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Senator Louise Lucas

Community Lenten Services

Luncheon will be served after each Wednesday Noon Service for a small donation.

March 20 - 12 Noon Monumental United Methodist Church Rev. Rick Franklin

March 27 - 12 Noon First Presbyterian Church Rev. Dr. Rick Hurst

April 3 12 - Noon Calvary Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Doretha Allen

April 10 - 12 Noon St. Richard’s Catholic Church Rev. Tom Durrance

April 18 - 7 pm Elnora Jarrell Worship Center Rev. Harry Zeiders

April 19 - 11 am Calvary Baptist Church (Radio Baptist) Various Pastors and Leaders Hour of Prayer

The offering: we have given two $500 scholarships to seniors in the past. We will contact these two students and if they are still at their schools with passing grades, we will give them another $500 each and any money above $1000.00 we be given to Thomas Family Boots On the Ground Outreach.

Senate Panel Kills Bill Designating Election Day as a Holiday

By Maryum Elnasseh, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — A Senate bill to designate Election Day as a state holiday in Virginia is dead for this legislative session.

On a 5-7 vote Monday, the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology defeated SB 1291, which also would have removed Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday so that the number of holidays would stay the same.

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, sponsored the bill seeking to make Election Day — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November — a state holiday.

“There have been cases where voters had to leave polls before casting their votes, simply because they had to return to work,” Lucas said. “Making Election Day a state holiday would make it easier for Virginians to vote.”

In November, voters in Chesterfield County said they waited more than two hours in line to vote — a situation that occurred throughout the nationResearch shows that the U.S. has lower voter turnout than most developed countries — many of which hold elections on weekends or designate the day as a national holiday.

In Virginia in November, voter turnout was below 60 percent.

“This legislation will help protect and expand the right to vote,” Lucas said.

Asif Bhavnagri, Gov. Ralph Northam’s assistant secretary of administration, said the administration supports the bill. There were no comments from the public in opposition to the bill.

Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Clarksville, who chairs the committee, questioned why Lucas proposed removing Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday. That holiday, which marks the birthdays of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, is observed on the Friday immediately before Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the third Monday in January).

“People who are used to getting four-day holidays that particular weekend, with Lee-Jackson on a Friday and King on Monday — don’t you think they would be a little upset?” Ruff asked.

“Well, I’m sure they would,” Lucas said. “But Mr. Chairman, I think this goes a long way towards helping to expand the number of voters, and that’s more significant to me than having a long weekend.”

Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, also voiced concerns about removing Lee-Jackson Day as a holiday.

“I have unease about the movement to erasing history,” Black said. “Maybe next time, it’ll be Martin Luther King. I would be opposed to erasing something in his honor.”

Lee-Jackson Day is observed only in Virginia. Various localities, including Richmond, Charlottesville, Fairfax and Norfolk, do not observe the holiday.

Lucas’ bill is not the only legislative attempt to declare Election Day as a holiday. In the House of Delegates, Del. Joseph Lindsey, D-Norfolk, has filed a similar proposal – HB 1984. It is awaiting action by a House subcommittee.

In 2016, Donald McEachin — then a state senator and now a member of Congress — also introduced a bill to designate Election Day as a holiday instead of Lee-Jackson Day. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee defeated McEachin’s bill on a 7-8 vote, with seven Democrats in favor of the bill and eight Republicans opposed to it.

Six of those Republican senators, with the addition of Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, voted against Lucas’ bill Monday afternoon, while five of the same Democratic senators — once again — voted for it.

“As expected,” Lucas said, as her bill was defeated. “But I’ll see you again next year.”

How They Voted

Here is how the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee voted Monday on SB 1291 (Legal holidays; Election Day).

01/14/19 Senate: Failed to report (defeated) in General Laws and Technology (5-Y 7-N)

YEAS — Locke, Barker, Ebbin, Surovell, McPike — 5.

NAYS — Ruff, Vogel, Black, Reeves, DeSteph, Suetterlein, Dunnavant — 7.

Amendment to Restore Felon Voting Rights Dies Along Party Lines

By Katja Timm, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- For now, Virginia will remain among a trio of states -- joining only Kentucky and Iowa -- with a lifetime ban on voting rights for people convicted of a felony.

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections killed an attempt to allow Virginians who have been convicted of a felony to vote.

Currently, the Virginia Constitution says felons cannot vote unless their civil rights have been restored by the governor or other authorities. Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, proposed a resolution -- SJ 261 -- to delete that passage from the state Constitution.

On an 8-6 vote at the committee’s meeting on Wednesday, Locke’s proposed constitutional amendment was “passed by indefinitely,” meaning that it likely is dead for this legislative session. The vote was split down party lines on the 14-member committee, with all eight Republicans voting to kill the measure.

Besides SJ 261, the panel on Wednesday considered a similar proposal (SJ 262) by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. The committee folded Lucas’ measure into Locke’s before killing the proposed amendment.

The resolutions proposed by Locke and Lucas sought to establish just four requirements to vote in Virginia: Voters would have to be U.S. citizens, be at least 18, live in the commonwealth and be registered. The proposed amendment “removes from current constitutional qualifications to vote not having been convicted of a felony and not having been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent,” according to the Legislative Information System.

The amendment had support from representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters of Virginia. Former inmates who had lost the right to vote because of felony convictions also offered emotional testimony.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia ACLU, encouraged Virginia legislators to follow in the footsteps of Florida, which recently restored voting rights to more than 1.4 million people. In November, more than 60 percent of Florida supported the ballot initiative.

“That leaves Virginia, Kentucky and Iowa as the only states left -- the only states left in which you have a lifetime ban of voting if you get convicted of a felony,” Gastañaga said.

Gastañaga urged state leaders to look at themselves in the context of history. She said the right to vote should belong to the people instead of those who govern them.

Another supporter of the proposed amendment was ex-convict Wayne Keaton, whose voting rights were restored two years ago.

“I was incarcerated, and I have been fighting since 2010. The governor gave me my rights back in 2016,” Keaton said, referring to an executive order by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons.

Several senators raised questions about the proposed constitutional amendment. Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier, asked if someone who is adjudicated to be mentally incompetent should still be allowed to vote under the proposal.

“It might be appropriate to say that somebody doesn’t have the capacity to participate in the process, but that should be an individualized decision, not an institutional one,” Gastañaga responded.

Although SJ 261 and SJ 262 may be dead for the session, at least one similar proposal is pending before the General Assembly. SJ 283, sponsored by Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, seeks to automatically restore the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences and made restitution. It is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.

Supporters of such proposals said they won’t give up.

“This is something we’re committed to for the long haul,” said Bill Farrar, director of public policy and communications for the Virginia ACLU. “We’re going to see it through.”

Groups Criticize Panel For Not Hiking Minimum Wage

By Jesse Adcock, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Advocacy groups for low-paid workers blasted a Virginia Senate committee for killing two bills that would have raised the minimum wage incrementally over the next three years.

“It is a sad day when politicians prioritize corporate profits over hardworking Virginia families,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia and a member of the Women’s Equality Coalition. “$7.25 is not enough to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head at the same time, and no one who works a full-time job should be living in poverty.”

Supporters of the legislation had hoped Virginia would become the 30th state with a minimum wage above the federally mandated minimum of $7.25 an hour. But on Monday, Republicans on the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee voted to kill the two proposals:

·         SB 785, proposed by Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, would have raised the minimum wage to $8 an hour on July 1, to $9 an hour in 2018, to $10.10 an hour in 2019, and finally to $11.25 an hour in 2020. The bill died on an 11-3 vote.

·         SB 978, proposed by Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, would have raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour on July 1, to $13 an hour in 2018, and ultimately to $15 an hour in 2019. The committee voted 11-2, with one abstention, against the proposal.

“Had we indexed the minimum wage for inflation 40 years ago, it would be $11,” Marsden said. “People are really falling behind.”

He said that by raising the minimum wage in yearly increments, his bill could have been repealed if evidence showed it was hurting the state’s economy. Marsden added that by raising the minimum wage, consumers could reclaim lost buying power that had been lost to inflation during the previous decades.

Representatives from the Catholic Conference, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, workers’ unions and minimum wage employees themselves came to speak in support of the bill.

“We continue to walk beside and around these people always telling them to ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps,’” said Athena Jones, who came from Portsmouth representing home care workers. “But(we) have never given them shoes in the first place.”

Representatives of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the chambers of commerce for Prince William County, Roanoke and the Richmond area opposed the bill.

“Raising the minimum wage does not solve the problem – it only creates new problems,” said Ryan Dunn, a representative from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “There is no silver bullet for poverty.”

Dunn said that should SB 785 pass, between 10,000 and 31,000 minimum wage jobs would be lost.

Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw of Fairfax pointed out that number of jobs lost would represent a tiny slice of the state population.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the more than 4 million working Virginians in 2015, 50,000 of them earned exactly $7.25 per hour, while 69,000 earned less, because of exceptions to the federal law. (Employees under 20 years old in their first 90 consecutive days of employment, workers who make tips and apprentices can all legally be paid less than the minimum wage.)

“How many of your members pay $7.25?” Saslaw asked the business representatives. “If your business plan requires you to pay $7.25, you don’t have much of a business plan.”

“Some of us have a view that the system does work,” said Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Mechanicsville. “We have a good system in place.”

The committee voted to “pass by indefinitely” both bills, which means they will not be considered further in this session.

Afterward, Julie Emery, executive director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table and a member of the Women’s Equality Coalition, said she was disappointed by the panel’s actions.

“Yet again, the politicians in Richmond have refused to give the working people of Virginia a raise. This despite the fact that polls show Virginians overwhelmingly favor increasing the minimum wage,” Emery said.

Three bills pending in the House of Delegates, all filed by Democrats, also seek to raise the minimum wage. They are HB 1444, proposed by Del. Sam Rasoul of Roanoke; HB 1771, by Del. Kenneth Plum of Reston; and HB 2309, by Del. Marcus Simon of Falls Church. Those bills have been referred to a subcommittee of the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

Dr. John J. Cavan Recognized As Devoted, Innovative Leader By Virginia General Assembly

The General Assembly of Virginia recently commended Dr. John J. Cavan, President of Southside Virginia Community College, for his work helping student of the Commonwealth to build bright futures.  Dr. Cavan is retiring in 2014 after 32 years at the helm of SVCC.

Senate Joint Resolution Number 92 was agreed to by the Senate and House of Delegates on January 14, 2014.  It recognized Dr. Cavan as a devoted, forward-thinking leader in higher education.  The resolution states that “due in large part to John Cavan’s dedicated leadership, Southside Virginia Community College has one of the best served and largest service areas in the Commonwealth.”

Dr.  Cavan began his presidency at SVCC in 1983 with a goal of moving the college into the 21st Century.  Dr. Cavan never forgot his roots and made a commitment to serve the under-served community and build a strong tradition of education for the region that he has come to love.               

A graduate of Nicholls State University, he received his master’s degrees from Kean University and Yeshiva University.  He also completed the Ed.S. and Ed.D. from Yeshiva’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and has completed postdoctoral study at Harvard University.

Dr. Cavan held numerous administrative positions at Atlantic Community College in Mays Landing, New Jersey and Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York.  He has taught in the graduate school of George Mason University, George Washington University and Yeshiva University and been a guest lecturer at the Center for International Leadership in New York City. 

Growth of centers offering college courses has been initiated by Dr. Cavan during his tenure with him promising to “take the college to the people at any place and any time.”  The college has two campuses, and many permanent centers.

An avid basketball player, he has been named to two college basketball halls of fame and the athletic hall of fame for Newark, New Jersey. Dr. Cavan is as persistent in his athletic endeavors as he is in providing quality education to Southside Virginians.  A marathon runner, he has completed a total of 120 marathons including 18 Boston Marathons and 29 New York City Marathons. 

Cavan has devoted his life to education and athleticism. 

“With his vision, determination and professionalism, Dr. John Cavan leaves a legacy of excellence to SVCC and community college presidents throughout the Commonwealth,” the resolution reads.

Senator Louise Lucas presented the resolution to Dr. Cavan.

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