Meet Senator Jennifer McClellan
Jennifer McClellan's legislation is signed into law
Jennifer McClellan at the General Assembly
Senator McClellan Meets with constituents
Jennifer McClellan accepting the VEA Legislative Champion Award

Latest News

Mar5

The General Assembly adjourned sine die last week after passing more than 800 bills that now await action from the governor. Several of the bills passed address the 21st century generational and technological changes that have led to one of the most dramatic transformations in the American economy in decades — the “on-demand”, “sharing,” or “gig” economy.

Rapid changes in technology have given rise to new business models, such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb that do not fit Virginia’s regulatory structure and disrupt “legacy” industries. As a result, the General Assembly has had to update laws governing everything from zoning, consumer protection, insurance, and taxes to allow these new models to grow while providing consumer protections and avoiding the creation of an unlevel playing field for legacy industries competing with these new businesses.

Mar4

The General Assembly adjourned sine die last week after passing more than 800 bills that now await action from the governor. Several of the bills passed address the 21st century generational and technological changes that have led to one of the most dramatic transformations in the American economy in decades — the “on-demand”, “sharing,” or “gig” economy.

Rapid changes in technology have given rise to new business models, such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb that do not fit Virginia’s regulatory structure and disrupt “legacy” industries. As a result, the General Assembly has had to update laws governing everything from zoning, consumer protection, insurance, and taxes to allow these new models to grow while providing consumer protections and avoiding the creation of an unlevel playing field for legacy industries competing with these new businesses.

Mar1
OZY

Jenn McClellan is always on the cusp of something — and the hectic pace that’s become her default setting is not always on purpose, the Virginia lawmaker admitted to OZY in a recent interview. “I volunteer and, next thing I know, I’m officer,” she says, laughing. “Once I’m interested in something, I just throw myself into it.”

Her latest role? A brand-new state senator, following a special election last month. As the state representative for Virginia’s political core, Richmond, for more than a decade, McClellan has led on issues of criminal justice and education reform, with a particular interest in ending the catchphrase “school-to-prison pipeline.” For example: She’s pushed for laws limiting school suspension lengths and restricting the ability of teachers to call the police on schoolchildren, who in the past could be handcuffed for behaviors like interrupting in class or truancy. Along the way, the Democrat earned a reputation for garnering bipartisan support — and upon leaving the lower chamber, the wonky African-American received a standing ovation from her colleagues, who raved about her accountability and “level of goodwill and decorum,” as one Republican told reporters.

Feb19

With the establishment of the first public institution dedicated to the mentally ill in Williamsburg in the 1776, mental health services have been a core responsibility of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since then, Virginia’s mental health system has evolved from one focused primarily on institutionalization towards a single, integrated system of care, with increased emphasis on the establishment of community services and more effective and efficient use of state facilities.

 Today, Virginia’s “public mental health, intellectual disability and substance abuse services system” is comprised of 16 state facilities and 40 locally run community services boards (CSBs) that “serve children and adults who have or are at risk of mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, intellectual disabilities, or substance abuse disorders.” State facilities are only one of several resources in an overall continuum of care that also include the CSBs, local psychiatric hospitals, hospital emergency departments, law enforcement, and the court system.

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We are now in the final week of the 2017 Session. We still have quite a bit of work to do, as a number of bills, including the budget, are in conference committees to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. Last week the Senate passed a number of controversial bills.

Last week the House and Senate adopted amendments to the 2016-2018 budget to address a projected $279.3 million revenue shortfall. The Senate budget reflects its top priorities of supporting mental health programs, avoiding spending cuts for public education and safety net programs, and providing an overdue pay raise for all state employees and teachers.  Specifically, the Senate budget proposes a 3 percent raise for state classified employees, a 2 percent raise for college and university faculty, the state share of a 2 percent raise for public school teachers, and a 2 percent raise for state-supported local employees.  Instead of providing a raise for teachers, the House budget increases funding for school divisions, which may use the money for raises or for other priorities. 

 

Last week, the General Assembly reached "Crossover," the mid-point of Session when the House and Senate must complete work on their own bills. Many of the bills my constituents have written or called me about were addressed prior to crossover and summarized in prior updates. Here is an overview of other bills acted upon last week.