Virginia Democrats push progressive agenda — with a dose of caution

Virginia Democrats push progressive agenda — with a dose of caution

RICHMOND— Virginia Democrats are delivering on the progressive agenda they promised for this year’s General Assembly session, but are pulling back in ways that suggest limits to the state’s blue evolution. The Equal Rights Amendment and protections against LGBT discrimination have sailed through, even picking up bipartisan support. Gun control is advancing, but the most controversial component — an assault weapons ban — looks uncertain. Business-related changes are proving difficult, as an increase to the minimum wage is slow to take shape and an attempt to repeal the state’s right-to-work law failed. “Virginia has not become the East Coast version of California,” University of Mary Washington political scientist Stephen Farnsworth said. “But Virginia is clearly being governed in a far more liberal direction than has been the case in decades, if not ever.” The shape of this year’s 60-day session came into focus on Tuesday, the “crossover” deadline for passing bills in the House and Senate and sending the measures to the opposite chamber for consideration. The sheer volume of legislation Democrats unloaded this year has been staggering, as lawmakers long powerless under Republican majorities have flooded the dockets. In the House of Delegates, Democrats introduced more than 1,200 bills — nearly twice as many as they did in last year’s session and more than double the number Republicans submitted this year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Democrats in the Senate introduced almost 700 bills, compared with a little more than 400 for […]

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