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A record number of advocates joined forces in Richmond yesterday to attend the League of Women Voters of Virginia’s annual kick-off to the 2014 legislative session. Coming together for a full day of discussions inside the state capitol, dozens of diverse leaders representing the League’s organizational partners stepped up to the podium to lay out their priorities for coming year.
Speakers included faith leaders, Latino organizers, government reform experts and children’s advocates. And while each of their legislative goals varied slightly, the resounding common message was clear: they plan to advocate for public policies that would best benefit all Virginians, especially those living in often marginalized communities.
Among the top legislative priorities highlighted by partners were those currently under debate in many states across the country: Medicaid expansion, the welfare of families and children, redistricting reform and voter protection. Additionally, Richard Brown, the longtime Virginia Secretary of Finance, shared a budgetary forecast for the coming legislative session.
Also stopping by for a surprise visit was Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, who upon entering the room proclaimed his love for the League of Women Voters and the values it represents—especially in the arena of voter protection and empowerment. “Let’s get to work,” he told the crowd. “Let’s make it easier for everyone to vote.” McAuliffe also echoed the cry for a fair redistricting process, claiming, “I will do anything in my power to put some teeth behind nonpartisan redistricting [reform].”
The League of Women Voters of Virginia, a leader on many of the issues discussed throughout the day, convenes weekly during the legislative session to host a popular Women’s Roundtable attended by advocates and lawmakers alike. While it is too early to say which exact issues will arise in Richmond in 2014, what is clear is that the League and a host of close-knit allies will be there to make their voices heard and advocate for Virginians.