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Virginia NAACP lays out priorities for 2022 General Assembly session

Education reform, voting rights, and juvenile justice were just some of the many topics discussed during the Virginia NAACP's news conference Thursday.

RICHMOND, Va. — Members of Virginia's NAACP say they have a lot to tackle in the 2022 legislative session. This includes both arguing against and fighting for some pre-filed bills set to be discussed over the next 60 days.

Organization leaders started off a news conference via Zoom Thursday with goals such as implementing healthcare policies to address systemic racism. They say they plan to advocate for bills that will, "result in the elimination of the racial and ethnic inequities that exist within our healthcare system that undermine communities of color, their life opportunities and their ability to contribute fully to the common good."

Another big change they hope to make is with juvenile justice. As 13News Now reported, 83rd District Delegate Tim Anderson pre-filed for House Bill 37 to increase the number of School Resource Officers in middle and high schools to help decrease school shootings.

RELATED: 83rd District Delegate-elect Tim Anderson pre-files several school safety bills

Virginia NAACP member Valerie Slater led the topic of juvenile justice in the conference, referencing that bill. Slater, who is also the RISE for Youth Executive Director, says it should be left up to jurisdictions to determine whether to bring in more School Resource Officers. 

Slater said the organization also wants to change the way misdemeanors are handled within school systems.

"We will also be supporting legislation that will move the Department of Juvenile Justice out of Public Safety and Homeland Security and into the Public Health and Human Resources secretary," said Slater.

NAACP leaders such as Avohom Carpenter discussed voting rights. Carpenter said they are facing an uphill battle with some bills.

"The political action committee is concerned with several pieces of legislation that would do everything from reducing early voting days to eliminating absentee voter list," said Carpenter.

While Carpenter mentioned their plans to challenge multiple bills, including the House Bill 24, he said the organization plans to support Senate Bill 21, which pushes for the "automatic restoration of voting rights" for incarcerated individuals.

You can learn more about the Virginia NAACP State Conference's goals, including environmental legislation and education reform, on its website.

The General Assembly session runs for 60 days through March 12.

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