In Session: VPLC Efforts to Help Service Members and Veterans Fall Short at GA
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
This week, we want to highlight legislation we worked on at this year’s General Assembly that impact Virginia’s service members and veterans. We had one success and three setbacks. We call them setbacks because we will continue to work on these initiatives.
First, the success. A Bill was introduced in the House of Delegate regarding landlord/tenant rights. The Bill allowed landlords to put into their form leases a waiver of a servicemember’s right to postpone an eviction action brought against the servicemember and his or her family while the servicemember is deployed. This pre-dispute waiver is contrary to federal law and unfair to servicemembers. We explained the problem to the patron and he took it out of the Bill. Read our blog post on this issue.
A Bill VPLC supported to address problems for servicemembers sued for debts in our state courts was defeated in committee. A previous VPLC blog further describes the benefits of this Bill. We are disappointed but are already planning on building support for this Bill in the 2016 General Assembly.
VPLC also supported a Bill that would have made it unlawful for housing providers to discriminate against veterans, including veterans who pay their rent with non-wage income (such as veterans’ benefits or a rent voucher). As hundreds of Virginia’s veterans must rely on financial assistance such as vouchers to help them afford housing, we saw this Bill as a critical companion to the effort to end veteran homelessness in Virginia. But faced with strong opposition to the bill from the Virginia Association of Realtors and apartment managers, the subcommittee that heard the bill chose to send it to the Housing Commission rather than advance it. VPLC will continue to fight to get veterans a right to decent, affordable rental housing.
Lastly, the General Assembly again failed to close the Medicaid Coverage Gap for Up To 400,000 Low-Income Virginians. More than 25,000 veterans, along with their spouses were denied access to affordable health care coverage.
We are proud to work on issues that provide further protections to members of our military and will continue to do so in the year ahead and at next year’s General Assembly Session.