Mark in the News
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301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
201 N. 9th St.
Richmond, VA 23219
My Bill to Help Sexual-Assault Survivors to Become Law
One in five women will suffer sexual assault or domestic violence in their lifetime, and some men will undergo this ordeal as well. When I ran for office, I made clear that services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence would be one of my highest priorities.
If you've been following along in prior newsletters, you know all about my Bill of Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault, which extends the time in which evidence of sexual assault is preserved. (If you missed earlier details, prior newsletters are stored on my website) On Wednesday, the Senate passed my bill HB 2127 unanimously. It passed the House of Delegates unanimously last week.
Under current law, evidence recovered from the sexual assault of a young child may be destroyed when that child reaches the age of 20. It takes an incredible amount of courage, self-awareness, and often some economic independence for a young adult to process what happened to her or him as a child and to have the fortitude to prosecute the perpetrator of the crime, who is all too often a family member or step-parent.
Once my bill is signed into law by Governor McAuliffe, this deadline will be extended to age 28 -- ten years after reaching the age of majority. The bill also allows any survivor, upon written request, to require that her or his evidence be preserved for an additional ten-year period and requires law enforcement (unless the survivor opts out of this) to give notice to survivors of their rights under this law and to make reasonable efforts to notify survivors prior to any evidence being destroyed.
The new law will help survivors of sexual assault know their rights and encourage them to exercise them. The vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by perpetrators who have sexually assaulted before. By preserving evidence and helping give survivors the time and support they need, it is my hope that we can catch more of these sexual predators and lower the number of future sexual assaults.
This new law will store evidence longer. But it's also important to collect the evidence in the first place and to do so quickly, efficiently, and with great compassion to those who have just suffered this horrific crime. That's why I'm so proud of my work with Arlington County Board Member Katie Cristol, Senator Barbara Favola, other local officials, and Inova Fairfax, to bring:
For the FIRST TIME in Northern Virginia!
24/7 Services for NOVA
Survivors of Domestic Violence
and Sexual Assault
Governor McAuliffe Endorses My Re-Election
Governor McAuliffe, along with 36 other state and local elected officials, endorsed my re-election this week, saying:
"Mark is a passionate and able advocate for the progressive causes we've fought for together and has proven time and time again that he can put aside partisan politics to work with Republicans to get things done for the people of the 45th district.
I've loved working with Mark and am proud to endorse him for re-election."
I'm proud to have become a leading progressive voice for the Democrats in the House of Delegates and for my constituents in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax.
If you have not yet met me personally, please try to do so. My next Mark's Monthly Meetup is a week from today on Sunday, February 26. (See details below.) And this spring, I will augment my Monthly Meetups with weekly "meet and greets" in the homes of constituents. My goal is to be the single most responsive member of the House of Delegates. Come by, say hello, and ask me anything of concern to you.
And please mark your calendars to vote for my re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 13th.
Standing up for Virginia's Federal Workers and President Obama's Economy
On Thursday, I stood up on the House floor to challenge Republicans who attacked President Obama's handling of the economy and to urge my colleagues to stand with other Virginians against a Federal Government hiring freeze. Virginia has the highest percentage of federal works in the country, and in Northern Virginia, one out of ten of our workers is a federal employee. The Republican determination to freeze and fire federal workers not only harms able public servants who have sacrificed higher wages in order to serve their fellow citizens; it also critically hurts Virginia's economy. The sequester has not been good for the country or for Virginia, and I felt it was time that someone say so on the Floor of the House of Delegates.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Honoring Harriet Jacobs in Alexandria
On Friday, I stood up on the House Floor, in celebration of Black History Month, to honor the life and work of Harriet Jacobs. Harriet Jacobs escaped from sexual assault and slavery and, in 1860, authored a rare antebellum autobiography by a former slave, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The book shined a necessary light on the cruelty of slavery on the eve of the Civil War. But less well known is the fact that Ms. Jacobs returned South during the Civil War to Alexandria to help deliver food, shelter, and medical assistance to large numbers of escaped and newly-freed slaves. She also founded one of the first schools for freed slaves in the City of Alexandria. Future generations owe a large debt to this courageous woman who risked her life to go back South to help her fellow men and women.
Republican Voter Suppression
This week saw a particularly craven attempt to suppress the vote. A bill passed through the House that would require photo ID’s for mail-in absentee ballots. Now, I want you to just think about how silly this is. Photo ID’s are generally a pointless imposition when it comes to rooting out the in-person voter fraud that doesn’t occur and are designed to disenfranchise that part of the population that does not possess a voter ID. But for absentee ballots? If you mail in a copy of your driver’s license, what purpose does the picture serve? You’re not even there! There is no conceivable fraud that this bill could stop; it simply blocks people without ID’s from voting for no good reason. We all know what their motivation is, but this bill just goes to prove it. People without ID’s are disproportionately Democratic voters, and the Republicans want to reduce Democratic turnout. That’s really all that they’re after, and I will not support brazen voter suppression efforts like this. I’m proud to have voted against this bill, and I full expect the Governor will veto it. We should do everything we can to get more people to vote and not put up new obstacles that serve no useful purpose.
Big Coal Giveaways
This week also saw a Republican attempt to bring back the coal tax credit that we defeated last year. For years, Virginia gave millions of dollars in tax credits to electric companies that generate power from coal, even as these same companies cut Virginia coal jobs 80% to fewer than 3000 today. These workers certainly did not benefit from the corporate welfare; the money just went into the pockets of the coal companies. In fact, studies show that the coal tax credit was the single most wasteful item in the entire Virginia budget.
Furthermore, your tax dollars were subsidizing big corporations to use the most carbon intensive form of energy. If we’re ever going to fight climate change, we’re going to have to wean ourselves off coal. The most obvious place to start is to at least stop subsidizing it. When the coal tax credit expired last year, I was proud to vote against extending it, and I’m happy to report that we successfully sustained the Governor’s veto, putting an end to this wasteful giveaway. Naturally, the Republicans haven’t given up, and they tried to resuscitate this wasteful and damaging tax credit this week with SB 1470. As a proud supporter of renewable energy, I voted against this bill, and I’m certain the Governor will veto it again this year. I look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues this Spring to sustain the veto again.
That doesn't mean we should give up on Southwest Virginia. This year I proposed a budget amendment -- far cheaper than the coal tax credit -- to use public funds, partnered with private funds, to increase internet broadband infrastructure in rural Virginia. I also proposed a study to determine where the internet infrastructure should be implemented to bring the most connectivity at the least cost. Sadly, the Republicans killed both the amendment and the study. They'd rather spend vastly more funds to help a tiny number of coal companies promote dirty, old technology than spend a much smaller amount of money on new technology to improve the economic lives of hundreds of thousands of rural Virginians. I hope to go down to rural Virginia this summer to let folks know how little their Republican representatives actually promote their economic well being, while instead working to send taxpayer money to the very companies that fund their campaigns.
Fighting Discrimination Against the LGBT Community
I was proud to stand with Lt. Governor Northam when he commemorated the anniversary of the Bostic v. Rainey decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Although all of our pro-LGBT legislation was killed in committees by Republicans this year, I will continue to introduce civil rights bills, like my bill to comprehensively ban LGBT discrimination in Virginia. Advocating for civil rights is not easy and it is not popular with those who oppose it, but we must continue to challenge the status quo.
Constituents from the Healthy Family Programs of Northern Virginia came to visit. We had a great discussion about nutrition and protecting kids from harm. I gave them copies of the Constitution.
I attended an art exhibit that was hosted by my colleague Delegate Kaye Kory; we are shown here with the young man who painted the portrait displayed in front of the television. The art exhibit was co-sponsored by The Arc of Virginia.
and Happy Valentine's Day!
Delegate Marcus Simon set up this giant Valentine in our shared office space.
MARK'S MONTHLY MEETUP
ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!
Sunday February 26
2 pm - 4 pm
2615 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray (Alexandria)
By next week, session will be over! Mark your calendars for next Sunday. Come have lunch with me and hear how the Legislative Session went! We will also talk about how you can help in my re-election effort.
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District