On Wednesday, January 13, the Virginia General Assembly officially gaveled in and convened virtually for the 2021 legislative session. With the backdrop of an ongoing deadly pandemic, white supremacist violence at the U.S. Capitol, the first-ever second impeachment (during a single term) of a sitting president, and continued calls for racial justice and political awakenings, this session is already proving to be VERY different from any other. Additionally, Virginia’s political climate is buzzing with every delegate facing election in November plus the open races for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.
This all comes on the heels of a 2020 regular session that lasted 65 days, followed by a special session (on COVID-19 response and criminal justice reform) that started in August and went on for 84 days — that’s a total of 149 days or 40.7% of the year. For reference, the part-time legislature typically meets for just 60 days in even years (typically referred to as “long session”) and 45 days in odd years (typically referred to as “short session”).
That said, legislators and advocacy organizations alike are hopeful about the opportunity to make Virginia more equitable, more trauma-informed, and more just for all. Proposed bills include abolition of the death penalty, legalization of marijuana, expansion of healthcare funding and infrastructure to support maternal health and the practice of life-saving doulas, repealing mandatory minimum sentences, restoration of voting rights for those with felony convictions, expungement of criminal records for victims of human trafficking, and more.
The Action Alliance’s Justice Projects Team and Public Policy Committee are working hard to monitor legislative committees and the hundreds of bills that have the potential to impact survivors and advocates. We’ll be testifying in support of and in opposition to proposals, working closely with legislators and advocacy groups to enhance response and prevention, and centering the voices of sexual and domestic violence advocates and survivors during all these conversations. We also have our own list of priority proposals that we’ll be championing, including restoring crucial investments in sexual and domestic violence prevention. We’re asking our allies and policy leaders to join us in advancing these measures. This is where you come in.😊
We invite you – your family, your friends, your organization, your staff, your board members, community partners, and survivors – to join us (virtually!) for Legislative Advocacy Day 2021 on January 27, 2021 from 8:00AM to Noon. This is a unique opportunity to connect policy leaders with sexual and domestic violence advocates and survivors on the issues most critical to our communities during this time.
Policy leaders want to hear from you about how your work and the communities, families, and individuals you serve are being impacted by things like increased unemployment, housing insecurity, and risk factors for violence that are on the rise during this pandemic. More importantly, they want to hear from you about how, now more than ever, funding sexual and domestic violence prevention will help us to collectively build healthy futures, and reduce those risk factors for future violence, for all Virginians.
We want to see survivors, advocates, and allies fill the virtual halls of the General Assembly and advocate for policies that will help prevent violence and ensure conditions where every person has the opportunity to thrive. We can’t wait to have you join us for Legislative Advocacy Day 2021! Check out the schedule of events below. Click here to register today!
Schedule of Events
TUESDAY, JANUARY 26
Legislative Briefing and Q & A w/Action Alliance Public Policy Committee
3:00 PM- 4:00 PM
This is an opportunity to hear from and connect with Policy staff and experienced legislative advocates on our 2021 policy priorities.
Virtual Workshop: Storytelling for Change.
4:15 PM – 5:15 PM
Join us for a special workshop designed to help you dig deep and craft messaging that will compel policy leaders and allies to join us in our efforts to build safe and thriving communities for all Virginians. Participants will have an opportunity to learn from communications and policy experts and to spend some time honing their messages for Legislative Advocacy and beyond.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27
Welcome & Virtual Legislative Reception
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
This is an opportunity to hear from and connect with Policy Staff and experienced legislative advocates on our 2021 policy priorities. Key Legislators will be invited to welcome and greet advocates.
Attend Virtual Visits with your Legislators and/or join a virtual Committee meeting!
9:00 AM – NOON
Be sure to make appointments with your legislators in advance, as soon as possible! You can find your legislators here: Who’s My Legislator?
House and Senate Committee meetings is where all the work and action happen. You can join our policy staff in supporting and watching the bill process and/or sign up to testify on key bills of interest. Meetings are still to be determined.
Zoom breakout space available
9:00 AM – NOON
This is a virtual space available for participants to connect with Action Alliance staff, take breaks, debrief visits, and recharge before the next meeting!