2024 Va GA Session Update 1 – 1/12/2024

Greetings from your Political Affairs Committee!

The 2024 Virginia General Assembly convened Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

Happiness is . . .
having Democrats in the majority in the Senate and the House of Delegates,
thanks to your votes in November!

Watch for lots of grandstanding and speechmaking, as many new legislators take office, and our Republican governor tries to rebuke democratic advances.

Bills to watch will be highlighted here in weekly updates, and efforts will be made to help ignite action as events warrant. Click https://richmond.com/news/state-regional/government-politics/bills-to-watch-in-the-2024-legislative-session/article_d7abf6fe-a0eb-11ee-8586-fb90f97cab1f.html for a look at some key measures that will come before the legislature in the upcoming 60-day session, including:

• reproductive rights
• mental health
• gun violence prevention
• voting rights
• raising the minimum wage

Sandra Whitley Ryals, VP
Committee Members: Barbara Andes, Becky Clark, Jessica Hilbish and Catherine Koebel Stromberg

Dems After Dark: RVDW Holiday Mingle & Food Drive

Update: See Event Photos Here!

Roanoke Valley Democratic Women (RVDW) invites everyone to a celebratory “Dems After Dark” on Thursday, December 7th from 5:00pm-7:00pm at Barrel Chest Wine & Beer. In this post-election, early holiday season of 2023, we’ll gather to celebrate winning back the House of Delegates and maintaining control of the Virginia Senate. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided. A cash bar will be available.

In the spirit of giving, we are sponsoring a food drive during the event. Donations of non-perishable food items (please, no glass) will benefit Feeding Southwest Virginia. Founded in 1981, Feeding Southwest Virginia’s mission “is to nourish neighbors, engage community partners, and develop solutions to address food insecurity.” Most needed items include:

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Freedom to Read: Key Take-Aways

by Barbara Andes, VP Communications

“It was the foremost topic of discussion” at the state’s recent professional conference for librarians [Virginia Library Association] is how Sara Sprague describes book banning and book censorship. Sprague, October RVDW guest speaker, a Roanoke-based attorney, librarian, and consultant, had much to share in her “Freedom to Read: How to Resist Book Bans in Your Community” presentation on Friday, October 27. Her unique perspective, sharpened by the intersection of her professional expertise in law and librarianship, gave attendees a lot to consider and ways to resist the trend toward censorship.

“Book banning is ‘the practice of removing or restricting access to books that are deemed objectionable or inappropriate by some individuals or groups’,” explained Sprague. This can include removing books from school or public libraries, prohibiting books from being used in classrooms or curricula, requiring parental consent or notification for books that contain certain content and even filing lawsuits or complaints against authors, publishers, librarians, or teachers who promote or distribute books. “It’s kind of a catch-all term that can be a little murky, but in all cases is a restriction on freedom to read. When government is the one doing the directing, we get into censorship issues that potentially violate the first amendment.”

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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: A Powerful, Heartfelt, and Hope-filled Presentation

RVDW’s summer meeting hiatus came to an end on Friday when members gathered to focus on September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. With compassion and clarity, our guest speakers led attendees through sometimes difficult facts while encouraging discussion about the prevalence of and increase in suicide in our daily lives. There was opportunity for questions and answers and powerful personal reflection.

Ms. Scales, Ms. Johnson, and Ms. Goodman all expressed hopefulness as they see the stigma around discussing suicide receding. In this environment, and beyond September, we can all take action to make a difference and help prevent and reduce suicide:

  • Educate your friends, families, coworkers.
  • Mobilize support in your community, churches, civic groups, etc.
  • Pay attention to legislation and funding (local, state, national).

The following presentation file was prepared for RVDW and has been shared by Julia Scales. Note: This presentation is meant to be informative, not diagnostic.

Some of the resources referenced in the above presentation include:
Homepage | Zero Suicide (edc.org)
SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – Call. Text. Chat. (988lifeline.org)
Suicide Prevention Resource for Action | Suicide | CDC

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Meet Author Margaret Edds, “What the Eyes Can’t See”

Monday, September 11, 2023
Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders, 1176 Roanoke Rd., Daleville
Host: Democratic Committee of Botetourt County
6:30pm: DCBC Business Meeting
7:00pm: Speaker Margaret Edds

The Democratic Commitee of Botetourt County invites all to hear guest speaker Margaret Edds, former journalist and author, and to discuss her latest work, “What the Eyes Can’t See: Ralph Northam, Black Resolve, and a Racial Reckoning.”

The book’s publisher, University of South Carolina Press, summarizes the work as follows: “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s ‘blackface scandal’ could have destroyed any politician. The photo of Governor Northam purportedly in blackface created a firestorm not only locally but also in every political sphere. What the Eyes Can’t See details why Northam’s career did not end with the scandal, and how it made him a better governor—and a better citizen.”

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Let’s get Lily Franklin Elected to the House of Delegates

Summer is quickly coming to an end, but there is much going on for candidates! We want to be sure you know about upcoming opportunities to engage in support of Democratic candidate Lily Franklin for House of Delegates District 41. Hers is a HIGHLY competitive race and could be key to flipping the HOD back to blue! As Virginia’s Election Day 2023 is about 80 days away, there’s no time like the present to get involved!

Here are just a few of the many events on Lily’s busy calendar:

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Meet & Greet: US Rep. Abigail Spanberger

Join us to hear from and speak with US Rep. Spanberger on Friday, August 18 at 6:30.

(See event photos here.)

US Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA7)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger is one of three Democratic women in Virginia’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation. While she proudly represents Virginia’s 7th District, Rep Spanberger cares deeply for all Virginians and is determined to meet and get to know the entire state as well as she knows her own district.

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FREE: Annual CPR and AED Education Day

“The wait is over,” announces the Compress and Shock Foundation of Roanoke. Join them on Saturday, June 3, 2023 for the 7th Annual CPR and AED Education Day. REGISTER HERE for a FREE, 1-hour CPR and AED education class at a location near you!

The Compress and Shock Foundation is a Roanoke based 501-c-3 non-profit whose mission is to bring free and equitable access to CPR and AED education to all communities. Vice Director Dr. Karen Perkins, a guest speaker at the RVDW February 2023 membership meeting, brought home to all in attendance the importance of public awareness and increased CPR training including the use of AED equipment.

RVDW is pleased to spread the word of this important opportunity. Please consider attending this important event.

May Membership Meeting: A Focus on Gun Violence Awareness, Prevention, and Action

As next month is Gun Violence Awareness Month across our nation, and as gun violence is ever-increasingly in our daily headlines, in our neighborhoods, and for far, far too many for too long, in our and our loved ones’ lives, RVDW is humbled and honored to welcome three distinguished guest speakers for our May 26th Monthly Membership Meeting: Dr. Catherine Koebel Stromberg, Ms. Rita Joyce, and Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb to address gun violence and gun violence awareness. (Read more about speakers below.)

This year, the 9th annual Gun Violence Awareness Day will be recognized here and across the country on June 2. In anticipation and preparation for this and other activities and activism of the next several weeks, we hope you will join us on Friday, May 26th. Each of our guests will share their experiences and expertise in gun violence and gun violence prevention and bring us information on how and where to get involved during June and beyond. A sampling of upcoming events to support and amplify includes June 2-4, WEAR ORANGE: Roanoke Gun Violence Awareness Weekend, 2023 Annual Community Prayer Breakfast, and June 24, Groceries Not Guns – 2023 Buyback Event.

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