August/Special Session Update

Sent 8/9/2021

 

 

Dear {{FirstName or ‘Neighbors’}},

Last week, the General Assembly convened for a special session to appropriate $4.3 billion in COVID-19 relief money allocated to Virginia under the American Rescue Plan Act and fill judicial vacancies. It was our first time back in the State Capitol in 17 months! 

For our safety, there were a few changes, which I highlighted in this quick tour of the Senate Chamber. 

For our safety, there were a few changes, which I highlighted in this quick tour of the Senate Chamber.

We also honored Michael Paul Williams with a commending resolution celebrating his recent Pulitzer Prize for his commentary last summer on Richmond’s Confederate statues. You can watch the presentation here.

 

American Rescue Plan Funding

On Monday, we passed an appropriations bill allocating approximately  $3.4 billion of the $4.3 billion federal funds allocated to Virginia under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. The bill includes:

  • Funding to expedite the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas and close the digital divide within the next three years;

  • Funding for rental, housing and utility assistance, and language extending to June 30, 2022 the requirement that landlords provide tenants who have not paid their rent with a written notice of state and local rent relief programs, and a prohibition on evicting such tenants for nonpayment unless the tenant refuses to apply or cooperate with a landlord’s effort to apply on their behalf; 

  • Funding to strengthen Virginia’s behavioral health system and increase support for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs;

  • Funding to reduce water pollution and increase access to clean water across the Commonwealth, including investments in wastewater treatment and nutrient removal, combined sewer overflow projects in Richmond, Alexandria, and Lynchburg, and to assist water systems in small and disadvantaged communities; 

  • Funding to improve ventilation and air quality in public schools;

  • Funding for more financial aid for low- and moderate-income undergraduate students; 

  • Funding to boost recovery among Virginia’s small businesses and industries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; 

  • Funding for public safety initiatives across the Commonwealth, including crime reduction/prevention programs and victim services; and 

  • Funding to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and accelerate critical upgrades to the Virginia Employment Commission.

You can find a summary of the conference report here.

Governor Northam Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for State Workers

In response to an increase in cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant across Virginia and the country, Governor Northam announced last week that starting September 1st, Virginia state workers will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 every week. You can read the full text of Executive Directive Eighteen here.

To find a nearby vaccination clinic, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). For answers to frequently asked questions or to learn more about vaccination for COVID-19 in Virginia, visit vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

Celebrating the Voting Rights Act of Virginia

Thanks to our Democratic majority, in 2020 Virginia passed a series of voting reforms that took us from the second hardest state to vote in 2016 to the 12th easiest in 2020. In 2021, while many states are passing restrictive voter suppression laws, Delegate Marcia Price and I made Virginia the first state in the South to pass its own Voting Rights Act. We joined former Oregon legislator Jefferson Smith on the Democracy Nerd Podcast to talk about this landmark legislation. Listen in here.

If you have questions or need assistance please reach out to my office. We can be reached by emailing [email protected] or by calling (804) 698-7509.

Thank you,

Jennifer McClellan

Senator, 9th District 

 

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