During the month of May, we will be publishing our policy agenda, and we are asking you to provide feedback. Please let us know how you feel about these issues, and provide any feedback or comments. You may also provide us with your own issues and we will respond to them accordingly.
In the wealthiest country in the world, no one should be allowed to not be paid a living wage. No family in the Commonwealth should be working 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line. The minimum wage of $7.25 has not been raised in a decade and has not adjusted to costs of living.
I will not allow that. I intend to be at the forefront of the fight for a $15 minimum living wage on behalf of working class families, and make Virginia a leader in the nation for its appreciation and fair compensation of workers.
Climate change is not just a threat to the Commonwealth, but to the whole world. The world has 12 years to fix our broken systems and put the environment back on track. We need to take immediate action to stop irreversible damage to our ecosystems, atmosphere, and the air we breath.
Virginia has the opportunity not just to take direct action to fix climate change, but to be a national leader in the fight against it. I support the implementation of the Green New Deal. This policy not just supports transitioning to a more sustainable economy, but helps our workers along the way.
I wrote at length on labor policies --including the fight for a living wage -- on our blog for this year's May Day / International Workers Day.
Where do you stand on legalization of marijuana?
I've been a proponent of marijuana decriminalization for several years now, supporting efforts in the General Assembly to reduce simple possession from a criminal penalty to a civil one. While we haven't had any progress on that front, I do support efforts at the local level by Commonwealth Attorneys such as Hampton's own Anton Bell, to stop prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases.
However, I am not in favor of outright legalization at this time, mainly because I do not want to see corporate profiteering from Altria and other entities occur. There are hundreds of thousands of individuals in the Commonwealth with criminal records for cannabis-related crimes, and until we can figure out some sort of restorative measures for the communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. What form that takes, whether expungement, licensing, or funding quotas, should be discussed before we open the doors to big business.
Where do you stand on new fracked gas transmission pipelines, including Southside Connector, Mountain Valley Pipeline, MVP Southgate Extension, and Atlantic Coast Pipeline?
Emily, I'm generally opposed to the creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure; we need to move toward a clean economy as fast as possible. I believe the science that tells us that we have to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint in order to avert climate catastrophe, and building pipelines that will be around for 40 years is the wrong way to do it. There are also the questions of environmental racism that we've seen in Union Hill in elsewhere that these pipelines raise.
I'm excited by the development of the Virginia wind power program, which is slated to begin production next June and shows great promise. It has the capability to transform the region into the premier manufacturing hub for wind infrastructure on the east coast. I'm also looking at the CPACE programs that provide municipalities and other entities low-cost financing for solar infrastructure. I think both of these are great ways to help bring the Green New Deal to Virginia and provide greate paying, union jobs to Virginia.
For more on my thoughts on the fossil fuel economy, and the corrupting influence of FF corporations in the General Assembly, please see this 2016 post that I wrote called Why Coal (Money) Matters.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Virginia ranked dead last in the rating of best states to work. The right to work law in our Commonwealth is arcane and harms workers that deserve to have collective bargaining rights and fair wages. We defeated the initiative of the law being codified in the state constitution in 2017, and now it is time to fight back against the law itself.
I support the immediate repeal of the right to work laws in Virginia so that all workers get the rights and compensation they have earned.
I wrote at length on labor policies --including Right to Work -- on our blog for this year's May Day / International Workers Day.