“Elections Have Consequences”: House Passes Medicaid Expansion
House Democrats have been fighting to expand Medicaid since the days of Gov. Bob McDonnell. Thanks to what House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano has coined “the power of 49,” the House finally passed expansion, which would extend access to affordable health care to nearly 400,000 people who fell in the coverage gap.
The budget passed by the House of Delegates also included major investments in education at all levels, new initiatives for job creation and economic opportunity, and enhanced funding for mental health and the social safety net. The budget also includes pay raises for teachers and other state employees.
In a floor speech, Republican Delegate Glenn Davis said he would vote for Medicaid expansion because “elections have consequences.”
In this column, the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Jeff Schapiro profiles House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano and his “fortified Democratic minority spoiling to become a restored Democratic majority.”
“They don’t want to be embarrassed by losing close votes,” Leader Toscano told Schapiro of Republicans’ decision to kill their own bill to allow guns in churches. “That shows the power of 49.”
House Republicans Double-Down on Opposition to Gun Safety Reforms
In the wake of the horrific shooting in Florida, House Republicans have doubled down on their commitment to doing nothing to address the gun violence epidemic, with Delegate Dave LaRock calling proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines a “knee-jerk reaction.” The Winchester Star reports that LaRock “said that if certain guns were banned, mass murderers would just move on to a different type of weapon. He said he does not favor any additional restrictions on firearms.”
Despite broad public support for gun reforms, House Republicans have killed more than two dozen Democratic gun safety bills, including legislation to ban bump stocks and ensure universal background checks. Even President Trump has expressed support for both measures.
Delegate Chris Hurst this week took to MSNBC to praise the courageous students who are demanding action from our elected leaders. “As the children of Parkland have been so eloquently stating, if we can’t change their minds we need to change their seats,” Delegate Hurst told Ari Melber of The Beat.
General Assembly Passes Democratic Bill to Protect Workers Struggling with Student Loans
Both chambers of the General Assembly have passed Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg’s bill to end the practice of suspending certain professional licenses due to unpaid student loans. Check out this clip from WRIC to learn more about the legislation, as well as this recent piece from New York Timesthat shed light on states that suspend the professional licenses of people with unpaid loans.
Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn was the bill’s chief co-patron.
House Dems Send Letter to Washington Demanding Clean DREAM Act
Led by Delegate Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Alfonso Lopez, every member of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus has signed a letter urging Virginia’s congressional delegation to protect the 12,000 DREAMers who live in Virginia by passing a clean DREAM Act.
The letter also points out the measures Democratic lawmakers introduced in the House of Delegates to support DREAMers. Three bills — Delegate Kaye Kory’s HB11, Delegate Lopez’s HB 19 and Delegate Boysko’s HB 343 — would have ensured that DREAMers remain eligible for in-state tuition, as they have been since a 2014 legal opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring.
Republican leadership of the House of Delegates refused to hear those bills. Republicans also voted down a budget amendment brought forth by Delegate Alfonso Lopez to ensure that DREAMers would have access to in-state tuition.
In this clip, the AP examines several pieces of legislation that were key to the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, including efforts to address food deserts, fund apprenticeships for high school students, reduce the length of long-term suspensions, and increase the felony larceny threshold.
Delegate Lamont Bagby, Delegate Joe Lindsey, and Delegate Jeff Bourne were all quoted in the article. Delegate Bagby chairs the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch this week highlighted Delegate Karrie Delaney’s bill that would give schools more flexibility to build in more recess time during the day. Delegate Delaney, herself the mother of young children, said, “You see your children do better when they have the opportunity to run around and release energy…They perform better.”