November 18 to November 24, 2019

November 18 to November 24, 2019


2019 Election:  VA House 13 – Danica Roem (D) received 12,055 votes  and Kelly McGinn (R) 9,463 votes

District Map:  Northern Virginia House Districts – 28 Democrats and 2 Republicans – GMU onAir Chapter

Interview (5:07):  Karrie Delaney (D) – Delegate for House District 67 – interviewed by Kerrie Thompson

Supporter:  Delegate Kaye Kory (D) – says she proud of the Mason students curating the Virginia onAir Hub

Event:  Fairfax Redistricting Forum – 11/17/19 – sponsored by LWV of Fairfax and One Virginia2021 

Video (2:15):  About Virginia onAir – Elections & Governance Hub and onAir Chapters – “Learn. Discuss. Engage.”


Most U.S. aircraft carriers sit idle in Virginia ports
By: Allison Winter
Virginia Mercury – November 18, 2019

Monday November 18, 2019

The USS Gerald R. Ford is shown underway on its own power for the first time while leaving Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News on April 8, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni, via Wikipedia.)

More than half of the nation’s aircraft carriers are not currently ready for deployment, as the massive ships sit off the Virginia coastline in various states of repair or testing.

The U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers, more than any other nation. Six of them are currently docked off the Virginia coast and only one is ready to deploy. Another is undergoing maintenance on the Pacific coast. The hulking warships serve as mobile airbases at sea and can allow U.S. forces to fly into areas swiftly, without a complicated process of getting permission to set up on land in neighboring nations.

Buttigieg leading in donations from Virginia
By: Adam Hamza
Capital News Service – November 19, 2019

With support from former Vice President Al Gore and other prominent Virginia residents, Pete Buttigieg has raised more money in individual donations from the commonwealth than any other candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has received nearly $950,000 from Virginians, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. That puts him ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden (about $750,000) and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont (less than $400,000).

The money certainly helps Buttigieg’s campaign, but it may not affect his chances much in Virginia, said Miles Coleman, the associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a blog published by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. (On Monday, Buttigieg became the first presidential candidate to file for the Democratic primary in Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported).

State Executive

Virginia election officials recommend 45 days of early voting
By: By Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – November 18, 2019

The Virginia State Board of Elections is recommending that the state create a 45-day early voting window for the 2020 elections, a significant expansion of the seven-day window the General Assembly authorized earlier this year.

Virginia has gradually widened its election laws to give voters more leeway to cast absentee ballots before Election Day. However, voters have had to give an excuse for why they can’t make it to their polling place, such as travel, work, a disability or military duty.

Northam plans to pitch a tuition-free community college program. How much will it cost?
By: Mel Leonor
Richmond Times-Dispatch – November 21, 2019

Virginia lawmakers are preparing for the state’s next budget cycle — one likely to be rife with new asks from empowered Democrats, including a free community college proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam.

Senate lawmakers on Thursday considered a budget recommendation from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, which called for a $20 million investment in community colleges in budget year 2021 and a $30 million investment in 2022.

The figures were part of a preliminary presentation in Harrisonburg, where Senate lawmakers began to square broad agency funding requests and state revenue outlooks.

State Legislature

Now that the Democrats own the 2021 redistricting, will they resist the temptation to derail it?
By: Bob Lewis
Virginia Mercury – November 18, 2019

Has Virginia’s new Democratic legislative majority painted itself into a corner on redistricting? Can Democrats resist the temptation to derail a long-sought nonpartisan reapportionment commission already well on the road to becoming real?

Back when they were the minority party (just two weeks ago), Democrats criticized majority Republicans for muscling brazenly partisan redistricting bills through the legislature that gave the GOP significant numerical advantages in the new congressional and state district boundaries. Republicans had similarly cried foul for the whole 20th century until they secured their first unchallenged legislative majority in 1999.

A kinder, gentler Todd Gilbert? ‘It depends on the day and the issue.’
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – November 19, 2019

Tuesday November 189, 2019

AP Photo from Advocate

Over the weekend, deposed Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates chose Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, to lead them through their next two years in the minority.

Of the two leaders reportedly under consideration (Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, also made a bid), Gilbert was the more conservative choice. He continued to oppose Medicaid expansion last year and is known for combative debate on the House floor and in committee meetings. It was his persistent questioning of Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, which yielded the infamous video that ignited a furor over her failed bill on late-term abortion restrictions.

First bills of the 2020 session: early voting, universal background checks, LGBTQ non-discrimination and casinos
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – November 19, 2019

• HB1, filed by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, would allow no excuse, in-person absentee voting.

• HB2, filed by Del. Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, would mandate universal background checks.

• HB3, filed by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, would prohibit housing discrimination against LGBTQ people. (Which, yes, is currently legal.)

• And Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, filed a resolution, HJ1, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

Social issues will loom large in Virginia Senate
By: Norman Leahy
The Washington Post – November 21, 2019

A measure sure to set the pyrotechnics off right: Saslaw’s proposed constitutional amendment on “personal reproductive liberty.”
The very clever use of the right’s phrasing (how can anyone oppose personal liberty?) masks a much larger political purpose. According to the amendment’s summary, it would add a section to the Virginia constitution:

… establish the individual right to personal reproductive autonomy. The amendment prohibits the denial or infringement upon this right unless justified by a compelling interest of the Commonwealth and achieved by the least restrictive means.


LGBTQ+ Rights

From housing to restaurants to school bathrooms, Virginia LGBTQ advocates plan broad 2020 agenda

By Graham Moomaw

Virginia Mercury-November 19, 2019

With Republicans in control of the General Assembly, LGBTQ rights advocates trying to pass stronger anti-discrimination laws in Virginia knew they had to think small.

After Election Day, that’s all over.

In an interview, James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said his group is widening its policy agenda in preparation for the first Democratic-controlled legislative session in more than two decades.

Criminal Justice Reform

Group seeks abolition of death penalty in Va. as Democrats prepare to take control of legislature

By Frank Green

Richmond Times-Dispatch-November 19, 2019

With Democrats soon to be in control of the state legislature, the group Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is seeking an end to the death penalty in Virginia.

The group announced Monday that 13 Virginians who have lost a family member to homicide are asking the General Assembly to make Virginia the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty.
One of them will be speaking at a news conference in Richmond on Thursday.


Higher Education and Technology

‘The demand for talent is tremendous’ — Virginia boosts investment as push for high-tech degrees gains speed

By Michael Martz

Richmond Times-Dispatch-November 20, 2019

Virginia’s commitment to invest in educating high-tech talent won the sweepstakes for Amazon’s second headquarters a year ago, but now some big bills are coming due in the next state budget to help public colleges and universities deliver on the promise.

The $1.1 billion, 20-year plan will require an additional $30.4 million in the two-year budget that Gov. Ralph Northam will present next month, on top of $16.6 million in annual funding already assumed in the budget.

The state money will go to at least 11 higher-education institutions to add at least 31,000 degrees in computer sciences and related fields to feed graduates into the “tech talent investment pipeline” that was central to the Amazon deal.

Fifteen Va. Superfund sites threatened by climate change, watchdog agency says
By: Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – November 20, 2019

Fifteen of the most contaminated sites in Virginia are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, according to a new report from a government watchdog agency.

The Government Accountability Office, an independent agency that works for the U.S. Congress, assessed how impacts of climate change — including flooding, storm surge, wildfires and sea level rise — might affect some of the most dangerous hazardous waste sites around the country. The agency looked at 1,336 “active” sites on U.S. EPA’s National Priorities List and 421 “deleted” sites where EPA had determined no further cleanup was needed.


Attorney General Mark Herring to host ‘Cannabis Summit’ ahead of 2020 session
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – November 19, 2019

Thursday November 21, 2019

Source: NBC 29.

Attorney General Mark Herring has invited state lawmakers to a “Cannabis Summit” next month that will feature policymakers from states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana and academics who study cannabis-related issues.

The Dec. 11 event hosted by a top Democratic official suggests cannabis reform will be a more serious topic in the 2020 legislative session than in years past. Virginia has authorized a limited medical cannabis program, but legislation to decriminalize or or legalize cannabis has gained no traction in Republican-controlled committees. In elections earlier this month, Democrats won enough seats to take control of the General Assembly for the first time in decades.


Medicaid expansion may be the most important thing the General Assembly has done in a generation
By: Brian Chiglinsky
Virginia Mercury – November 20, 2019

Making policy is often pretty bland and frustrating. Long hours and detailed analyses often lead to an endless spool of problems to solve, and results that can take decades to fully grasp. A hundred years ago, Max Weber called it the “strong and slow boring of hard boards,” and that’s not because he was particularly riveted by carpentry.

But every once in a while, things move fast and results come quickly. Medicaid expansion could very well be one of those rare situations. As more data accumulates and more studies come together, it’s beginning to look like the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is one of the most important advances in public health in nearly a generation.

Gun Sanctuaries

After Democratic victories, rural Virginia counties rush to declare themselves gun sanctuaries
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – November 20, 2019

In an overflowing meeting room, speakers repeatedly invoked the Virginia-born Founding Fathers who saw fit to enshrine firearms in the U.S. Constitution.

One man said the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump — which he suggested could be a “coup” — shows the need for an armed citizenry capable of standing up to tyranny. Another raised the possibility that, if Americans can’t keep their guns, they may one day have to “do like in Hong Kong,” where pro-democracy protesters are using improvised weapons like bows, firebombs and catapults to resist authorities

Health insurance

Study: Virginia workers’ health insurance premiums are among the highest in the country
Virginia Mercury – November 21, 2019

A national study of health care costs released Thursday confirmed what many workers already know from looking at their pay stubs: Premiums and deductibles for employer-sponsored healthcare plans are rising faster than wages.

The average Virginia worker’s out of pocket cost amounted to nearly 11 percent of the state’s median income in 2018, up from just under 7 percent in 2008, according to the analysis of federal data The Commonwealth Fund released Thursday.



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