Thursday, 19 January 2017 03:34

2017 Virginia State Conference Lobby Day Featured

Sen. Louise Lucas with members of the VSC NAACP Lobby Team Sen. Louise Lucas with members of the VSC NAACP Lobby Team VSC NAACP

On Tuesday, January 17, 2017 more than 35 members of the Virginia State Conference NAACP gathered at the Virginia General Assembly 7 West Conference Room for Lobby Day.

The day long line-up of activities will kick-off VSC NAACP's efforts to support legislation which properly serves the interest of citizens in the Commonwealth of Virginia Statewide VSC NAACP, pastors, church congregation, group and organizational leaders began the day at 8:30AM in the General Assembly building (9 th & Broad Street).

During our Lobby Opening we were joined by Delegate Delores McQuinn, Delegate Cliff Hayes, Senator Ryan McDougle, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam as well as a Legislative Aide from the Office of Senator Mamie Locke.

Delegate McQuinn spoke about her African American Burial Ground bill that would provide funding for the maintenance of African American burial grounds. She explained that Revolutionary War and Civil War grave sites all have funding for maintenance. Senator McDougle joined us to talk about his Expungement bill designed to allow minors with drug and alcohol charges to have those charges expunged if after five years there were no additional criminal charges. He spoke about the need to not let a single youthful mistake ruin a life forever citing the impact that a criminal record would have on student loans and employment. He entertained questions from the group on the topic of raising the Grand Theft Larceny Threshold from $200 to $1500 and welcome a continued dialogue on the issue.

This year there were four lobby teams led by Robert Barnette (Hanover Branch), Jesse Frierson (Political Action Committee Chair), Kevin Chandler (Religious Affairs Committee Chair) and Joe Dillard (Vice President, VSC NAACP). Bills chosen for support reflect the legislative priorities of the VSC NAACP that were brought forth during the Annual Convention in October. Additional bills were submitted by Branch Presidents that provided support and uplift for our community.

The Virginia State Conference NAACP offers enthusiastic support for legislation that empowers voters, protects a child’s right to education, assures citizens with mental health challenges receive appropriate mental health treatment, reduces mass incarceration and ensures Returning Citizens may exercise their ability to vote. 

Develop statewide standards for use of body and dash cameras for law enforcement
As local communities are paying civil suits running into the millions of dollars, the NAACP seeks to protect our citizens and law enforcement by requiring body and dash cameras. When there is no record of exactly what transpired when police encounters result in a fatality or wounding, community mistrust build.

Increase the Grand Theft Larceny Threshold to $1500
The VSC NAACP supports raising the Felony Grand Larceny Threshold to at least $1,500. Currently Virginia has one of the lowest amounts in the country which contributes greatly to over incarceration. Virginia last raised the threshold back in 1980 which was more than 36 years ago. Based on the Consumer Price Index, $200 in 1980 is now worth over $585.

Nearby states have the following FGLT amounts: $1000 in the District of Columbia $1500 in Delaware, $2000 in South Carolina and $2500 in Pennsylvania. In 2014 Virginia spent over $1billion on incarceration; $30,000 per adult inmate and $150,000 for juvenile inmates. There must be a better way to spend taxpayer money!

HB1444 – Increase Minimum Wage to $15/hour (Rasoul - D)
In the 21st century Virginia must embrace paying workers a living wage in order to reduce state required “welfare” payments. HB1444 increases the minimum wage from its current federally mandated level of $7.25 per hour to $10.00 per hour effective July 1, 2017, to $12.50 per hour effective July 1, 2019, and to $15.00 per hour effective July 1, 2021, unless a higher minimum wage is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

HB 1935 – No Excuse, In-Person Absentee Voting (Carr - D) (This Bill killed in Committee)
Allows any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in person in any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason or making a prior application for an absentee ballot. Absentee voting in person will be available in the office of the general registrar or the secretary of the electoral board and may be available at additional locations if approved by the local electoral board. The period for absentee voting in person will begin on the twenty-first day prior to any election and will end at 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the election. The bill retains the current provisions for voting absentee by mail, including the application process and list of eligibility reasons.

HJ540 – Constitutional Amendment on Voting Rights (Simon - D)
Virginia is one of just a handful of states with laws that permanently disenfranchise persons with past felony convictions. Earlier this year, over 7% of Virginia’s adult population was not eligible to vote due to felony disenfranchisement. That figure was even worse when factoring in race. African-Americans accounted for an incredible 53.8% of the disenfranchised population, despite comprising only 19.4% of Virginia’s adult population.

HJ540 simply removes the disqualification from voting of persons convicted of felonies.

HB1430 (Fowler – R)/HB1431 (Cole – R) Third-party registration groups; registration, disclosure, and recordkeeping requirements, etc. We strongly oppose this bill which is simply another voter suppression bill attempting to stop legitimate groups from registering voters. This bill creates an onerous burden on both voter registration groups (requiring not only ID numbers for the organizations but also ID numbers for each individual registering voters.

HB 2330: Inpatient Psychiatric hospital admission; defendant found incompetent (Heretick - D) Removes the prohibition on inpatient psychiatric hospital admission for defendants who have already been ordered to receive treatment to restore their competency to stand trial.

We support this legislation; Restoration of Competency should not prevent inpatient hospitalization.

HB1534: Student discipline/Long-term suspension (Bell - R)
Reduces the maximum length of a long-term suspension from 364 calendar days to 45 school days. The bill prohibits a long-term suspension from extending beyond the current grading period unless aggravating circumstances exist and prohibits a long-term suspension from extending beyond the current school year.

HB1535: Public schools; student discipline (Bell - R)
Provides that no student shall receive a long-term suspension or expulsion for disruptive behavior unless such behavior involves intentional physical injury or credible threat of physical injury to another person.

HB1536: Public schools; student discipline (Bell - R)
Prohibits students in preschool through grade five from being suspended or expelled except for drug offenses, firearm offenses, or certain criminal acts.


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