Decision Maker

Virginia State Senate


Does Virginia State Senate have the power to decide or influence something you want to change? Start a petition to this decision maker.Start a petition
Petitioning Mark Herring

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    

Gary Sweeney
392,680 supporters
Petitioning Virginia State House

Impeach Judge TJ Hauler for Giving a Sexual Abuser No Jail Time

Similar to the Brock Turner case, a convicted abuser may be getting off on simply registering as a sex offender for sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl on school property. Logan Osborn, a former high school wrestler in Virginia, was 18 when he was accused of “tying a belt around a 14-year-old girl's neck and hands and forcing her to perform a sex act in late April of 2017.” Osborn plead guilty to having “carnal knowledge” of a minor and was sentenced to 10 years in jail with eight years suspended — meaning he would have to serve two years. But last week his judge, Judge TJ Hauler, stayed the two-year term. Osborn will serve no jail time. This is because his lawyers claimed the girl consented, even though she was crying when it happened, was tied up, and is not of the age of consent in Virginia (where it happened). This isn’t the first time Osborn has been accused of sexual assault and a Clinical psychologist testified that he has a "moderately high risk" of reoffending. When I was this girls age, I was sexually assaulted in another high school just down the road. To see this happen again to someone so close to me is unbearable. So many victims go without justice against their abusers but through taking action, we can fix this. As we saw with the #MeToo movement and other sexual assault cases, this affects many of us as every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted. This girl (14 years old!!) came forward immediately about her experience while it takes most of us much longer. She is strong and brave and deserves our support in her time of need. Please join me in calling for the impeachment of Judge TJ Hauler if he does not reinstate the original sentence. We need justice for this young girl and other sexual assault survivors. No one should have to watch their abuser get off with no punishment at all. Her pain is worth more than that. Thank you, Emily

Emily Jansen
150,643 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third 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. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members 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 unite 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 united 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 unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, 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 connect, or in some cases, 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 unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!

Jenifer Bass
33,367 supporters
Petitioning A. Donald McEachin, Ralph Northam, Virginia State House, Virginia State Senate, Justin Fairfax, Mark Herring, Mark Herring, Kirk Cox, Thomas Norment, Jr., C. Todd Gilbert, Dick Saslaw, David Toscano

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.          

Lindsay Michie
15,433 supporters
Petitioning President of the United States

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

Dominick Evans
6,859 supporters
Petitioning Ralph Northam, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Virginia State House, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia State Senate

Petition for Nicole Lovell’s Killer Getting a Heavier Sentence

This petition is being put in place to show support of Nicole Lovell’s family in their appeal of David Eisenhaers sentencing. David Eisenhaer just received 50 years for the brutal murder of 13 year old Nicole Lovell. 

Voices For Nicole Lovell
3,599 supporters
Petitioning Alabama State Senate, Alaska State Senate, Arizona State Senate, Arkansas State Senate, California State Senate, Colorado State Senate, Connecticut State Senate, Delaware State Senate, Florida Stat...

Require Amazon to Collect and Remit Sales Tax For All FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) Sales

Please require Amazon to collect and remit sales tax for all FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) purchases. Requiring the hundreds of thousands of small businesses to register in every state and collect and remit in all applicable states is not practical -- it is a complex, heavy financial burden on small businesses and it is causing states to lose billions of dollars in tax revenue each year. With E-commerce now playing such a big role in the local economies, and with Amazon being THE major player, it is time for new legislation to be passed so that these matters can be properly addressed, removing any doubt regarding State sales tax liability and nexus -- especially as it relates to Amazon FBA and similar programs. If Amazon FBA was recognized as consignment, from a sales tax perspective, as it should be, then this would solve a lot of the associated issues that we are currently seeing. Laws vary from state-to-state, but most states require that the consignee (the store, or, Amazon in this case) should collect and remit sales tax. Arguments regarding consignment, who the seller really is and who the 'supplier' is: 1. FBA 'Suppliers' (as they should be called, and not FBA 'sellers') do not choose how/where their products are stored/shipped. 2. Commission is paid to Amazon on each unit sold. 3. FBA 'suppliers' must adhere to Amazon policy. Suppliers do not have the right to refuse sale/shipment without consequence and do not collect any money on transactions (all transactions are handled and controlled by Amazon, the store owner, with the supplier having no participation in said transactions). 4. FBA 'suppliers' have no real relationship with the customer as nearly all communication is prohibited as per Amazon (this relationship is owned and controlled by Amazon, the real seller). 5. Amazon provides advertising for products that they sell, including FBA products. Suppliers have no say in that message or how it's presented. 6. Amazon charges a 'monthly, rental fee' (FBA subscription fee) to display FBA products at their property, as well as additional fees for special exposure (e.g. special ad types or brand page vs. window or end-cap at front of store), as well as additional fees for how the product may be presented (e.g. videos on listing vs. in-store display). 7. Product ownership does not transfer to Amazon (the store owner), but sits on Amazon's shelves until a buyer is found...at which point, the buyer should pay the appropriate sales tax (Amazon/the store owner, is responsible for collecting and remitting this, as they handle all transactions with the end-buyer and own the property where all merchandise is stored and sold). 8. et al. Amazon should be charging and then remitting the sales tax to all applicable states -- not the FBA seller. Not only would this eliminate any argument about complexity or what constitutes nexus amid the varying, questionable and ever-changing interpretations that each state has established, but convincing the States to get behind it should be easy if they only had to pursue one entity (Amazon), in lieu of the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that currently operate within the US marketplace. It is estimated that the majority of the FBA sellers that sell on the Amazon-US marketplace are operating on foreign soil, and do not have a legal entity that is locally established inside of the United States. How are the states going to force compliance if a foreign seller, using a foreign bank account, is operating outside of the jurisdiction of local law? This poses serious problems and creates an environment of unfair competition if foreign sellers can offer products 10% cheaper due to not having to collect and remit sales tax. If Amazon were required to collect and remit on all FBA sales, not only would this reduce costs, man hours and complexity etc., but it would be a lot easier to ensure compliance and remittance. States could get the tax dollars that they desperately need, instead of missing out as they do now. If things continue as they are, States will waste tons of money auditing individual sellers and pursuing legal action, all, unnecessarily. Since Amazon has decided to take full custody of its customer base and is essentially acting as consignment, this should put sales tax liability on Amazon's shoulders, not on FBA sellers. Since FBA sellers are currently required to collect and remit for all states where they are deemed to have a substantial nexus, then, in order to do that, they must first register their business in that State, apply for permits etc., and admit to having a substantial nexus. Just having a single box of inventory in one of Amazon's warehouses will be sufficient for establishing nexus for most applicable states. Amazon may move inventory around, however they see fit, and in doing so, will force FBA sellers to have nexus in those states, oftentimes, unknowingly. Once nexus is established for a particular state, it applies to ALL subsequent sales to that State -- so, if a seller wants to sell something on Ebay, and the buyer is located in the nexus state, then that seller would need to collect and remit sales tax, even if that inventory was stored in and shipped from their home. If FBA sellers are required to register in all of the applicable states and admit that they have a substantial nexus, they would then potentially be subject to Corporate/State income taxes for that state, use-tax for all products/services, franchise taxes, non-resident taxes, opportunity taxes and other, associated fees/taxes etc.. If non-local businesses have to admit that they have substantial nexus due to a single box of inventory, and if they have to remit in the same way (or worse) as a local business that is actually operating out of that state, then what other tax implications and responsibilities will they be subjecting themselves to? And wouldn't this put undue burden on FBA sellers? And isn't that illegal? Please require Amazon to collect and remit sales tax for all FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) purchases. Thank you.

American Citizen
3,140 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Virginia State Senate, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia State House

Recognize neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups as terrorist organizations.

Recently the Illinois state senate approved a resolution to recognize neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations. In light of the tragic events of August 12th in Charlottesville, we believe it would be wise for Virginia to do the same.

Patrick Weaver
1,813 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, Mark Warner, Virginia State House, Virginia State Senate

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.

Andrew Whitehead
1,732 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Virginia delegate D.Bulova, Virginia delegate J.Campbell, Virginia delegate B.Carr, Virginia State Senate, Virginia delegate M. Levine, Virginia delegate M.James, Virginia delegate T.Kilgore , Tyso...

Ban factory farming in Virginia!

Factory farming is a practice that might be profitable in the short term, but in the long term, it's really bad for the animals and for the environment. First off, the animals can barely even move because of the fact that they are put in extremely tiny spaces (that's what happens for pigs) or because of the just as bad notion that some animals can't move because there are thousands of their kind all in a barn that would only be able to comfortably fit about 20 animals at a time (chickens,Sheep and turkey). Also the impact to the environment is that the meat industries are making more runoff pollution than even oil companies do, which is causing lots of "dead zones" to form all over the Atlantic coast as fertilizer and animal waste gets strewn into rivers and gets into the ocean. A good solution to prevent all of this from happening is for virginia to transition from normal meat to lab grown meat, which is meat made without using animals (as the name implies). But the only way to guide this transition would be for the virginia government to invest in lab grown meat, and for the virginia government to slowly bring in laws to phase out factory farming and probably even the farming of animals in general. So that these animals wouldn't have to be culled, a 250 acre sanctuary would be built for these animals in a location somewhere in either Loudon or Fauquier County (would be made for turkeys,sheep,pigs,cows and chickens). To operate this sort of sanctuary, it would be given to a nonprofit organization and it would be open to the public, meaning that there would be trails in this park that would be the only designated places for people, as the animals would be able to roam as they please (to gain money to operate it)  (also, no trees besides ones in the way of the separations between animals would be cut down, so that these animals could hide and adapt to their environments). For more information on this plan to get rid of factory farming, here is a google document detailing my full and complete plan for this petition: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1l20jLqtOZQ1NN_76W8dzGvl9jSuzpQmFhzbL5IRx3h8/edit?usp=sharing A link showing what I mean by "synthetic meat": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultured_meat Please join us in showing empathy and compassion for the animals in factory farms, something that they haven't received for a very long time and something that they will never get if this proposal fails.

Vlad K
1,606 supporters
The Virginia General Assembly: Block the Confirmation of Helen Dragas

One of the responsibilities of the legislature is to confirm appointments by the Governor. As the ranking member of the Privileges and Elections Committee, I have a heightened responsibility. My usual approach is to support any governor's selections unless the appointee has a conflict of interest or refuses to fill out required paperwork. This year we face confirmation of Helen Dragas for a second term on the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. She does not have any conflict of interest and she is willing to fill out the paperwork. Nonetheless, I will be actively opposing her reappointment for the following reasons: • The University of Virginia has a culture of self governance and democratic process. The Rector's actions were not in the spirit of that culture. The decision to remove President Sullivan was made without any transparency or full debate and, thus, was out of line with the principles established by Mr. Jefferson when he founded this flagship university. The decision to remove President Sullivan was made without an in person meeting and vote by the full Board of Visitors. Rather, Rector Dragas solicited support in individual phone calls with Board members. To this day, information has not been forthcoming that would meet the standards for removal of the President. • President Sullivan had been hired with much acclaim only eighteen months earlier. Dissatisfaction with her leadership had never been discussed in official Board meetings or with her, with the result that the President was blindsided when Rector Dragas told her she had sufficient votes of Board members for her removal. • One of the core responsibilities of the Board of Visitors, led by the Rector, is to hire or remove the university president. When the Board acts on that responsibility, its role becomes critically important. It appears that the Rector and the Board did not discharge their responsibility in this situation with an appropriate level of seriousness or professionalism. The person who led the process should accept the consequences. • Ms. Dragas' actions as Rector created turmoil for the University that was unnecessary and unhelpful in pursuing the University's academic mission. The action caused distraction, confusion and disbelief for students, faculty, alumni and donors who had no indication there were questions about the leadership of President Sullivan. The universal and overwhelming response from these groups in opposition to the decision suggests that Rector Dragas and Board members had limited understanding of the University culture. The process of their decision making was, thus, a failure of professional leadership. • The distraction, confusion and disbelief of the summer's events continues with the recent warning issued by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Although the public position of the University is that all parties are now working together effectively, I do not believe the various entities can truly move forward with Ms. Dragas remaining on the Board of Visitors. • On December 3, I met personally with Ms. Dragas. We had a frank conversation. It is my conclusion that she does not comprehend the damage done to the University of Virginia, nor does she accept responsibility beyond having poorly managed the President's removal. As a result of these factors, it is my intention to vote against Helen Dragas' confirmation to the Board of Visitors and to move for a recorded vote by the Privileges and Elections Committee and the entire Senate. Janet Howell Senator 32nd District

— Janet D. Howell, State Senator
6 years ago
The Virginia General Assembly: Block the Confirmation of Helen Dragas

Thank you all for contacting me regarding this issue. I have written the Governor a letter asking that he not re-appoint Helen Dragas in the weeks after this became public. Regardless of her intent, it is now very clear that procedurally this was handled very badly in a conspiratorial fashion. The lack of transparency and the lack of fundamental fairness to Doctor Sullivan cannot be remedied unless Rector Dragas steps down or is not approved for re-appointment in the General Assembly. It is my hope that like Mr. Kington, she will do the right thing and resign. However it is my intent to vote against her re-appointment in the legislature. Best Regards, Senator Dave Marsden District 37 Senate of Virginia

— David W. Marsden, State Senator
6 years ago
Residents of Public Housing in Richmond Against Mass Eviction Want Richmond's Elected Officials to Answer!

Thank you for contacting me regarding public housing in the City of Richmond. Many of the decisions posed in your questions are made by local government, not the General Assembly. However, I support of any efforts to provide everyone with safe, adequate, affordable housing. Therefore, I support the initiatives you have outlined in your questions below. In addition, in the General Assembly, I have sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to: Expand private-market housing options for Housing Choice Voucher holders in areas of economic growth and opportunity by providing a tax credit for property owners. Encourage developers to build affordable housing units by permitting localities to include in their affordable dwelling unit ordinances that the prices for resales and rerentals be controlled by the authority or locality for a period “not less than 15 years nor more than 50,” as opposed to the current period of 50 years. Help preserve affordable rent for the elderly and disabled when apartments are turned into condominiums; Create a three-year, $2.5-million pilot project to provide temporary rental assistance for working families, covering the difference between one third of family income and fair market rent during a limited period of time while the family transitions from homelessness to financial independence; Increase grants to local employees such as teachers, police and firefighters, commonwealth attorneys, and sheriffs to purchase homes in the locality. As we prepare for the 2013 General Assembly Session, I invite you to contact me to express your opinion on any specific legislation that we will consider. The Session convenes on January 9, 2013. You can track legislation online at http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+men+BIL. In addition, if you would like to subscribe to my e-newsletter or mailing list, I can provide you with regular legislative updates. To subscribe to my newsletter, you can visit www.jennifermcclellan.com, or reply to this email. Sincerely, Jennifer L. McClellan Virginia House of Delegates 71st District (804) 698-1171

— Jennifer L. McClellan, State Senator
6 years ago