Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - July 4, 2019

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Richmond Office:
Pocahontas Building
900 East Main Street, Suite E208
Richmond, VA 23219
804.698.1045

Alexandria Office:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
571.234.8481

The Farce of July


Picture credit: The Washington Post. Article below.
Inside the effort to build suspense — and crowds — for Trump’s Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day to my Fellow Americans. 

For eighteen years, I have spent July Fourth on the Mall watching the fireworks. Usually I pack a picnic, gather some friends, and play games on a blanket all day or throw a frisbee until the evening sets in and the fireworks begin. In the past, I've usually gathered at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial and occasionally wandered inside to look at Abe. I've enjoyed getting to know my fellow attendees. It's the one non-political day of the year, as we bask in the joy and easy patriotism of loving our country and our fellow Americans.

Not this year. With our President kowtowing to dictators all around the globe; praising murderous dictators in Russia, North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia while striving to be more like them with restrictions on our press and tanks in our streets, all while forcibly separating families escaping persecution, locking innocent children in overcrowded cages where they have no beds, inadequate food and medical care, few showers, and no toothbrushes or blankets that even the Taliban gave their military prisoners --  I'm not inclined to go to the megalomaniac toddler's multi-million dollar celebration of himself to witness his open-air theft of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to his own emolument-filled pockets.

Since the entire purpose of the event is to help our narcissistic President, self-loathing in his personal and intellectual inadequacies, "avoid the prospect of facing a smaller crowd of the sort that gathered on the Mall for his swearing-in", I certainly won't contribute to his numbers, despite the fact that I've gone every year prior.

 
I understand the concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol will be unaffected, and I don't blame anyone for attending that, but I do fear Trumpists will measure these numbers in their calculations.

And I would join the protests today, except I'm not a fan of Code Pink. Still, I can't quibble with anyone who joins them. A selfie in front of the giant orange baby blimp would be a nice momento.

 
No, in my view, the most patriotic thing an American can do today is stay home. I'll be attending the annual festival in Rosemont. That goes until 2 pm today. I'm heading there right after I finish this newsletter. And tonight, I'll be watching the fireworks from Virginia.
 
And luckily, Trump can't ruin my fireworks celebration at my house on Saturday, July 13, which will be a fundraiser to turn Virginia blue in 2019, in preparation for turning American blue in 2020, in the hopes that in 2021, I can once again rejoin my fellow Americans for July Fourth on the Mall.

RSVP for my Fifth Annual Fireworks on the Potomac

My annual tradition of hosting friends and supporters for a fun night of food, drinks, and fireworks at my home in North Old Town continues on Saturday, July 13, 7:30-10:30 pm. Raise your glasses of lIme-peach-minT-rum punch and share a drink with me. Lime, peach, mint, and rum taste very sweet together. My parents will be flying in from Nashville to attend.

At last year's Fireworks on the Potomac, almost 200 progressives came out to support turning the legislature blue, and I know I can fit even more folks in my house and on my back lawn this year. (Maybe not in the house but definitely on the lawn!)

RSVP for my Fifth Annual Fireworks on the Potomac

Can you help?

Throwing this party takes a lot of hard work.
Instead of donating money, 
can you donate time and sweat equity to preparing food and drinks for the event?

Please contact me about volunteering to help us
either on Saturday, July 13 or in preparation for it.

 


New Virginia Laws Go Into Effect

In the 2019 legislative session, the General Assembly passed 883 new laws that were signed by the Governor. Nearly all of these new laws went into effect on July 1.
 
Below are some of the new laws you should know about. For a more detailed list of the laws newly in effect, check out the Division of Legislative Services' In Due Course.

I voted for every single one of these new laws.
 
ON THE ROAD
 
Drivers' Licenses Restored for Hundreds of Thousands of Virginians
Drivers’ licenses will no longer be suspended solely for nonpayment of court fines and fees. The licenses of 627,000 Virginians that are currently suspended for nonpayment will be restored. To learn more, read the Legal Aid Justice Center's "6 Things to Know about Drivers' License Suspensions."
 
No Phones in Highway Work Zones
Use of mobile phones or other handheld devices in a highway work zone is now prohibited. To be clear, you don't need to be using your phone; simply holding it in a prohibited area is a violation. Violators are subject to a $250 fine.

Move Over for Police and Emergency Vehicles
If you are traveling on a four-lane highway and see a stationary police car or emergency vehicle on the right-hand shoulder or in the right lane, you are required, if you are safely able to do so, to move to the left and leave at least one empty lane between you and the parked vehicles so you don't risk injury to those on the side of the road. If you neglect to do so, it's now a misdemeanor for reckless driving and not just a traffic infraction.


Local Control of Scooters
Localities are now authorized to regulate the operation of electric scooters. So whatever you feel about scooters in Alexandria, contact your Mayor and City Council. I officially wash my hands of it.
 
Car Seats for Children
All children under two years old must be in rear-facing car seats. There are exceptions for children with special needs documented by a physician and for children who weigh enough to meet new national standards.
 
Don't Block Handicap Parking Spaces
Parking in the diagonally striped access aisles adjacent to handicap parking spaces is now clearly prohibited. 
 
HOUSING
 
Written Leases
Landlords are now required by law to provide tenants with written copies of their lease.
 
EDUCATION
 
Changes to the School Year
Local school systems are now allowed to start school up to two weeks prior to Labor Day, a reform that I have been supporting for years.
 
Medical Marijuana for Students
School nurses and other authorized public health professionals will now be authorized to administer cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil to students with appropriate certification, provided that the local school board passes a policy allowing it. 

No Tobacco in Our Schools
Tobacco products are now completely banned on public school campuses and at school events. The age for buying tobacco products has been raised to 21. (Details below.)

 
Technical Assistance
A grant program has been established with the goal of generating an additional 25,000 graduates from public colleges and universities in technology fields such as computer science and computer engineering.
 
PROTECTING WORKERS
 
Ending Jim Crow-Era Minimum Wage Exceptions
Newsboys, shoe-shine boys, babysitters who work 10 hours or more per week, ushers, doormen, concession attendants, and cashiers in theaters are no longer exempt from minimum wage requirements. The exemption for these jobs was a vestige of the Jim Crow era, when these positions were thought to be primarily held by black people.
(And yes, I'm fully aware that "girls", "men", and "women" can shine shoes or deliver news. But the lingo tells you something about how old this code language is that we repealed.)

Pay Stubs Required
Employers are now required to give either a written or digital pay stub to employees at each regular pay date. This is a strong step forward, although farmworkers (unfortunately) remain exempt.

Banning Nondisclosure Agreements that Include Sexual Harassment 
Employers will no longer be allowed to require employees to sign nondisclosure agreements that forbid the worker from sharing details of sexual assault claims.

BUSINESS

Minimum Age to Purchase Tobacco Raised to 21
The legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes ("vapes"), has been raised from 18 to 21 with an exception for active-duty military personnel.   
 
Happy Hour Advertising
Restaurants are now permitted to advertise Happy Hour prices.

Alcohol at Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces with at least 100 members can serve beer and wine to members and guests on the premises with a special license. (I was asked to copatron this bill by local businesses in Alexandria.)
 

FAMILY
 
A More Inclusive Surrogacy Law
"Jacob's Law" allows same-sex couples the same rights to be surrogate parents as opposite-sex couples. I was proud to co-patron this legislation. 


At the bill signing ceremony for "Jacob's Law."
 
Infant and Maternal Health 
Medical professionals are now required to provide parents information about perinatal anxiety in addition to perinatal depression, shaken baby syndrome, and safe sleeping positions.

More People are Allowed to Adopt
Stepsiblings, stepparents and other adult relatives have been added to the list of people who can apply to adopt a child.
 

ELECTIONS
 
No Excuse Absentee Voting
Starting in the 2020 general election, voters may cast their ballot up to 10 days before election day without any excuse. I co-patroned this legislation as well. 
 
MISCELLANEOUS

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse
Ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and other religious practitioners have to report child abuse, except in instances where the information supporting the suspicion of child abuse or neglect is required by the doctrine of the religious organization to be kept secret. I strongly supported this and wanted it to go even farther.

"Deep-fakes" Prohibited
It is now a crime to share "deep-fakes," digitally-created fake images or videos that falsely portray another person engaging in sexually-explicit activities.
 
Banning False Caller ID Information      
Do you hate advertising robocalls? I do! Particularly when they "mask the phone number. It will be a Class 3 misdemeanor for any person who, with the intent to defraud, intimidate, or harass, causes a telephone to ring and engages in conduct that results in the display of false-caller identification information on the called party's telephone. The penalty for any such offense after the first offense rises to a Class 2 Misdemeanor. 
 
Protecting Lotto Jackpot Winners' Privacy
Lottery winners of more than $10 million dollars will no longer have their identity disclosed by the Virginia Lottery without their consent.

GUN LAWS

No changes.

The list of new laws that could have taken effect this year -- but didn't --  include universal background checks on gun purchases; a ban on high-capacity magazines, bump stocks, and assault weapons; and extreme risk protection laws. I will personally introduce Virginia's ban on high-capacity magazines, bump stocks, silencers, and assault weapons at our special session this Tuesday, July 9. You will hear a lot more on this in future newsletters. For a full list of the Governor's gun-violence prevention agenda, click here. I'm in full support of the entire agenda.

If we pass any of these laws, they will go in effect in November.

If we don't pass these laws, we have to change the seats of the legislators who voted against or refused to consider them. 


 

With your help in 2019, we can change Virginia in 2020...

It's not just gun laws that would change if the Democrats take the majority in November. We could have lower health-care costs, paid family medical leave, increases in the minimum wage, better laws to prevent child abuse and elder abuse, powerful efforts to reduce climate change, equal pay for equal work, non-discrimination laws for Rainbow Americans, labor protections and much, much more. 

Want to help make that happen? Join me Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 pm for ...


A Victory for the Constitution?
For Now, 2020 Census Won't Include Citizenship

but I'm very worried it will come back...

 

The Trump administration had sought to ask a question about citizenship as part of the 2020 Census count, but just recently, the Census Bureau confirmed that the Census questionnaires have begun to be printed without the citizenship question included. The administration backing down on including this question would be a victory for the rule of law and democracy. 

The Census is mandated by the Constitution and its results are used to help create voting districts and determine federal funding to different localities. The inclusion of the citizenship question threatens the integrity of the Census data by making non-citizens (and citizens living with non-citizens) less likely to answer Census questions honestly. In turn, it will lead to massive undercounts of populations in communities with higher immigrant populations. 

But Trump is still fighting to include the question,
which is
 "specifically crafted to provide 
a structural electoral advantage to white Republicans."

So stay tuned.


Now Running Unopposed...

My putative Republican opponent this November failed to qualify for the ballot. To qualify, you need 125 petition signatures from voters who live in the 45th District of the eastern half of Alexandria, South Arlington, and a couple of adjoining Fairfax precincts south of the City of Alexandria that I'm proud to represent. I have collected that number of signatures in a few hours at the Braddock Metro each of the three times I've ran, but the Republican who announced he was running against me for the last three months apparently only garnered 72. He will not be on the ballot this fall.

But we still need your help!

Why? Because we give virtually all our money away. Of all the non-competitive races, I was the only Delegate who gave so much of our campaign money away in 2017, that my campaign ended the year in debt. In 2017, I gave away more than $50,000: the highest contribution of any Democratic Delegate outside our leadershipGiving to me is a two-fer. You help show the Democratic Caucus your support for my hard work and you end up giving the money to the House campaign where it's needed most.

We can be nimble.  Members of the House Democratic Caucus have access to the latest polls and latest money donations. When the Koch Brothers suddenly dump a million dollars in one particular competitive race in mid-October to put up TV ads, we will know immediately and we can respond accordingly in that particular race. I know it's hard to know exactly where to give. Everyone is asking for your contribution right now. I commit to you that we will forward your donation to the vulnerable Democratic incumbents and competitive Democratic challengers who need the money most. If a candidate is way ahead, they don't get your contribution, because they don't need it. Nor they do get funded if they -- wonderful though they are -- have little chance to win the seat. Nor do they get money if their campaign is flush with sufficient cash to have a strong campaign. We are careful to spend the money in the races where the contribution will make the most difference to Mission 51: a Democratic majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.

By being careful with your contribution and sending it to me to distribute, you not only let me know you value my work. You get more bang for your buck!


In the Community...

 
Serving on a panel discussing the LGBTQ-rights movement to mark the
50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Also on the panel were Nick Benton of the Falls Church News-Press, Delegate Danica Roem, Don Davenport (who was at Stonewall on the fateful day 50 years ago), and advocate pastor Diane Maloney. 


Met with Parents for Safe Alexandria Schools members to discuss
gun violence prevention legislation and the July 9 Special Legislative Session. 


In Shirlington, talking with voters at a Pizza and Politics fundraiser for House Democrats


With faith and community leaders at Christ Church Refugee Ministry's Refugee Community Dinner.
It is extremely important that we welcome refugees into our communities. 
What a contrast we provide to the Trump Administration's sadistic cruelty!


With Senator Tim Kaine and Freddie Lutz at Senator Kaine's Pride Event at Freddie's Beach Bar


Celebrating Pride with Loudoun County Democrats, 
Delegates David Reid and Karrie Delaney, and Senator Adam Ebbin.

And, last but not least, the joy of being second...


Speaking at the Loudoun County Democratic Committee's Pride Event.
Click the photo or right here to watch my speech. 

Do you think I have a future career in standup?
Or should I keep my day job?


Upcoming Events

Please Join Me!
(I will be speaking at events in red.)

Thursday, July 4
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Rosemont July 4th Celebration

Maury Elementary School
600 Russell Road, Alexandria
 
Tuesday, July 9
12:00 pm
Special Legislative Session 
Virginia State Capitol
1000 Bank Street, Richmond

---------

RSVP HERE!

SATURDAY, JULY 13

Fifth Annual Fireworks on the Potomac
My House!
North Old Town, Alexandria

GET TICKETS HERE

Pictures from last year's celebration...

Serving frozen grapes to the almost 200-person crowd...
 
The lime peach-minT-rum-punch
 
Pointing out empty spots to sit to folks standing in the back...


 Let the fireworks begin...
 
Trump's out to ruin July 4.
So come celebrate July 13 with us!

Meet my parents!

Join us in a toast to Trump's Impeachment
with our signature 

limpeach-minT-rum-punch!
 
Can you help?

Throwing this party takes a lot of hard work.
Instead of donating money, can you donate time and sweat equity to preparing food and drinks for the event?


Please contact me about volunteering to help us either on Saturday, July 13 or in preparation for it.

 


 

It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.

Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District