In 2011, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a redistricting plan designed to disadvantage Democrats by concentrating substantial numbers of African-American voters into fewer districts, thereby diluting their strength in other surrounding districts. After years of court arguments generated by a lawsuit brought by citizens in the most affected eleven districts, that plan has now been ruled unconstitutional and, in an opinion issued June 26, 2018, the court directed the General Assembly to redraw the districts. Since that date, the Republican majority has been unwilling to engage with Democrats in developing a plan to address the Constitutional problem. In mid-July and again in August, I wrote to the Speaker of the House to request that we act to create a new plan. In August, the court asked the Republican Majority to indicate their intention about drawing a new plan. The majority response has been both to ignore my letters and to provide no commitment to the court about any intention to produce a plan. Consequently, Gov. Northam called the General Assembly into a Special Session on August 30, 2018, and the House Democratic Caucus produced and introduced a plan of its own designed to address the Constitutional infirmities of the 2011 bill. As of this date, the Republicans have not introduced a plan of their own to remedy these problems. [Read more…]
House Passes Budget with Medicaid Expansion — Governor’s Vetoes Sustained
We returned to the special session in Richmond on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to debate the House Budget. The House budget includes Medicaid Expansion, which accesses federal dollars that are incorporated into our budget so that we can fund critical needs of the Commonwealth while insuring some 400,000 Virginians who do not yet have coverage. The House budget passed with a strong bipartisan majority. It is time to pass Medicaid Expansion in Virginia. [Read more…]
One Week Left and Dueling Budgets
We have one week to go in this General Assembly session, and the major issue left to resolve is the budget. In December 2017, Gov. McAuliffe introduced his last budget, and both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have been working on it since then. The House budget bill is dramatically different than the Senate’s budget, largely because the House is willing to expand healthcare coverage to thousands of Virginians by accepting federal Medicaid dollars. In the House budget, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) can apply immediately for expansion; DMAS is also directed to request a special waiver that will allow certain Medicaid recipients to receive workforce training, in hopes that able-bodied recipients may then obtain employment or provide community service. The Senate budget does not include the Medicaid expansion monies from the governor’s budget, with the result that the Senate had to cut more than $400 million from Gov. McAuliffe’s introduced budget. [Read more…]
The Fight of Our Lives—Time to Bend the Arc
We are, simply put, in the fight of our lives. The values that we consider important— social equality and economic justice, diversity and inclusion, tolerance and civility— and the opportunities that everyone should have— the chance for our family members, children, and grandchildren to secure a decent education, obtain a good job that pays a living wage, have access to reasonably priced health care and insurance, ensure the protection of reproductive health, and gain fair access to the ballot box— are all under siege. They are being assaulted, not only by an insensitive and thoughtless President, but by politicians across the country who either mimic his message or, in their silence, have become complicit in his efforts to destroy the great American dream for all but the wealthiest among us.
All Eyes on Virginia
On Tuesday, Virginia will go to the polls in the first major election since the Trump upset. We have heard much about various state house special elections, and even the June Congressional race in Georgia, being tests of the Democratic Party’s “post-Trump” viability. But Virginia is the real deal. Our Governor’s race matches a veteran/doctor/former State Senator/Lieutenant Governor against a Republican who masterminded the GOP’s nationwide gerrymandering strategy, which has brought one-party rule to many states and Tea Party control of the U.S. House of Representatives while encouraging the further polarization of the electorate. Since Republicans control the Virginia House and Senate, putting a Republican in the governor’s seat could make Virginia look like North Carolina in just one legislative session. Take a look at the 120 bills Governor McAuliffe vetoed in his four years, because a Republican victory will mean that many of them will become law very quickly. No one can afford to “sit this one out.” Every vote is crucial.
Mark Herring, Attorney General • Dr. Ralph Northam, Governor • Justin Fairfax, Lieutenant Governor
Democratic Candidates, Virginia Statewide Offices [Read more…]
Washington Chaos, Redistricting, and Other Political Machinations
With Washington D.C. in chaos, the emerging opposition to the Trump Agenda is having an impact in Virginia. We are seeing more citizens come to the State Capitol to protest the conservative agenda and argue for values we consider important, such as increasing the minimum wage, creating greater economic opportunity for more Virginians, investing in public education, protecting Planned Parenthood, or bringing redistricting reform. [Read more…]