The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia hosted state delegates and senators representing the region in Richmond on Monday evening at the JCC’s building in Fairfax.
The two candidates vying for newly elected 10th District Rep. Barbara Comstock’s (R) vacated seat in the 34th House of Delegates district were also in attendance – Republican Craig Parisot and Democrat Kathleen Murphy, who received a raucous ovation from the crowd.
The JCRC gave a brief overview of its top legislative priorities for 2015 and the mostly Democratic legislators discussed the agenda items as well their own top priorities for the session.
The occasion was also a chance to formally say goodbye to Debra Gold Linick, who is moving on after serving as the JCRC’s longtime director for D.C. and Northern Virginia.
Two of the most important priorities for the JCRC are continuing “robust funding” for the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board and ensuring separation of religion and state. Other priorities include strengthening renewable energy portfolio standards and other environmental initiatives, closing the health care coverage gap and calling for a generous immigration policy.
Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) spoke first, and said she was in complete agreement with the JCRC’s agenda.
“For me the main thing is trying to get Medicaid expansion through. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do,” Howell said to cheers from the audience. “If we don’t go forward with Medicaid expansion we will have to spend state money for that which would be better spent on education in my opinion.”
Del. Ken Plumb (D-36) said he was at Governor Terry McAuliffe’s press conference in Arlington earlier in the day where he proposed new gun safety reform laws.
“I wholeheartedly will endorse his efforts to introduce some of those bills. We’re talking about common sense, reasonable gun safety measures,” said Plumb as the audience applauded.
Sen. Chap Peterson (D-34) said he will have some legislation on ethics reform, including a gift cap of $100. (Former Gov. Bob McDonnell was found guilty on 11 counts of corruption involving gifts and could face 10 years in prison.) He said he will also have a bill on Chesapeake Bay cleanup that would put a limit on plastic bags. He also mixed some humor into the event.
“I’m actually not Jewish. I grew up in a somewhat bizarre offshoot of Judaism called Christianity. It’s funny because to be a member of our church at some point you have to go on essentially a pilgrimage in order to be confirmed as a member and so we raised money for our church youth group to go to Jerusalem and actually make a choice whether they want to be members of our church and one of the biggest donors for our youth group is a member of this organization which I really appreciate.
“There’s a lot of love and affection there, and I have so much love when I’m in this building. I love it. It’s great to be here.”
Other legislators on the panel included Del. Marcus Simon (D-53), Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-45), Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67), Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31), Del. Mark Keam (D-35), Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48), Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), Del. Scott Surovell (D-44), Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), Del. David Bulova (D-37), Del. Vivian Watts (D-39) and Del. Dave Albo (R-42). The JCRC will be in Richmond on Feb. 4 for Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day.