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Statements on the Republican Law Suit over Voting Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statements on the Republican Law Suit over Voting Rights

 

Richmond, VA - Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) issued the following statements regarding the Republican attempt to strip voting rights from over 200,000 Virginia citizens.

"By attempting to strip away voting rights from hundreds of thousands of Virginians, Republicans are again showing their desire to make voting more difficult for the citizens of the Commonwealth. Virginians who have made mistakes, served their time and returned to their community should have the right to fully participate in their community." - Del. David Toscano, Leader of the House Democratic Caucus

"Virginia Republicans are once again working to put barriers in front of people who are legally allowed to vote. This lawsuit is merely an attempt to undo the restoration of rights to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who have had their civil rights restored by the Governor using his power under the Constitution. This looks like another partisan fight where Republicans are trying to thwart Governor McAuliffe from doing his job." - Del. Charniele Herring, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus

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Statements on Supreme Court Ruling regarding Virginia's Congressional districts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Richmond, VA - Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) issued the following statements on the Supreme Court's ruling regarding Virginia's Congressional districts.

"We welcome the Supreme Court's final decision regarding Virginia's congressional districts. Sadly, the House of Delegates remains gerrymandered into a Republican majority. We call on our colleagues across the aisle to embrace a non-partisan redistricting plan that would allow Virginians to pick their politicians, not for politicians to pick their constituents." - Del. David Toscano, Leader of the House Democratic Caucus

"This ends the discussion over the Congressional districts, but discussions over the House of Delegates districts continues. Now that Virginia has fairer Congressional districts, we need fairer districts in the House of Delegates." - Del. Charniele Herring, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus

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Statements on the Governor's Historic Restoration of Rights Announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Richmond, VA - Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) issued the following statements regarding the Governor's historic restoration of rights announcement.

"Virginians who have made mistakes, served their time and returned to their community should have the right to fully participate in their community. Thanks to the Governor's actions today, over 200,000 Virginians now have that basic human dignity of a vote restored to them. This is a monumental stand for civil rights and we applaud the Governor's courage and leadership." - Del. David Toscano, Leader of the House Democratic Caucus

"This is an exciting day, not just for those who are having their rights restored, but for all Virginians. While some in our state continue to put up barriers to voting rights, Governor McAuliffe is beginning to break them down.  We thank the Governor and those legislators who worked tirelessly to change the restoration process.  And, we congratulate those who have regained their democratic right to the ballot box." - Del. Charniele Herring, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus

Democrats Stop Extremist Legislation: Sustain Governor's Vetoes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly today stopped 24 Republican bills, including legislation that would have defunded Planned Parenthood, legalized LGBT discrimination and lowered the wages of working Virginians. Republican-backed legislation, previously vetoed by Governor McAuliffe, would have become law if not for Democratic votes to sustain the vetoes and kill the legislation in the Senate and House of Delegates.

“Democrats in the General Assembly made sure that common sense prevailed today in Richmond. Throughout the 2016 legislative session, Governor McAuliffe and Democrats have been focused on building a new Virginia economy, and that extreme legislation is not only opposed by the majority of Virginians, but distracts from our efforts to create jobs, and support investments in public education,” said Del. David Toscano, Leader of the House Democratic Caucus.

“Our caucus was very happy this year to work with Republicans where we could, to pass a budget that included a raise for teachers and our state police, as well as investments into infrastructure and the economy. Today, we made sure that bills that would limit local control, reduce access to health care for women and lowered the wages of Virginians were not allowed to become law,” said Del. Charniele Herring, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

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Toscano appoints Rip Sullivan Campaign Chair: Completes House Democratic Caucus Leadership Team

Richmond, VA - Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), Leader of the House Democratic Caucus, has appointed Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax) to serve as Campaign Chair for the 2017 cycle, completing the House Democratic leadership team. Toscano said, "Delegate Sullivan has proven himself a leader since the day he was elected to the House of Delegates and I'm excited to have him join our leadership team as we continue to elect more Democrats."

Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandra), the House Democratic Caucus Chair, said, "I am proud of the accomplishments of our caucus and it is an honor to Chair such a diverse group of inspiring individuals. Building our numbers in the House has been a team effort and it has been gratifying to see so many step forward to take leadership roles to nurture our success. I am pleased that Rip has joined our team as we continue to work toward the 2017 elections." Sullivan, who was elected in a special election in 2014, joins Del. Kathleen Murphy, another "sophomore" member of the caucus on the leadership team.

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), who served as Campaign Chair for 2015 and was recently promoted to Democratic Whip, added the following, "In 2015, we picked up 3 Republican held seats despite being vastly outspent by the other side. I look forward to working with David, Charniele, Rip and the rest of our House Democratic team to make sure we continue growing a diverse Caucus that truly represents the future of Virginia."  

Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax), said regarding his appointment, "It's an honor to be asked to serve and I look forward to working with our partners throughout the Commonwealth to elect more Democrats to the House of Delegates in 2017."

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Virginia House Democratic Caucus Leadership Team:

Leader: Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville)
Caucus Chair: Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria)
First Vice Chair: Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond)
Second Vice Chair: Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield)
Secretary: Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke)
Treasurer: Del. Betsy Carr (D-Richmond)
Sargent-At-Arms: Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond)

Democratic Whip: Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington)
Deputy Leader: Del. Mark Sickles (D-Alexandria)
Chief Policy Advisor: Del. Vivian Watts (D-Annandale)
Campaign Chair: Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax)
Finance Chair: Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean)

2016 Legislative Priorities: Wins and Losses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2016

CONTACT: Jacqueline Hixson, (770) 362-2408

 

 

RICHMOND, Va.: The 2016 General Assembly Session adjourned Sine Die on Friday, March 11, 2016 at 8:30 p.m. House Democrats reflect on the priorities set forth at the beginning of session and the wins and losses that have unfolded in the last 59 days in Richmond.

 

 

GOAL: THE NEW VIRGINIA ECONOMY – THE VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CAUCUS IS COMMITTED TO BUILDING THE NEW VIRGINIA ECONOMY WHERE ALL VIRGINIANS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR REWARDING WORK THAT PAYS ENOUGH TO ADEQUATELY SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES.

 

“Building the New Virginia Economy has been the most significant priority for House Democrats during the 2016 session,” said David J. Toscano, Democratic Leader. “And we won significant victories in this session. From implementing the GO Virginia program to funding for new technology research, transportation infrastructure such as the Port of Virginia and I-66, and workforce development programs, big steps were taken toward diversifying and strengthening the future of the Commonwealth. We will continue to press for other policies to help working families, such as raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing paid family or medical leave for Virginia’s workers.”

 

 

GOAL: EDUCATION – QUALITY EDUCATION IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR STATE’S ECONOMY. DEMOCRATS SUPPORT EXCELLENCE IN THE CLASSROOM, FROM PRE-K TO HIGHER EDUCATION, WHICH HELPS CHILDREN SUCCEED IN SCHOOL AND IN LIFE.

 

“The budget this year shows how much of a priority a high-quality public education for Virginia’s children is for Virginia’s legislators. From increased funding for K-12 and higher education to giving teachers a two percent pay raise, Virginia’s public schools can continue providing a world-class education,” said Charniele Herring, Democratic Caucus Chair. “House Democrats were also able to uphold Governor McAuliffe’s veto of the ‘Tebow Bill,’ which would have diverted public funds to non-public school students. Making sure those who participate in public schools get the supplies and instruction they deserve and expect is a priority for Virginia House Democrats.”

 

 

GOAL: HEALTHCARE – HOUSE DEMOCRATS CONTINUE TO SUPPORT BRINGING TAX DOLLARS BACK TO VIRGINIA TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO INSURANCE FOR 400,000 CITIZENS THROUGH MEDICAID EXPANSION. IT IS CRUCIAL TO MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WORKFORCE, PROTECTING THE FINANCIAL VIABILITY OF OUR HOSPITALS, AND THE SOUNDNESS OF OUR STATE BUDGET.

 

“The biggest missed opportunity was the failure to expand Medicaid,” said Delegate Kaye Kory (38th – Falls Church). “Ensuring that health care is a right, not a privilege, in the Commonwealth will continue to be a priority. Nonetheless, new monies are in the budget for mental health, substance abuse, and for the support of the disabled. In addition, opposing barriers to women’s health care choices such as bills to defund health care clinics remains at the top of our agenda.”

 

 

GOAL: MILITARY AND VETERANS – HOUSE DEMOCRATS ARE MAKING VIRGINIA THE BEST STATE FOR VETERANS.

 

“As a veteran, I understand the importance of taking care of our men and women in uniform. The General Assembly secured increased funding for several veterans’ programs that I’m very proud of, such as V3 and other workforce entry programs,” said Delegate John Bell (87th – Chantilly). “House Democrats are committed to making sure that those who have served our nation can transition into the civilian workforce and access appropriate health care and other services, making Virginia the best state for veterans.”

 

 

GOAL: PUBLIC SAFETY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – VIRGINIANS NEED A SYSTEM THAT KEEPS US SAFE, IS FAIR, AND COSTS LESS.

 

“Virginia’s legislature made huge gains in keeping Virginians safe this session. We were able to increase pay for our State Police in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, and we were also able to increase funding for mental health care in correctional facilities,” said Delegate Marcia “Cia” Price (95th– Newport News).  “The biggest gain we made toward keeping Virginians safe was passing legislation taking firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, and increasing the availability of background checks at gun shows. I look forward to continuing to work to keep our neighbors safe.”

 

 

GOAL: MAKING VOTING EASIER AND FAIRER – HOUSE DEMOCRATS BELIEVE THAT VOTING IS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT, AND SHOULD BE MADE EASIER AND FAIRER.

 

“Despite House Democrats’ multiple efforts, access to the ballot box and a fair redistricting process did not pass the General Assembly this year,” said Delegate Sam Rasoul (11th – Roanoke).“House Republicans blocked legislation to set up a nonpartisan redistricting commission, and denied bills that would have allowed no-excuse early voting and expanded the types of voter identification accepted at the ballot box.”

 

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2016 Legislative Priorities: Wins and Losses

A Botched Process from Beginning to End

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 10, 2016

CONTACT: Jacqueline Hixson, (770) 362-2408

 

RICHMOND, Va.: Today, Stephen R. McCullough was elected to the Virginia Supreme Court. McCullough’s election brings to an end a drawn-out, botched judicial process that has exposed the kind of back-door politics and nasty rhetoric on which the Republican-led legislature runs.

 

McCullough’s nomination on the Senate floor broke Senate rules by being offered as a floor amendment to an existing resolution, as opposed to being introduced in a new resolution. This forced both houses of the legislature to vote on a candidate that could not be properly vetted in Committees. Senators and Delegates were given less than 24 hours to review his qualifications and fitness for the bench.

 

“From the very beginning, Republican leadership has focused on denying a qualified Justice, Jane Roush, from keeping her seat on the Supreme Court,” said David J. Toscano, Democratic Leader. “At the last minute, they proposed a candidate that had a 15 minute hearing and did not receive the vetting that occurred for Justice Roush. This process has been political from the start, and does a disservice to the judicial selection process and the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

 

“It is unfortunate that our colleagues across the aisle decided to nominate yet another gentleman to fill a seat that was held by an imminently qualified Justice,” said Charniele Herring, Democratic Caucus Chair. “It is not about their new candidates, it is about Republicans playing partisan politics with our judicial system.”

 

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House Republicans Reject Confirmation of Justice Jane Roush in Partisan Stunt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2016

CONTACT: Jacqueline Hixson, (770) 362-2408

 

RICHMOND, Va. – Today, the Virginia House Republicans voted to reject the confirmation of Justice Jane Roush to the Virginia Supreme Court, despite already serving in that role for 7 months and being unanimously qualified by the House Courts of Justice Committee to serve in that role. She was nominated on a 22-0 vote by the Virginia Senate; the House of Delegates voted against her confirmation on a 55-38, largely party-line vote.

 

“This vote shows incredible disrespect for the judiciary and the appointment process,” said David J. Toscano, Democratic Leader. “Removing an eminently qualified judge in this way is unprecedented. Justice Roush’s ejection is reminiscent of the Washington-style politics that threatens to engulf state houses across the nation.

 

Almost never are negative votes cast in a confirmation process, and the House Republican Caucus produced 55.”

“I was proud to stand with the Governor announcing his nomination of Justice Roush to the Virginia Supreme Court on July 27, 2015 after a long, open and transparent process where applications were encouraged and proper vetting took place,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (41st-Fairfax). “We had an immensely qualified sitting Supreme Court Justice that was appointed with bipartisan support and impeccable credentials. Justice Roush does not deserve to be the first Justice to be removed from the Supreme Court since 1900.”

 

“For 116 years, the General Assembly has confirmed gubernatorial appointments to the Supreme Court. Today, we have broken that tradition to remove a highly qualified justice to make a political point. This sets a bad precedent that threatens judicial independence,” said Delegate Jennifer McClellan (71st-Richmond). “This is a blatant display of disrespect for Justice Roush.”

 

“Justice Roush’s appointment ended a six-year period in which there's was no judge from Virginia’s most economically robust, highly populous region on the Commonwealth’s highest court.  Virginia needs her widely recognized corporate expertise to support sound business decisions,” said Delegate Vivian Watts (39th-Annandale). “Justice Roush equals the collective trial court experience of the other six justices combined, and has a stellar record of decorum and fairness on complex, high-profile cases. Her unjust removal from the Supreme Court is a great loss for our judicial system as well as all of state government.”

 

BACKGROUND

·         Justice Roush’s 22 years of trial court experience doubles the amount of such experience on the Court, being more than all other six justices combined.

·         As a trial judge, Justice Roush has written over 250 opinions. Of the 20 appealed, only 2 were overturned. Her quality and attention to detail is unrivaled.

·         The Supreme Court selected her to handle complex and high-profile cases, such as the mining case in Buckingham County as well as the Lee Boyd Malvo murder trial.

·         The Past Presidents of the Virginia Bar Association urged, on February 11, 2016, for the General Assembly to confirm Justice Roush’s appointment.

 

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Missed Opportunities in 2016 Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2016

CONTACT: Jacqueline Hixson, (770) 362-2408

 

RICHMOND, Va.: Today, the Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 30, which will fund the Virginia government through the end of Fiscal Year 2018. In the debate, House Democrats pointed out missed opportunities in the budget to build the New Virginia Economy through exclusion of economic development initiatives, lack of Medicaid Expansion, attacks on women’s access to health care options, and funding restrictions in necessary public safety initiatives.

 

“While there is much agreement on the provisions in the House budget, especially in education funding, we must also be mindful of significant missed opportunities that we could have taken in order to continue our efforts to build a New Virginia Economy,” said David J. Toscano, Democratic Leader. “Every year, every month, every day not spent on building that New Virginia Economy is an opportunity lost, whether that be investing in technology and economic development, access to affordable health care, or public safety.”

 

“From investing in higher education to funding the GO Virginia initiative, there’s a lot to be proud of in the 2016 budget. However, the missed opportunities are glaring,” said Charniele Herring, Democratic Caucus Chair. “We must continue to work toward building the New Virginia Economy. Foregoing key components that can develop our economy and provide access to adequate and affordable health care is not the best way forward.”

 

 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

“Building the New Virginia Economy should be the Number 1 priority in this General Assembly Session. However, several opportunities were missed in the budget to keep Virginia on the cutting-edge of new development and technology,” said Delegate Jeion Ward (92nd – Hampton).“Cutting investments in research and new technologies is a mistake that will undercut economic growth.”

 

 

MEDICAID EXPANSION

 

“The biggest missed opportunity of this budget is the decision to not expand Medicaid,” said Delegate Marcus B. Simon (53rd – Falls Church). “Turning away over $3 billion in taxes Virginians have already paid for petty political reasons is inconsistent with our responsibility to do what’s best for Virginia families. Instead, we’re spending our state dollars to pay for Medicaid programs, and eliminating much-needed initiatives that would have been covered by funds available through expansion.”

 

  • 306 #1h and 306 #11h – Eliminate Medicaid Expansion.
  • 393 #4h – Wastes over $34 million in funding for hospital services for inmates that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
  • 315 #1h – Wastes over $40 million in funding for Community Service Boards that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
  • 388 #1h – Eliminates $4.4 million for mental health resources in probation and parole offices that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
  • 398 #2h – Eliminates $5 million for mental health resources in local and regional jails that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.

 

 

WOMEN’S HEALTH

 

“A woman needs access to health care options when it comes to deciding what is best for her and her family,” said Delegate Kaye Kory (38th – Fairfax). “This is a missed opportunity to ensure a secure, healthy workforce. Families who are able to plan their pregnancies are more financially stable and able to contribute to the New Virginia Economy.”

 

  • 295 #1h – Eliminates $9 million in TANF funding for long-acting contraception (LARC) pilot program to educate providers and patients on availability of LARC options.
  • 4-5.04 #2h – Prohibits any state funds from being used for abortion services.

 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

 

“Reentering into the community after incarceration is a difficult process, and the Commonwealth has an economic responsibility to reintegrate returning citizens in order to contribute to the New Virginia Economy,” said Delegate Sam Rasoul (11th – Roanoke). “Removing funding for programs that help reintegrate them is a missed opportunity to grow our productive workforce.”

 

  • 424 #1h – Removes funding for the State Police to handle increased workload related to the restoration of rights process.

 

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House Republicans’ Midterm Report Card

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 17, 2016

CONTACT: Jacqueline Hixson, (770) 362-2408

 

RICHMOND, Va.: Today, the day after crossover and the mid-point in the 2016 General Assembly session, House Democrats released their Midterm Report Card, which scores the House Republicans on issues important to Virginia Voters.

 

 

 

VOTER RIGHTS SCORE: F

 

“The General Assembly should be making sure more, not fewer, Virginians can exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard in government,” said Delegate Joe Lindsey (90th- Norfolk). “House Republicans are continuing to maintain a false majority in Virginia by blocking several bills that make voting easier and passing measures that will disenfranchise and discourage eligible voters.”

 

House Republicans blocked:

  • HB 68SB 106HB 531 – Allowed no-excuse early or absentee voting
  • HB 32SB 69HB 1004 – Expanded the accepted forms of voter photo identification
  • HB 56HB 1216 – Allowed persons over a certain age to vote absentee without an excuse
  • HB 1033 – Allowed absentee voting deadline to be suspended in case of an emergency
  • HB 292HB 993 – Preregistered voters starting at age 16

 

House Republicans passed:

  • HB 9 – Makes more stringent rules about what has to be on a voter registration form
  • HB 1379 – Cancels the voter registrations of people who may be registered in other states

 

 

LGBT EQUALITY SCORE: F

 

“We need to choose whether we want to treat everybody equally or not—whether the law protects some, and creates second-class citizens out of the rest,” said Delegate Mark Sickles (43rd—Fairfax). “Equal rights for all Virginians is not a zero sum calculation. If LGBT people are treated equally under the law, nobody loses their equality under the law. It is interesting and disheartening that some of my Republican friends are stating their claim as victims as we move toward a more just society.”

 

House Republicans blocked:

  • HB 179HB 300HB 913HB 1005 – Added sexual orientation and gender identity to equal housing and employment statutes
  • HB 427 – Prohibited performing conversion therapy on minors
  • HB 35 – Added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes under hate crimes laws

 

House Republicans passed:

  • HB 773 – Kim Davis-inspired bill that discriminates against same-sex couples dealing with any government entity – from clerks of court to school sports coaches. The bill will prohibit government from taking action against those who refuse to do their job because it goes against their personal religious beliefs, and would allow clerks and others to refuse to provide service if they have a religious objection to doing so.

 

 

WOMEN’S HEALTH SCORE: F

 

"Access to safe, affordable health care should be a right - not a privilege - for all men and women in Virginia," said Delegate Betsy Carr (69th - Richmond). "That includes access to family planning resources and a woman's right to make her own health care decisions."

 

House Republicans blocked:

  • HB 43 – Repealed the ultrasound requirement before obtaining an abortion
  • HB 94 – Repealed the requirement for informed written consent before obtaining an abortion
  • HB 549 – Defined birth control methods as approved by the FDA are not abortion
  • HB 1225 – Removed the prohibition of abortion coverage in plans offered in the Federal Marketplace in Virginia

 

House Republicans passed:

  • HB 1090 – Defunds clinics like Planned Parenthood

 

 

ENVIRONMENT SCORE: F

 

“Implementing a uniquely Virginian Clean Power Plan as early as possible is the best course of action for the Commonwealth,” said Delegate David Bulova (37th – Fairfax). “With our coastline at risk, the opportunity to contribute to the New Virginia Economy through investments and job growth in clean energy is one we shouldn’t pass up.”

 

House Republicans passed:

  • HB 2 – Delays implementation of the Clean Power Plan in Virginia by requiring General Assembly approval on the plan developed by the Department of Environmental Quality before it’s reported to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Delaying the plan could cause the EPA to impose their own regulations.

 

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