VPLC at the General AssemblyAnd we’re off …

The General Assembly is in session, and our advocates are analyzing bills to make sure the interests of low-income Virginians are considered by lawmakers.

We’d like to open a little window on our life here at VPLC during the session, through regular updates on this blog.  With more than 1,500 bills so far, scrolling through the legislative website is part of a VPLC advocate’s day.  We already have some news on bills that we’d like to pass along:

  • HB 1451 Landlord and tenant laws; notice to terminate tenancy.  We are puzzled why the landlords feel they must re-write large sections of the landlord tenant laws every year without any justification.  Our biggest concern with this year’s re-write is the attempt to re-write federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.  Among other things, the Bill allows landlords to put into their form leases a waiver of a servicemember’s right to postpone an eviction action brought against the servicemember and his or her family while the servicemember is deployed.  This pre-dispute waiver is contrary to federal law and unfair to servicemembers.
  • HB 2007 Protective Orders; assault and battery; penalty.  Delegate Robert Bell has agreed to bring this Bill, which would remove the requirement of “serious” to serious bodily injury to get a felony conviction if an abuser commits a battery that results in bodily injury upon a person protected by a protective order.  Currently, the assault and battery must result in serious bodily injury in order for the offense to be punishable as a Class 6 felony.  We are still requiring some kind of bodily injury in order to be able to charge for this protective order violation as a Class 6 felony. Why is this Bill important?  Because higher bonds for Class 6 felony’s over misdemeanor charges mean that the abuser is more likely to stay in jail instead of posting bond and getting out and hurting the victim or killing her because she has to find him by invoking the criminal justice system.
  • Redistricting bills take a backseat. For several years, legislators have submitted Bills to create a fair and independent redistricting commission.  These initiatives have died in a House of Delegates subcommittee.  It appears that the subcommittee is trying to quietly kill these Bills again.  VPLC has joined with a coalition of groups and individuals that feel it is fundamental to our democracy that the voters should pick their legislators and it is unethical to let the legislators pick their voters.  For more on this issue see: http://onevirginia2021.org/.

If you come to the General Assembly Building in the next few weeks, you’ll see us promoting the issues we have identified as important or working, often with other advocates, to craft compromises and to educate about the effects of legislation on the poor.

We’ll provide updates to you, our readers, as often as we can and certainly when we have important news to pass along.  To read our legislative priorities for this session, please click here.