Moving Progressive Legislation Forward
This week I made headway on several important issues.
My legislation to protect LGBTQ Virginians resulted in a letter to the state police requiring the collection of sexual orientation and gender identification hate crime data. We need to protect all Virginians equally under the law, including the 183,000 Virginians who identify as LGBTQ. Sexual orientation accounted for 20.8% of the total number of hate crimes in 2013, according to the latest hate crimes statistics report. I will continue to make Virginia a more welcoming and safe place for everyone.
Campus Sexual Assault:
Two of my bills build on the 2015 omnibus legislation that addressed sexual assault on college campuses. The legislation provides the next steps in protecting our college campuses and holding violent perpetrators accountable. Both bills passed out of committee. SB 83 clarifies aspects of the Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between universities and law enforcement agencies, while SB 81 requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop and provide curriculum and multidisciplinary training modules on trauma informed sexual assault investigations.
I tried to give localities authority over gun shop proximity to schools, but the bill failed to report on a party line vote. I also presented bills that would take firearms away from folks under an emergency protective order and from those convicted of misdemeanor sexual assaults against a household or family member. These bills did not pass, but hopefully some legislation will pass that protects women from those who may carry firearms and are the subjects of protective orders. This issue is part of a deal that Governor McAuliffe and Speaker Howell negotiated that includes restoring reciprocity of firearm rights with various states. We will see how this deal ultimately plays out.
I am proud to say that my bill enabling foster youth between the ages of 18 to 21 to continue to receive services was voted out of the authorizing committee this morning. Another similar bill was approved that provides foster payments to relatives who agree to permanency arrangements for youth residing with them. Hopefully, these bills will pass the Finance Committee and the House and the Senate, and ultimately become law.
Next week, I will fight for an increase in the minimum wage and for enacting strong limits on the isolation of juveniles in correctional facilities. Stay tuned as I continue fighting for our progressive values.