Following his 2019 yearbook scandal, @GovernorVA Ralph Northam told me in an interview he would prioritize racial equity policy. As his term ends tomorrow, it's worth noting the breadth and depth of what he and state Democrats accomplished. Here's a long and yet incomplete list:
- Removed Confederate statues, including Lee statue
- Increased minimum wage
- Signed sweeping voting rights reform, including 45 days early voting, Election Day as holiday, automatic registration and repealed voter ID law
- Ended death penalty
- Signed comprehensive police reform, including ban on no-knock warrants
- Legalized marijuana
- $500M in funding for Virginia HBCUs
- Tuition-free community college for low-income students
- Restored historic African-American cemeteries
- Reopened historically Black "Green Pastures Recreational Area"
- Reduced racial disparities in maternal health
- Appointed first-ever Director of DEI as Cabinet-level position
- Banned discrimination on the basis of hair
- Scrubbed overtly discriminatory language remaining on Virginia's books
- Made Juneteenth a permanent, paid state holiday
- Addressed policies responsible for land loss by families of color and low-income
- Restored civil and voting rights for 120K+ people
- Posthumous pardons for "Martinsville Seven"
- Changed the state's history curriculum to include more holistic version of Black history
- Expanded early childhood education and in-state tuition for undocumented students
- Mandated state procurement from women- and minority-owned businesses
- Ended driver’s license suspensions for nonpayment of court fines and fees
- Signed law allowing judges to decide sentences in criminal cases
- $10M in funding to support public defenders
- Repealed law which criminalized homelessness
- Increased felony larceny threshold from $500 to $1K to keep minor thefts from being charged/sentenced as felony crimes
Flashback: @GovernorVA in June 2020: “People are now standing up and saying enough is enough. And so, this is an opportunity for us to really change the direction and change the course of history not only in Virginia, but in this country.” @RalphNortham…
Flashback: My interview with @GovernorVA in March 2021 on ending the death penalty: "It's an opportunity for us to reflect on our history, to acknowledge that there are a lot of things that were not good about our history, and to really right a wrong."…

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More from @GeoffRBennett

Feb 24, 2021
NEWS: President Biden intends to appoint Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds to the three seats that remain open on the #USPS Board of Governors and cement Democratic oversight of the agency, two sources familiar tell me.
The appointments, which include two men of color and a woman, would greatly diversify the board.

The current board is made up of six white men -- all of whom previously had limited experience with the Postal Service.
Ron Stroman -- who had been the highest-ranking African-American in the Postal Service's history -- left the agency just prior to DeJoy's appointment. He became a noted critic of the new postmaster general as well as an often-cited expert about DeJoy's policy changes.
Read 4 tweets
Jan 15, 2021
Biden's COVID-19 Vaccination Plan:

Get more people vaccinated:

-Encourage states to allow more people to be vaccinated including individuals age 65+ as well as frontline workers

-Ensure equity throughout the vaccination process to reach hard-to-reach, marginalized communities
Create more vaccination sites:

-Stand up new, federally-supported community vaccination centers

-Fully reimburse state deployment of the National Guard to support vaccinations

-Make vaccines available in pharmacies

-Launch new models to serve high-risk individuals
Increase supply and get it out the door as quickly as possible:

-Ensure a robust vaccine supply and spur manufacturing

-Be a reliable partner for states by providing actionable data on timelines and delivery

-Increase vaccine availability while maintaining two-dose schedule
Read 5 tweets
Dec 14, 2020
Excerpts from Biden's speech tonight:

"If anyone didn’t know it before, we know it now. What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: Democracy.

The right to be heard. To have your vote counted. To choose the leaders of this nation. To govern ourselves."
Biden: "In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant it to them.

The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic —or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame."
Biden: "In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed.

We the People voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact.

And so, now it is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal."
Read 5 tweets
Dec 2, 2020
BIDEN CABINET NEWS: Joe Biden could announce his health team as soon as next week, which would include HHS Secretary, CDC Director and COVID czar -- for which Jeff Zients remains a favorite, a transition official tells @PeterAlexander.
The leading choices for Biden's HHS Secretary are former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

Notably no longer named as a top contender: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, sources tell @HeidiNBC and @PeterAlexander .
For Biden's Education Secretary: Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, and Linda Darling Hammond, a Stanford education professor, are among the top contenders, per a transition official.

Also on the shortlist: Lily Eskelsen García and Randi Weingarten.
Read 6 tweets
Dec 1, 2020
NEW: The heads of legacy civil rights groups say they haven't been consulted about key cabinet picks and are frustrated they haven't met with Biden since the election. - latest from @spettypi and me…
NAACP President Derrick Johnson: "We haven’t had a meeting with him ... we have not had direct conversations about key appointments. Civil right leaders in this country should be on par if not more than other constituency groups he has met with."
However, Arisha Hatch -- vice president of Color of Change, which was founded in 2005 -- says her organization is having almost daily calls with various members of the Biden team about issues like racial justice, and policy at major agencies like the Department of Treasury.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 21, 2020
NEWS: Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court of the United States on Wednesday, September 23, and Thursday, September 24. - via @PeteWilliamsNBC
A private ceremony will take place in the Great Hall on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Following the private ceremony inside, Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the Building to allow for public viewing outdoors.
The public is invited to pay respects to the late Justice Ginsburg in front of the Supreme Court building from approximately 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23, and from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 24.
Read 4 tweets

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