Mark in the News:
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301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
The June meeting of Mark's Monthly Meetup will be tomorrow, Sunday, June 28, from 1-3 pm. I will be hosting it via Zoom. (Join and download Zoom for FREE by clicking here.) As always, we'll be discussing whatever issues are important to you.
Mark's Monthly Meetup
Sunday, June 28, 1 - 3 pm
Join via Zoom
Join the conversation by clicking here.
Meeting ID: 817-1873-6278
If you don't have access to Zoom, you can also call in to join the discussion: (929) 205-6099
In these tough times of millions of Americans sick and more than 125,000 dead from the novel coronavirus; a vital quarantine that is nonetheless devastating our economy; and our attention necessarily turned by gruesome murders and other police conduct to long-overdue issues of police reform and racial justice, we should still celebrate the historic 2020 session, the first with Virginia Democrats fully in control in a quarter century.
Life is about yin and yang. And while the yin has been sobering, we can still celebrate the yang.
I was proud of the role that my colleagues and I played in making Virginia a far more fair and just place to live. We still have a ways to go, of course, to put into law all the progressive plans we were elected to fulfill. But let's pause for a minute to realize just how far we have come just this year.
This Wednesday, July 1, many wonderful new laws take effect in Virginia.
If you voted in 2019, you made all of this possible. These reforms would not have happened if not for the Democratic majority in the General Assembly. And you can help support further General Assemblies like this one just by clicking here.
Below are just a few of the new laws taking effect on July 1. All of them are bills I introduced either this year or in the past that finally became law this year.
As of July 1:
Comprehensive discrimination against Virginians on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity is banned. I wrote this bill and introduced it every year until it became law this year.
Marijuana is decriminalized. Anyone caught with no more than an ounce will, instead of going to jail, pay a $25 civil penalty and those who have had their cases dismissed in court will have their charges expunged. Next stop: legalization and regulation. I wrote this bill, too, year after year, until it became law.
Local governments have the authority to remove or relocate Confederate monuments in their public spaces, ending a state law prohibiting cities and counties from doing so. Also a bill of mine, first introduced in 2018.
Background checks are required to purchase firearms. I introduced this one too, year after year, until it became law.
Local governments can regulate firearms at protests and on government-owned property. (The City of Alexandria has already taken advantage of this law. I wrote an earlier version of this legislation and testified in its favor last week in Alexandria.)
Unfair obstacles to voting, such as photo ID requirements and needing an excuse to vote absentee, are repealed. I introduced the photo ID part of this.
The Virginia Fairness in Lending Act will stop predatory lenders' worst abuses. (Virginia's largest predatory lender already left the Commonwealth. I say "good riddance.") The Act included my legislation on this.
Surprise billing is banned. Surprise or balance billing is when patients at a hospital covered by their insurance company are charged by an out-of-network provider with much higher rates. I introduced legislation to ban this too this year.
Local police are no longer required to report to ICE undocumented immigrants convicted of a misdemeanor. I also introduced this legislation.
The first body-camera legislation in Virginia history will become law. I introduced this bill for five years straight until it became law this year.
New Virginia teachers are required to be trained in conflict de-escalation techniques. My bill as well. Now we have to make sure police have the same training.
Courts must consider a parent's history of violence in child custody determinations. This was "Tyler's Law." I worked on this bill for five years until it finally became law. If you beat your wife or girlfriend, you're probably not a good dad.
Pets are protected from inhumane tethering. Another piece of legislation I was proud to write and get it passed into law. Maybe that's why dogs love me so much.
In fact, this is not even half of the 2020 legislation I introduced that will become law in some form or fashion on Wednesday. And it isn't even close to all of the 1200(!) fantastic laws I voted for that take effect on July 1
Clearly, I didn't do all or any of this alone. Some of these bills were incorporated into my colleagues' bills. Furthermore, this work did not magically succeed this year. Most of this legislation I've been working on year after year until we finally got the Democratic majority we needed to get them passed. (And that's where you come in. We must keep this Democratic majority in 2021.)
Check out In Due Course, a selection of legislation passed by the 2020 Session of the General Assembly that is likely to affect the daily lives of the citizens of Virginia. Most of these will go into effect on July 1. The Virginia Department of Taxation also has a good breakdown of new laws taking effect on July 1.
If you like the laws mentioned above, appreciate my work, and want to continue to see progress on issues of racial justice, criminal justice reform, women's rights, workers' rights, rainbow rights, education, the environment, regulation to lessen gun violence, healthcare affordability, transparency, election reform and more, please donate to my campaign today. Your money will go towards keeping and expanding on the Democratic majority that made these new laws possible.
The fundraising reporting period for the first half of 2020 ends on Tuesday, June 30.
I think it's understandable that fundraising has been anemic in 2020 so far, the lowest since I began my political career.
After all, this year, I unfortunately had to cancel my two annual fundraisers, which I've held every year at this time of year, except 2020:
the Rainbow Democrats Extravaganza held in May, where I've joined a diverse LGBT community at Freddie's Beach Bar with committed local Democrats to host an evening of stories and song, laughter and tears as we celebrate Virginia's Rainbow community and raise money for Democratic candidates;
and the Fireworks on the Potomac, normally held the Saturday after July 4th, where I've hosted all of you in my home as we sampled a smorgasbord of delights from (im)peach minT rum punch to frozen grapes on a stick and sat on a hillside in the park to ooh and ahh watching Alexandria's birthday/Independence Day fireworks bursting over the Potomac River.
Both events have been hard work but labors of love for me, popular and beloved by the community. It particularly saddens me to have to cancel the fireworks at my house that as many as 200 of you have enjoyed every year.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I could not host either event. We simply can't have large crowds closely packed together either at Freddie's or in my home this year. I hope and pray we will be able to bring back these traditions in 2021. If you would have attended and donated at one or both of these events and you can afford to do so, I would appreciate the support.
But without these two annual fundraisers, it's not like we have lots of donations rolling in. Furthermore, COVID-19 has devastated our community's health and our economy. If you can't afford to contribute, please don't. And if you can only afford a token dollar donation, any amount -- however small -- is greatly appreciated.
But if you can afford it and you appreciate my efforts and the larger efforts of Virginia's Democratic Caucus, I request you to contribute what you can so I can:
pay staff and interns who work so hard for me;
pay the remaining postage due on my annual mailer;
fund the expensive database that I use to prepare these emails;
support my campaign if a skewed 2021 gerrymander by Virginia's Republican Supreme Court (who would have the power to draw these lines if the proposed constitutional amendment -- which Virginia's Democratic Party and I oppose -- were to pass in the fall) draws me into a strange new district; and
primarily, donate strategically to help Democratic candidates in tough districts pull through in 2021. This is where the vast majority of my campaign funds go every year.
So if you're proud of what we've accomplished and the new laws that will take effect this Wednesday, pleae know your contributions are what made everything possible up to this point.
And if you would like to see us do even more, your contribution will make that possible as well.
I thank you again for the honor and privilege of serving you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Proudly serving Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax
in the Virginia House of Delegates