CROSSOVER: 24 McClellan Bills Pass Senate

RICHMOND, VA – Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) passed 24 bills through the Senate, as part of a legislative agenda focused on protecting Virginians and investing in Virginia communities as they build back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 24 bills that passed the Senate, 21 received bipartisan support. 

“I’m proud to have worked across party lines to build on our progress with critical investments in Virginia’s public schools, health care system and clean transportation system,” said Sen. McClellan. “Virginia must protect our progress and create a safer and stronger Commonwealth that invests in our communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass these bills through the House.”

Here is a summary of the 24 bills patroned by McClellan that have passed the Senate prior to crossover:

EDUCATION

  • Specialized School Support Staff (SB 490): McClellan’s bill increases specialized student support positions – such as school social workers, school psychologists and school nurses – in schools across the Commonwealth. The bill builds upon legislation that Sen. McClellan passed last year to require school boards to provide at least three specialized student support positions per 1,000 students. This year’s bill raises that standard to four per 1,000. PASSED SENATE 27-13, WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.

  • School Construction: McClellan was the chief patron of four bills recommended by the bipartisan Commission on School Construction and Modernization. All four bills passed the Senate with bipartisan support: 

  • SB 471 (McClellan): Adopts changes to the state Literary Fund to make more money available to local school divisions through loans with lower interest rates than currently allowed by law. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • SB 472 (McClellan): Allows all localities in Virginia to impose a 1% increase in their sales tax, subject to voter approval and to be used solely for school construction or renovation. Under current law, such sales tax is only permitted in nine enumerated localities. PASSED 28-12, WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.

  • SB 473 (McClellan/Sen. Steven Newman/Sen. Todd Pillion) Creates a School Construction Fund and Program to provide grants to school boards that leverage federal, state, and local programs and resources to finance the design and construction of new school buildings and facilities or the modernization and maintenance of existing school buildings and facilities. PASSED 37-3, WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.

  • SB 481 (McClellan/Stanley): Encourages local governing bodies and school boards to collaborate to set aside for the purpose of capital projects any funds appropriated to the school board by the local governing body that are not spent by the school board in any year. Permits any school board to finance capital projects with any funds appropriated to it by the local governing body that are unexpended by the school board in any year. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

EMPLOYMENT

  • Employment Discrimination (SB 494): McClellan’s bill strengthens protections for employees who are victims of discrimination by extending the statute of limitations for filing a written complaint or civil lawsuit. The bill also establishes a consistent definition of employer for employment discrimination under the Human Rights Act as one employing 5 or more employees. Under current law, the 5 employee threshold only applies to employers who unlawfully fire an employee, but not to other employment discrimination claims. PASSED 21-19.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

  • Tribal Nation Consultation (SB 482): McClellan’s bill codifies Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 82 directing state permitting agencies to consult with Tribal Nations when evaluating state permit applications for activities with potential impacts to environmental, historic and cultural resources. Such consultation enables time for meaningful input from Tribal Nations about any potential environmental or cultural concerns regarding the proposed projects, and strengthens Virginia’s government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY

HEALTH CARE

HOUSING

  • Eviction Appeals (SB 474): Under current Virginia law, indigent people must post an appeal bond when appealing an eviction for nonpayment in circuit court. Often, they are effectively prevented from appealing their eviction due to insufficient funds. Sen. McClellan’s bill allows judges to waive the appeal bond for eviction appeals, and provide indigent people with full legal rights in effort to stay in their homes. PASSED 23-17, WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Gun Violence Prevention Center (SB 487): Sen. McClellan’s bill establishes the Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention at the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to work across public safety and public health sectors to collect data and publish reports on violence caused by firearms, including suicide. The information will be shared with state and local agencies, higher education institutions, research institutions, hospitals and other medical care facilities, and community-based organizations. The center will also establish model policies for law-enforcement personnel. The bill also establishes a fund to be administered by the Center to support community-based programs to prevent firearm violence.Governor Northam included funding to establish the center in his introduced budget. Delegate Marcia Price (D-Newport News) introduced the House companion bill. PASSED 24-16, WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.

  • Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development (SB 485): Sen. McClellan’s bill strengthens the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act (DPYDA). The DPYDA focuses exclusively on providing money for prevention services. such as services for at-risk youth before they enter the juvenile justice system. McClellan’s bill provides greater flexibility for localities, removing burdensome administrative responsibilities for localities to access DPYDA funding, and providing clearer guidelines for how localities could use the funding. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY

  • Unsolicited Intimate Photographs (SB 493): Sen. McClellan’s legislation helps protect Virginians from unsolicited intimate photographs sent digitally. The bill establishes a civil penalty for an adult who knowingly sends an intimate image digitally to another adult who has not consented to or has expressly forbidden receipt of such image. SB 493 only applies to senders, recipients, and images involving individuals above the age of 18, as minors are protected by other laws. Dels. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach) and Carrie Coyner (R-Chesterfield) carried House companion legislation. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (SB 658): McClellan’s bill requires that physical evidence recovery kits in Virginia be stored by law enforcement for 10 years, or, in the case of a minor victim, until 10 years after the victim turns 18. This bill ends an exemption, requiring storage of physical evidence recovery kits for incidents that are categorized as “no crime occurred.” PASSED UNANIMOUSLY

TRANSPORTATION

  • Clean Public Transit (SB 488): Sen. McClellan’s bill makes a major investment powering a cleaner Virginia’s public transit system with electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The bill establishes The Transit Transportation Program and Fund to award competitive grants to assist local, regional, and state entities with transitioning public transit bus fleets and infrastructure to zero-emission and low-emission bus fleets and infrastructure. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • Central Virginia Transportation Authority (SB 476): Sen. McClellan’s bill adds a representative of Richmond International Airport as a member of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA). The CVTA currently includes ex-officio members from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Port Authority, the airport Greater Richmond Transit Company, and the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The bill will add Richmond International Airport to provide the CVTA a more complete picture of regional transportation needs and issues. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • Capital Region Airport Commission Enabling Act (SB 478): Sen. McClellan’s bill will authorize the Capital Region Airport Commission – the entity that owns and operates Richmond International Airport –  to make charitable donations and provide assistance to educational and charitable entities, organizations and programs. These endeavors will be designed to foster an appreciation by the public of the importance of aviation, assist the public in aviation travel, or help develop and educate the next generation of aviation professionals in the Commonwealth. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

ELECTIONS

  • Election Governance (SJ 33): Under current Virginia election law, 133 general registrars and electoral boards in each of the Commonwealth’s independent cities and counties are independently responsible for operating and overseeing local elections. The State Board of Elections is responsible for supervising localities, but in reality has little ability to ensure fairness. With localities under increasing partisan pressure, Sen. McClellan’s legislation creates a Joint Legislative Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission review of Virginia’s election governance to ensure accountability, uniformity and fairness. PASSED 21-19.

  • Recall Reform (SB 495): In recent years, Virginia’s broad recall laws have been used as a political tool to undermine duly-elected officials and thwart the will of voters. Sen. McClellan’s bill reforms Virginia’s recall procedures to prevent abuse by political entities. The bill raises the threshold for signature to require a recall to be consistent with other states. It also makes removal decided by an election, rather than in a court process. PASSED 21-19, WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.

VIRGINIA HISTORY AND CULTURE

  • Historic African-American Cemeteries (SB 477): Under current law, historic African-American cemeteries established before 1900 are eligible for maintenance and preservation support through the Virginia Historical African American Cemeteries and Graves Fund. However, some historic cemeteries – such as Woodland Cemetery in Henrico County, which was founded in 1916 – are not eligible for the fund. Sen. McClellan’s bill changes the establishment date eligibility from 1900 to 1948, the year that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racially segregated cemeteries. Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) is carrying the House companion. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • Virginia African Diaspora Advisory Board (SB 491): Sen. McClellan’s bill establishes the Virginia African Diaspora Advisory Board to advise the Governor on ways to improve economic and cultural links between the Commonwealth and African nations, with a focus on the areas of commerce and trade, art and education, and government. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • Virginia African Diaspora Month (SJ 34): Sen. McClellan’s resolution establishes September as Virginia African Diaspora Month. PASSED BY VOICE VOTE.

OTHER

  • Children’s Museum (SB 470): McClellan’s bill grants easements for the Children’s Museum of Virginia to access the new parking deck and greenspace that will be shared space between the Children’s Museum and the Science Museum of Virginia. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

  • Code Commission Bills: McClellan introduced two bills recommended by the Virginia Code Commission to make technical amendments to sections of the Code of Virginia dealing with The Administrative Process Act (SB 480) and Health Services (SB 479). BOTH PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

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