Local Majority provides research that is practical and accessible for state district campaigns. Acting as a personal research department, we distill national research studies and put together packets with specific and targeted information for candidates’ campaigns to support their efforts. Read here for some of our in-depth research reports supporting Democratic campaigns.
Potential MEGA-Landfill in Cumberland Cty (HD66)
In 2018, Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, LLC (“Green Ridge”) proposed a new and very large—54,000,000 cubic yards—municipal solid waste sanitary landfill in Cumberland County, near the western border of Powhatan County. The Cumberland County Board of Supervisors approved the plan. Green Ridge filed the permit application and associated documents with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in January, 2020. The review process has begun, with supplemental studies and plans provided as requested by the DEQ. No permit has been issued yet.
The Cumberland County Board of Supervisors approved the plan based on the need for a landfill in their area and the anticipated income it will generate. Nearby residents in Cumberland and Powhatan Counties are concerned about associated traffic, noise, visual disturbance, and pollution. Opponents of the landfill see the issue as a classic case of jobs versus the environment, and jobs versus social injustice.
Read our report for complete details at this link:
Qualified immunity is a defense available to government officials, including police officers, to a claim of liability asserted against the government official for violating the constitutional rights of the person making the claim. Importantly, this defense is available only in civil cases seeking money damages. It is not available in criminal cases. Also, it is a federal law concept, created and embellished by the Supreme Court and other federal courts. The defense can be asserted in cases brought under a federal statute passed following the Civil War which provides a cause of action for persons alleging a violation of their constitutional or other legal rights by “state actors”. Unfortunately, qualified immunity as refined by court decisions has become a barrier to relief for victims and to accountability for police officers whose actions harm people and violate their rights.
Read our report for complete details at this link:
Democrats Raise the Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Virginia is finally going up, thanks to the 2019 elections, when Democrats attained the majority in the Virginia legislature. In 2020, the General Assembly enacted legislation to raise the minimum wage over time to $15 per hour, and also eliminated many minimum wage exemptions. Effective May 1, 2021, Virginia’s minimum wage rose from $7.25 to $9.50 an hour. It will rise to $15 an hour by 2026. Virginia has now joined the 29 other states and Washington, D.C. that have a minimum wage above the $7.25 federal minimum and will be one of the very few states (9 only) (and D.C.) that now have or will have a $15 minimum wage. However, maintaining Democratic control of the legislature is essential to protect and expand this long-overdue minimum wage increase for Virginia’s lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers.
Read our report for complete details of the new legislative progress made by Democrats at this link:
Democrats Protect the Right to Vote in Virginia
One of the main pillars of our democracy is the constitutional right to vote. When Republicans controlled the state legislature, they passed restrictive voting laws that prevented eligible voters from exercising that sacred right. Those laws disproportionately affected people of color, low-income citizens, and young voters. After taking control of the legislature in 2019, Democrats have acted to restore democracy to Virginia. Ensuring the right to vote for all eligible citizens has been one of their top priorities for the past two years.
Read our report and summary talking points for complete details of the new legislative progress made by Democrats at these links:
Worker Misclassification in Virginia
Workers in the U.S. are taken advantage of by being inaccurately labeled as independent contractors instead of as employees. The default classification for workers is to be employees; only if specific criteria are met can a worker be an independent contractor. Misclassified workers are generally paid less and lose many worker protections. Worker misclassification is a widespread problem in Virginia that harms workers, compliant businesses and the revenue streams of government. Thanks to the more worker-friendly Democratic-controlled general Assembly, Virginia workers now have more protections against unscrupulous employers.
Read our report for complete details at this link:
Criminal Justice Reform—Democrats Lead the Way
Since the Democrats gained control of Virginia’s General Assembly in 2019, they have undertaken major criminal justice reforms. During the legislative sessions of 2020 and 2021, the General Assembly, with both the House and Senate under Democratic control for the first time since 1993, passed more than 20 criminal-justice reform bills.
Read our reports for complete details at these links:
Labor Unions in Virginia – an Update
In 2020, Democrats in the House of Delegates and Senate passed a number of progressive-oriented measures to expand voting rights, provide some sensible regulation on gun ownership, guarantee a minimum wage increase, and expand and protect rights of the LGTBQ community. But in the area of labor unions, Democratic progress was tentative, limited to permitting (but not requiring) local authorities to engage in collective bargaining with unions representing public employees. Right-to-work remains the law of the state and public employees continue to be banned from striking even if represented by a union.
Read our reports for more details:
HB 2411: Republican Efforts to Undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
In 2017, the Trump Administration, along with Republicans in the U.S. Congress, pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 2010 federal law that expanded access to affordable health insurance. Following repeated attempts to gut ACA protections, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates introduced HB 2411, a bill that would have rolled back health insurance regulations to the pre-ACA status quo.
Read our paper for more detail:
Climate Change and Green Jobs in Virginia
Dealing with climate change is difficult. But as a state particularly vulnerable to climate impacts, Virginia can lead the way. Solving climate change means creating clean energy jobs, investing in rural economies, and prioritizing people’s health, homes, and livelihoods. A multifaceted approach is needed to make the state more resilient. To show climate leadership, Virginia can promote innovation in five ways:
- Increase targets for requiring renewable energy
- Kickstart energy-efficiency investment
- Invest in clean cars and transit systems
- Control short-lived climate pollutants
- Ensure that all people – from fishing economies to historically marginalized communities – have the tools to adapt to climate change.
Read our paper for more details:
Energy Efficiency in Virginia
Energy efficiency is the cheapest and most achievable way to meet Virginia’s energy needs and address the threat of climate change. Yet historically Virginia has lagged below the national average in energy efficiency spending and energy savings. That poor performance can be directly attributed to resistance from Virginia’s predominant utility, Dominion Energy.
VA-ECONOMY and JOBS
Retraining for Solar Jobs in Virginia
Virginia has lost many coal industry jobs due to the 45% decline in Appalachian production in recent years. There are larger labor needs in the solar industry than in coal’s current use of large scale automation and shrinking employment opportunities, i.e. solar requires more labor input, thus creating more jobs.
LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy Bans
Conversion therapy is a practice or treatment seeking to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including eliminating sexual attractions toward individuals of the same sex. The American Psychiatric Association in 1973 removed homosexuality from the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, declared that no reliable evidence exists that conversion therapy works and opposed conversion therapy as unethical. Yet the Republicans continue to push for this harmful therapy.
Much of VA is Underserved
The most recent data from Gov. Northam’s “Commonwealth Connect” report indicates 660,000 homes and businesses lack access to broadband, with the highest concentrations in Southern Virginia and the Appalachians. Read our report to understand what the Virginia Legislature is doing to bring high speed internet to rural communities.
Minimum Wage in Virginia
The minimum wage for most workers in Virginia is $7.25 per hour. This puts full-time minimum wage workers below the federal poverty level. When their paychecks fail to cover basic living expenses, workers must use public assistance. Thus, the public is subsidizing businesses that do not pay their employees a living wage. Virginia Democrats have been leading the fight for an increased minimum wage.
Wage Theft in Virginia
The Economic Policy Institute reports that wage theft, “the practice of employers failing to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled, is a widespread and deep-rooted problem that directly harms millions of U.S. workers each year.” Wage theft harms all Virginians. Read our report to learn what the Democrats in the state legislature are doing to solve the problem.
Workers' Compensation in Virginia
Employee Misclassification in Virginia
Worker misclassification is the practice of falsely labeling employees as independent contractors. It is a flagrant violation of workers’ rights and protections in Virginia and across the country and robs the state and federal government of much-needed revenue. In some industries, up to 40% of employers misclassify their employees. Read more about how this practice affects workers and Virginia.
The GOP Legislative Low-Lights of the 2018 and 2019 Sessions
With thousands of bills proposed every session, much of the legislating occurs behind closed doors, within committees. This is our topic-by-topic summary of almost every awful bill proposed and every great bill killed in the past legislative session.
New: Updated with 2019 session bills
Labor unions were formed to fight for workers’ rights to higher wages, safer working conditions, and health benefits, all of which still resonate with wage labor challenges in today’s gig economy. Yet listening to conservative spokespersons today, “right to work” proponents advocate anti-union policy under the guise of First Amendment free speech, when in fact their goal is to silence workers protected by those same unions. Read more about Democrats' efforts to protect workers' rights. more
The state’s rural areas—Appalachia, Southside and the Eastern Shore—trail in measures of community and personal wellbeing. Published by the Virginia State Health Commissioner, the Virginia Plan for Well-Being (2016-2020) is a comprehensive five-year initiative that highlights strategies for improving health and well-being among urban and rural communities by 2020. In addition to the work conducted by public and private organizations, legislators can play a key role by paying closer attention to the unique needs of the rural population. more
To participate in the competitive global economy, our educational institutions have to transition away from academic-only emphases to a model encompassing career and life readiness as well as traditional academics. The way forward must include and involve the industries and businesses that drive the new economy. more
Image by Ron Cogswell - Flickr
Higher Education Funding
The cost of a college education over the last thirty years has increased in the staggering amounts. Average college costs grew eight times faster than average wages from 1989 to 2016. For the 2016-2017 academic year, overall state funding for two- and four-year public colleges was nearly $9 billion below the level in 2008, adjusted for inflation.. more
K-12 Education Funding
Teacher pay in Virginia has been among the lowest in the nation. In 2018, when adjusted for inflation, Virginia’s teachers made on average 4.5 percent less than they did ten years prior. Read our new report on the efforts of Democrats to make progress toward alleviating the teacher pay issue in Virginia. more
Marijuana Legalization Legislation
The war on drugs has cost an estimated one trillion dollars. For over four decades, states have enforced draconian drug policies, perpetuating vicious cycles of poverty, addiction, and mass incarceration, while producing little to no reduction in drug usage rates. In recent years, many states have begun to recognize that the most effective way to combat substance abuse is to frame the issue as a public health crisis, rather than one involving the criminal justice system. This realization has led state legislators to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. more
Prescription Drug Pricing
Prescription drug pricing is incredibly complicated and is made all the more so by the lobbying power of the multiple major players involved. The State of Virginia spent $707 million on prescription drugs in FY 2015. The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) identified options for states to help to lower or reduce healthcare costs. The long process to get things under control needs to begin by taking back Democratic control of the State House and State Senate so that regulatory bills can make it out of committee.
Gun Violence Prevention
Every 10 hours, a person is killed with a gun in Virginia in cases that involve suicide, domestic violence, accidental shootings, or interpersonal disputes. Virginia’s gun laws are among the weakest in the country. Read our report to understand what can be done to prevent gun violence. It starts with voting Democrat in 2019.
Abortion and Trigger Laws
Virginia is among the states with highly restrictive abortion laws. Abortion Trigger laws bypass potential legal conflict by not challenging Roe v. Wade, but by putting in place an immediate and automatic ban on abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned. It's critical that Democrats be elected in 2019 to safeguard a woman's right to body autonomy.
Equal Rights Amendment
During the three decades Republican Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights, HD66) has served in the Virginia House of Delegates (1989-present), he has done little, if anything, to support women’s rights, specifically withholding his support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). By not forcing a vote to the floor and upholding the negative vote by the Republican-run subcommittee that he selected to consider the resolution, Cox essentially kept Virginia—and the nation—from ratifying the ERA amendment.
Virginia lags behind its neighboring coastal states in both solar and wind energy production. Only 1% of Virginia’s total electricity output comes from solar energy and 0% from wind energy.Who stands in the way? Utility companies such as Dominion.
The Racial Wealth Gap
The disparity in wealth in the U.S. is high—and is growing. Since 1986, about half of all gains in wealth have gone to the top 0.1 percent of households. Racial minorities are especially affected by this, with typical black households possessing just 6 percent of the wealth of white households.
Virginia Under Water
Virginia is experiencing the highest rate of sea-level rise on the East Coast and one of the highest rates in the U.S. overall. Flooding from sea-level rise is projected to cause billions of dollars in damage and displace hundreds of thousands of people.
The Growing Opioid Epidemic
In 2013, drug overdoses surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of unnatural deaths. Evidence of the growing crisis is the rise in emergency room visits for heroin overdoses, which rose 89 percent in the first nine months of 2016 compared to the same period in the previous year.
Gerrymandering: A Real Power Grab
There are more Democratic voters in Virginia than Republican, as shown in presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial races in the commonwealth, yet Republicans hold a majority in both the state House and the state Senate. This is due to gerrymandering, when politicians choose their voters.
Criminal Justice Reform
Starting in the 1990s, Virginia has overemphasized the punitive aspects of justice without a concomitant effort towards rehabilitation. Republicans have shown little inclination to help former inmates who have served their sentences and completed post-release obligations take up productive lives. This is particularly true of the Republicans on the House of Delegates’ Courts of Justice Committee.
How Republicans Block Educational Reforms
Since 2014, Rep. Steve Landes (R-HD25) has been the chair of the House Education Committee in the Virginia General Assembly. He has been unwilling to let progressive bills created by Democrats come to a vote, mirroring the approach of the Appropriations and Finance Committees. All three have reviewed bills that could have greatly improved the educational system of the Commonwealth–and then let them die.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Dominion Energy and three other major energy companies are pushing to continue building a project laying a major gas pipeline across the state of Virginia with the potential for severe environmental, renewable energy, and social impacts.
Virginia Under Water
A study by Old Dominion University predicts that vast areas of Virginia will be underwater due to climate change. Scientists are predicting a rise of up to 7½ feet by the year 2100. Many communities in Virginia will experience chronic flooding, which means 10% or more of its land area will be flooded by high tides an average of 26 times per year (every other week). Read here to find out what needs to be done now.
Criminal Justice Reform
Starting in the 1990s, Virginia has overemphasized the punitive aspects of justice without a concomitant effort towards rehabilitation. Here is a look at some of the issues that characterize criminal justice in the United States and in Virginia — with a focus on those that the Republican-led House of Delegates has done little to tackle.
Gun Safety Regulations
Every 10 hours, a person is killed with a gun in Virginia in cases that involve suicide, domestic violence, accidental shootings or interpersonal disputes. Two-thirds of Virginians support a law to limit the purchase of guns to one/month according to a Quinnapac poll released in April 2017. It's time to close the loopholes and keep firearms out of the hands of ineligible buyers.
Virginia residents have the 10th highest electricity bills in the nation. Large additional rates are imposed for building new power plants that would be unneeded if Virginia implemented higher energy efficiency standards. But Virginia ranks 33rd out of 50 states on the effectiveness of their energy efficiency policies and programs. Virginia lags far behind the rest of the nation because the Republican-controlled state legislature has not imposed regulations forcing utilities to implement energy efficiency programs or meet energy savings targets.
The Republican legislature has repeatedly voted against expanding solar energy credits and net-metering to residents and small businesses, favoring corporations and utilities, even extending tax credits to earth-killing coal companies. More than a dozen clean energy bills were introduced but were killed in committee in deference to the utility companies.
The Racial Wealth Gap
Since 1986, about half of all gains in wealth have gone to the top 0.1 percent of households. Racial minorities are especially affected by this with typical black households possessing just 6% of the wealth of white households and the typical Latino household having just 8% of the wealth that a white household has. Read our report to find out why racial disparity exists in America and Virginia.
Republicans denied 400,000 Virginians access to healthcare, refused $2 billion in federal funds and 15,000 good jobs.
Inequity Waits in Virginia
In Virginia, $2.13/hour is the mandatory wage a restaurant must pay a waiter or waitress who gets tips. The VA taxpayer supplements nearly half of food-service workers with assistance. Vote Democrat to change this broken system.