Virginia State House
Virginia State House
Virginians United Against Syrian Refugees
The citizens of Virginia are requesting you to take immediate action. As our elected officials and representatives of The Great Commonwealth of Virginia, we request you take immediate action to prevent the relocation of any Syrian refugee onto Virginia soil. Sic semper tyrannis
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members reunite with their families
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who served for 10 years mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand, that I first encountered Amerasian children (and descendants) of U.S. sailors and military contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. Many Amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. sailors who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to reunite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. Service members. Today, all John wants is to be reunited with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to reunite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2016 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently reunite with her dad. You can find them in the Amerasian group pages on Facebook. Search angel services are available to both sides.There is a PBS documentary called "Left by the Ship" (2010), the video above, documenting everyday life and their personal struggles as a Filipino Amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers, to bridge the gap between the past and the present. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2016 now!
Pass a Virginia law to protect dogs in harsh weather
Legislation is greatly needed in the State of Virginia, requiring dog owners to keep their pets indoors once the temperature drops below 35 degrees, or exceeds 85 degrees. Currently, there is no protection for dogs left outside, and severe weather poses a fatal threat to these defenseless creatures. Rainbow is a recent example: On the morning of January 12, 2017, a dog was found frozen to death in Accomack County, Virginia, surrounded by snow, ice, and vomit. Her neck was bound tightly by a short chain that prevented her from reaching her plastic, uninsulated igloo, and she died an agonizing death, alone. She was named posthumously named "Rainbow." Rainbow's owner, Jose Berlanga, was charged with one count of animal cruelty and one count of failure to provide proper shelter. General District Judge Gordon Vincent found Berlanga guilty of both counts. He was fined $650 and sentenced to 60 days in jail. However, the entire jail sentence was suspended, as was $500 of the $650 fine. In the end, Berlanga paid a fine of $150 for Rainbow's death. Unfortunately, it is a common practice to leave dogs outside in extreme weather. These are just a FEW cases from Virginia Two Pit Bull Dogs Freeze to Death in Frederick County, VA Owner gets second animal cruelty charge after pit bull dies from heat stroke in Henrico, VA Two dogs die of heat stroke in Newport News, VA Suffolk, VA woman charged with cruelty in dog death Dog dies of excessive heat in Bristol, VA Dog freezes to death in Accomack County, VA (Rainbow) Dog Dies After Being Left in Hot Car Outside Virginia PetSmart The general consensus is that dogs are not susceptible to harsh climates, and that their fur makes them resistant to such temperatures. This is untrue. To the contrary, dogs suffer a great deal in these conditions. Numerous animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States, have urged pet owners to keep their animals inside during times of extreme and inclement weather. Recently, there have been several cases of people leaving their pets chained outside, day and night, in extreme weather. Many of these animals FROZE TO DEATH and there is NO LEGAL RECOURSE TO PROTECT THEM OR TO HOLD THEIR OWNERS ACCOUNTABLE! We are appealing to you to help us protect our best friends! Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently signed Emergency Legislation on February 21, 2017 to protect animals from harsh weather: DC Mayor signs "Momma's Law" See a similar law passed by Massachusetts last year: malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2016/Chapter248 Illinois: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=099-0311 And in Indianapolis: https://www.municode.com/library/in/indianapolis_-_marion_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TITIIIPUHEWE_CH531AN_ARTIVCATR_S531-401GEREANCATR
Petition to Restore Parole in Virginia
Since 1995, a year after the Virginia Assembly passed legislation to abolish parole, Virginia has built thirteen new prisons and many new jails even as the crime rate has declined. The money spent building new prisons to house those serving long sentences could be better used in three ways: to fund rehabilitative programs for inmates in the prisons, to fund re-entry programs for those leaving prison, and to fund education in Virginia to prevent children from going to prison. The fact that the state of Virginia only spends approximately $10,597 a year per student in public schools, and $25,129 per year per inmate in prison, demonstrates that state officials entrusted with the duty and responsibility of fulfilling their accountability to the public have neglected the serious needs of the commonwealth.
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
All Virginians deserve healthcare
400,000 of our families, neighbors, and friends are still waiting for access to healthcare. So why is the House of Delegates dragging their feet to expand Medicaid? Our families need quality, lifesaving healthcare - without the delay. Governor McAuliffe’s Medicaid expansion plan would modernize Virginia’s healthcare system – insuring our families and saving Virginia over $1 billion in the process. That’s $1 billion we can invest in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Urge your Delegate to support the Governor’s Medicaid expansion proposal.
Tell Virginia Legislature to Expand Medicaid Coverage
From my earliest of memories, I have always struggled with mental illness. As a teenager I was home-bound for nearly 5 years due to severe problems with depression and anxiety. Having been involuntarily institutionalized and forcibly medicated when I was in middle school, I was terrified of what might happen if I were to seek out help again. But eventually I summoned up the courage to give it another try, and this time I wasn't disappointed. Since I was 18 years old I was eligible for Medicaid coverage here in the state of Virginia. This coverage gave me access to the therapy and medications that I needed to feel human again. I was able to leave the house, get my Driver's License, I even started college. For the first time in my life I felt alive. I lost Medicaid when I turned 19. I was still mentally ill and I still needed therapy and my medications, but none of that made any difference. I wasn't a child or a senior citizen, nor was I pregnant. And since I could finally function in public, I wasn't considered "disabled" either. So I consulted HealthCare.gov, the official site of the Affordable Care Act. But I soon found out that even the cheapest plan was far from affordable and wouldn't have covered the services that I needed. I was told by a Marketplace representative that my only other option was to apply for Medicaid, but since I lived in a state that opted not to expand Medicaid coverage, I really didn't have any other option but to go uninsured. It's been almost a year since then. I can't afford to pay out of pocket to see a psychologist, so the only mental health services I receive are via my social worker (who sees me pro bono). In place of a psychiatrist, I've had to make due with an occasional visit to my primary care physician. Although I'm fortunate that 2 of my medications are available in generic form, there's 1 that's not and even with coupons it's still nowhere near affordable. As of late, I've really been struggling to get through each day. There are days when it takes me everything I have to just get out of bed, and some days I can't even manage that. At times I really just don't want to be alive anymore, and that's made even worse when it's taken into account that I help take care of my grandparents. No one should have to live life like this. That's why there are supposed to be programs in place to help people like me, people who can't fully take care of their medical needs by themselves. Crippling programs like Medicaid doesn't save money, the only thing it achieves is subjecting those in need of help to further pain and suffering. By expanding Medicaid in Virginia, the nearly 1 million uninsured in the state will have access to healthcare. The Virginia Declaration of Rights states that every human being has a right to "the enjoyment of life and liberty" and the right of "pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." When we deny people the right to healthcare, we are effectively denying them their "unalienable rights." It's past time that we change that.
NATURAL BRIDGE ZOO ABUSE OF ANIMALS PLEASE HELP STOP THIS!!!
This zoo has gotten shut down several times in the past years. Violations over and over humane society has went undercover and has visual proof on camera of neglect and ABUSE these animal's are suffering. Slamming animal's on the ground to kill them. Unsafe living conditions have killed several animal's. This is no place for these amazing animal's being beat on this way. You have video evidence! SOMTHING NEEDS TO BE DONE!
End the use of front license plates in Virginia
Currently the Commonwealth of Virginia requires vehicles to have a front and rear license plate. Only producing a rear plate would create a reduction of the cost and materials used. Helping to keep money in the pockets of Virginians in a time when every dollar counts. Reduce the amount of time spent by law enforcement officers enforcing this law, and putting that time towards other more serious issues. The absence does not hinder vehicle safety. Currently, nineteen states do not require the use of front plates without any issues. Four of the these states: North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky border Virginia and have motorists who use Virginia roadways on a daily basis.
Save Virginia Students From Crippling Student Loan Debt!
Due to skyrocketing tuition and cost of attendance at state colleges and universities, many students in the Commonwealth of Virginia are falling deep into student loan debt and must increasingly worry about the impact of this debt on their futures. In order to combat these negative effects, the General Assembly of Virginia is currently considering the creation of a Virginia Student Loan Refinancing Authority. This petition is in support of creating this authority. We believe that higher education and its accessibility is crucial for the future of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In order to remain competitive in an age of increasing globalization and competition for jobs, as well as to ensure that economic mobility is a possibility for those who are willing to work hard, higher education must be a realistic option for the people of Virginia. Student loan debt and interest is crippling to graduates who are trying to find jobs and establish themselves. We believe that the Virginia Student Loan Refinancing Authority would be extremely beneficial to many people by giving them the flexibility to refinance and pay off their student loans. Please sign this petition to support Virginia students! More information on the senate bill (SB52) can be found here: https://richmondsunlight.com/bill/2016/sb52/ HB 400 is the copy of this bill in the House of Delegates. (Petition created in association with Virginia Young Democrats Education Caucus)