In the first half of the 2023 General Assembly session, LAJC staff have advocated, testified, and supported the testimony of community members in favor of bills that would improve public school funding, expand comprehensive and affordable children’s health care coverage, increase tenants’ rights, ease the burden and harm court fines can have on those returning from incarceration, and much more. We have also stood up against proposed legislation that would roll back progress made in past years, including proposals to expand policing in schools, return unfair rules to Virginia’s pretrial process, and reinstate racist policing practices.
One bill we are currently fighting against is HB1365, which would bring back the recently repealed presumptions against bail. This type of pretrial detention doesn’t make anyone any safer, but can have a destabilizing impact on individuals and communities.
We have supported partners like VACOLAO, VEA, ACLUVA and Justice Forward as they brought community members to the Capitol to advocate for change, and we worked behind the scenes with legislators to move bills through the process. That is just a glimpse of LAJC’s efforts to push Virginia forward and protect the gains we have made so far.
LAJC staff members after testifying in committee along with Rob Poggenklass from Justice Forward
LAJC Executive Director Angela Ciolfi and Litigation Director Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg with youth advocates at VACOLAO’s advocacy day
We are now at the halfway point of the 2023 General Assembly session, a time known as “Crossover,” when all the bills that passed the Senate and House move to the opposite chamber to be considered and, if passed, will go to the Governor for final signature, amendments, or to be vetoed.
While many bills supported by LAJC, our communities, and our partners did not pass this year, a number are still up for consideration, including legislation that:
- Increases school funding. We are supporting this as part of the Fund Our Schools Coalition (read bill)
- Allows people to apply work done while incarcerated to help pay off court fines and fees and for that to happen at a fair pay rate (read bill)
- Shortens the maximum length of confinement for a Class 1 misdemeanor to prevent immigrants from potential deportation or other immigration issues due to a minor infraction (read bill)
- Changes the collection of court fees timeframe from 60 to 180 days to allow those who were previously incarcerated and settling back into their communities time before their court debt is sent to collections (read bill)
- Extends a mandatory waiting period from 5 to 14 days through a notice called a “pay or quit” to give tenants more time to pay their rent upon receiving this notice of the landlord’s intention to terminate the rental agreement if the rent is not paid. We are supporting the Virginia Poverty Law Center on this effort. (read bill)
Youth Justice Program Organizer Alex Blocker
testifies in committee on an education bill
It will likely be a tough road for many of these bills to make it to the Governor’s desk and be signed into law, but our team of advocates and supporters is continuing to fight for positive change. Please follow our social media channels to get up-to-date information on where many of these bills stand and to help take action in support.