We just wrapped up week two of the General Assembly Session and we want to let you know what issues and Bills we’ve been watching during the past week:
- Retaliatory conduct by a landlord: Hard work by the legal aid community, the Virginia Association of Realtors, AOBA and VPLC paid off yesterday when the House Courts Civil subcommittee recommended reporting HB1905, introduced by Delegate Lopez. The product of compromise by all the stakeholders, HB1905 gives courts more leeway to prevent evictions based on a landlord’s desire to retaliate against a tenant who has asserted his or her rights. We believe this bill will make it harder for landlords to evict a tenant or raise a tenant’s rent in response to a tenant asserting his or her right to live in safe housing and be free from unlawful discrimination.
- Domestic violence leave: This Bill will require employers to allow an employee to take domestic violence leave, with or without pay, if the employee or the employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Payday and car title lenders: Two Bills we are monitoring would put a stop to the current evasions by Virginia’s (former) payday lenders and car title lenders. Read our blog post on this issue.
We are also pleased at the progress of the Bill to create an independent Bipartisan Redistricting Commission. Senator Jill Vogel, a Republican, and Senator L. Louise Lucas, a Democrat, merged their Bills to create this commission, which is made up of seven members who will address the issue of redistricting in a less partisan way and bring some clarity to the process. It is interesting to note that redistricting reform Bills this Session have had largely bipartisan support.
Last week, we also participated in a Healthcare for all Virginians press conference and renewed our call for the legislature to take action this session and accept the funding available to Virginia to close the health care coverage gap and get up to 400,000 people the health care they need.
“We challenge opponents to stop saying ‘NO’ to everything. Stop wasting precious dollars, stop hurting hospitals, and stop compromising the health of their constituents,” said Jill Hanken, Health Attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “We have a statewide problem, and there is an efficient and cost-effective way to solve it: Accept the funding available to Virginia to Close the Coverage Gap.”