2023 VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Policy Agenda

Click on each bill number to learn more about the bill. To voice your opinion on one of them, call or email your representatives! To get email updates for action alerts, sign up for our newsletter and make sure to check “General Assembly”. You can also email Zowee, our Policy & Communications Team Lead, at zaquino@hamkaecenter.org for questions or other ways to get involved. Check back on this page for more actions!

Education Equity

Virginia’s constitution guarantees residents the right to a high-quality education, which is critical to a vital community and a strong workforce. Yet, many students, including Asian American Virginians, are barred from opportunities to access this education, effectively participate, or improve their academic experience.

*In reference to Budget Amendment 8 in the 2022 Special Session: Hamkae Center opposes any bill or budget amendment that reallocates funding away from programs that allow undocumented students in Virginia to pay in-state tuition rates and access state financial aid.

SUPPORT

HB 1851

Requires the Board of Education to publish the names of each individual and organization consulted or paid by any state agency in Virginia to work on Standards of Learning (SOL) revisions. These names must be published at least 30 days before the mandatory public hearings for feedback on the proposed SOL revisions.

Full text: HB 1851 (Del. Subramanyam)

HB 2111 / SB 1325 + Items 137 #13s, 137 #17h

Improves the Standards of Quality (SoQs) for Virginia public schools. These include (but are not limited to): improving teacher professional development and leadership, lowering the ratio of English Language Learner (ELL) students to teachers, and increasing the number of credentialed student support and mental health professionals in schools.

Budget Amendments – Fully fund the proposed changes to the SoQs.

Full text: HB 2111 + Item 137 #17h (Del. Bourne) / SB 1325 + Item 137 #13s (Sen. McClellan)

OPPOSE

HB 1448

Requires the Board of Education to write model policies about which books to select
and remove from public school libraries.

Full text: HB 1448 (Del. Orrock)

HB 1434

Prevents school board members from changing names for students without paperwork for a legal name change.

Full text: HB 1434 (Del. Ballard)

HB 1707

Allows public school employees to “out” students to their parents or guardians without their consent if the student’s self-identified pronouns do not match their sex-assigned-at-birth.

Full text: HB 1707 (Del. Durant)

HB 1387

Requires students to identify their sex-assigned-at birth to play K-12, collegiate, intramural, and club sports. Prevents transgender students from playing on gender-affirming teams.

Full text: HB 1387 (Del. Greenhalgh)

Health Access

Access to affordable healthcare is consistently identified as one of the top 3 issues identified by Asian American voters in Virginia. Although federal, state, and local coverage options and programs exist, access to health coverage and vital care services are not guaranteed for all Virginians.

SUPPORT

HB 2210 / SB 1327 + Items 305 #1h, 305 #1s

Cover All Kids – Provides Medicaid coverage for all eligible Virginians age 0-17, regardless of immigration status. This proposal also provides coverage for otherwise-eligible Virginian families who are disqualified from Virginia Medicaid or Affordable Care Act because of their status – including Legal Permanent Residents (residing in the US < 5 years), student visa holders, and refugees.

Full text: HB 2210 + Item 305 #1h (Del. Tran) / SB 1327 (Sen. Ebbin, Sen. McClellan) + Item 305 #1s (Sen. McClellan)

TAKE ACTION!

OPPOSE

SB 791, SB 960, & SB 1203

Bans gender-affirming health care services for transgender and non-binary youth.

Full text: SB 791 (Sen. Chase), SB 960 (Sen. Peake), SB 1203 (Sen. Reeves)

Language Access

Asian languages make up the 5 top languages most commonly spoken in Virginia after English and Spanish. Yet, Virginia state agencies continue to provide services without meaningful or adequate support for linguistically-marginalized* Virginians. All Virginians need to be able to communicate with their state agencies and receive the support they need in their communities.

* linguistically-marginalized: groups and individuals who “use any dominant spoken or sign language, and are not fully proficient in the dominant language,” which in the U.S. is English.

SUPPORT

Items 283 #1h, 485 #4h, 485 #2s

Budget Amendments – Carry unused funds for language access in Virginia state agencies over into next year’s state budget, designate funds to Health & Human Services, and have funding available to all Virginia state agencies.

Full text: Item 283 #1h & Item 485 #4h (Del. Tran); Item 485 #2s (Sen. Hashmi)

Items 123 #1s, 123 #2h

Budget Amendments – Establishes a navigator program within the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity to support linguistically-marginalized small business owner communities who speak Spanish, Chinese (incl. Cantonese and Mandarin), Vietnamese, Arabic, and Korean.

Full text: Item 123 #1s (Del. Tran); Item 123 #2h (Sen. Hashmi)

Voting Access

Turnout among Asian Americans voters have steadily increased, including by first-time and infrequent voters, in part because voting is more accessible. Expansions to early in-person voting, acceptable IDs, vote-by-mail, ballot drop-boxes, more multilingual voter materials, and no-excuse absentee voting are important improvements to promote civic engagement while also preserving the security and integrity of our democracy.

OPPOSE

HB 1444

Limits the in-person absentee voting time period from 45 days to 7 days, repeals the affidavit provision for voters without photo ID, and repeals the permanent absentee voter registration list.

Similar bills were presented last year and failed (HB 24, HB 46, HB 39).

Full text: HB 1444 (Del. Ware)

HB 1467

Shortens the early voting period, limits the in-person absentee voting time period from 45 days to 4 days, eliminates ballot drop-off locations, and voids any ballot without a voter’s last-4 digits of their SSN and witness signature.

Similar bills were presented last year and failed (HB 35, HB 178, SB 552).

Full text: HB 1467 (Del. Wyatt)

SB 794

Repeals the affidavit for voters who do not present a photo ID and replaces it with a provisional ballot, which will hinder voters from casting their vote or disqualify otherwise-valid votes.

This exact bill was presented last year (HB 942 – Del. LaRock) and failed.

Full text: SB 794 (Sen. McDougle)

🥳 This bill is dead!

Anti-Asian Violence

Hamkae Center strongly opposes legislation that specifically singles out or penalizes Asian Americans or any Asian ethnic group in Virginia on the basis of race or ethnicity.

OPPOSE

SB 1193

Prohibits employees of public universities and colleges in Virginia from recruiting Chinese talent and receiving Chinese-funded grants.

Note: There is currently no other bill that singles out a specific country for employees at public colleges and universities to forbid participation, receive funding, and/or disclose any payments. This bill is bad for business and protecting intellectual pursuit.

Full text: SB 1193 (Sen. Reeves)