Demo Memo Weekly Update: Check out Governor Northam’s Historic First Year and Look Ahead to 2019!

Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Democrats achieved great heights in 2018. Click the link below to see the Governor’s Year One report. Don’t forget to tune into his State of the Commonwealth address tonight, Wednesday, January 9, at 7:00pm.

On January 3, 2019, Virginia’s three new Congresswomen were sworn into office.

“Thanks to the relentless, inspiring campaigns run by Congresswomen Luria, Spanberger, and Wexton, seven of Virginia’s members of the House are from the Democratic Party. This change took years of phone calls, door knocks, and focused, service-oriented candidates like our three new Congresswomen. We are so excited they will join Senators Kaine and Warner as well as Congressmen Scott, Connolly, Beyer and McEachin in ending the Trump shutdown, increasing access to health care, fighting for the middle class, and making our Commonwealth stronger, fairer and more prosperous.”

-DPVA Chairwoman Susan Swecker

“I’m optimistic about our future, but I know we have a lot of hard work to do, and I’m glad to hit the ground running,” said Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat who unseated Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. “Getting the government reopened is our top order of business, and I feel confident that we’ll be able to pass some legislation here in the House of Representatives that would do just that.”

“This is personal for me. We’re talking about my family and friends,” Wexton said in a statement to NBC News. “I want everyone in the trans community to know that they are welcome and loved even in the face of this administration and its attacks on who they are.”

“Representative Wexton has set a clear model of love and acceptance by supporting transgender people not just in the halls of Congress, but in her own family,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “By displaying the transgender pride flag at her office, Rep. Wexton is clearly signaling that the equality of all people should be an indispensable value for legislators and families across the country.”

Spanberger said in a phone interview Thursday that she’s looking forward to focusing on the things affecting day-to-day life for her constituents.

“For most people across the district, they want Congress to start functioning,” she said.

Spanberger, 39, of Henrico County, upset former Rep. Dave Brat, who was seeking a third term, outraising him in a district that includes Democratic strength in the Richmond suburbs and Republican votes in rural portions of a district that stretches from Culpeper County down to Nottoway County.

“It’s incredibly exciting, and there’s just so much energy on the floor of Congress,” Spanberger said in her first interview since becoming a member of the House, just a few hours after being sworn in.

Luria said one of the first bills she’ll put her name on once the government reopens is one to stop offshore drilling off the East Coast.

U.S. Rep. Don McEachin, who represents Richmond, first introduced the bill in June along with Rep. Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican, that would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to forbid issuing federal lease-sales “for the exploration, development or production of oil or gas” in the areas that include waters off Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.

Issues like offshore drilling and seismic testing — both of which Luria opposes — are why she said she wants to get assigned to the special committee on climate change.

Luria said during her campaign she would fight for clean water and air initiatives in Congress and wanted to address rising sea levels in Southeast Virginia.

Given Hampton Roads’ deep ties to the Pentagon — the area is home to 78,000 active military personnel, according to the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance — and reliance on defense spending, she also wants to be on the House Armed Services Committee and the Veteran Affairs Committee.

“We need to do a lot more to make sure the veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned,” she said, adding there are “efficiencies to be gained” in the VA.

Delegate Filler-Corn is a history-making leader!

It’s a historic step for Filler-Corn, taking over the office suite of the minority leader of the Virginia House of Delegates — the first time in 400 years that a woman has held such a position.

“I’ll tell you, there has been an outpouring of excitement and energy around that,” Filler-Corn said in an interview. “Everyone is just kind of surprised to think that it’s taken so long.”

Medicaid expansion has begun!

More people in the commonwealth have access to health coverage starting [January 1].

That’s because Virginia joins 32 other states in expanding Medicaid overage. This will give more adults between the ages of 19 and 64 access to quality low-cost and no-cost health insurance.

“It’s been a long process but is fantastic. Over the past couple months, there’s been open enrollment. And 200,000 Virginians have already been signed up into Medicaid and have health care coverage and many others, for the first time ever, starting today. And we still have another couple hundred thousand to go,” said Delegate Sam Rasoul.

Rasoul said people who need coverage in Roanoke City will benefit more than people in any other locality in Virginia.

“Roanoke actually has one of the highest Medicaid populations per capita. So we had the greatest need. We are the third largest out of 100 districts. And so we had over 6,000 people just in Roanoke City who needed Medicaid,” said Rasoul.

Open enrollment started in November and will happen on a continuous is the website you can use to see if you qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Thousands of uninsured, low-income Virginians will have new health care coverage starting in the new year.

Virginia is joining more than 30 states that have expanded Medicaid, a key part of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

The state’s Medicaid office has been working with hospitals, advocates for the poor, insurance companies and others to help enroll the newly eligible into Medicaid. Coverage starts Jan. 1 and the state said Friday that more than 200,000 people have been enrolled.

Here’s a look at how Medicaid expansion happened in Virginia, what changes to health care landscape are coming and what fights lay ahead.

Attorney General Mark Herring continues to work for affordable healthcare

Seventeen attorneys general, including Virginia’s Mark Herring, have filed a notice of appeal in an effort to reverse a Texas judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

The filing moves the case into the conservative-leaning Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, just as the newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives plans a vote next week on intervening in the case, which was filed by 20 Republican-led states.

Most health policy experts agree, as does Gov. Ralph Northam, that the ruling is likely to be overturned. The law remains in effect as the case continues through the appeal court.

“I will not stop until I have done all I can to protect the millions of Virginians who have benefited from the ACA, which is why I intervened in this lawsuit in the first place,” Herring said in a statement. “Just the day before yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Virginians gained coverage under Medicaid and this court ruling could rip that coverage away from them.”

On Jan. 1, Virginia became the 33rd state to expand Medicaid coverage. More than 200,000 people have signed up so far, according to the state, and more are expected to enroll over the next several months.

Special Election Victory in SD-33. Congratulations Senator-Elect Jennifer Boysko!

RICHMOND, VA. — Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker issued the following statement congratulating Senator-Elect Jennifer Boysko on her win in today’s SD-33 Special Election:

“Congratulations to Senator-Elect Jennifer Boysko on a well-deserved victory tonight. I am beyond enthused to see Senator-Elect Boysko shine in the Senate just as she has in the House of Delegates. Senator-Elect Boysko will continue the work of Congresswoman Wexton in SD-33, delivering on the issues that matter most to her constituents like increasing access to healthcare, funding our transportation so Virginians don’t spend their time stuck in traffic, and passing common-sense gun reforms that keep firearms out of the hands of those that would do others harm. Congratulations again to Senator-Elect Boysko and all those who made this important victory possible.”

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