The 2021 Session has finally ended.
Yesterday, Speaker Filler-Corn gaveled us out and our legislative session officially came to a close.
Having virtual sessions didn't stop us. We worked together to pass legislation that will help improve the lives of Virginians and that will support students and teachers and our businesses as we navigate through the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We made some outstanding progress this session. We were able to take steps forward that we can all be proud of. We passed legislation to strengthen our economy, enhance protections for workers, passed sensible gun safety legislation, made improvements to our education systems, implemented environmental programs for the future and enhanced voting protections for all Virginians.
Here are some additional highlights from the 2021 Session:
Helping Virginia Families
HB 1967 Raising the minimum entry-level wage rate that a company is required to pay in order to be eligible for assistance under the Virginia Jobs Investment Program
HB1995 Establish a Rare Disease Council and Rare Disease Fund. This bill establishes a Rare Disease Council in the executive branch to advise the General Assembly and other government agencies on the needs of Virginians with rare diseases, explore health challenges that individuals with rare diseases face, and provide resources for rare patients. It also secures funding for research, development of diagnostic tools and access to affordable treatments for rare diseases. I was proud to carry this important legislation to establish a permanent institution that will seek to understand and advocate for Virginians with rare diseases.
HB 2036 Improving the Virginia Employment Commission's communication with claimants by allowing the Commission to send information via email, in lieu of mail, if a party consents
HB 2040 Unemployment compensation; failure to respond, continuation of benefits, repayment of overpayments. This important legislation ensures Virginian's receive their benefits, if proven eligible by the VEC, even if they are awaiting an adjudication process. I am proud to be a co-patron of this bill.
HB 1864 Expanding protections under the Virginia Human Rights Act to include protections for domestic workers
HB 1985 Creating a worker's compensation presumption for frontline healthcare worker's who have contracted or will contract COVID-19 in the line of duty
HB1999 Tax Commissioner; waiver of accrual of interest in the event that Gov. declares state of emergency. Provides the Department of Taxation with the authority to waive the accrual of interest on tax payments in the event that the Governor declares that a state of emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I was proud to carry this legislation to help Virginians when they need it, during a state of emergency.
HB 2130 Establishing the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the Governor regarding the economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth and the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia
HB 2204 will promote and establish the Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) program. This legislation will make huge advances in our work to make community college more affordable for low-income and middle-income families seeking employment in high-demand sectors such as technology, skilled trades, healthcare, early childhood education, and public safety.
HB2206 Expands the Child Care Subsidy program so more families can afford childcare during the pandemic. As we face one of the greatest health and economic crises of our lifetime, it is essential that we ensure all Virginian families have the resources they need to properly care for themselves and their children.
HB 2304 expands a pilot program that allows utilities to help internet service providers expand broadband access to underserved areas of the Commonwealth.
Gun Violence Prevention
HB 1909 Prohibiting guns on school board property. I was proud to be a Chief-Co Patron of this important gun violence prevention legislation.
HB 1992 Takes guns away from Domestic Abusers. I am thrilled to finally have this bill finally passed to protect the victims of domestic abuse.
HB 2128 Extending background check time (Charleston loophole)
HB 2081 Prohibiting the possession of a firearm in polling location and within 40 ft. of a polling location's building
HB 2295 Barring guns in Capitol Square and state government buildings
HB 1885 Directing the Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive review of computer science standards, etc., in public schools;
HB 1904 Ensuring cultural competency through evaluations and regular training for teachers and principals
HB 1905 Requiring economic education and financial literacy in middle and high school;
HB 1998 Public schools; lock-down drills, annual requirement. This bill reduces the number of required lockdown drills to one within the first 20 days of the school year. Exempts Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten students from mandatory participation in lockdown drills during the first 60 days of the school session. Local school boards shall develop policies to implement the exemptions. I was proud to carry this legislation.
HB2013 prohibits school boards from filing lawsuits against a student or the student’s parent for any outstanding school meal debt. This bill seeks to ensure that no learning environment ever becomes hostile for Virginia students.
HB2058 Establishes the Virginia STEM Advisory Board. The Board will work to promote and advance STEM education throughout the Commonwealth.
HB 2123 Providing that students eligible for in-state tuition will not be denied that assistance on basis of citizenship or immigration status;
HB 2135 Expanding school participation in the Federal Afterschool Meal Program;
SB 1303 House Substitute Establishes parameters for schools to reopen for 2021-2022 academic year during the COVID-19 pandemic
Protecting our Environment
HB1811: Promotes clean energy in state buildings.
HB 1907 Electric utilities; advanced renewable energy buyers.
HB 1919 Authorizing localities to establish a green bank to promote the investment in clean energy technologies in its locality and provide financing for clean energy technologies.
HB1994 Small agricultural generators; expands definition. Expands the number of businesses that can participate in the Small Agricultural Generation program, which was created in 2017 to allow an alternative option for agricultural businesses to use solar energy outside of the constraints of traditional agricultural or nonresidential net metering. I was proud to carry this legislation.
HB 1979 Creating and funding an electric vehicle rebate program;
Establishing a Clean Car Standard
HB 1965 directs the State Air Pollution Control Board to implement a low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program for motor vehicles with a model year of 2025 and later. This is going to help Virginia in its push to move towards more electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.
HB2042 gives localities the option to exceed general requirements in its tree replacement and conservation ordinances in specific circumstances, including development that impacts storm water permit requirements, recurrent flooding, formerly redlined areas, and comprehensive plan compliance.
HB 2269 Solar energy projects and energy storage systems; revenue share for projects and systems.
Making our Democracy Stronger
HB 1810 Providing the Governor with the authority to extend voter registration deadlines in the event the online voter registration system fails.
HB 1888 Protecting voting rights and accessibility by: authorizing secure ballot drop box locations for all localities; allowing citizens to cure their absentee ballots if they are incorrectly filled out; and requiring each locality to count early in-person ballots before Election Day;
HB 1890 Establishing a Voting Rights Act of Virginia to create a robust, transparent review process for any election law changes and seek to prevent any voter disenfranchisement based on race or minority group status
HB 1921 Clarifying that any voter with a permanent physical disability, temporary physical disability, or injury is entitled to vote outside of the polling place
HB 2125 Permitting Virginians 16-17 to pre-register to vote.
2021-2022 State Budget-Investing in Virginia’s Future
The budget we adopted makes critical investments in public education, transportation infrastructure, the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort, and more.
Here are some of the highlights:
- A 5% pay raise for teachers.
- $443 million to school divisions to ensure no school division receives less funding as a result of lost enrollment
- Funding for a second Women Veteran's Coordinator for the Virginia Women Veteran's Program. I am excited that my budget amendment was approved to help our women Veterans.
- More than $40 million dollars for local school divisions to run summer school and other programs to combat learning loss.
- $89.3 million for mass vaccination efforts.
- $100 million for broadband infrastructure
- A total of $65 million for Agriculture Best Management Practices
- $25 million in additional support for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund
- Maintains restoration of $12 million for environmental justice and clean energy regulatory programs
- $50 million in general funds and $50 million in bonds for nutrient removal in the Chesapeake Bay
- Over $100 million in investments in affordable housing.
- You can read the full budget here and you can watch the budget presentation here.
- I am proud of what we were able to accomplish for the Commonwealth. It wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you for putting your confidence in me as your Delegate.