Elevating Women in Politics, from Galax to Gainesville

  MAY 2022

Dear NWPC-VA Members,

The time to act on gun legislation is now. This week we grieve not one, but two mass shootings. Our hearts were torn apart when we learned about the 10 people in Buffalo who were simply living their lives when they were shot and killed at a grocery store. Then, the reports that 19 children and 2 adults were shot and killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX left us broken. There is no safe haven in this country from the ravages of gun violence. 

An overwhelming majority of Americans--including 89% of gun owners, according to Everytown–agree with common sense gun control legislation. Our federal elected leaders so far have been unable–or unwilling- to act on that legislation. No new piece of gun control legislation has passed at the federal level since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School almost ten years ago. 

We are calling on US Senate leadership to schedule a vote on The Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act, introduced in April 2021 by Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. This legislation has never been brought either to committee or to the floor in the Senate for a vote. 

Contact Senator Schumer here; and Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Chairman here.



Early voting for the 2022 Congressional Midterm Elections is underway. Check the timeline below for key dates. Access voter registration information here.



In 2020 the U.S. Census took place. In 2021, Virginia got new electoral maps, drawn by two special masters appointed by the Supreme Court of Virginia, after proceedings at the new redistricting commission stalled. Do you know how your district and/or reps might have changed? Check out this resource from VPAP: Or find a sample ballot at



The following positions on the Board of Directors are open for nominations: President, VP of Communications, VP of Records, and VP of Finance.  The elections will be held at our September meeting, with each 2 year term beginning in 2023. Please contact us with nominations


Candy Graham, founding member of NWPC-VA and 2020-2021 Vice President of the Endorsements Committee, has been everywhere when it comes to women and Virginia politics. She got her start with the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee. As she became more involved, her dedication to women's issues grew. In 2013, Candy–with Eileen Davis–launched Women Matter. Together they lobbied the legislature to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Their efforts laid the groundwork for Virginia’s ratification as the 38th and final state in January 2020.  

Today, Candy's calm but unrelenting rallying cry can be heard on the ground and in the digital sphere. "Candy doesn't just want to have a seat at the table, she wants to make sure that women are recognized for building the table and bringing everyone to it,"  notes Jess Kujala, co-founder Vote Equality US. Thank you, Candy, for your lifetime of advocacy!



–GA22 Recap

Criminal justice reform did not make as many dramatic advances in GA22 as it did in previous years. For example, SB296, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D/Charlottesville) was killed in the House. It would have applied where a defendant, found guilty in a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor case, had requested sentencing by jury. The proposed bill would have allowed relevant mitigating evidence to be presented to the jury, including whether the offense was committed while the defendant suffered from mental illness or an intellectual disability. In addition, SB137, designed to promote fair sentencing and sponsored by Sen. John S. Edwards (D/Roanoke), was killed in the House. This proposed bill would have applied to any felony case, other than Class 1 felonies, in which the court imposed a sentence that was either greater or less than that indicated by the discretionary sentencing guidelines. It would have required the court to provide a written explanation of such departure. The bill stated that the failure to provide a written explanation that adequately explains the sentence imposed is an error that may constitute a basis for resentencing by the trial judge.

SB741, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D/Fairfax & Prince William), became law and reverses the ban on the use of facial recognition technology by local and campus police that was passed last year. The new law allows limited use of the technology and requires it be evaluated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, with an accuracy score of at least 98% true positives across all demographic groups. One of the key reasons for the previous ban was because it frequently matched photos of African Americans incorrectly. There was bipartisan support for this bill. However, Democrats were divided in part over concerns regarding the misuse of the technology. Sen. Surovell was quoted by 8News as saying that the bill explicitly prohibits surveillance and monitoring or any type of live use of the technology. In the House, the vote was 49-49. The final Senate vote was 28-12.

Several other criminal justice reforms found more common ground and became law. Sen. Deeds’ SB295 adds to the duties of pretrial service officers, stating that they must screen defendants for participation in a behavioral health docket if one is available. Behavioral health dockets employ evidence-based practices to diagnose mental illness and provide appropriate treatment. Not every community has an established behavioral health docket, but Virginia law allows every community to do so. In addition, Del. Jeion Ward (D/Hampton) sponsored HB731, a small but important measure that allows juveniles or their parents or guardians to review juvenile law enforcement records unless there is an order forbidding it. Formerly this could only be done by order of the court. And finally, HB1282, sponsored by Delegate Jackie Glass (D/Norfolk), allows part of the proceeds of forfeited property to be used to strengthen ties between community groups and local police and promote goodwill between the two.

–Gov. Youngkin’s Education Report

in January, Virginians stated education as a priority in a poll by VCU, citing concerns about the impact of remote learning during the pandemic as well as funding and charter school access.

This past week, the Youngkin administration issued a report, “Our Commitment to Virginians,” on the state of K-12 public education. The report stated the administration’s goals are to “restore excellence and close K-12 achievement gaps” due to Virginia’s supposed loss of its national standing in education in recent years. The report cited “troubling trends” in assessment gaps in math scores, and wider gaps in both math and reading for Black, Hispanic and low-income students. 

Democratic leadership responded that the report criticized the Board of Education, public school administrators, and teachers in the midst of a pandemic and was marked by a number of “dog-whistle talking points” rather than policy–like the higher pay for educators and dedicating more funding to school construction that Senate Democrats have proposed. They also noted high rankings for Virginia schools by Forbes and US News and World Report, which contradicted the administration’s findings. 

The Washington Post did a deep dive into the data as well as both Republican and Democratic positions. You can read that here. It is also worth noting that most studies of standardized test scores measure student performance on standardized testing, rather than how well students are learning.

Beyond test scores, one issue which seems to remain consistent is that, despite Virginia being one of the wealthier states in the country, our allocation of resources to public education is consistently low. A VPM story cited the 2021 Making the Grade report, “Not only did Virginia receive a D for education funding level last year, but also funding effort.” Virginia was in the bottom 15 states for per pupil spending, below not only Northeastern states like Vermont and New Jersey, but also neighboring states like West Virginia and Kentucky. National studies have shown that additional school funding pays for itself, yielding  improvements in educational attainment, wages, and family income.

–Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Rollback

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative, market-based effort among 11 Eastern states to cap carbon pollution from power plants and compel generators to buy carbon allowances. The program began in 2005, and power sector carbon emissions in RGGI states have declined by over 50%. Virginia joined in 2020, and our emissions last year declined by 13%. The proceeds of our allowance auctions are invested in community flood preparedness, coastal resilience, and energy efficiency programs in low income homes. While other options, such as carbon taxes, could be used to mitigate emissions, this cap-and-trade program is the preference of many environmental groups as well as 67% of Virginians, according to a February 2022 poll by CNU.

The Youngkin administration wants to pull Virginia out of RGGI and this month announced appointments to the commonwealth’s citizen environmental boards, including the air board which will be charged with approving the administration’s efforts. Changes to regulation will most likely happen this summer. Appointing new regulators to environmental boards is part of a multi-pronged effort to roll back environmental regulations (e.g. Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act) passed in recent years. Other means include through contract, the budget, and legislation, such as the bills proposed this past session by Republican legislators House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore (R/Southwestern), HB 892 and HB 1301; Sen. Richard Stuart (R/Westmoreland Co.), SB 532; and Sen. Ryan McDougle (R/Mechanicsville), SB 398. All bills failed in the Senate. Details on the rollback strategies can be found in this Virginia Mercury article.

See the Calls to Action section on how to advocate for the RGGI and environmental priorities in the state budget.

–Mountain Valley Pipeline 

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 300-mile, 42-inch pipeline which would carry fracked gas from shale fields in West Virginia through Virginia to intersect with the existing Transco Pipeline, a major means of transporting gas to Mid-Atlantic markets and markets overseas. Construction began in 2018, with the intent to drill beneath the Appalachian Trail. The pipeline’s path runs through communities that are traditionally overburdened by environmental violations (e.g. Pittsylvania County) and land with native burial mounds, the latter violating requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act. It threatens the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachian region streams (including Roanoke Valley’s drinking water supply), endangered species, and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. To date, the project has violated both federal and Virginia’s environmental laws and regulations. 

Two air and water pollution bills that appear to have been crafted to help the Mountain Valley Pipeline, HB 1261 and SB 657, were proposed this past session by Del. Richard Bloxom (R/Eastern Shore) and Sen. Richard Stuart (R/Westmoreland Co.) respectively. Stuart’s bill--passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by the governor last month--transfers regulatory authority from Virginia’s environmental citizen boards to the Department of Environmental Quality in July. Those boards formerly had final decisions on permits with significant public interest, and the air board had denied the MVP a permit in the fall.

Currently, the MVP is at least $3 billion over budget and behind schedule. It is on hold because it is missing essential federal permits. If completed, it would be the single largest source of greenhouse gasses in Virginia, producing annual emissions of over 89 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Virginia needs clean energy options, not new fossil fuel infrastructure.

See the Calls to Action section for how to advocate for environmental justice.




Advocate for Education

Lawmakers are due to vote on the state budget on June 1. Using the education information from the Legislative Priorities Updates section, contact your legislators and tell them to make education a budget priority.

#BansOffOurBodies: Advocate for Reproductive Freedom

Did you attend a pro-choice demonstration on May 14? Do you want to keep advocating for reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy? Ways of doing so include signing this petition by Planned Parenthood (and getting their updates on abortion access and sex ed for all), attending storytelling training by Pro-Choice Virginia, and donating to local abortion funds as well as following the issue on social media. Look for the hashtags #RoeVWade, #BansOffOurBodies, #AbortionRights.

Center for Common Ground: Help Fight Voter Suppression by Postcarding

The Center for Common Ground is getting out the vote for the Florida primaries, not only for important issues for voters of color and local candidates, but to work out any obstacles for voters ahead of the November elections due to the voter suppression laws that have recently been enacted. Your help is sorely needed to reach out to voters of color to engage with these early elections in Southern states. Sign up to volunteer here. To order your postcards, reach out at

Gun Control: Demand a Vote in the US Senate

In April 2021, Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner introduced The Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act, but this legislation has neither been brought to committee nor to the floor in the US Senate for a vote. Contact Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer here; and Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Chairman here to demand action.

Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Virginia needs clean energy options, not new fossil fuel infrastructure. Submit comments to the Biden administration here and follow the latest developments on social media with the hashtags #MountainValleyPipeline and #StopMVP and at

Virginia League of Conservation Voters: Fight for a State Budget that Protects our Environment

With Virginia’s state budget still under negotiation, it’s not too late to declare your support for environmental priorities. Everything from the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, enhancing water quality, and protected lands funding, to expanding outdoor recreation opportunities–all these priorities depend on adequate state funding. Let your representatives know that protecting the environment is a budget priority with this tool from the Virginia LCV:

Vote Equality: Take Action for the ERA

Check out the Take Action section on Vote Equality’s website to educate, amplify, and elevate gender equality on your social media accounts. The Equal Rights Amendment provides all citizens a constitutional foundation to defend their rights in court when they are discriminated against by the government on the basis of sex.




This month, we are proud to highlight Generation Ratify VA, a group of young people dedicated to equal rights! 

Generation Ratify was founded in 2019 to help get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified in Virginia, and they have been knocking down barriers ever since. They have partnered with other statewide grassroots organizations to educate, energize, and mobilize the generation who will be most affected by the ERA. This group of young people did outreach to get out the vote for equality candidates in the House of Delegates in that year’s election, making thousands of calls and texts to register voters–and THEY SUCCEEDED!

Since then, they have expanded nationwide, with over 400 registered members in 30 states, and 10 state directors. We would like to highlight the Virginia group, who organized a massive protest earlier this month. On May 9, they spearheaded a statewide Student Day of Action for Abortion Access when over 5000 students at 47 high schools and James Madison University walked out of class to demand action on their reproductive rights. And they are just getting started. Watch this group as they make sure our Virginia elected officials know exactly where young people stand on the issue of equal rights.

We are grateful to GenRatifyVA and their vision of equality for all!

GenRatifyVA Team:

Hannah Knittig, State Lead

Nahier Tafere, Outreach Director

Tejas Muthusamy, Communications Director

Felix Hedberg, Communications & Policy Deputy

Abby Garber, Policy Director

Esha Nagireddi, Logistics Director

Mia Shenkman, Co-Education Director

Abby Dotson, Co-Education Director



What's happening with the ERA?


  • However, the US Constitution’s Article V says nothing about deadlines. In fact, the most recent amendment–the 27th, regarding Congressional salaries–was submitted to the states for ratification in 1789. It became an amendment in 1992. 

  • Meanwhile there are a few lawsuits pending; there are states saying they would like to rescind their ratification (they can’t); and the bill removing the artificial deadline in the amendment’s preamble passed the House, but the Senate hasn’t taken it up. 

  • What are the latest developments? 

    • The House has yet another bill (HB891), that has yet to be scheduled for a vote, but this one looks promising. There is a lot of legalese in the bill, but the TL;DR is pretty clear: “That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the article of amendment to the Constitution relating to the equality of rights (commonly known as the “Equal Rights Amendment”), duly proposed by 2⁄3 of each House of the Congress and ratified by more than 3⁄4 of the several States, has met the requirements of the Constitution and become valid to all intents and purposes as a part of the Constitution, and shall be known as the ‘Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.’”




May 29, 6:00pm: NWPC-VA Policy Committee Monthly Meeting (Online) 

Register Here

May 31, 7:00 p.m.: Reproductive Justice Town Hall (Online) 

Don’t miss this important online discussion with Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, and others.

Register Here


June 1, 7:00 p.m.: Virginia League of Conservation Voters’ “Virginia isn't for Pipeline Lovers” Series (Online)

Are you curious to learn why massive, fracked gas pipelines like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline keep targeting Virginia and how to stop their potential pollution of our soil and water? The Virginia LCV is hosting a 6-part webinar series, “Virginia is not for Pipeline Lovers." Session 1 will explore the energy and utility forces driving pipeline construction in the commonwealth and actions you can take to stop methane buildout. Register here.

June 6, 8p.m.: NWPC-VA Tidewater Region Monthly Meeting (Online)                               

Register Here

June 7, 4:00 p.m.: First Northwest Region Meeting (In Person) 

Northwest members, join us at the Capital Ale House 41 Court Square in Harrisonburg. RSVP to Holly Huddle, the Northwest Rep.


June 8, 7p.m.: NWPC-VA Central Region Monthly Meeting (Online) 

Register Here

June 13, 6:00 p.m.: Pro Choice Virginia’s Changing Minds Through Storytelling Series (Online)

Are you looking for a way to contribute to the fight for reproductive rights in Virginia? This interactive virtual program will provide you with tools you need to write a strong, effective story and become a powerful abortion advocate. The program includes training on: messaging, storytelling, letters to the editor, and providing legislative testimony. The program is Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-7:30p.m. The first session is June 13-24, the second,July 11-July 22, with additional sessions in August and September.

Register Here

June 15, 6:30 p.m.: Introducing NWPC-VA's Salon Series! (Online)

This salon series will meet quarterly, beginning June 15.  Members will read a recent book of interest and participate in self-reflection and deep discussions. Our first selection is I Think You're Wrong (But I’m Listening) by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers. We aim to break down the walls that keep us apart and find ways to build them back even stronger. We are grateful to Finale Johnson Norton, who will be our moderator. It’s time to buy, borrow, or get a copy from the library! 

Register Here



July 21-24: NWPC-National’s Annual Meeting (In Person)

Convene in Washington, DC with representatives from NWPC chapters from around the country. Programming includes board development training on how to expand your board with new people and new ideas; how to plan for board succession, and finance. They also plan on having a White House appointee speak on how to get appointments. For information on how to attend as an NWPC-VA representative, contact President Krysta Jones.



ICYMI: Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03) recently hosted a webinar–in coordination with the Office of Federal Student Aid and the Student Borrower Protection Center—to provide constituents with the resources and information they needed to seek Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal loan forgiveness program established as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Under PSLF, eligible borrowers who work full-time for nonprofit organizations or federal, state, local, or tribal governments can get loan forgiveness after making 120 qualifying monthly payments. For more information on the PSLF program, go to Public Service Loan Forgiveness – Fed Pro ( To watch the webinar: Applying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program - YouTube.


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