Va. House Democrats highlight bills aimed at ‘supporting working people’

Virginia House Democrats spent Tuesday pushing a group of bills they say will support working Virginians.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia House Democrats spent Tuesday pushing a group of bills they say will support working Virginians.

“Working Virginians need more protections now more than ever,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “We have seen the middle class in this country erode as now it is harder to make ends meet.”

Herring said the “bold set of reforms” have all be introduced in other sessions.

Their proposals include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, instituting paid sick and family leave and ensuring equal pay for equal work.

Del. Marcia Price (D-Newport News) helped introduce legislation that would help Virginians re-finance their student loans.

It’s something she knows a lot about. At 37 years old, she still owes more than $90,000 for her education.

“I am not alone. There are over one million borrowers in Virginia and HB 615 could help at least 630,000 of them,” said Price.

Price went to Spelman College in Atlanta and completed two graduate programs at Howard University in D.C.

She said the trade off was stunted personal economic growth.

“I can personally attest to feeling the pressure of not holding up to my family’s legacy of generational wealth. By the time my mother and grandmother and grandfather were my age, they had houses, they had property they owned that could be passed on to the next generation,” she said.

Price said money that would normally go to a mortgage instead goes to student loan payments.

Another bill Democrats featured Tuesday would prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the workplace.

Del. Mark Levine introduced it.

Levine shared his personal story of choosing to come out to his employer so that he could take leave to care for his partner. While his employer was supportive, he said not everyone gets the same response.

“This is about making sure that the best people are there to the best job and that they don’t have their love life dictated by their employer,” he said.

To see all bills that have been filed for the 2018 General Assembly session, click here.