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

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Virginia continues to struggle with issues relating to juvenile justice and student discipline.

In 2015, more youth in Virginia were referred to law enforcement than all other states across the country. While that’s not the case now, the state continues to outpace many others when it comes to the number of youth who are arrested – and end up behind bars.


Several years ago, my two-year-old son burned his hand while we were visiting rural Bath County. We had two choices: admit him to the VCU burn unit that day, or wait four days to go to a weekly VCU burn clinic. Without hesitation, we had him admitted to the burn unit immediately. After a three-hour ambulance ride and one-week stay in the burn unit, he came home.

The medical bills totaled about $15,000. We are fortunate enough to have health insurance, so our out-of-pocket cost was only $1,000. Without insurance, we would have been forced to wait four days to get our son treated. His hand could have become infected, or worse. 

For about 240,000 Virginians, this is the dilemma they face: Postpone or forego needed medical care because they can’t afford it and don’t have health insurance. They can’t afford preventative care. They are one illness or accident away from economic devastation. When they get sick or injured, they end up in the emergency room. When that happens, we all pay the price. The cost of that ER visit eventually leads to higher insurance costs for Virginians, and puts a strain on us, our hospitals, and our economy.


A group of African-American women called for action Wednesdayon issues burdening the black community, including gun violence, lack of health care and inadequate educational opportunities.


Virginia schools refer roughly 16 kids for every 1,000 students to law enforcement. Some of the schools with the highest rates of referral were middle schools.

On Monday, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, joined by Sen. William Stanley, R-Moneta, introduced multiple bills aimed to fix the school to prison pipeline.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, introduced two budget amendments to help appropriately fund schools to deal with the issue. The amendments will eliminate the cap on support staff funding from public schools and will provide financial assistance to public schools for alternatives to address behaviors other than suspension.

“If we don’t get this right, if we don’t put our money where our mouth is, we will lose an entire generation of students to the school to prison pipeline,” said McClellan.

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We have reached the halfway point of the 2018 General Assembly Session, known as “Crossover.”  Tuesday was the last day for the House and Senate to complete work on their own bills. On Wednesday, they began hearing bills that passed the other body.  We have just over three weeks left to address nearly 2,000 pending bills. 

This week I’d like to highlight SB 181 (Stanley), which I co-sponsored, to repeal Virginia’s law mandating automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay fines and court costs, which passed the Senate last week 33-6. 

Today is "Crossover," the midway point of the Session where the House and Senate must complete work on their bills.  You can follow my bills and their progress through the General Assembly on the LIS website, and you can read a summary of all of my 2018 legislation and view committee hearings for each on my website

I am eager to hear from you on issues you care about. To share your views on legislation, contact my office at (804) 698-7509 or You can also stop by my office in the Pocahontas Building at 900 East Main Street. My offices are located in E512.

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry.  Yet many communities in the commonwealth do not have enough places to purchase healthy, affordable food as a wide variety of factors have led supermarkets to disinvest from lower-income areas across the commonwealth, creating a public health crisis.