to make voting easier and encourage participation across Virginia,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn. “Voting is a fundamental right and we are dedicated to making it easier to exercise this right by allowing no excuse absentee voting (HB 75-Simon), extending voting hours until 8:00 P.M. (HB 545-Filler-Corn), and making voting easier for members of our military.”

Democrats are committed to restoring the Constitutional rights of non-violent felons who have paid their debt to society and repealing the oppressive voter ID law,” added Delegate Marcus Simon of Falls Church. “We support innovative measures to improve the way elections are conducted in the Commonwealth by launching pilot programs to allow vote by mail elections (HB 77-Simon), and the optional use of vote centers in primary elections (HB 801-Simon).”

 

5.)  Women’s Health

“Our Caucus is steadfast in our support of women’s reproductive health and is committed to protecting and advancing women’s health and rights this session,” said Delegate Jeion Ward. “We will strongly oppose legislation aimed at denying Virginia women access to comprehensive health care and will work to repeal the medically unnecessary ultrasound law (HB 1056-Ward).”

 

6.)  Equality and Diversity

Democrats support the repeal of the Marshall-Newman Amendment and are committed to fighting for the rights and equality of LGBT Virginians (HB 939-Surovell, HJ 3-Morrissey, HJ 11-Surovell, HJ-67 Plum, and HJ-77-Herring),” said Minority Whip, Delegate Charniele Herring. “All Virginians deserve the fundamental right to marry. We also support nondiscrimination policies in hiring (HB 417-Simon).”

Democrats also support our Dreamers and stand together in support of our own Virginia DREAM Act (HB 88-Lopez), which allows for children of undocumented parents to apply for in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez. “This is the right thing to do – not only morally – but also economically. We invest in these students’ education from kindergarten through twelfth grade, but then deny them the opportunity to pursue higher education in Virginia, driving away top talent from the Commonwealth. Let’s not waste our investment in these incredible students. Let’s not waste this talent. We must act now to pass the Virginia DREAM Act.”

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