RICHMOND, VA – Today, the General Assembly adjourned sine die after one of the most productive sessions in modern Virginia history. The session included 10 McClellan bills being passed into law. The legislature also adopted a joint budget conference report on Saturday, which included several amendments sponsored or associated with legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond).
Sen. McClellan’s budget amendments adopted in total or in part in the Senate budget include:
- School Support Staff Funding: $49,494,567 to fund the state’s share of three specialized student support positions per 1,000 students. Specialized student support positions, consistent with Senate Bill 1257, include school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, licensed behavior analysts, licensed assistant behavior analysts, and other licensed health and behavioral positions.
- Prenatal Care & Infant Mortality:
- $11.1 million from the general fund and $20.7 million from federal funds to amend the Virginia Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) State Plan to allow the payment for prenatal care for all children regardless of the expectant mother’s immigration status.
- Approximately $51,000 to support a workgroup to develop a plan for establishing a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review at the Virginia Department of Health. Such a team would function in a similar manner to the child fatality review team but focus on tracking and investigating selected fetal and infant deaths in the Commonwealth and make recommendations to reduce preventable deaths.
- Economic Revitalization: Language establishing the Virginia CDFI Fund within the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide capital through grants to community development financial institutions, community development enterprises, or similar entities whose primary purpose is to provide financing in the form of loans, grants or forgivable loans to small business or community revitalization real estate projects in Virginia. The budget also includes $10.0 million to capitalize the Fund.
- Supporting Vulnerable Families:
- $670,476 from the general fund and $7.7 million from non-general funds to increase Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits by 10%. The General Assembly provided a 15% increase beginning July 1, 2020, bringing the average monthly payment for a TANF family to $361. Language in the budget requires the Department of Social Services to develop a plan to increase the standards of assistance by 10% annually until the standards equal 50% of the federal poverty level.
- $2.1 million from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant for the implementation of individual development accounts for TANF recipients by the Department of Social Services.
- Food Access: Increased funding for the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund from $1.1 million to $3.1 million in the first year. The increased funding will provide additional grants and the ability to offer no-interest/low-interest loans, while increasing the number of retailers in underserved communities who accept SNAP and incentives such as Virginia Fresh Match.
- Sickle Cell Disease Care: $500,000 for a comprehensive adult sickle cell disease (SCD) program. Historically, Virginia has funded SCD care for children but not for adults, and this amendment would establish a comprehensive adult program for sickle cell disease within the Office of Family Health Services and create a model of care based on the structure of existing pediatric care models.
- Voting Rights: In funding relating to implementation of Senator McClellan and Delegate Marcia Price’s the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, the budget provides $300,000 in the second year from the general fund at the Department of Elections to support voter education and outreach efforts on new voting laws. This amendment includes new funding in addition to repurposing existing resources within the agency for previous voter education campaigns. The budget also provides $50,0000 for the required Woodrum bill appropriation.
- Solar Training: $296,314 in funding for Southside Virginia Community College to implement the Solar Hands-On Instructional Network of Excellence initiative. The initiative is a public-private partnership that provides training for those seeking employment opportunities in the solar industry. The program identifies the timing and location of solar project development in Virginia and uses that information to focus its training toward job openings as they become available. This targeted approach to workforce training/development maximizes SHINE’s ability to connect program graduates with sought-after jobs upon completion of the program.
- Black History:
- $250,000 for the Department of Historic Resources for the expansion of Virginia’s historical property catalogue to include underrepresented African American and indigenous communities. Included in these amounts is $110,000 to support one new FTE, $100,000 for a grant program to provide paid internships in partnership with Virginia’s HBCUs to conduct fieldwork, and $40,000 for cultural data enrichments and database enhancements for the Virginia Cultural Resources Information System.
- Authorization of and $50,000 for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, with the assistance of the Department of General Services, to begin the process of creating a memorial in tribute to the late Senator Yvonne Miller.
- $100,000 to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission to support the construction of the Emancipation and Freedom Monument
- Criminal Justice Reform:
- $100,000 in funding for the potential increase in the use of court-appointed experts caused by the passage of SB 1315 broadening defendants’ ability to introduce evidence regarding their mental state at the time of an alleged defense.
- Language establishing an interagency working group to develop recommendations for local criminal justice diversion programs to provide alternatives to arrest, conviction or incarceration for lower-level offenses.
- Immigrants’ Access to Resources and Health Care:
- $100,000 for the Department of Social Services to increase interpretation and translation services to help immigrants in Virginia access local resources through 2-1-1, including healthcare, housing, and other social services; and issue competitive grants through the Office of New Americans to community-based and faith-based organizations that are directly serving immigrants.
- Language directing the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to convene a workgroup to research and recommend strategies for the financing of health care services for undocumented immigrant children. Approximately 13,000 immigrant children in Virginia lack health insurance and approximately 9,000 of those children live under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. They do not qualify for Children’s Health Insurance Program funded health insurance due to their immigration status.
- HBCU Funding: Language intended to ensure that Virginia’s public historically black colleges and universities may access the United States Department of Education Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program.
- Medical Transport: Language directing the Department of Medical Assistance Services to analyze the usage of Transportation Network Companies Type II Non-Emergency Medical Transportation providers in the Medicaid fee-for-service program and the department’s contracted managed care organizations and to identify any barriers to accessing such providers. This effort will help to reduce barriers in transportation to non-emergency medical care for Medicaid patients.
Jennifer McClellan was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2017 after serving 11 years in the House of Delegates. She has been a leader on fighting climate change, strengthening public education and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, protecting voting rights, enacting criminal justice reform, combating domestic and sexual violence, and fighting discrimination of all kinds.