Meet Senator Jennifer McClellan
Jennifer McClellan's legislation is signed into law
Jennifer McClellan at the General Assembly
Jennifer McClellan accepting the VEA Legislative Champion Award
Jennifer McClellan supporting funding for Public Broadcasting

Latest News

Jan16

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 1,000 protesters gathered at the Lee Statue on Monument Avenue on Saturday and marched to Boulevard in solidarity with next week’s Women’s March on Washington protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration as president.

State officials and local activists gave speeches before and after the march, urging more public participation in politics and activism to counter the Trump administration.

“We will fight like we’ve never fought before to make sure all people are treated with love and respect,” Democratic state Sen. Jennifer McClellan of Richmond told the crowd. “We are strong because of this beautiful mosaic of people.”

Many nonprofit advocacy groups – including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Richmond Health Brigade and the Richmond Peace Education Center – had representatives at the event.

“It’s a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Betsy Brinson, a board member for the Peace Education Center. “There’s major peace issues involved at all levels.”

Brinson, a retired Virginia Commonwealth University faculty member, said she been involved with the center for more than 30 years.

“We do youth projects that teach conflict resolution, racial justice and international affairs,” Brinson said. “We are trying to educate people so they can speak out the best way they know how.”

For some, the presidential election was a galvanizing call to action, inspiring citizens to protest for the first time.

“I’ve never been really political before,” said Richmond resident Renee Ramos. “I’ve never marched in anything before.”

Ramos said that from Trump’s policies to his behavior on the national stage, she had to do something to protest his incoming administration.

“This is my first protest,” said Joy Whitenack of Richmond. “We can’t just go out and vote anymore. It’s time to really support justice and equal rights for everyone in the country.”

She said the change in political dialogue and climate over the last few years prompted her to protest.

“It was as great warm-up for next week,” Whitenack said, referring to the Women’s March on Washington, which organizers predict will draw more than 200,000 people.

For others, this was another march in a decades-long fight.

“I used to march a lot in Washington,” said Sherry Baxter of Richmond. “I marched in ’87, in Roe v. Wade and in 2000.”

Baxter said her child was taken from her in the ’80s because she was a lesbian, and that’s when she began marching for civil rights. Unable to find other mothers in the same situation, she said she first marched with gay fathers who had lost their children under similar circumstances.

The parade also played host to large puppet displays and a baton-twirling stilt walker dressed as Uncle Sam.

“I walk on stilts because it’s something you can’t ignore,” said Marcus Fioravante. “People are deaf to most signs and things. What art does to activism is beautiful.”

Building the stilts from found materials like discarded wood, Fioravante said he’s been performing and drawing attention to causes and protests like the March on Monument for three years.

“It confuses the opposition,” said puppeteer Lily Lamberta, founder of All The Saints Theater Company. “It brings a level of circus, color and creativity. You can say really hard-hitting things in a playful and obscure way.”

Just returning from protesting in Standing Rock, North Dakota, last month, Lamberta has been using large symbolic puppetry for protests in Richmond for more than 11 years.

Among the puppets carried in the parade was the “Wake-up Rooster,” which Lamberta said was meant to communicate that it’s time for the American people to wake up to the present dangers and take action.

Lamberta said she plans to take the puppets to Washington next week to protest the inauguration.
Saturday’s march concluded several blocks from the intersection of Monument Avenue and Boulevard, where a small stage was erected for McClellan and newly elected U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin to speak.

“We are going to revisit everything that makes America great,” said McEachin, a Democrat representing the 4th

Congressional District. “It’s about diversity. It’s about love, not hate.”
McEachin said his first objective in office is to protect the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have vowed to repeal.

“They’ve been talking trash for six years, and now they don’t have a plan,” McEachin said. “If they had a replacement, we would’ve seen it by now.”

McEachin said he would push to uncover the influence and scale of Russian cyberattacks during the past election cycle.

“We will not be afraid of the truth, and we will act on that truth,” McEachin said. “Please do not get weary in your well-doing. Democracy is a participatory sport – you need to participate.”

By Jesse Adcock with Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.

Jan14

RICHMOND — As Virginia faces an estimated $1.26 billion budget shortfall, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus announced that its top priority during the General Assembly’s session is to protect funding for K-12 education.

Additionally, the VLBC will focus on criminal justice reform, job creation, increasing the minimum wage and public safety.

“These are the issues we will continue to fight for because there must be a change,” Del. Roslyn Tyler, a Democrat from Jarratt and president of the caucus, said at a news conference Wednesday.

In November, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration warned higher education officials at Virginia’s public colleges and universities to anticipate a 7.5 percent reduction from the state general fund. The VBLC said it wants to protect the K-12 budget so schools have the money for academic excellence.

The 17 African American lawmakers are all Democrats, but they hope to work across party lines on issues such as reforming school discipline. For example, the VBLC said it supports three bills filed by Republican Sen. William Stanley of Moneta:

  • SB 995, which would reduce maximum suspensions from 364 calendar days to 45 school days and prohibit long-term suspension from continuing on beyond the current school year.
  • SB 996, which would protect students from expulsion and long-term suspension for disruptive behavior except in cases of physical injury or threat of physical injury.
  • SB 997, which would prohibit suspension or expulsion or students in preschool through fifth grade except for drug offenses, firearms or certain criminal acts.

Republican Del. Richard Bell of Staunton has introduced similar legislation in the House: HB 1534 to reduce the length of suspensions, HB 1535 to prevent expulsion and long-term suspension except in cases of physical injury and HB 1536 to limit the circumstances under which preschool and elementary students can be suspended or expelled.

VLBC member Jennifer McClellan, a state delegate from Richmond, cited findings from the Center for Public Integrity that Virginia schools refer students to law enforcement at nearly three times the national rate.

McClellan, who was elected to the Senate on Tuesday, said that African American students were more likely than white students to be suspended and that students with disabilities were more likely to be suspended than those without disabilities.

The VLBC also wants to boost the minimum wage, which in Virginia is the same as the federal minimum – $7.25 per hour.

Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, introduced SB 978, which would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 1, 2019.

“When people are working, there is less crime,” Dance said.

She said 19 states, including Washington and California, have already increased the minimum wage.

Story by Jessica Nolte with Capital News Service.

Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.


Jan14

Democrat Jennifer McClellan has represented Richmond in Virginia’s House of Delegates for 11 years, but now she’s looking for a change. She’s running for an open seat in Virginia’s State Senate. That district includes much of Richmond City, and parts of Henrico, Hanover, and Charles City counties.

If she wins Tuesday’s special election, McClellan will go from the 100-member House to the 40-member Senate. She sat down with Richmond reporter Mallory Noe-Payne to talk about what switching could mean for her priorities as a lawmaker.

Click here to listen to audio of interview.

 
Jan14

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia State delegate Jennifer McClellan (D.) won Virginia’s 9th Senate District seat in a special election held Tuesday.

McClellan won the seat in a landslide victory over Corey Fauconier (Libertarian) garnering 95 percent of the vote.

“Congratulations to my good friend, Senator-Elect Jennifer McClellan on her victory in Virginia’s 9th Senatorial District,” said Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) Chairwoman Susan Swecker. “From community leader, to the House of Delegates, and now State Senator – Jennifer is a proven leader who fights for all Virginians. Our Virginia Democratic family is proud of her achievements, and look forward to what lies ahead for her new role in Virginia’s Senate.”

McClellan previously represented the 71st District in the House of Delegates, which she had served in since 2006.

The 9th District seat was open after State Senator Donald McEachin won the congressional race for Virginia’s 4th district seat in November.

Before Election Day, McClellan received endorsements from Governor Terry McAuliffe, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and former seat holder and U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin.

The 9th Senate District is a heavily Democratic district, made up of parts of Richmond, Henrico, and Hanover, along with all of Charles City County.

Our Newsletters

We're nearly one-third of the way through the 2017 Session.  This week is the last week Senate and House committees will act on bills before crossover, so we are in for long days.  
 
On Monday, the Senate considered SB 1055 increasing the penalties for failure to leave the place of any riot or unlawful assembly after being lawfully warned to disperse. I highlighted my opposition to this bill  in last week's newsletteron the radio, in my most recent Richmond Free Press update, and spoke against the bill on the Senate floor.  I'm pleased to report the bill was defeated  14-26.  You can watch my floor remarks opposing the bill  here.
 
In a victory for equality, the Senate passed SB 783 (Sen. Ebbin) prohibiting discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and SB 822 (Sen. Wexton) prohibiting such discrimination in housing.  I was proud to co-sponsor both bills, which passed 25-14. Unfortunately both face an uphill battle in the House.  
 
The Senate also passed several bills that I co-patroned to strengthen relations between law enforcement and communities, align Virginia with the rest of the nation in punishment for theft, and assist former felons who reintegrate into society after completing their sentences:    
  • SB 1047 (Sen. Lucas) expands mandatory training for law-enforcement officers to include fair and impartial policing, verbal de-escalation, and the needs of special populations;
  • SB 816 (Sen. Surovell) increases the grand larceny felony threshold from $200, currently one of the lowest in the nation, to $500; and
  • SB 1171 (Sen. Dance) "bans the box" by removing questions pertaining to criminal background from the initial job application for state employment and allowing localities to do the same. The prohibition does not apply to applications for employment with law-enforcement agencies, certain positions designated as sensitive, or in instances where a state agency is expressly authorized by a specific federal or state law to inquire into criminal history for employment purposes. Agencies may consider criminal history later in the process, but this bill removes a significant barrier for many to even be considered for employment.   
The Senate also passed 36-3 legislation to regulate predatory online loans.   SB 1126 (Sen. Surovell) makes clear that Virginia's consumer finance laws apply to internet loans made to Virginia residents or any individuals in Virginia, whether or not the person making the loans maintains a physical presence in the Commonwealth.
We're nearly one-third of the way through the 2017 Session.  This week is the last week Senate and House committees will act on bills before crossover, so we are in for long days.  
 
On Monday, the Senate considered SB 1055 increasing the penalties for failure to leave the place of any riot or unlawful assembly after being lawfully warned to disperse. I highlighted my opposition to this bill  in last week's newsletteron the radio, in my most recent Richmond Free Press update, and spoke against the bill on the Senate floor.  I'm pleased to report the bill was defeated  14-26.  You can watch my floor remarks opposing the bill  here.
 
In a victory for equality, the Senate passed SB 783 (Sen. Ebbin) prohibiting discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and SB 822 (Sen. Wexton) prohibiting such discrimination in housing.  I was proud to co-sponsor both bills, which passed 25-14. Unfortunately both face an uphill battle in the House.  
 
The Senate also passed several bills that I co-patroned to strengthen relations between law enforcement and communities, align Virginia with the rest of the nation in punishment for theft, and assist former felons who reintegrate into society after completing their sentences:    
  • SB 1047 (Sen. Lucas) expands mandatory training for law-enforcement officers to include fair and impartial policing, verbal de-escalation, and the needs of special populations;
  • SB 816 (Sen. Surovell) increases the grand larceny felony threshold from $200, currently one of the lowest in the nation, to $500; and
  • SB 1171 (Sen. Dance) "bans the box" by removing questions pertaining to criminal background from the initial job application for state employment and allowing localities to do the same. The prohibition does not apply to applications for employment with law-enforcement agencies, certain positions designated as sensitive, or in instances where a state agency is expressly authorized by a specific federal or state law to inquire into criminal history for employment purposes. Agencies may consider criminal history later in the process, but this bill removes a significant barrier for many to even be considered for employment.   
The Senate also passed 36-3 legislation to regulate predatory online loans.   SB 1126 (Sen. Surovell) makes clear that Virginia's consumer finance laws apply to internet loans made to Virginia residents or any individuals in Virginia, whether or not the person making the loans maintains a physical presence in the Commonwealth.
January 23, 2017
 
My 2017 Legislation
 
Due to the timing of my swearing in to the Senate, I am limited in the number of bills I can introduce this session. I have introduced 7 bills this year, which you can track here
 
SB 1475 calls for changes to the family life education curriculum guidelines that include age-appropriate instruction that increases student awareness of the fact that consent is required before sexual activity. I am carrying this bill on behalf of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency.
 
SB 1476  requires the Department of Education to develop and make available to each local school board, training for hearing officers in teacher dismissal hearings. I am carrying this bill on behalf of the Virginia Education Association. 
 
 
SB 1477 makes several changes to provisions relating to blind and visually impaired students, including (i) requiring a learning media assessment (LMA) to be administered as part of the initial evaluation and each reevaluation of each student with blindness or visual impairments or more frequently, if such student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team so determines; (ii) requiring instruction in Braille reading and writing and accommodations for materials in Braille to be included in the IEP of a student with blindness or visual impairments commensurate with his IEP team's determination of his or her needs based upon the results of such LMA, and (iii) requiring the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired to assist the Board of Education and each local school board with ongoing professional development for teachers of students with blindness or visual impairments, including knowledge of and instruction in Braille and the administration and evaluation of LMAs. I am carrying this bill on behalf of the Association for Education and Rehab of the Blind and Visually Impaired. 
 
SB 1478 allows a court to modify a restitution payment plan or amend the amount of restitution due for good cause shown after a hearing in which the defendant, Commonwealth's Attorney, and the victim have been notified. I am carrying this bill on behalf of the Virginia Crime Commission. 
 
SB 1493 establishes the Computer Science for All Virginians Students Advisory Committee and Computer Science for All Virginia Students public-private partnership. I am carrying this bill on behalf of CodeVA.
 
SB 1494 allows brokers to arrange rides with transportation network companies (like Uber and Lyft) but with specific drivers whom they designate as their favorites.  The bill requires such brokers to be licensed by DMV and includes insurance requirements for TNC partner vehicles operating at the request of a broker. This bill was requested by UZERV, an innovative new business in the Richmond area.
 
SB 1519 adds meningococcal conjugate to the list of immunizations students must receive before entering sixth grade. I am carrying this bill on behalf of the Virginia Department of Health.
 
I am also co-sponsoring several bills, which I will highlight next week, and that you can track here.

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