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Va. Lawmakers Hold Town Hall Ahead of Upcoming General Assembly Session

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The two Democratic lawmakers held a town hall on Nov. 27 The two Democratic lawmakers held a town hall on Nov. 27
Creigh Deeds represents the 25th District Creigh Deeds represents the 25th District
House Minority Leader David Toscano House Minority Leader David Toscano
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

With a little more than a month until the Virginia General Assembly convenes in Richmond, central Virginia lawmakers are getting out into the community to hear from the people they serve.

On Tuesday, November 27, Delegate David Toscano and State Senator Creigh Deeds came together for a town hall at Monticello High School.

The pair discussed Medicaid expansion, rising health care costs, mental health reform, and a push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, among other things.

“It’s all with an eye to getting people’s input so we can do our job even better,” Toscano said.

Toscano and Deeds are turning to the people they serve for input on their top priorities for January's General Assembly session.

“The people own the government, they own the General Assembly, so it’s important to hear from people, get input from people,” Deeds said.

The short session is set to begin January 9, and Toscano predicts a major focus will be on rising healthcare costs.

“One of the big concerns that we’re hearing again and again and again is health insurance and the rising costs of health coverage,” Toscano said.

Deeds, who has passed nine pieces of mental health reform legislation since his son’s death five years ago, expects to introduce even more.

“What ultimately we want to do, we want to accomplish, is make sure that no matter where a person lives in Virginia, they have access to the services they need when they need them,” Deeds said.

The Democratic duo expects to reintroduce legislation that would put more power in the hands of localities to ban Confederate monuments and weapons at public gatherings.

“These are things that we talked about last year that didn’t get passed,” Toscano said. “It’s always an opportunity to try to bring these things back and try to get them passed this year.”

Deeds expects to see bipartisan support for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

“Women still make about 80 percent or less of what a man makes in a similar job,” Deeds said. “Women aren’t recognized in the United States Constitution, so we have to get past that.”

That would make Virginia the 38th state to pass this amendment, which would officially make it an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“I think we’re ready to do it, I think if we can get the bill on the floor of the House, on the floor of the Senate, I think we can get it passed,” Deeds said.

This General Assembly session is expected to be Delegate Toscano's last as the House minority leader, which he says will be bittersweet but will allow him to get out into the community more and better serve the commonwealth's 57th District.

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