On Tuesday, December 14, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy hosted a virtual legislative visit with Senator Jill Vogel (27th District). The purpose of the 30-minute meeting, which was led by Scott Christian, was to discuss some of VICPP’s legislative priorities for 2022. A member of Fauquier NAACP as well as the Winchester NAACP was present.
The first topic discussed was solitary confinement legislation. Sen. Vogel said that at the 2022 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly, she will be sponsoring a bill to reform solitary confinement, which she described as “a form of inhumane torture for individuals who are incarcerated” which can take a sane person and “make them go insane.”
Sen. Vogel said that solitary confinement was “not about keeping the rest of the prison population safe,” but about “doing something horrible to the individual.”
On the issue of affordable housing, Sen. Vogel spoke of her intention to educate those coming in to the 2022 Legislative Session of the General Assembly on the high priority affordable housing should be given. She said affordable housing is a nationwide problem, but her primary focus is on the people who live in her district.
Sen. Vogel spoke of limited housing markets at all socioeconomic levels in her district but acknowledged the extreme housing insecurity many of her constituents in lower income brackets face, as well as those in middle-income brackets, like police officers, first responders, and teachers. Sen. Vogel expressed concern about the number of people who cannot afford to live in the county where they work. She spoke of working with developers to “build in affordable housing into each project as we think about housing. It’s just that simple."
Sen. Vogel said, "Right now we are in a unique situation because we have some extra [federal] resources and we might have an opportunity to go back and rework some of that funding, helping families find affordable homes to live where they work.”
When asked about paid sick days for low-wage workers (such as home health care workers and grocery workers), Sen. Vogel indicated her support and said she would consider being a co-patron of a bill which would codify five paid sick days per year.
Sen. Vogel serves on the Finance Committee and stated that one of her top priorities will be focusing on the budget: “What should we be doing with these [additional federal] resources to meet [constituents’ needs] in health care, housing, education? My goal is to work really, really hard to make sure we do the right thing.”
Projects Sen. Vogel is currently working on include:
Removing a provision in the Virginia Code which prohibits providing state resources to faith-based organizations that provide community services
Funding for home health care as well as substance abuse treatment
Other VICPP priorities for the 2022 legislative session which were not discussed at the visit with Sen. Vogel include:
Removing the Farm Worker Exemption on Minimum Wage
Pretrial detention/cash bail legislation that would ensure people do not spend long periods of time in jail awaiting trial simply because they can’t afford bail or to hire an attorney.
Fauquier NAACP urges everyone to tune in to what will be happening in Richmond at the 2022 session of the Virginia General Assembly, and to submit feedback on these and other crucial issues to your legislators.