Virginia Republicans end up in an odd situation, a domestic workers’ bill of rights passes and COVID comes to Central Virginia.
1956 – Earlier this week, the Virginia General Assembly agreed to take down a statue of Harry Byrd and today’s number highlights yet another part of the man’s problematic history. On Feb. 25, 1956, he called for “Massive Resistance,” a series of laws designed to prevent school integration.
1793 – To end the daily number on a much better note, we take you to a time and place recently framed in the musical Hamilton. On this date in 1793, President George Washington held the first Cabinet meeting at his Mount Vernon home. It’s unclear if there was actually a rap battle between Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
Virginia Republicans in a Very Odd Situation
Tuesday night, the Virginia Republican Party’s State Central Committee finally settled on a way to select statewide nominees for the 2021 election. They agreed to hold a “drive-thru” convention May 8 at a parking lot owned by Liberty University.
However, Liberty had never agreed to host it. In fact, university officials sent out a press release Wednesday, saying they had agreed only to consider it. They:
- Refused to allow campus parking lots to be used.
- Refused to allow parking garages to be used
- Haven’t agreed to a rental price
- Didn’t agree to a one-location plan where one parking lot would handle all of a convention’s traffic
In a “drive-thru” convention, only certified delegates can vote. Local parties select these delegates, who then have to pay convention dues, typically $35, in order to cast a ballot.
UK Virus Strain Discovered in Central Virginia
As of Wednesday, the UK version of the COVID-19 virus has been found in most parts of Virginia. The Virginia Health Department announced that an adult resident of Central VA, one with no history of travel, has become infected with the strain.
This makes 12 cases of the UK version to show up in Virginia. The health department also said the South African version showed up in three cases. The United Kingdom’s science advisory group released a report Jan. 22, warning that the local strain could cause some serious problems.
“There is evidence from analysis of Pillar 2 testing data linked to COVID-19 deaths that infection with B1.1.7 [the UK variant] is associated with an increased case fatality rate,” the report says. “The relative increase appears to be apparent across age groups.”
Sen. McClellan Delivers a Speech to the Virginia Senate
On Tuesday, one day before the 65th anniversary of Harry S. Byrd’s declaration against integration in Virginia, the state Senate voted to take the segregationist’s statue down in Capitol Square. While some senators in favor of keeping the statue up tried to shift the focus to Byrd’s positive contributions, Sen. Jennifer McClellan wasn’t going to let that slide.
Racism Labeled a Public Health Crisis in Virginia
The General Assembly recorded another first this week. Both the House and Senate adopted HJ 537, declaring that racism is a public health crisis in this state. When Gov. Northam signs the bill, Virginia becomes the first Southern state to take that step.
The bill doesn’t just call for acknowledgement. It details five specific steps for the Commonwealth to take.
- First, the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity becomes a watchdog agency. It’ll be their job to make sure policies addressing racism are put into practice.
- Second, make the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law a permanent group.
- Third, require training for elected officials, staff members, and state employees on how to recognize and combat implicit biases.
- Fourth, establish a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity
- Finally, the bill promotes community engagement to help people recognize and fight racism.
Important Dates Coming Up
- March 8 – International Women’s Day
- March 15– All schools in the Commonwealth have to submit a plan to return to in-person learning.
- March 16 – Freedom of Information Day
- March 23 – Special election for District 38 Virginia Senate. Democrat Laurie Buchwald will compete against Republican Travis Hackworth.
#JusticeForXzavier Protests Continue
Just release the tapes. That’s all LaToya Benton is asking for. It’s been nearly one month since Xzavier Hill’s death and his family still haven’t received any information.
Virginia State Police officers shot and killed the Black teen after an alleged high speed chase on Jan. 9. Since then, people from across the Commonwealth have asked VSP officials to release the dash cam footage from that night and prove what happened.
That push continued Wednesday night, as protests moved to Fredericksburg. This marks the third city #JusticeForXzavierHill marches have been held in. In addition to Goochland County, groups have marched in Charlottesville and Richmond.
Wednesday’s event was different, however, as marches went up to buildings and interacted with people along the route. Sometimes, that didn’t go so well, as Dogwood’s Arianna Coghill documented.
Assembly Signs Off on Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights
The Virginia Human Rights Act doesn’t protect domestic workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations also don’t support them. Two bills heading to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk will fix that.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s SB 1310 and Del. Marcia Price’s HB 1864 remove these exemptions. Specifically, they would provide “that individuals who are engaged in providing domestic service are not excluded from employee protection laws and laws regarding the payment of wages.” the bills state.
This includes nannies, cleaners and home healthcare workers, among others. Overall, more than 60,000 domestic workers call Virginia home. That’s something McClellan has firsthand knowledge of.
“As the daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of domestic workers, I know how essential domestic workers are to the economy and how poorly mistreated they’ve been for generations,” McClellan said. “Today, the Virginia General Assembly took action to reverse Jim Crow-era laws and expand protections for domestic workers. Thank you to Care in Action, Delegate Price, and all the advocates who led this long-needed change in workplace policy.”
Gov. Northam has been in support of the bill, which should be signed fairly quickly.
Question of the Day: Should Students Be Excused to Attend a Political Event?
Petitions in a Pandemic: Fairfax Project Helps Virginia Candidates
If you’re not a fan of people knocking on your door during political campaigns, chances are you’ll like what Bryan Graham recently created. The Fairfax County resident created a COVID-friendly way for political hopefuls to collect signatures.
Every year, political candidates go door to door. There, they collect signatures throughout the various neighborhoods. Once the candidate gets enough signatures, they qualify for the party primaries. No signatures means no name on the ballot. So Graham came up with a solution, as Dogwood’s Amie Knowles explains.