2019 General Assembly Session Update - Volume 3

Three weeks into the General Assembly Session, a number of important issues have been considered.  Here are some of the bills addressed by the Senate this week:

Driver Privilege Cards: The Senate Transportation Committee defeated on a party-line vote SB 1740 authorizing DMV to issue driver privilege cards to undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria.

Minimum Wage: The Senate defeated on a party-line vote SB 1200 gradually increasing the minimum wage from its current federally mandated level of $7.25/hour to $15/hour effective July 1, 2021.  You can watch my floor speech in favor of the bill here.

Guns in Churches: The Senate passed on a party-line vote SB 1024 repealing the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place.  You can watch my floor speech against this bill here.  A similar Senate bill was defeated in the House last year.

Suspended Driver's Licenses:  The Senate overwhelmingly passed SB 1013 repealing the requirement to suspend driver's licenses for failure to pay court fines or costs 36-4.  I co-patroned this bill. We also passed 38-2 SB 1613, which removing the existing provisions that allow a person's driver's license to be suspended (i) when they are convicted of or placed on deferred disposition for a drug offense and (ii) for violations not pertaining to the operator or operation of a motor vehicle. 

Workers Compensation Presumptions:  The Senate passed, 39-1, SB 1030 creating a presumption that certain cancers are occupational diseases covered by workers compensation for fire fighters and other first responders.  I was pleased to co-patron this bill. 
Reflecting on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
 
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 marked the 46th Anniversary of the landmark
U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.  I joined Delegate Charniele Herring for a Facebook Live with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia to reflect on the decision and legislative efforts to protect reproductive freedom and repeal medically unnecessary abortion restriction in Virginia law, including my SB 1451.  You can watch the video here. 
During a Point of Personal Privilege on the Senate Floor, I also discussed the difficult decisions many women face when a pregnancy goes wrong, and how these decisions should not be made by government. You can watch my remarks here 
.
ERA Suffers Setback in the House
 
Advocates for ERA ratification in the House Privileges & Elections Subcommittee Hearing.
Last Tuesday, a subcommittee of the House Privileged & Elections Committee voted down all resolutions to ratify the Equal Right Amendment on a party-line 4-2 vote.  

The full Committee refused to consider the House ratification resolutions on a party line vote of 12-10.  Technically, the Senate resolution is still before the Committee, but a majority of its members must agree to hear it and report it to the floor for it to have a chance.   

VARatifyERA has not given up, and has everything you need to make your voice heard in the House of Delegates.  Stay tuned.  
My Legislation
Sen. McClellan listens as Delange Fells testifies in support of SB 1438.

Last week, three of my bills passed the Senate and now head to the House:
  • SB 1433 requiring the Department of Education to collect and report to each education program certain data regarding their graduates to allow us to track how well our teacher prep programs are preparing teachers to succeed in the Commonwealth; 
  • SB 1439 requiring electronic filing of death certificates, which was the result of stakeholder meetings held over the summer; and
  • SB 1440 expanding mental health curriculum to all grades K-12. Last year we added mental health to grades 9 and 10.
Two of my bills reported out of the Education & Health Committee and will be voted on by the full Senate next week:
  • SB 1461 exempting teachers/programs solely focused on how to pass a specified professional certification exam from SCHEV regulations;  and
  • SB 1452 authorizing the Board of Pharmacy to issue a limited license at a reduced fee to a prescriber in a nonprofit facility to dispense controlled substances and devices for contraception or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. 
Two additional bills reported out of the Senate Rehabilitation & Social Services Committee and will be voted on by the full Senate next week:
  • SB 1436 fixing unintended consequences resulting from 2017 legislation conforming Virginia law to federal requirements relating to women's use of substances during pregnancy, including reporting data, and mandating that hospitals report infants born affected by any medications to local Child Protective Services, even when the substance used is legal and used appropriately as prescribed; and 
  • SB 1326 requiring the State Board of Social Services to allow a licensee that is grandfathered from the requirement that no more than two residents reside in a bedroom to transfer its license to another licensee in the same facility one time.    
Unfortunately, SB 1327 establishing in state law criteria by which congressional and state legislative districts are drawn was defeated in the Privileges & Election Committee on a tie vote. Instead, the Committee reported SB 1579, which does not prohibit political gerrymandering as my bill would have done. 
 
Finally, SB 1438 was referred by the Senate General Laws Committee to the Virginia Housing Commission to address provisions they did review or upon which they were unable to reach consensus last year.  Specifically, the Committee will ask the Housing Commission to review provisions that (i) prohibit evictions solely from outstanding late fees, (ii) require that any attorney's fees provision be reciprocal, and (iii) extend the five day pay or quit requirement to fourteen days.  Legislation sponsored by Senators Mamie Locke and Bill Stanley addressing other aspects of SB 1438 that were endorsed by the Housing Commission were reported out of Committee.  These include  SB 1445 to extend a tenant's right of redemption to two days before the sheriff's eviction and SB 1676 requiring landlords to offer tenants written leases. 

During the 2019 session, I am eager to hear from you on issues you care about. To share your views on legislation or identify individuals or organizations that should be commended in 2019, contact my office at (804) 698-7509 or district09@senate.virginia.gov.  You can also stop by my office in the Pocahontas Building, located at 900 East Main Street. My offices are located in E512.
 
You can also stay informed about General Assembly activities by following me on Twitterliking my Facebook page, and following me on Instagram