Legislative Campaigns 2021

VCHR put the following three issues before selected members of the Virginia General Assembly:

  1. Education: overcoming cultural bias
  2. Police Reform: demilitarizing police training
  3. State Government: eliminating favoritism

Education: overcoming cultural bias

What was the major ask?

VCHR thanked the General Assembly for establishing the Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee. The committee is composed of Virginia professionals who will ensure that the histories of all communities (including the histories of Arabs and Muslims) are properly told. Two of our members were named to this committee.

VCHR requested that General Assembly support the Culturally Competent Virginia Educators Bill - SB1196 carried by Senator Mamie Locke and HB1904 carried by Delegate Clinton Jenkins. These bills would support the Culturally Relevant Committee by training teachers in cultural competency — the ability to teach effectively to students from different backgrounds.

What was the outcome?

Both Houses passed the bills in the first Special Session I. The Governor signed the bills into law on February 25, 2021.

Police Reform: demilitarizing police training

What was the major ask?

VCHR thanked the General Assembly for the legislation that was passed during the 2020 Special Session in the areas of police training and accountability.

While these reforms represent a significant step forward, VCHR expressed concern about police training that equates law enforcement with military objectives and tactics. As an example, VCHR reported that police officers from 5 Virginia municipalities, including Fairfax and Richmond, received training or attended seminars from Israeli security forces.

What was the outcome?

Since the legislators were unaware that Virginia police officers had received this military training, VCHR sent them an extract from the report produced by researching the American-Israeli Alliance. See: Police Training by Israeli Security Forces.

State Government: eliminating favoritism

What was the major ask?

VCHR summarized testimony that its members presented at the budget hearings in January that questioned the propriety of supporting a state agency to represent the interests of Israeli businesses. VCHR pointed out that, according to Dov Hoch, Executive Director of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), the Commonwealth of Virginia is the only state in the union that has established an agency like VIAB

VCHR asked the legislators if they thought the General Assembly should use taxpayer funds to support a state agency that represents the interests of Israeli businesses.

What was the outcome?

Since many of the legislators asked for more information on VIAB, VCHR prepared a history on this advisory board. See: Why VCHR Opposes the VIAB.