Va. Black Caucus lays out 2013 policy agenda

As they do at the start of each new General Assembly session, Virginia Legislative Black Caucus members Wednesday members said they'll be outspoken advocates on a number of policy fronts, including economic development, education, transportation and voting rights.

Among the specific initiatives the 18-member caucus is focused on:

  • The automatic restoration of voting rights to non-violent offender who've completed criminal sentences, as well as expand early absentee voting.
  • Increasing the amout of business state government does with minority businesses.
  • Provide additional funding for public education, block further attempts to provide tax incentives to those who donate toward private school scholarships, and oppose efforts to alter the terms of teacher contracts.
  • Expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care act, something Virginia Republicans are loathe to do, and create a state health benefits exchange.
  • Support for job training and workforce development, increasing the amount of state contractst to minority businesses, and the removal of the Port of Virginia from the Public-Private Transporation Act process.

Members also expressed opposition to Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to toll Interstate 95 and Republican efforts to restrict abortion rights.

The caucus is chaired by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton. It's members hail mainly from Hampton Roads and the Richmond region, though a few are from Northern Virginia and one is from the Roanoke area.

-- Julian Walker