The League of Women Voters of Virginia (LWVVA) sponsored the Pre-Session of the Women’s Legislative Roundtable, (WLRT) on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, at the State Capitol in Richmond. Presentations were made by 17 representatives of nonprofit organizations and from secretaries of Governor McAuliffe's Cabinet. They gave short and informative speeches on their areas of expertise before an audience of about 130 people, including Leaguers and friends. This annual event provides an opportunity for attendees to learn about what other groups will be advocating for and what cabinet members expect will occur during the upcoming General Assembly (GA).
The subjects covered were as diverse as the state budget, women’s rights, voting rights, election laws and voter protection, equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT Virginians, issues of Latinos, redistricting, transparency, public safety, criminal justice reform, juvenile justice, domestic and sexual violence, mental illness, poverty, decriminalization of marijuana, civil forfeiture, police reform, and conservation of natural resources. The common thread in many of these speeches was the need for justice and fairness.
Ric Brown, the Secretary of Finance, said that a potential $1.5 billion budget shortfall is being expected due to lower-than-expected income and sales tax collections. To handle this shortfall, Gov. McAuliffe asked Executive Branch agencies to make budget cuts. These have included delaying grant payments and new positions, eliminating 26 current positions, canceling pay raises, trimming the state’s payroll in other ways, and using the rainy day fund. Virginia is an income tax state so it is difficult to project income inflows. Medicaid Extension is not in the budget.
Secretary of Administration. Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kelly Thomasson, and Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Joseph Ward all thanked the League for its nonpartisan efforts for voter rights. The Commissioner of Elections, Edgardo Cortes said a record number of Virginia voters registered online and voted. According to Co-President Lois Page, "We were awed once again by the compassion, determination and dedication of these civic activists, who want what is best for all Virginians."
What does the WLRT do?
This informational forum is where legislators and non-profit organizations’ representatives talk about pending legislation and issues of concern. The LWVVA will moderate the WLRT forums, which start at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, after the GA convenes on Jan. 11, 2017. The first WLRT meeting will be held in Richmond on Jan. 18, 2017. You are welcome to attend these meetings.
The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.
To learn more about this organization, visit www.lwv-fairfax.org.