Before this session, every year for the better part of a decade, the most profound wish for the Virginia General Assembly session was the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which could provide healthcare to as many as 400,000 poor Virginians who otherwise were living without coverage. Partisan obstruction prevented those people from gaining coverage for many years.
But coverage began this month for 200,000 new enrollees after Medicaid expansion came to Virginia in the last session. It arrived with the November 2017 election and Democrats taking 15 additional seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates. The prospect for more awaits in this November’s election with all seats in the General Assembly, both the House of Delegates and the Senate, on the ballot.
So we’ll begin this year’s wish list with gratitude that the entire Commonwealth will be healthier for providing healthcare to the previously uninsured. And a wish that we not complicate the coverage with work reporting requirements. Please.
So in the new era of new hope for action in the General Assembly, here are some (not so modest) wishes for this session, acknowledging that some may wait another year for serious consideration.
Establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission. This is urgent, as the General Assembly would have to act in this session to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in time for a commission to be ready for redistricting after the 2020 census.
Greater transparency everywhere. Move to allow fewer, not more, FOIA exemptions. Require that a reason be given for any FOIA denial.
End suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of court costs and fines.
Pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
Fund Community Services Board budgets. Expand Medicaid waivers; clear the waiting list.
Fund education fairly, Northern Virginia needs more help.
Restrict predatory lending.
Think about reform and civil rights when considering votes on law enforcement.
Involve local officials in fixing proffer regulation.
Implement no-excuse absentee voting.
Limit large campaign contributions.
Prohibit personal use of campaign funds.
Require reporting on solitary confinement .
Push jails and prisons to adopt best practices for prisoners with mental health issues.
Provide a tax credit for family caregivers, with income limits if needed.
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There is an infinite amount of information at Virginiageneralassembly.gov Click on “members and session” for quick links.
— Mary Kimm