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Progressive Voice: A Progressive Agenda – Part 4

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 fourth of five 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.

In that same context, this week will bring an opportunity to see how this year’s gubernatorial candidates will try to define their agenda and that of their opponent as the Virginia Bar Association will host its traditional first gubernatorial debate of the campaigns season at 11 a.m. on July 22 at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. The public will be able to see the debate via a PBS live stream and there is generally substantial press coverage.

While we await the debate and coverage of it, I am providing – again without editorial comment — the progressive agenda as defined by resolutions adopted by the 8th Congressional District Democratic Convention delegates as a window into the views of progressive voters in an area of the Commonwealth that will be an important indicator of the level of Democratic enthusiasm during a general election that will receive national attention.

Opposition to Proposed 2018 Federal Budget: The Convention opposes the proposed federal budget as it would harm the economy and citizens of the Washington, D.C. region generally, including Northern Virginia, and encourages Democrats to hold elected officials accountable should they actively and/or passively support budgetary policies harmful to Northern Virginia.

Opposition to Gerrymandering: Gerrymandering of districts must end and voters should be allowed to select their political representatives instead of officeholders selecting their voters. Any solution should be independent, objective, and transparent. As a Constitutional amendment may be necessary to assure the independence of the redistricting process, the General Assembly should act in its 2018 session so that the amendment can take effect before the 2021 redistricting.

Pay and Benefits: Congress should establish a national paid family and medical leave policy that guarantees at least 12 weeks of compensated leave to care for new children or deal with family medical emergencies. Congress and the Commonwealth should incentivize businesses to adopt profit sharing systems such as employee stock ownership plans to ensure workers receive a fair share of large employer success. Virginia should explore ways to provide options and incentives for employers to voluntarily offer increased pay and benefits in these areas.

Political Contributions from Public Service Corporations: General Assembly members should reject campaign contributions from a public service corporation. The Convention supports legislation prohibiting candidates for the General Assembly or statewide office from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions from a public service corporation and urges Virginia’s state and local elected officials to establish the fight against climate change as a top legislative priority in accordance with Virginia’s constitutional mandate to “protect [Virginia’s] atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction.”

Preserving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The proposed federal budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency are detrimental to protecting the nation’s clean air and water. Congress should use a full life cycle cost analysis in setting budget priorities rather than ideological agendas.

Primaries Instead of Caucuses: The Convention recommends that the Democratic Party of Virginia and the local Democratic committees conduct primaries whenever possible.

Religious Freedom: The Convention condemns the Trump Administration in the strongest possible terms for allowing an employer to interfere with employee health care benefits based on the employer’s religious beliefs. This policy is a direct infringement of the employee’s religious views. Congress should overturn these hasty and ill-advised actions so as to restore the right of every citizen to hold their own religious views and to reach their own views on political issues without taxpayer subsidized lectures advocating partisan positions from the pulpit.

SNAP and Nutrition: This nation should make sufficient resources available to end hunger in the United States. The Convention opposes the conversion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program into a block grant to the states. The federal agricultural program should include nutritional assistance as an integral part of its mission. The Convention opposes steps that would attack nutritional education and the promotion of good eating habits by school children and by the population as a whole.

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.

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