2021 Virginia General Assembly Agenda

NAKASEC Virginia’s mission is to organize Korean & Asian Americans to achieve racial, economic, and social justice. Below are legislative & budgetary priorities that, if passed in the 2021 General Assembly session, could substantially improve the lives of working-class communities, communities of color, and immigrants. The following outlined priorities are the culmination of months of 1-on-1 conversations with Asian Americans to channel our collective power to fight for solutions.

Education Equity

In the 2020 General Assembly session, Virginia became the 21st state to recognize that undocumented and DACAmented students who graduate from high school in-state should also be able to pay at in-state rates. The next step in making higher education more possible is to expand access to state financial aid programs to public and private universities.

SB 1387 – Sen. Boysko + Sen. Hashmi | HB 2123 – Del. Lopez | Budget amendments: Item 152 #4s – Sen. Hashmi + Sen. Boysko | Item 150 #4h – Del. Lopez

Immigrant Justice

As of January 2, 2021, eligible undocumented Virginians can apply for a driver privilege card. We need to ensure that this is a safe process by protecting immigrants’ personal information, as well as that of other Virginia drivers, without impeding access to DMV data for criminal law enforcement. Limitations are placed only on ICE’s civil enforcement.

NAKASEC VA is a proud member and supportive of the legislative priorities of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

HB 2163 – Del. Tran

Expand Health Care Access

Given our work with undocumented Asian Americans and other non-citizen Asian Americans, we know that these communities may be more hesitant to seek testing and treatment because they do not have health insurance. Virginia must step up and ensure that Medicaid provides these COVID-19-related services to everyone, regardless of immigration status. During a pandemic, no one should be turned away from testing and treatment because they are worried about how they will pay for it.

NAKASEC VA is a proud member and supportive of the legislative priorities of the Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) Coalition. One of HAV’s proposals is to clarify that Medicaid “Emergency Services” specifically cover COVID-19 screening, testing and all related treatment. Emergency Medicaid is offered to people that would qualify for regular Medicaid but are ineligible due to immigration status.

HB 2124 – Del. Lopez | Budget amendments: Item 313 #4h – Del. Lopez | Item 313 #36s – Sen. Ebbin

Increase Voting Access

In 2020, Virginia implemented measures that resulted in record voter turnout, despite the uncertainties posed by COVID-19. Proposals are seeking to codify the following measures, on top of a previous legislative victory that resulted in no-excuse early voting:

  • Establishing ballot boxes;
  • Curing ballots;
  • Not requiring a witness signature for absentee ballots.

There is also proposed funding for the Department of Elections to modernize its database and the online citizen portal, of which language access is a top priority.

NAKASEC VA is a proud member and supportive of the legislative priorities of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table.

HB 1888 – Del. VanValkenberg
SB 1097 – Sen. Favola
Governor’s budget amendment Item 86 I3

LGBTQ Rights

In 2006, the Marshall-Newman Amendment updated Virginia’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and unions. This amendment was ruled unconstitutional in 2014, but the discriminatory language remains in the state constitution. This repeal starts the process to remove the language by 2023 so that the constitution’s language states the right to marry, regardless of gender. If the Supreme Court overturns its decision legalizing marriage equality, Virginia may have to ban same-sex marriages due to the current language.

SJ 3; SJ 270 – Sen. Ebbin | SJ 7 – Sen. Edwards | HJ 113 – Del. Sickles

Eviction Protection

As COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising again, many people, including Asian Americans, have lost jobs and either have been living in fear of being evicted or have been unlawfully evicted. As immigrants who usually don’t speak English or speak English as a second language, they often choose to preemptively “self-evict” in fear of coming into conflict with landlords, especially when landlords threaten to involve law enforcement or damage the tenants’ possessions and home. These unlawful evictions must stop so that Virginians can stay in their homes.

SB 1215 – Sen. Ebbin | HB 1900 – Del. Hudson
HB 1889 – Del. Price
Budget amendments: Item 4-14 #1s – Sen. Hashmi | Item 4-14 #2h – Del. Aird

Language Access

3 out of 10 households in Virginia are limited-English-proficient (LEP), and 1/2 of all those LEP households speak a language other than Spanish. Additionally, 1 out of every 5 Asian households in Virginia have limited proficiency in English (source). Language barriers and inadequate translations have excluded our LEP Asian American community members from accessing crucial state resources, such as voting records, unemployment insurance, and COVID-19-related operational updates.

This year’s General Assembly addresses this issue primarily via budget amendments to help immigrants in Virginia access local resources. One amendment requires the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to develop & implement a language access policy to ensure that Virginians get equitable access to state services. Another will provide funds for the Department of Social Services to increase interpretation and translation services for 2-1-1 Virginia, as well as issue grants to community organizations that directly serve immigrants, through the Office of New Americans.

Budget amendments: Item 83 #4s; Item 355 #1s – Sen. McClellan | Item 52 #4h; Item 355 #1h – Del. Tran

Want to make a difference in our communities?

Make your voice heard and join us in advocating for these issues!
After you sign up, one of our organizers will reach out to you.