FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2023
Contact: Morgan Hopkins, email@example.com
Tega Orhorhoro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Democrats in Both Chambers Introduce Legislation to Address Minimum Wage, Gun Violence Epidemic, Restoration of Rights, and Abortion Access
RICHMOND, VA – As prefiling opened for the 2024 General Assembly Session today, Democrats in the Virginia House and Senate introduced two bills and two joint resolutions aimed to address the priority issues facing Virginians: creating an economy that works for hardworking Virginians, keeping our communities safe, protecting and expanding the fundamental right to vote, and protecting access to reproductive healthcare for women across the Commonwealth.
As introduced, the bills and joint resolutions will: increase the minimum wage to $15 by January 1, 2026; institute a ban on AR-15 style assault firearms and certain ammunition feeding devices; work to create a constitutional amendment that will repeal felon voter disqualification and codify the automatic restoration of rights; and work to create a constitutional amendment that will codify abortion access in Virginia.
“Today, we are proud to kick off what we are sure will be a session that moves Virginia forward,” said Speaker-designee Don Scott. “I am especially glad to see the resolution to start the process of codifying the automatic restoration of rights. With this, we are sending a message that there is no room for the spirit of Jim Crow that has plagued our Commonwealth for far too long.”
“Virginia voters sent a message on November 7 that they want Virginia to remain an open and welcoming state that honors individual freedom, privacy and economic opportunity for all of its residents,” said Majority Leader Scott Surovell, Virginia Senate. “These four measures will help make Virginia the best state in America to raise a family and start a business.”
Majority Leader Charniele Herring, House of Delegates, said, “Throughout the campaign cycle we told Virginians that a Democratic Majority meant that abortion access would be protected in the Commonwealth. Today, that reigns true. Our resolution will begin the process of amending our constitution to protect reproductive rights in Virginia, building on the work that I and Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan started many years ago. It has become all too clear that without constitutional protection, access to reproductive healthcare is at risk for the Commonwealth.”
Senator Mamie Locke, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair, said, “The voters spoke loud and clear about what they didn’t want to see regarding legislation from their elected officials in November. The Senate Democratic Caucus looks forward to continuing our work with the House Democratic Caucus to get common sense solutions passed out of both chambers and send it to the Governor. We are eager and ready to get to work to finish what we started years ago.”
Delegate Kathy Tran, House Democratic Caucus Chair, said, “With these bills and resolutions, we are taking strides towards creating a Commonwealth that works for every Virginian. This is an important step in ensuring that hardworking families do not have to choose between putting food on their tables and life saving medications. I hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us as we work to advance these crucial pieces of legislation.”
The legislation has been introduced in both chambers. In Virginia, a resolution to create a constitutional amendment has to pass both the House and Senate in two sessions, with a state legislative election in between, to qualify for the ballot.
The bills and resolutions as introduced are:
- HJ1/SJ1: Constitutional Amendment; Fundamental Right to Reproductive Freedom. The resolution will be carried by Majority Leader Charniele Herring in the House and Senator Jennifer Boysko in the Senate. The resolution is identical to legislation passed by the State Senate in 2023.
- HJ2/SJ2: Constitutional Amendment Related to Restoration of Rights. The resolution will be carried by Delegate Elizabeth B. Bennett-Parker in the House and Senate Caucus Chair Mamie Locke in the Senate. The resolution is identical to legislation passed by the House of Delegates and State Senate in 2021 and the State Senate in 2023.
- HB1/SB1: Increase to the Minimum Wage. The bill will be carried by Delegate Jeion A. Ward in the House and Senator L. Louise Lucas in the Senate. The resolution is identical to portions of legislation passed by both chambers and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam in 2020, subject to re-enactment.
- HB2/SB2: Prohibition of purchase, possession, sale, transfer, etc. of assault firearms and certain ammunition feeding devices prohibited. The bill will be carried by Delegate Dan I. Helmer in the House and Senator R. Creigh Deeds in the Senate. The legislation is identical to legislation passed by the State Senate in 2023.
Members of the press interested in speaking to a member of House or Senate Leadership about the legislation should contact Morgan Hopkins at email@example.com or Tega Orhorhoro, firstname.lastname@example.org.