Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
By Larry Roberts
This is the third in a series of columns about how Arlington progressives and 8th Congressional District (Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and parts of Fairfax) Democrats responded from a policy perspective to the 2016 Presidential election.
Arlington Democrats now have in place a “state house to school house” ticket for the November 2017 election – Ralph Northam (Governor), Justin Fairfax (Lt. Governor), Mark Herring (Attorney General), Patrick Hope, Mark Levine, Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan (House of Delegates), Erik Gutshall (County Board), and Monique O’Grady (School Board).
As the ticket’s electoral agenda comes into focus, the progressive agenda as defined by resolutions adopted by the 8th Congressional District Democratic Convention delegates – again presented without editorial comment – remains instructive.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic: Encourages strict enforcement of existing laws regulating the manufacture and distribution of addictive opioids, as well as the following actions (1) law enforcement should assist drug manufacturers in their internal investigations of possible overprescribing and counterfeiting of opioid drugs; (2) Virginia health officials should continue to provide guidance to medical professionals about the appropriate medical use of opioids following guidelines published by the CDC, and should monitor and periodically publish statistics on the volume of opioids prescribed in the state; (3) Virginia should establish and fully fund expanded treatment and rehabilitation programs for opioid abuse to ensure that opioid addiction is properly viewed as a public health issue rather than simply leading to increased incarceration rates; and (4) Virginia should establish and fully fund expanded economic, educational, and social programs designed to relieve systemic causes of addiction, including, but not limited to long-term unemployment and under-employment.
Gun Violence Prevention: The Governor should (1) encourage, facilitate and incentivize the world-class technology enterprises of Virginia to pave the way in developing and marketing ground-breaking and affordable technology applications to gun safety issues; and (2) promote, fund and incentivize the academic institutions of Virginia to participate in a “Manhattan Project” type of collaborative effort to lead the nation in developing low-cost and readily accessible personalized and other safety devices for hand guns, with particular emphasis on child safety and safety in the home.
The General Assembly should empower localities to enact ordinances to prohibit guns in government facilities and in establishments serving alcohol. Congress should promote, authorize, aggressively fund, and incentivize programs and projects that will result in the immediate availability of personalized safety devices for hand guns. The Federal government (through appropriate agencies) should fund studies and collect statistics on the nature and extent of gun violence in the United States.
Helping Working Families Afford Retirement: Congress should support retirement savings and expand retirement savings options through initiatives such as (1) allowing workers without employer sponsored options to enroll in auto IRAs; and (2) creating minimum pension plans for workers and employers at businesses with 50 or more employees. Virginia should establish a state savings plan option.
High Quality Child Care and Universal Pre-K to Virginians: To remain competitive in the 21st century and to reduce the burden on middle-class Virginian families, the Commonwealth must provide high quality child care and universal pre-K to all Virginians; The General Assembly should (1) make a High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit available that is paid directly to providers on a monthly basis to help families afford child care with families contributing up to 10% percent of their income toward child care fees on a sliding scale; and (2) amend Virginia Code Section 22.1-254 to make free public education available starting at age 3, rather than age 6.
High School Democrats of America Joining the DNC: The High School Democrats of America should receive two Delegate At Large positions for the HSDA Chair and Vice Chair, become voting members of the Democratic National Committee, and join the Young Democrats of America and College Democrats of America as recognized DNC stakeholders.
Immigration, Deportation, and Muslim Ban: The Committee condemns in the strongest possible terms the “Muslim Ban” and the ongoing deportations of undocumented residents living in the United States peacefully; opposes any future efforts to ban entry into the United States on the basis of religious belief or national origin as well as any future funding for an expanded deportation program; and calls upon the Congress to renew its bi-partisan efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Instant Runoff Voting in Primaries: Section 24.2-532 of the Code of Virginia should be amended to provide local parties the option of specifying that a primary should be conducted using either IRV or the current one-round method.
Larry Roberts is an attorney in private practice who has previously served in the state Cabinet as Counselor to Governor Tim Kaine and as Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair. He has been Chair for three successful statewide political campaigns, including Justin Fairfax’s campaign to be the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor in 2017.