Dogwood Daily: Ch-ch-changes! What Democrats have done so far in the General Assembly

By Matt Blair

January 29, 2020

Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got a round-up of all of today’s Virginia news coming right up.

But first…

First there was Brexit, will there now be “Vexit?” Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice are urging unhappy Virginia counties Tuesday to secede from the state and join out neighbors to the west.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Big changes already happening in Virginia— Since officially taking over the state government this month, Democrats have been moving on many issues they promised to tackle during the campaign at a breakneck speed. The Dogwood breaks down where things stand legislatively on a number of key issues now affecting the Commonwealth. In less than a month, Democrats have made strides on gun safety, LGBTQ issues, the ERA and Education. -The Dogwood
  2. Virginia’s top lawyer will be fighting for the ERA in federal court— The ERA Coalition tweeted this afternoon that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring will announce civil rights litigation on the Equal Rights Amendment in Washington, D.C., tomorrow morning. Virginia became the 38th and last state needed to ratify the ERA this week, Herring’s move is an effort to get the federal government to recognize the ratification of the amendment. –ERA Coalition
  3. House votes to abolish abortion restrictions– The House of Delegates voted to rescind abortion restrictions that were previously passed by Republicans. In a 52-45 vote, the House supported HB 980, which would end the requirement for women undergoing first-trimester abortions to receive ultrasounds. The bill, which was introduced by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), would also abolish the current 24-hour waiting period women must go through before receiving an abortion and would remove certain requirements that abortions be performed in hospitals. -Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  4. Paid parental leave, what a novel idea!— Some Democrats in General Assembly are making moves to pass legislation to create a paid family and medical leave program for the state. Under the plans introduced by Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William), all working Virginians would be eligible for 12 weeks off to care for new children or to take care of their families in the case of medical emergencies. The plan would require a $73.5 million loan from the state that would eventually be reimbursed through payroll taxes. Currently, federal law requires certain employers to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family and medical reasons. -Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  5. A good kind of winter freeze– Hey, it seemed to work last year, so why not try it again? In 2019, Virginia’s public colleges froze tuition rates. Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Franklin County) and Del. David Reid (D-Loudoun) have both proposed legislation for the General Assembly set aside around $53 million to cover increases over the next two years. While there have been signals that the legislation will make it through committee and the House floor, it remains unclear if the Senate would also support another freeze. As of publication, no Senate budget amendments have mentioned one. -The Roanoke Times 

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