On Monday, the House General Laws Committee advanced Senate Bill 5088, which would require landlords to establish a payment plan for tenants who are behind on rent before they can be evicted. The committee conformed that bill to a similar bill, House Bill 5064.
The Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology advanced the House version of the bill last week after conforming it to the Senate version. Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, the sponsor of the House version of the bill, is working with Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, the sponsor of the Senate version, and expects to reach an agreement on some minor differences in a joint conference committee.
The sale of River Farm has also caught the attention of elected officials in the region. State senators Scott Surovell (D- Fairfax) and Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) along with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer have expressed interest in finding a solution that will keep River Farm open to the public.
One option that’s been floated by Ebbin and Surovell is the same one that some board members had expressed interest in exploring prior to the vote: finding a county, state or federal park organization to take over the property, which would keep it open to the public.
“I’ll be working with other officials to see how quickly we can start to perhaps get the [AHS] to be willing to consider negotiating or delaying a sale, if in fact we can get interest from the park authority or county in purchasing it,” Ebbin said.
In the meantime, Virginia’s General Assembly has been considering bills since Aug. 18 that include creating a temporary eviction ban through the state code. Legislation filed by Del. Josh Cole, D-Stafford, would ban evictions until 60 days after the governor’s state of emergency ends, and a bill filed by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, would ban evictions until April 30, 2021.
Another bill by Del. Cia Price, D-Newport News, and Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, would require landlords who own more than four units to give tenants a written notice of how much rent is owed and offer a payment plan. The bills have passed in their respective chambers.
Northam is also asking legislators to consider spending $88 million to help people get affordable housing and further prevent evictions.
“This bill is a win-win and will stem the potential tide of evictions in Virginia,” Ebbin said on social media, “and has consensus support from tenants and landlords alike.”
Tourism in Alexandria isn’t what it used to be. With local economies devastated by the pandemic, First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam visited Alexandria on Wednesday (July 22) to promote safe tourism and congratulate the city on winning a $10,000 grant for its Great Walks program.
Northam was joined by State Senator Adam Ebbin, City Councilman John Taylor Chapman, Councilwoman Del Pepper, Rita McClenny of the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Patricia Washington of Visit Alexandria. None of the speakers said they would be taking vacations this summer, but instead would be making small outings and being careful not to contract the virus.
In the 1990s, I first came to Richmond as an advocate. Those legislators and staff who were even willing to speak with us were surprised that anyone was advocating for LGBT people in Virginia. For many sessions after I was elected, we were on the defensive dealing with anti-LGBT bills. In a single session we had to deal with bills against gay marriage; against adoption by gay people; against gay-straight alliances; and even a bill to provide a “traditional marriage” license plate. For years, while a gay couple could be married in VA on a Sunday, they could be fired on a Monday, evicted on Tuesday and denied a hotel room the next night.
Make no mistake, millions of Americans continue to suffer this psychological, physical, and economic vandalism–simply because of who they are or whom they love. But here in the Commonwealth, we’re taking a stand. The Virginia Values Act will not erase all discrimination, but it will arm Virginians with an effective tool to fight back against bigotry. With your signature, Governor, we deliver on the promise of Stonewall.”
Criminal justice reforms will take up time and attention during the special session, and lawmakers will be trying to navigate their way through a series of complicated changes at breakneck speed. Last month, Senate Democrats released an expansive list of proposals including everything from banning no-knock warrants and chokeholds to canceling funding for police departments that have disproportionate use of force incidents. The list also includes reforms like prohibiting officers from having sex with detainees and prohibiting police from shooting at moving vehicles.
“If you’re mentally ill and something’s wrong and someone shows up with a gun and a uniform, that’s not as reassuring as having a mental health counselor come and de-escalate if an officer wasn’t needed.”
“I’m here because I’m excited about Joe Biden and excited about him being President — but I wanted to just step back for a moment though to talk about the possibilities that we have when we have a pro-equality executive and a pro-equality legislature. This year in Virginia, after having an anti-equality legislature for so long, we were able to pass the Virginia Values Act, which is our most comprehensive civil rights law probably ever, dealing with non-discrimination in the areas of employment and housing and public accommodation, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and so many other areas. We were able to do that and we need an executive at the federal level, for the remaining twenty states or so that don’t have laws like that in place. We were able to have the Supreme Court help with employment but that doesn’t help with the array of rights and housing and public accommodation that we need for everyone to have. So, we need Joe Biden to lead us towards a trifecta,” said State Senator Adam Ebbin.
Ebbin said that despite the meaningful step of decriminalization, the state still has a long way to go.
“Today Virginia is taking an important first step in reducing the harm caused by the criminalization of cannabis,” he said in a statement. “The prohibition of marijuana has failed and the consequence of this failure has been felt overwhelmingly by Virginians of color, but it has not ended. It will only end when it is replaced by a regulated adult-use market that emphasizes equity—making whole those who have been burdened most by making sure they have a seat at the table and access to the marketplace. We are looking forward to doing the hard work needed to get this right.”
In addition to expanding existing protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the law also creates all-new protections for Virginians in private employment and places of public accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, and status as a veteran. Virginia is the first state in the South to have non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, the first state in over a decade to add both sexual orientation