FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2020
News Release PDF VICPP 2020 GA 4 23 20
Roberta Oster, Communications Director
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Progress for workers, immigrants, and the planet during 2020 General Assembly
RICHMOND, Va – The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) is pleased that the General Assembly accepted Governor Northam’s amendments to bills that VICPP championed that will help workers, immigrants, and the health of the planet. “Despite the difficulties we are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Governor and legislators managed to enact legislation that will move Virginia forward,” said Kim Bobo, VICPP’s Executive Director.
VICPP is grateful to our legislators, coalition partners, advocates, and faith leaders from across the Commonwealth who worked tirelessly during the 2020 session advocating critical economic, racial, social, and environmental justice issues.
The following bills supported by VICPP had amendments that were approved yesterday, enabling them to become law:
Minimum Wage Increase. The General Assembly approved the Governor’s amendment to delay the implementation of the minimum wage (SB7 and HB395) by four months, from Jan. 1, 2021 to May 2, 2021. Although the increase will be a bit delayed, Virginians will see the first increase about a year from now. This is an important step toward raising wages enough to support a family.
Comprehensive Predatory Lending Reform. VICPP worked closely with the Virginia Poverty Law Center and other partners to finally pass legislation to crack down on predatory lending. The Governor amended the predatory lending reform bills (HB789 and SB421) and moved the enactment day forward from July 1, 2021 to January 1, 2021. This is a great improvement that VICPP helped advocate and it will save Virginians approximately $50 million in fees. Environmental Justice. The Governor amended the Environmental Justice Council bills (SB883) to add “disability” to the definition of environmental justice alongside “race, color, faith, national origin, and income.” In the Virginia Environmental Justice Act (HB704 and SB406), he added clarifying language to the meaning of the bill. Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIPL) and VICPP advocated the amendments to both bills.
Energy Burden. The Governor made some technical amendments to the bill to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and use some of the revenue to invest in energy efficiency (HB981 and SB1027).
Driver’s Licenses for All. The Governor amended the bills that give people of differing immigration status the ability to obtain a Driver Privilege Card (HB1211 and SB34) and made the cards look more like other licenses so immigrants are less likely to be subject to discrimination. VICPP and immigrant rights advocates still have concerns about privacy issues with this bill, but supported the Governor’s amendments as good improvements to the bill.
VICPP supported the following bills that were already signed into law but were not on yesterday’s agenda:
In-State Tuition. VICPP worked with coalition partners (including VIIA, VACIR, NAKASEC, LAJC, and the DREAM Project), for many years, to pass this law that allows all who meet the Virginia residency requirements to receive in-state tuition (HB1547 and SB935). “Virginia has made history as the first southern state to implement this law, joining twenty states that offer in-state tuition to students who are undocumented. In these states, students, employers, and the entire society have realized tremendous economic and social benefits,” said Kim Bobo.
Wage Theft Reforms. VICPP championed bills to: create a private cause of action for wage theft (HB123 and SB838), add protections against retaliation (HB337 and SB48), strengthen the ability of DOLI to investigate wage claims (HB336 and SB49), remove the piece work exemption from minimum wage (SB78), create a private cause of action for misclassification of workers (HB984 and SB894), establish prohibitions on noncompete agreements for low-wage workers (HB330 and SB480), remove the domestic worker exemption from minimum wage (SB804) and strengthen enforcement against misclassification (SB744, SB662, HB1407, HB1199).
The 2020 General Assembly has made great progress toward making Virginia a more equitable, compassionate, and welcoming state. The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy will continue to advocate for justice in the coming session and will work with legislators from both parties to move our Commonwealth forward.
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The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy advocates economic, racial, social, and environmental justice in Virginia’s policies and practices through education, prayer, and action. VICPP is a non-partisan coalition of 750 faith communities working for a more just society.