Local Majority provides research that is practical and accessible for state district campaigns. Acting as their 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 progressive campaigns.
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.
Image from Pixabay
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.
FL-SAFE GUN REGULATIONS
Florida’s Laws Are an Invitation to Gun Violence
Florida is reeling from its second mass shooting in three years with two of the ten worst mass murders in U.S. history. The Republican governor, Rick Scott, is proud of signing more pro-gun laws than any governor in history, including the 2011 revocation of cities’ rights to regulate guns in parks and hospitals. Scott intends to sign any future bill allowing guns on school campuses. The NRA has donated to many Republican state candidates; and Congressional representatives from Florida voted unanimously in 2017 in the House and Senate to weaken gun registration restrictions on the mentally ill. read more …
Republicans are Taking Away Your Right to Vote in Florida
After the “hanging chads” debacle in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, one would think that Florida, with its long history of voter disenfranchisement, would take painstaking care to address election-related issues and ensure equal access for all citizens to vote. But one would be wrong. Far from addressing these issues, Florida Republicans doubled down on the false narrative of pervasive election fraud, using it as an excuse to tighten up voter eligibility requirements while simultaneously continuing to purge voter rolls, making it more difficult for Democratic-leaning minority populations to vote. read more …
Florida’s Infrastructure in Disarray
“Infrastructure” is a more encompassing term than we might think. Of course, it includes bridges, roads, and public transit, but there are other vital areas of infrastructure such as drinking water, the energy grid, schools, and coastal areas. Unfortunately, in virtually all areas, Florida’s infrastructure is inadequate and fails to meet the needs of a fast-growing population. As rising temperatures and sea levels, increasingly intense storms, and financial inequality and instability have come to define life for many of Florida’s citizens, the government must address the state’s failing infrastructure.
Current Republican leadership touts its funding of infrastructure and environmental projects. However, this funding, falls short of the amounts experts and advocates state is required, and pales in comparison to what a Democratic-held state house and governor's mansion provided previously. State leadership needs to act in order to stop the irreparable damage that is being done to Florida’s families, communities, and businesses. read more …
WOMEN'S ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE-MICHIGAN
Although abortion is still legal in the United States, Michigan Republicans have been passing state-level legislation that has chipped away incrementally at women’sreproductive rights. By passing legislation restricting access to abortion, the legislature has effectively limited not only a woman’s right to choose, but also her access to contraception and healthcare in general. read more …
WOMEN'S ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE- MINNESOTA
4 Sentence Overview
Minnesota House Republicans have put forth 5 bills restricting abortion over the past two years. Three were vetoed and two didn’t make it to a vote. With the recent appointment of two conservative Supreme Court Justices, abortion’s legality could be left up to the states as early as 2020. The governor and state House elected in November, as well as the Senate already in place, will have the power to make the decision for Minnesota.
MINNESOTA EDUCATION FUNDING
To balance the budget in 2009, the Pawlenty administration withheld state aid to Minnesota's local school districts. Pawlenty’s unprecedented executive order withheld $1.2 billion in state aid. By the time Governor Mark Dayton took office, the schools were in the hole by an unprecedented amount. read more …
REPUBLICANS FAILING TEACHERS
Michigan would like to be a top 10 education state, but by nearly all measures, the state’s schools are closer to the bottom than the top of our nation’s school rankings. The Rand Corporation’s research says that teachers are the single most important factor in improving student achievement, and yet Republicans in Michigan are undermining teachers. read more …
4 Sentence Summary
While the infamous Flint water crisis is still under remediation, a new water contamination crisis is hitting communities throughout Michigan. And it’s not as if state authorities didn’t have plenty of warning. read more …
Equitable Pay and the Wage Gap
Welcome to a woman’s reality in the workforce, where the same or even better levels of effort are rewarded with consistently lower pay. Women in Michigan combined lose nearly $23 billion every year due to the pay gap and that is just one of many statistics detailing the harsh impact of lost wages based on the gender pay gap. read more …
The unemployment rate in Michigan is 4.1% (August 2018), the lowest it has been since November 2000 when it was 4%(1), but that doesn’t tell the whole story about trends in our state. Over 200,000 Michiganders are still out of work. (1) 45,000 have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (2) and 172,000 are working part-time but want to be working full-time(2). Republicans are taking credit for gains set in motion during the Obama era while doing little to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed.
Legislative Record for Minnesota House Republicans
A look at an incumbent's votes is crucial for understanding the legislator's priorities and positions. Their web sites and public statements can be at odds with how they actually vote. A discussion of some of the general voting themes for House Republicans follows. The GOP has become the “Anti” party (anti-environmental regulations, anti-public education, anti-affordable health care, anti-social assistance programs, anti-reproductive rights, anti-immigration, anti-gay rights, anti-gun safety and more). more …
Michigan’s Broken School System
School choice advocates, led by Betsy DeVos, unleashed one of the most aggressive and unregulated charter school experiments ever on Michigan. According to their theory, competition among charter and public schools would spur innovation in instructional practices, which would improve statewide educational outcomes. Instead, school rankings, on average, remain in the bottom third of the nation. While the rest of the states have enjoyed gains in educational outcomes, the improvements in Michigan have not kept pace. more …
ALEC Legislation—State GOP Gets Marching Orders
Corporations and wealthy individuals directly influence laws by operating and funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC sponsors task forces and conferences where legislators and business leaders write bills. Then ALEC matches bills with legislators willing to sponsor them. Goals include increasing profits, privatizing public resources and services, and passing preemption laws that prevent cities from addressing problems locally. more …
Republicans pillaging Affordable Housing Fund
Florida has the third highest homeless population in the nation. The elderly are at particular risk. The Sadowski Fund was set up to address affordable needs through a tax on real estate transactions. 2018 marks the 11th consecutive year that Republican legislators have taken from housing funds to pay for other programs. More than $2 billion from the fund has been used for purposes other than affordable housing. more …
Florida's Abysmal Teacher Pay
According to the Florida Education Association, from 2009-2018 (6 years of which Perry was in the Florida House of Representatives and 2 years of which he was in the Florida Senate), average teacher pay (K-12) in Florida decreased 12.2% in inflation-adjusted dollars. It is now 17% lower than the national average.. more …
Minnesota’s ROADS TO RUIN
Minnesota’s roads are vital infrastructure that allows personal and commercial traffic to operate safely and efficiently. These same roads and highways, however, are decaying rapidly due to years of being underfunded. Ignoring a problem does not make it simply go away, yet the Republican-controlled state House seems to think it will. The Legislature controls the purse strings for the state’s transportation system. It is apparent that this goal cannot be met as long as the Republicans control the Legislature. more …
Minnesota’s REPUBLICAN Pickpockets
For several legislative sessions, particularly the rancorous 2018 gathering, the Republican majority has been practicing a fiscal sleight-of-hand. They are doing this even though Minnesota is expected to enjoy a $329 million budget surplus. Having that 1 percent surplus hasn’t kept Republicans from trying to use special state funds set aside for a particular purpose to pay instead for basic needs.
REPUBLICAN LEGISLATIVE RECORD
Voting in lockstep on issues, the Republican bloc in the Michigan State House of Representatives has imposed an agenda on Michigan that does not represent the views of the general population. An in-depth analysis of recent legislation reveals a lack of connection between GOP politicians and issues of deep concern to their constituents in virtually every district in the state. The GOP has become the “Anti” party (anti-environmental regulations, anti-public education, anti-affordable health care, anti-social assistance programs, anti-reproductive rights, anti-immigration, anti-gay rights, anti-gun safety and more).
Michigan Deteriorating Roads
4 Sentence Overview
The GOP’s 2019 budget allocates $1 billion for road improvements.(1), less than half of what is needed to fix and maintain state roads. 25% of Michigan’s most travelled roads are in poor condition, another 52% are in fair condition but need routine upkeep and maintenance(2). An independent study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found that $3 billion in annual contributions is needed to bring all of Michigan’s roads to fair or better condition(2).
Lake Okeechobee and the Blue-Green Algae Problem
The pollution in Lake Okeechobee in central Florida that results in blue-green algae blooms presents serious public health and economic problems, producing dangerous toxins that affect residents of five counties. more ...
Florida Firearm deaths
4 Sentence Overview
Florida has the 3rd highest number of annual firearm deaths of all states (2,704 in 2016) according to the last count by the CDC. In 2018 alone, there have been four incidents of gunfire on school grounds, including the deadly Parkland school shooting where 17 people lost their lives and another 17 were injured. Despite these stark statistics, most Republican legislators are in support of open and concealed carry laws, guns allowed on college campuses, and arming teachers. Common sense gun laws are needed to protect Floridians.
The DeVos Effect: Meddling with Michigan
For the past four decades, Betsy and Dick DeVos have been using their significant wealth and connections to influence politics in Michigan, and rarely for the better. Their national identity peaked in 2017 when Betsy was named President Trump’s Secretary of Education, but this is hardly the family’s first interaction with the relationship between questionable ethics, wealth, and politics. more ...
Michigan Honest and Open government
Michigan is the only state in the US where citizens do not have the power to compel their governor, lieutenant governor, legislators, or justices to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While the Michigan House passed the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) to extend FOIA to legislators, the bill was stalled in committee, where Republican Majority Leader Meekhof vowed to bury it.
In contrast, House Democrats are pushing for transparency, sponsoring four bills in July 2018 that require candidates and individuals serving in judicial, legislative, executive, or educational statewide elected offices to file annual financial disclosure reports.
Strategic Metals Mining
Iron mining has been a prominent industry in northeastern Minnesota since the late 1800’s, but the mining of heavier metals–copper, nickel, and strategic metals such as gold, cobalt, platinum and palladium–has never taken hold. Two mining companies are attempting to get permits to mine and process those metals. Read further for the pros and cons of the issue. more ...
The 3M Contamination Settlement Controversy
Minnesota sued manufacturing giant 3M for environmental damage caused by waste chemicals, known by the class name of perfluorocarbons, or PFCs, which have dispersed into a 100-square-mile plume in the groundwater. more ...
Interstate 4 and the Elusive High Speed Rail
Florida’s I-4 is an outdated and dangerous highway unsuited for the contemporary volume of commuters and tourists that are currently utilizing it, many of whom have a significant amount of power in choosing the nation’s president. While the state is working to improve sections of the interstate, what is really needed is an alternative to driving, a high-speed rail alternative (paid for by the Federal Government) that has consistently been shot down by Republican legislators to the detriment of Florida’s commuters, taxpayers, and economy. more ...
Minnesota: Sold to the highest bidder
Privatization that has become increasingly common across states is a result of the outsized power that one constituency—corporate interests—has to influence legislation. But corporations, whose primary motive is profit, don't necessarily consider the societal costs of their actions. We need a society that benefits the majority, not just a few wealthy individuals and corporations.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly referred to as ALEC, and controlled by a few wealthy individuals and corporations, has had a huge impact on laws passed within the states. Its impact comes from writing "model" legislation, which is then given to lawmakers who sponsor it. This has resulted in nearly identical bills being passed in many different states. more ...
Florida Republicans Attack Public Education
There is a Republican-led onslaught against public education in Florida. Not only has funding for successful college scholarship programs been cut, new measures are proposed to further gut public school funding by promoting charter schools in their stead. GOP measures are also proposing to remove long-standing restrictions against the use of public monies to fund private-, sectarian- and religion-based schools.
Scientists predict that sea level will rise nearly 7 feet by the year 2100 if no action is taken to address climate change. By that time, 90 coastal communities in Florida will experience chronic inundation, which means that 10% or more of a community’s land area will be flooded by high tides an average of 26 times annually (every other week). The area affected will be much greater than 10% in most of those communities; and some will virtually disappear under water.
While the Sunshine State is home to balmy beaches and sunny skies, its state of renewable energy production and consumption is dismal. Controlled by the Republican Party in the House and Senate for over 20 years, Democratic initiatives to launch energy-saving measures that would capitalize on the state’s natural solar and renewable resources have been overruled by the GOP, the same party funded by the utility companies.
Michigan Opioid Epidemic
Between February 2017 and February 2018, 2,570 people died from opioid related overdoses in Michigan. While the 10-bill bipartisan package passed in December 2017 enacted new limits on prescribers of opioids and provided for prevention education in schools, it falls short in addressing the growing crisis according to the Michigan State Medical Society. Michigan currently has the sixth lowest number of healthcare providers who can prescribe medication to treat opiate addiction (such as buprenorphine) – a problem that is not being addressed by the legislature. There is much more to be done before anyone can claim any kind of victory over this out-of-control epidemic.
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.