FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RICHMOND, VA – Today House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian is releasing his legislative priorities for the 2021 General Assembly session.
In amending Virginia’s biennial budget, Chair Torian will continue to prioritize education, health care, and workers’ rights. He supports amendments instituting COVID-19 relief for our public schools; new measures to address racial disparities in infant and maternal health outcomes, including Medicaid coverage for doula care; and responsible contracting policies to protect workers against misclassification and wage theft.
Chair Torian said: “This budget will be tasked with guiding Virginia out of the darkest days of this pandemic and toward a safer, healthier, more equitable future. We have much to look forward to. While we focus on meeting new challenges and rebuilding our Commonwealth, the promising new revenue forecast will also allow for the restoration of funding to priority initiatives from the original biennial budget.
I applaud Governor Northam’s emphasis in the introduced budget on forward-looking education funding, continued criminal justice reform, expanding broadband access, equitable health care, and fiscal responsibility. I will also focus on workers’ rights and fostering financial security for Virginia families.”
In addition to carrying the Commonwealth’s budget, Chair Torian will patron a set of bills that will enhance financial security for all Virginians and invest in our colleges and universities.
One bill would build on Chair Torian’s 2020 Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act and lay the groundwork for a comprehensive Housing Bill of Rights to address disparities in homeownership. This legislation would develop an accessible statement of manufactured home lot tenants’ rights and responsibilities and require localities’ comprehensive plans to include strategies to preserve existing manufactured home communities. It would also take steps to prevent foreclosures by guaranteeing homeowners more notice, recourse, and legal protections before losing their homes.
Chair Torian said: “Virginia’s housing crisis predated the pandemic but fostering housing stability is more important now than ever. Financial security and our children’s educational success begin with a safe roof overhead. Homeownership is one of the most reliable routes to building wealth, yet barriers to homeownership are a major contributor to the racial wealth gap. Virginia needs a housing bill of rights so that every Virginian has the opportunity to achieve that security.”
Another bill would establish VirginiaSaves, an optional, portable auto-IRA housed in Virginia529 to promote retirement savings for private sector employees whose employers do not otherwise offer qualified retirement plans.
Chair Torian said: “I have championed the creation of a VirginiaSaves program for many years. Virginia529 can do for retirement planning what it did for college savings. This is an opportunity for all Virginia workers to build long-term savings not tied to a single employer.”
Chair Torian will also carry legislation to establish a capital outlay plan and authorize the issuance of bonds to facilitate capital projects at Virginia’s institutions of higher learning.
Delegate Luke Torian represents House District 52 in the Virginia House of Delegates, serving Dale City, Woodbridge, and the towns of Dumfries and Occoquan. He has held office since 2009 and serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He is also a member of the House Rules and General Laws committees.