- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations and Events
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
- Contact your elected officials (see below).
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming events and opportunities and state and local events.
- See Organizations and Events at the bottom of this page for information on how you can help in the wake of the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville on August 12.
To see past updates for Virginia, click here.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Virginia's 2017 Legislative Session ended on February 11, 2017. Legislators will return to session in January, 2018.
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Virginia lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- No bills identified
Harmful bills proposed by Virginia lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- HB 1468, which would defund sanctuary cities and counties, was vetoed by the Governor after passing both houses of the Virginia legislature.
- HB 1612 is a bathroom bill which would also require schools to out transgender students to their parents.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Virginia Executive Branch
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 22 days before Election Day, whether you register in person, by mail, or online. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. Virginia requires photo identification when you vote in person. Find acceptable forms of identification here.
2018 Competitive House Elections
- Virginia District 10 is a competitive district with the potential to flip to blue. Representative Barbara Cornstock (R) won the 2016 election with 52.9% of the vote. Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 52.2% of the vote.
2018 Senate Election
- Democratic Senator Tim Kaine will be up for reelection in 2018.
Virginia holds odd year statewide elections, so it will hold elections for the statewide offices (governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general) as well as all seats in the House of Delegates November 7, 2017.
The incumbent governor, Terry McAuliffe, cannot run for reelection due to term limits. The filing deadline for candidates has not been reached, but two Democrats and four Republicans have already announced their candidacies.
- Ed Gillespie, Political consultant
- Denver Riggleman, Businessman
- Corey Stewart, Chairman of Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Chairman of Trump for President
- Frank Wagner, State senator
- 12 Virginia school districts will hold elections in 2017, for 31 seats. The elections will take place on November 7, 2017. 
- Commonwealth's Attorney Don Caldwell once stated that a death sentence “makes the defendant a cause celebre” and that “there is no general deterrence involved in the death penalty," but he has still sought the “ultimate punishment” repeatedly, often for people with disabilities and mental impairments.
- For example, he once presented a capital indictment for a schizophrenic veteran, Kenny Edmonds, who accidentally beat a jail guard to death.
- Warner Lovings Hunter III’s attorneys convinced him to plead guilty to obtain a life sentence instead of the death penalty when Caldwell was prosecuting. Hunter’s IQ score is between 56 and 61, which is well within all definitions of an intellectual disability.
- Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert, who is responsible for more executions than any other head prosecutor in Virginia, contributed money to Caldwell’s failed state Senate campaign.
- Caldwell is opposed to letting people move on after committing property crimes, once going all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court to fight a judge giving two defendants deferred findings of guilt. He lost the fight, and one defendant ultimately finished her college degree, got her master's degree, and became the executive director of a nonprofit in Charleston, SC.
- Caldwell is also a named defendant in a class action lawsuit alleging he abuses his discretion by overusing a controversial statute to criminalize alcoholism and homelessness. This statute brands alcoholics and criminalizes their possession or consumption of alcohol. Roanoke residents consist of 13% of Virginia residents who were labeled "habitual drunkards" from 2010 to 2015, even though citizens of Roanoke are only approximately 1% of the population of the state.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 353,000 people in Virginia (or 4.2% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 685,000 people (or 8.2% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/29/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The number of uninsured people in Virginia is predicted to be 900,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to increase to 1,387,000, a 54.1% increase.
- Virginia is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Virginia could pay up to 57% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 52,000 jobs could be lost in Virginia. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in Virginia could pay $634 more in 2018.
- 71 people were killed by the police in Virginia from 2013 to 2016, which is the 17th most per capita in the country.
- Black people were killed at a rate 2.25 times higher than the rate for all people in Virginia.
- Norfolk has the sixth highest rate of police killings among major cities in the US.
- In 2013, Virginia had 948,963 immigrants, making up 11.5% of the population.
- There are an estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants in Virginia, making up 3.5% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Virginia does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses.
- Virginia does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Virginia, 19,130 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 6.5% of K-12 students in Virginia had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Virginia made up 5% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Virginia, the state would lose $11.2 billion in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $317.1 million in state and local taxes in Virginia in 2012. If they all had legal status, they would pay $332.1 million.
- Virginia does not have any cities or counties with sanctuary policies.
- Virginia resettled 1,310 refugees in 2014.
- Virginia’s Department of Social Services has a refugee resettlement program.
- Voters face the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The VRA was designed to prevent discrimination in voting. Overall, states are passing fewer laws to restrict voting rights. However, voter ID bills are the most common type of restriction.
- Virginia is among the 14 states that had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election.
- In 2014, 66,234 people were incarcerated in Virginia, plus a probation population of 54,020 and parole population of 1,800.
- Of the prison population, 2,145 people were serving life sentences, and 774 were serving life sentences without parole.
- 1,563 juveniles were in custody in Virginia in 2013.
- In Virginia, a black person was 5 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person in 2014.
- 1,570 people were incarcerated in private prisons in 2014.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $1,261 million.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Virginia residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 241,000
- Adults and children: 672,000
- Children: 386,000
- In 2015, an average of 404,348 households and 860,375 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Virginia. In 2011, approximately 11% of the population of Virginia was receiving SNAP benefits. The average monthly benefit per Virginia household was $244 per household and $118 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 46,180 households, including 21,620 families and 35,008 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Virginia was $409 in 2014. Average benefits in Virginia have fallen in value by 24.2% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 32,968 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In 2015, there were 18,191 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received $393.10 per person on average, for a total of $7,151,000.
- 225,300 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Virginia had 30 units (less than the national level) of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Virginia, there were 6,268 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 737 families, 515 veterans, 310 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 793 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Virginia received $773 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Virginia, more than 103,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Virginia households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Virginia's infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state a “good” score for solid waste, and rated wastewater and roads as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 26.1% of Virginia's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 47% of Virginia's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $254 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), adding new lanes to Interstate 66 in efforts to relieve congestion is a major infrastructure goal for Virginia.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Virginia has five Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, three centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health-provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 337,200 women of reproductive age.
- There were 34 abortion providers providers in Virginia in 2015.
- In 2014, 12.1 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Virginia had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
- There is a 24-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent and notice is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
Women and Wages
- In Virginia, 11.6% of women live in poverty. Single mothers make up 33.3% of women living in poverty, while women age 65 and older make up 8.8%.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.78, which is two cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.60 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.53 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in Virginia
- In 2012, 17,664 domestic violence crimes were reported to Virginia law enforcement. Many others went unreported.
- In 2012, Virginia law enforcement made 20,718 arrests for domestic violence. Only 26% of these arrests led to convictions. Of the 1,016 felony charges, 90% led to convictions.
- Virginia police estimate that there are approximately 31,000 active protective orders on file in the state at any given time.
- In 2012, 117 Virginians were killed in domestic violence–related homicides, comprising 34% of all Virginia homicides deaths (117 of 344). A majority were killed with firearms.
Religious freedom law
Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. A State Religious Freedom Law was enacted in Virginia in 2007 for that purpose, but it has recently been used to claim that the rights of individuals or business owners are violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people.
Virginia has a nondiscrimination policy for state employees, but lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, insurance, adoption, and credit.
Virginia lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in second-parent adoption, foster care, de facto parent recognition and parental presumption for same-sex couples.
Hate crime laws
Virginia does not include LGBTQ+ people in hate crime protections, and does not require reporting of hate crimes.
Virginia has a law for transgender inclusion in sports, but lacks other laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth, such as protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws, and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies.
Health and safety laws
- Virginia lacks certain laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms.
- Virginia has laws criminalizing HIV/AIDS.
- HIV criminalization laws are those that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to “knowingly expose” another person to HIV—in some states, this means that it is illegal not to disclose HIV-positive status to a sex partner, but many laws criminalize behaviors that are unlikely to lead to transmission. Because the laws focus on disclosure, not actual transmission, they serve no real purpose. All states have other, non-HIV-specific laws that can be used to prosecute transmission of HIV, so these laws just needlessly single out and stigmatize HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” It also allows the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” HIV criminalization laws also disproportionately target people of color, mainly Black people, and gay men.
- Virginia is ranked 23rd in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $10,960 per student.
- As of 2013, Virginia ranked 32nd in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $49,869 per year.
- 88% of students in Virginia attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 63% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for <1% of total public school enrollment.
- Virginia's overall graduation rate is 85%, just above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates in Virginia are as follows:
- White: 89%
- Latino: 76%
- Black: 79%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 91%
- American Indian: N/A
- Economically Disadvantaged: 75%
- Limited English Proficient: 48%
- Students with Disabilities: 53%
Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- Virginia has a state minimum wage of $7.25, the same as the federal minimum wage.
- Virginia has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Virginia has no state law for paid family leave.
- Virginia has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. Such laws are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Virginia is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Virginia also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Virginia does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Virginia does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 60% of Virginia’s electricity generation is from fossil fuels.
- Virginia has 31 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 10% of Virginia’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Latino and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 68 and 71—compared to an overall index of 52 and a White index 48.
- In 2012, Native American adults in Virginia were more likely to have asthma—27%, compared to 8.6 percent overall.
- The environmental agency in Virginia is the Department of Environmental Quality. Funding for environmental protection also comes from the Office of Natural Resources. Of the approximately $373 million in funding for the Office of Natural Resources proposed for FY 2018, approximately $83 million comes from the federal government. 
- The Trump administration's proposed budget for 2018, which was not passed, would have eliminated the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, which provided more than $10 million in grant funding to Virginia in 2016.
- Virginia adopted a climate change action plan in 2008, which included recommendations for monitoring and reducing emissions.
- Virginia has established a voluntary renewable energy goal of 12% renewable energy by 2022.
- 11.5% of Virginia's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in Virginia is 37.4%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Virginia have a 78.1% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Tables R1811 & B18120]
- Approximately 13.9% of eligible voters in Virginia have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Virginia, 22.9% live in poverty, as opposed to 9.7% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 25.9%, as opposed to 16.2% for non-disabled children. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In Virginia, 4.1% of households receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Organizations and Events
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
- ACLU Virginia
- Alliance for a Progressive Virginia
- Fair Redistricting
- Legal Aid Justice Center
- Progressive Action Network of Winchester, VA
- Progress Virginia
- Progressive House VA
Disability Rights Organizations
- disAbility Law Center of Virginia—1512 Willow Lawn Drive, Suite 100, Richmond, Virginia 23230. tel:800-552-3962.
- Virginia Board for People with Disabilities—1100 Bank Street, 7th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219. tel:804-786-0016.
- Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living—3210 Peoples Dr., Suite 220, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. tel:540-433-6513.
Environmental Justice Groups
See also Upcoming Events and Opportunities.
- Alliance for a Progressive Virginia
- Progressive House VA
- Progress Virginia
- Coffee, Cake and True Islam
- Swing Left events for Virginia's 10th district (helping elect progressives to the House)
Local News Sources
The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) compiles a daily digest of news articles on Virginia state government and politics. For local legislative tracking, try the official legislative tracking system  and Richmond Sunlight .