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Virginia State Senate

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Petitioning Virginia Governor

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   

Virginians Against Syrian Refugees
44,744 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 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!

Jenifer Bass
33,013 supporters
Petitioning Virginia State House, Virginia State Senate, 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: Illinois: And in Indianapolis:    

Gary Sweeney
18,205 supporters
Petitioning Terry McAuliffe

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
10,455 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:

Dominick Evans
6,379 supporters
Petitioning Virginia State House, Virginia State Senate

Help Outdoor Pets In Virginia

Help encourage the Virginia legislature to pass a bill to improve the definition of outdoor shelter for companion animals, as well as the tethering of animals. This bill will require that outdoor shelters have at least 3 sides and a waterproof roof. Currently the law in Virginia is vague, which means owners could face criminal charges depending on the individual officers’ interpretation of the situation. A good shelter should allow animals to stay dry and clean. It should also provide heat in the winter or at least some form of insulation such as straw, blankets etc. and shade in the summer such as a tarp or kennel top if it's an enclosed kennel. There should be adequate food and water available where the dog can reach it, and a frozen bowl of water is not considered adequate because the dog still can't drink it. The area that the dog is confined to whether it's on a chain or in a chain link kennel should be kept cleaned/maintained of feces. An animal should not be forced to lay in feces in the area they have to be confined to. Pets who are kept outdoors are exposed to harsh weather elements and this puts their lives at risk. The bill should also make restrictions to the laws of tethering very clear as to the length of time allowed to be chained outside/ caged outside before a pet owner has to bring the pet in for at least an equal amount of time if not longer. An animal is not a lawn ornament and if a pet owner can not or will not follow these laws, they should not be allowed to own one. Please support legislation to provide protection to outdoor dogs by making sure they have adequate shelter as well as a maximum amount of time it can be left chained up outside and giving animal control and law enforcement officers a clear legal standard. There should be harsh penalties for those found violating these laws. Letter to Virginia State House Virginia State Senate  I pledge my support for legislation that improves the definition of outdoor shelter for companion animals in Virginia, as well as the length of time an animal can be tethered/chained outdoors.  

Arlene Fairbanks
5,633 supporters
Petitioning Virginia State House, Virginia State Senate, Virginia Governor

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, 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.

Shawn Matthews
3,513 supporters
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
1,660 supporters
Petitioning Virginia General Assembly, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia State Senate, Virginia State House

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: HB 400 is the copy of this bill in the House of Delegates. (Petition created in association with Virginia Young Democrats Education Caucus)

William Moncure
1,589 supporters
Petitioning U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Terry McAuliffe, Kenneth Mapp, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Muriel Bowser, Lolo Moliga, Eddie Calvo, Ralph Torres, Steve Bullock, Mark Dayton, Andrew Cuomo,...

Make Partisan Gerrymandering Illegal.

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." - Abraham Lincoln Whereas: We the PEOPLE are supposed to select our representatives in the government, not the other way around; Whereas: Gerrymandered districts encourage extremism & partisanship to win primaries, and discourage cooperation in the Government; Whereas: The majority of Americans want their voices to be heard accurately, and their parties NOT to be pulled to either wing leaving them with choices that feel like the LEAST BAD or no voting option at all; Whereas: When power is consolidated to a party, it discourages INTERNAL debate and stifles new ideas; Whereas: Gerrymandered districts allow incumbents to show more care for their party or personal position than the people they are supposed to be representing; Whereas: Non-partisan organizations have come up with a variety of ways to draw voting maps fairly and with accurate representations of the population; Whereas: Disenfranchised voters have no recourse when voting maps are skewed based on politics, since it is not illegal; Gerrymandering districts based on political partisanship, to protect incumbents, to consolidate power to ANY party should be illegal.  This should cover not just future redistricting, but also all current districts.  Any politician who is only keeping their seat because they have gerrymandered a safe voting population does NOT deserve to keep their seat.   "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy   

Juniper Harrison
1,348 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

5 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

5 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 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, or reply to this email. Sincerely, Jennifer L. McClellan Virginia House of Delegates 71st District (804) 698-1171

5 years ago