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 final installment 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.
I am providing – again without editorial comment — the progressive agenda as defined by resolutions adopted by the 8th Congressional District Democratic Convention delegates. This is a window into the views of progressive voters entering a gubernatorial election year with an outcome that will have a dramatic effect on progressives, Arlington County and the Commonwealth’s future.
Support for Local Moderate Income Down Payment Assistance Programs. We support Virginia developing local down payment assistance programs for well qualified first-time homebuyers; income limits for those who can qualify should consider multiple independent income earners in conjunction with or rather than total household size; and adding minimum annual student loan payments to the formula for determining income limits.
Thanking Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) for His Service to Virginia. McAuliffe has served as Virginia’s Governor with distinction. He restored public trust and confidence in the office in the wake of conflict of interest scandals surrounding his predecessor. On his first day in office, the Governor signed an executive order imposing a $100 gift ban on himself, his family and members of his administration and their families.
Under his leadership, Virginia has announced 926 projects, created 189,200 new jobs and attracted $15.86 billion in new capital investment. McAuliffe has worked to prepare the Commonwealth for the effects of climate changes and to reduce Virginia’s contribution to its causes. To promote Virginia’s State Park System, he will visit every state park.
In addition to positive leadership on important policy issues, the Governor has been an essential bulwark against the mean-spirited attempts of the Republican-controlled General Assembly to take Virginia backwards on many social and economic issues. He has vetoed 91 bills and has amended many additional ones. Absent his actions, Virginia would be far less welcoming to many of its residents.
Therefore, the Convention congratulates McAuliffe on a job well done and urges voters to elect a Democratic successor to continue his efforts to curb the excesses of the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Title IX. Protections for transgender students should be reinstated and guidance issued, and investigations commenced by the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education should be continued per the current standards. Additionally, the OCR should be fully funded to ensure that all students in Virginia are protected so that they can attend public schools and universities safely and free of discrimination. All K-12 and Virginia higher education institutions should advance and enforce the principles and legal standards of equality promulgated under Title IX.
Title X. Title X of the Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Program provides significant and critical health and economic benefits for individuals, families and society. Millions of low income men and women in the United States rely on publicly funded services through Title X, family planning services, and other health care services including early detection and treatment of STIs and cervical cancer.
Without adequate funding to Title X to pay for these services, many men and women in Virginia will have no access to these lifesaving and family planning services. Sufficient funding should be provided to adequately meet the needs of the residents of Virginia who rely on services funded through Title X. The Federal government should prohibit discrimination against Title X providers that perform abortions with non-federal funds.
Voting Rights. We condemn any measure that seeks to gain political advantage by hindering citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote; urge Congress to act promptly to fix Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act so that states with a recent history of discrimination will once again be subject to pre-clearance review by the Department of Justice; urge the General Assembly to enact a no-excuse in-person early (absentee) voting procedures, repeal the recently-enacted voter ID laws, and streamline voter registration procedures; and commend McAuliffe’s actions to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time without the unnecessary and time consuming application process previously imposed.
The General Assembly must amend Article II, Section I of the State Constitution to remove Jim Crow-era felon disenfranchisement provisions. The Virginia Parole Board and other government organizations should actively educate Virginians on their restored voting rights and assist them in registering to vote.
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.