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2016 Legislative Priorities

House Democrats’ 2016 Legislative Priorities


The specific initiatives we support include but are not limited to the following:


New Economy – The Virginia Democratic House Caucus is committed to building the New Virginia Economy where all Virginians can gain opportunity by supporting:

  • Incentives in the Governor’s budget that target state incentive funds to expand Virginia and to create good jobs that pay a decent wage
  • An increase in the minimum wage for Virginia’s workers
  • GO Virginia regional grants and incentives
  • New research funding for universities and commercialization of ideas in bioscience and cybersecurity
  • Strategic investment in the Port of Virginia; providing assistance to port host cities (Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth) to address infrastructure to enhance access to the port while protecting the character of the localities
  • Nondiscrimination in employment and ensuring women get equal pay for equal work
  • Investments in transportation infrastructure, and reducing tolls that impact working families
  • Paid family leave for new parents
  • “Banning the Box” for state employment
  • Workforce certification programs that are targeted to jobs which exist
  • Efforts to curtail payday lending and financial operations that keep people in debt
  • A change in the definition of “small businesses” so they all have access to state tax incentives
  • Greater enforcement of laws to prevent wage theft.
  • Defeat of  the proposed Constitutional amendment on Right to Work


Education Excellence in the classroom, from Pre-K to Higher Education, requires legislation and funding to:

  • Support re-benchmarking monies in Governor’s budget to fund Standards of Quality
  • Add instructional positions to restore cuts made in previous budgets
  • Reduce testing time and increase teaching time.
  • Develop options to help fund ESL and anti-poverty initiatives in school divisions.
  • Help localities provide Pre-K by modifying state funding requirements so localities can receive funds without match requirements
  • Ensure every child has access to full-day Kindergarten
  • Reduce college debt burdens by reauthorizing the Virginia Educational Loan
  • Increase teacher pay
  • Change accreditation criteria to ensure Pre-K programs are high quality
  • Enhance eligibility rules to ensure access for at-risk children
  • Improve training to help teachers improve classroom quality
  • Reduce summer learning loss by supporting evidence-based summer programs.
  • Enact the Dream Act
  • Oppose efforts that reduces funding for public schools and local control, including mandating school choice, vouchers or tuition tax credits

Healthcare – Taking care of Virginians will not simply provide more opportunity for Virginia families, but provides a way to bring Virginians’ tax dollars back to the Commonwealth and help our state budget in the process. Medicaid expansion is crucial to maintaining a healthy workforce. 400,000 Virginians who could be covered by the expansion currently do not have access to affordable health care. Granting access to insurance supports the economy, bolsters our state budget, protects our hospitals, and enhances the financial security of families. We also support:

  • Indigent health care initiatives and free clinics
  • Initiatives that will reform and adequately fund  Virginia's mental health system
  • Efforts  to keep prescription drugs affordable
  • Protecting women's access to preventative and reproductive health resources


Military and Veterans – House Democrats support:

  • Constructing Veterans’ Care Centers in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia; increasing the capacity for Veterans to access benefits and services, as outlined in the Governor’s budget
  • Providing transition assistance for veterans who seek to maintain a home in Virginia and assimilate into the civilian workforce
  • Increasing funding for the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) employment program
  • Creation of Veteran support centers on community college campuses
  • Adding funding to service of veterans’ benefits calls on VA 211
  • Restrictions of  title lenders from locating within 20 miles of a military base


Public Safety and Criminal Justice– Our system will benefit by:

  • Supporting sentencing reform and diversion programs to reduce prison costs and recidivism.
  • Creating alternate programs for youth offenders that give them a real chance
  • Promoting greater use of drug courts and mental health and veteran court dockets
  • Enacting common-sense gun safety measures, such as universal background checks
  • Providing state incentives for local governments to buy body cameras and adopting regulations to standardize their use
  • Increasing the felony threshold for larceny
  • Expanding the restoration of rights for nonviolent felons who have served their time
  • Ending abuse of civil forfeiture
  • Allowing greater protections for  victims of elder and sexual abuse
  • Tightening cyber stalking laws


Making voting easier and fairer – House Democrats believe that voting is a fundamental right, and should be made easier and fairer by:

  • Promoting non-partisan redistricting
  • Striving to simplify voting by expanding the types of voter identification that can be presented at the polls
  • Increasing availability of early and no-excuse absentee voting
  • Creating an automatic voter registration system
  • Allowing jurisdictions to use open primaries for local elections
  • Opposing voter suppression legislation designed to limit the rights of citizens to exercise the right to vote

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