State Legislation That Affects YOU

Virginia NOW‘s legislative priorities for the 2014 General Assembly session are organized according to our mission of advancing women’s rights and social justice for all:

We have an administration on our side, a majority in the state senate, and we plan to use them!!!

Click here to JOIN IN ON THE ACTION! http://vanow.org/represent/vanow-in-action
To participate in these efforts, please click the link above for direction.
Please contact our Lobbying Director or our Legislative Vice President with any questions.

Let’s rock this state into great feminist shape!!!

• Reproductive Freedom and Choice
• Personal Liberty and Community Safety
• Social and Economic Equity
• Civil and Human Rights

For the first time in recent legislative history, gun violence and mental health are included in our priorities. Reducing gun violence and improving mental health services are essential for the safety and well-being of women and girls as well as the population as a whole. Virginia NOW is another advocacy organization making noise about NSA’s surveillance dragnet. (Click here) for the everything you need to demand change.

Because so much legislation is decided at the committee level, we have developed a new advocacy plan called Committee Action Teams, to reach out to committee members (regardless of whether they are our own delegate or senator). We will hold our lobby day February 5th, along with the League of Women Voters, and participate in lobby days held by our, allied groups. Please watch for email blasts and check our Facebook page and website regularly:
virginianow.wordpress.com
facebook.com/VirginiaNOW

Find out who your delegate is and who your state senator is at
http://www.richmondsunlight.com/your-legislators/ or http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
For information about lobbying, please contact Vicki Yeroian at lobbyingdirector@vanow.org.

This is a preliminary review of our key issues and of bills we expect to be introduced or that have already been introduced. More bills will be added as information becomes available.

Reproductive Freedom
Health care is a right, not a privilege, and high quality care should be available to all. At this point in time, women pay twice as much for health care as men.  They receive no maternity care, no birth control coverage, nor abortion coverage.  (Except under the Affordable Healthcare Act)

Insurance companies automatically categorize women as a pre-existing condition, limiting her access to quality care throughout her entire lifespan.  NOW members are making equal healthcare for equal pay for ALL citizens a top priority.

NOW is committed to achieving reproductive freedom, to ensure that women have the liberty to make decisions about their bodies and live sexuality free from government interference.  Also that they have the economic resources to plan their own families.

A woman’s well-being requires self-determination, equality, and the respect and support of her society.

Virginia is among the most restrictive states for access to abortion. Powerful politicians and groups such as the Family Foundation and Catholic Conference would criminalize abortion even in cases such as danger to a woman’s life or health or serious fetal abnormalities.

Numerous laws combine to chip away at Virginia women’s ability to access abortion and contraception, including :
• biased counseling requirements and mandatory delays,
• restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion,
• restrictions low-income women’s access to abortion, restrictions on young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent and notice, and
• the TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law; regulations approved by the Board of Health subject abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.
In Virginia, public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest or fetal impairment. Abortions indicated because of severe risks posed to a woman’s health by continuing a pregnancy were no longer covered by Medicaid as of April 2010.

Voting Rights

We support automatic restoration of rights for all former felons who have met their sentencing requirements.
• Currently, there is a 5 year waiting period for a person with a violent conviction, which includes drug charges, to apply. People with violent convictions must meet 10 requirements just to be eligible to apply.
• Virginia’s law disenfranchises a total of 372,000 people and 1 out of 5 African Americans, making Virginia the 3rd highest state in the nation for African American disenfranchisement

Voter Suppression

Legislation passed last year will require voters to have photo IDs in 2014, which will suppress voting. We support eliminating photo identification requirements.
Proponents of photo IDs for voting argue that these IDs are needed to combat fraud. However, out of 197 million votes cast between 2002-2005, .00000013% resulted in fraud convictions or guilty pleas . They argue that requiring photo IDs to vote is not different than requiring photos IDs to board a plane or get a library card. However, unlike boarding a plane or obtaining a library card, voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege. They argue that photos IDs do not disenfranchise anyone. However, the fact is that 18% of citizens over the age 65, 15% of individuals who make less than $35,000 per year, and 25% of voting aged African Americans do not have a government issued ID. In addition, roughly 18% of citizens ages 18-24 do not have a photo ID with current address or name. Voters must pay for and provide the underlying documents needed to obtain IDs, such as a birth certificates or naturalization papers. A birth certificate can cost $45 and a driver’s license can cost from $20 to $100.

Actions Needed

Add persons age 65 and older to the absentee ballot list to vote
Allow voters to vote absentee in person without an excuse
Provide absentee ballots to hospitalized voters
Extend polling hours or designate Election Day as a state holiday
Repeal discriminatory voter ID laws

Women’s Equality

We support the Equal Rights Amendment, which states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”
• Women make up 53% of the Virginia’s population but still do not have guaranteed rights to self-determination as whole, free persons, other than the right to vote
• Virginia women are paid an average of 32% less for the same or comparable jobs even when factoring unpaid family care time. That injustice affects Social Security and pensions: one in seven elderly women wind up in poverty.
• Without the ERA, courts are free to discriminate on the basis of sex.
• The 14th Amendment often has been ineffective to support women’s Constitutional equality
• Every constitution in the world written after World War II includes a statement that men and women are persons of equal stature or similar words, but not the US. What one doesn’t have guaranteed in writing, one does not have
• Studies show that a nation enjoys more social and fiscal stability where equality is the standard

Action Needed
Support HJ12: (Ratify) the federal Equal Rights Amendment

To participate in and/or view our advocacy/lobbying materials for 2014, click on VaNOW Action.

Shine on in Revolution,
Paradise Kendra
Communications Vice President, Virginia NOW

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: What’s Up at the 2014 General Assembly? | Virginia NOW Online

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