Home Virginia Politics Dynamic, Diverse, Determined Democrats Deliver: 2021 Virginia General Assembly Session Wrap-Up

Dynamic, Diverse, Determined Democrats Deliver: 2021 Virginia General Assembly Session Wrap-Up

"Legislation passed by Senate Democrats this year comes down to one word: empathy"

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From the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus:

Dynamic, Diverse, Determined Democrats Deliver: 2021 Session Wrap-Up

RICHMOND, Va.: Tonight, the Virginia General Assembly wrapped up their work for 2021 ahead of a pro-forma meeting on Monday, completing what has been another historic legislative session for the Commonwealth.

Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said: “In January, Senate Democrats laid out an aggressive agenda to help Virginians recover economically from the impacts of COVID-19, ensure our children continue to receive a world-class education, and make sure all in the Commonwealth can achieve and maintain good health. We have delivered on those goals and more, and have been leading the way on change for Virginia.”

Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said: “Legislation passed by Senate Democrats this year comes down to one word: empathy. We are committed to making sure no Virginian gets left behind; justice is not for just us. Our work on restoring faith in our justice system, ensuring every Virginian has the right to easily vote, and promoting equality for all sets an example for the rest of the nation and will be an enduring legacy for generations to come.”

Economy and Education

  • SB1405, Saslaw, establishes the Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Program, which provides incentives and opportunities for low- and middle-income students to earn an associates’ degree in a high-demand field.
  • SB1188, Hashmi, creates the Agriculture Food Assistance Program, which provides ways for leftover food from farmers and producers to be donated or sold to charitable food assistance organizations.
  • SB1197, Locke, establishes the housing opportunity tax credit, which will help more low-income families obtain and maintain stable housing.
  • SB1334, Edwards, expands a broadband pilot program to increase accessibility and affordability of reliable internet connections throughout the Commonwealth.
  • SB1219, Favola, commissions a study for implementing universal paid family and medical leave.
  • SB1279, Bell, helps reduce unemployment amongst veterans by creating new employment and re-education initiatives for separating service members.
  • SB1215, Ebbin, makes sure tenants have a recourse process for being locked out of their home, or a landlord does not maintain a safe living environment.
  • SB1310, McClellan, expands employee compensation and protection laws to include domestic workers.
  • SB1225, Boysko, allows school boards to direct funding toward encouraging the expansion and operation of broadband services.
  • SB1387, Boysko, requires higher education institutions to consider undocumented immigrants who qualify for in-state tuition to similarly qualify for any available financial aid and other educational benefits.

Health

  • SB1375, Saslaw, provides workers’ compensation benefits to emergency personnel infected with COVID-19.
  • SB1469, Barker, creates the Opioid Abatement Authority, which will be in charge of distributing funds received from lawsuit settlements, court orders, and other agreements to communities affected by the opioid crisis.
  • SB1227, Boysko, allows healthcare professionals to prescribe a 12-month supply of hormonal birth control.
  • SB1300, Favola, initiates a report on maternal health during pregnancy, labor and delivery, termination of pregnancy, and postpartum care provided by Virginia’s local and regional jails in an effort to ensure all people are getting quality care.
  • SB1276, McClellan, allows health insurance providers participating in the Marketplace to cover abortion services.
  • SB1302, McPike, creates a crisis call center for people in a behavioral health crisis.

Justice

  • SB1165, Surovell, abolishes the death penalty.
  • SB1266, Deeds, removes the presumption against bail so alleged offenders no longer have to overcome unnecessary hurdles to be released on bail.
  • SB1406, Ebbin and Lucas, legalizes simple possession of cannabis and builds the framework for a regulatory body to establish a retail market by January 1, 2024. The measure includes several provisions for social equity as well as a records sealing process for previous offenders.
  • SB1261, Edwards, provides more judges on the Court of Appeals so Virginians can exercise their constitutional right to a speedy trial, as well as providing all cases with an appellate process.
  • SB1339, Surovell, creates automatic sealing of minor criminal records after 7 years and petition-based sealing of more serious criminal records after 10 years, if no other convictions have occurred in that time.
  • SB1315, McClellan, requires criminal proceedings to take mental and emotional condition into consideration.
  • SB1213 Edwards, allows those with certain drug offenses to get restricted drivers’ licenses.
  • SB1256, Marsden, includes inclusion and human rights as a part of law-enforcement training.
  • SB1456, Marsden, redirects younger offenders in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice to alternative accommodations, such as foster homes, instead of facility detention.
  • SB1381, Ebbin, prohibits weapons on Capitol grounds and surrounding areas.

Voting

  • SJ270, Locke, restores voting rights to persons convicted of a felony once their sentence has been completed. The resolution will need to pass the 2022 General Assembly, then will head to a voter referendum.
  • SB1097, Favola, removes the requirement for a witness signature on a mail-in ballot.
  • SB1245, Deeds, establishes ballot drop-boxes at registrar’s offices and increases accessibility for voters with a visual impairment or print disability.
  • SB1239, Bell, allows voter registrars to employ a third-party vendor to print and distribute absentee ballots.
  • SB1439, McClellan, allows students one excused absence to participate in civic or political engagement activities.
  • SB1111, Spruill, provides guidelines for preservation of order at polling locations.

Equality

  • SJ272, Ebbin, removes the language in the Virginia Constitution requiring marriage be between only one man and one woman, forever removing the stain on our governing documents. The resolution will need to pass the 2022 General Assembly, then will head to a voter referendum.
  • SB1220, Favola, requires state-run health facilities to accept and treat undocumented immigrants.
  • SB1196, Locke, includes cultural competency in training for educators.
  • SJ288, Lucas, replaces the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee with a statue of civil rights leader Barbara Rose Johns in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol.
  • SB1395, McCellan, prohibits discrimination in voting and election discrimination.
  • SB1289, Surovell, prohibits discrimination for health insurance providers.
  • SB1410, Bell, prohibits discrimination on the basis of military status in public accomodations, employment, and housing.

Environment

  • SB1247, Deeds, requires carbon-emitting power plants to submit a plan for closure every 18 months.
  • SB1284, Favola, creates the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy. The Policy includes several provisions: addressing climate change will improve the health, welfare, and safety of Virginians; recognizing the need to promote environmental justice; and prioritizing economic competitiveness and workforce development in an equitable manner. 
  • SB1350, Lewis, adds resiliency in the list of considerations when prioritizing state infrastructure projects.
  • SB1393, Marsden, allows localities to enact ordinances more strict than Virginia’s regarding replacement and conservation of trees during development.
  • SB1252, McPike, ends new coal tax credits on January 1, 2022.
  • SB1282, Morrissey, requires a regular report on greenhouse gas inventories.
  • SB1379, Boysko, prohibits animal testing for cosmetic products.
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