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House Dems look to pass paid sick leave in special session

Posted at 2:49 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 15:07:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia House Democrats are planning to use an upcoming special session to mandate employers provide paid sick days, along with several other priorities.

The Democratic majority unveiled its agenda Thursday for a special session set to start next week.

"The House Democratic Caucus has laid out a bold plan this Special Session to support the Commonwealth's students, teachers, workers and health care system as we recover from COVID-19,” Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn said

The session was initially supposed to focus on adjusting the state’s budget amid the coronavirus pandemic but has grown to include criminal justice reform and other measures.

A proposal for paid sick days tops their list after it failed earlier this year.

Democrats in both chambers have also said they are looking to make transformational change to the state’s criminal justice system.

House Democrats will be introducing legislation on the following items in the Special Session:

COVID-19 Relief:

  • Requiring businesses to grant paid sick leave for Virginia workers.
  • Prohibiting garnishments of stimulus relief checks. (Office of Attorney General bill)
  • Establishing a presumption of workers' compensation for first responders, teachers and other high-risk essential workers.
  • Providing immunity from civil claims related to COVID-19 for complying with health guidance.
  • Combating price gouging for Personal Protective Equipment. (Office of Attorney General bill)
  • Protecting Virginians from eviction during a public health emergency.
  • Creating a Commonwealth Marketplace for PPE Acquisition.
  • Mandating transparency requirements for congregate-care facilities during a public health emergency.

Criminal Justice and Police Reform:

  • Reforming Virginia’s laws related to expungement of police and court records.
  • Increasing good behavior sentence credits.
  • Strengthening prosecutorial ability to dismiss charges.
  • Eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement officers.
  • Prohibiting no-knock warrants.
  • Banning the use of chokeholds and other lethal restraints used by law enforcement.
  • Creating a statewide Marcus Alert system.
  • Strengthening laws related to Citizen Review Panels.
  • Eliminating certain pretextual police stops.
  • Demilitarizing police departments by prohibiting the acquisition and use of certain weapons by law enforcement agencies.
  • Banning sexual relations between officers and arrestees.
  • Empowering the Attorney General to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations of police forces that appear to be violating constitutional rights, including unlawful discrimination. (Office of Attorney General bill)
  • Expanding the definition of hate crimes to include false 911 calls made on the basis of race.
  • Standardizing and enhancing training for all police academies.
  • Mandating the duty of one officer to report and intervene during the misconduct of another officer.
  • Requiring decertification of law enforcement officers who fail to properly perform their duties.
  • Strengthening the assessments and vetting required before hiring law enforcement officers.
  • Diversify the Department of Criminal Justice Services’ Committee on Training.

Making Virginia More Equitable:

  • Codifying Juneteenth as an official holiday of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Allowing localities or local governments and communities greater latitude in the process of removing Confederate statues and other war monuments.

House Republican Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), issued a statement Thursday in response to the House Democrats Legislative Agenda.

"House Republicans await actual legislation from our Democratic colleagues. While some of the concepts merit further evaluation, some will undoubtedly make communities less safe. House Democrats have also not identified how they plan to pay for their proposals," Gilbert wrote.