RICHMOND, Va. - Governor Ralph Northam's Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Laws issues its second report that outlines policy recommendations to confront the impacts of discriminatory laws.
Northam's administration says many of the recommendations made by the commission are now reflected in Northam’s current legislative priorities, including measures to restore voting rights, invest in education, and expand expungements of prior convictions.
“Our Commonwealth remains focused on acknowledging and righting the wrongs of our past,” said Governor Northam. “This latest report makes clear that there is still work to do to shed the ugly remnants of Virginia’s history. The Commission is already having a significant impact on our shared legislative priorities and I look forward to continuing our partnership to build a more honest, equitable, and inclusive future for all.”
The second report was broken down into six major concerns: housing, education, criminal justice, health, environmental justice, and agricultural equity. The report made recommendations for the Commonwealth to combat the racial inequity. Recommendations included providing building space and staff grants to Richmond and other high-eviction cities to serve as a physical, community-based space for a eviction prevention program as well as revisions to the current tenant-landlord laws. Other recommendations included increasing mental health programming in schools. The report details several disparities in the six main topics with research supporting their findings.
The governor established the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law in June 2019 and appointed its members in September 2019. They were initially tasked with reviewing the Acts of Assembly, Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations to identify racially discriminatory language and make recommendations to address those laws
The commission’s interim report, in December 2019, cited nearly 100 instances of racist language in the laws. By working closely with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Northam signed fourteen bills into laws that repealed racist language related to education, housing, transportation, health care, voting, and more.
In June 2020, Governor Northam expanded the Commission to identify existing state laws and regulations that "create or perpetuate racial disparities" and then develop policies that increase protections for minorities.
“We were honored to support the Governor and his effort to right historic wrongs and create a more just and equitable Virginia,” said Chair of the Commission and former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia Cynthia Hudson. “This summer’s events demonstrated that the relevance of the Commission’s work could not be more clear, nor the research and recommendations we made more timely.”
After the 2021 legislative session, commission members will focus their attention on laws and regulations that directly contribute to inequity in economic achievement and stability.