January 11, 2023, marks the start of the Virginia General Assembly legislative session and LAJC is ready.
Our teams have worked with community groups and advocacy partners throughout the past year to identify priorities and issues of concern that are likely to arise as members bring bills to committees and legislation moves forward in the coming weeks. This year the General Assembly will meet for a fast-paced 30-45 days. During that time, legislators will adjust the two-year budget they passed last year and deliberate on thousands of bills.
In recent legislative sessions, LAJC has been proud to help successfully pass some important and meaningful policy changes, including the first improvement in criminal record expungement laws in nearly 50 years and the creation of Driver Privilege Cards for undocumented Virginians. Now we are prepared to fight to protect these wins from any attempts to roll back that progress.
We anticipate legislation that attacks immigrant rights and are already seeing legislation on pre-textual stops by police and legislation that would lead to increased negative contact with the criminal legal system for K-12 students.
Proactively, we are asking lawmakers to pass the Community Service Underpaid Work Bill, which allows an individual’s underpaid work while incarcerated to count as community service that can offset debt incurred from court costs and fees. We will also be asking legislators to support a bill that provides people who are released from incarceration a 6-month grace period before incurring a 17% collection fee on their court debt. These bills would help people returning after incarceration by placing less of a financial burden on them while they get on their feet.
As part of our leading role in the Fund Our Schools Coalition, we will also continue to fight for Virginia schools to be fully and fairly funded. In addition, we are supporting the Virginia Poverty Law Center in their efforts to improve tenants’ rights in Virginia.
We are excited to again work with community members and elected officials to make Virginia a better place for all who live here, but we will need your help. Please follow us on social media or sign up to receive text messages about urgent issues and actions you can take by texting LAJCVA to 52886.