RICHMOND, VA (STL.News) Governor Ralph Northam today announced he has signed several important pieces of legislation, including measures to modernize public health funding, increase access to early childhood education, boost the sale of electric vehicles, and remove the statue of Harry F. Byrd, Sr. from Capitol Square.
“We are making tremendous progress on the issues that matter most to Virginians, from heath care and education to economic opportunity and our environment,” said Governor Northam. “I am proud to sign these bills into law, and I look forward to continuing our work together to support families and small businesses and build a more welcoming, inclusive Commonwealth.”
Governor Northam signed the following laws to expand access to health care:
- House Bill 1963, sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby, modernizes the funding mechanism for local health departments to increase support for public health needs, emergencies, and response efforts. Governor Northam spoke to this issue during his State of the Commonwealth speech in January, saying: “In 2021, we’re funding public health like its 1980…This is fundamentally inequitable and wrong…We’ll make sure the localities that need more resources get them, and no one will get less.”
- Senate Bill 1205, sponsored by Senator George Barker, establishes programs to manage career fatigue and increase the wellbeing of health care providers and medical students. This measure is identical to House Bill 1913, sponsored by Delegate Patrick Hope.
- Senate Bill 1227, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Boysko, allows Virginians who rely on Medicaid to receive up to a 12-month prescription of birth control, increasing access to contraception for those who need it.
Governor Northam signed the following laws related to equity and inclusion:
- House Bill 2208, sponsored by Delegate Jay Jones, directs the Department of General Services to remove the statue of Harry Byrd, Sr. from Capitol Square. The former Virginia governor and longtime United States senator was an avid segregationist and the architect of “massive resistance,” a campaign to prevent public school desegregation in Virginia.
- House Bill 1993, sponsored by Delegate Alex Askew, requires state agencies to establish and maintain a comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan in coordination with the Governor’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This legislation codifies the Northam Administration’s first-in-the-nation ONE Virginia Plan.
- House Bill 2130, sponsored by Delegate Alfonso Lopez, establishes the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the Governor on the economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth and the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia.
- House Bill 1854, sponsored by Delegate Rip Sullivan, authorizes Arlington County to rename Lee Highway, the county’s section of U.S. Route 29.
Governor Northam signed the following laws to support families and small businesses:
- House Bill 2206, sponsored by Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, expands eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy Program to ensure more families in Virginia have access to early childcare education.
- House Bill 1879, sponsored by Delegate David Bulova, and Senate Bill 1299, sponsored by Senator John Bell, codify Governor Northam’s Executive Directive Ten and allow for delivery and take-out of alcoholic beverages until July 1, 2022. The legislation also directs the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to broadly study the issue and provide a report to the General Assembly by November 1, 2021.
Governor Northam signed the following laws to boost the sale of electric vehicles:
- House Bill 1965, sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby, helps reduce air pollution by requiring car manufactures to sell a certain percentage of electric or hybrid electric passenger cars. Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas pollution in Virginia, and this measure is supported by both automobile dealers and the environmental community.
- House Bill 2282, sponsored by Delegate Rip Sullivan, directs the State Corporation Commission to report on policy proposals that will increase the use of electric vehicles.
Governor Northam signed the following laws to increase access to voting:
- House Bill 1968, sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby, allows localities to provide access to early voting on Sundays.
Senate Bill 1097, sponsored by Senator Barbara Favola, removes the requirement for a witness signature on absentee ballots during a declared public health emergency. This law also directs the Department of Elections to evaluate alternatives to witness signatures in verifying the integrity of absentee ballots.
- Senate Bill 1239, sponsored by Senator John Bell, allows general registrars to contract with third-party vendors to ensure timely printing and distribution of absentee ballots.
Governor Northam proposed changes to the following bills:
- Governor Northam amended House Bill 2167, sponsored by Delegate Don Scott, which clarifies the research and notification processes required of the Virginia Parole Board. Governor Northam amended this legislation to move provisions of the law related to monthly reporting from July 1, 2022 to December 15, 2021.
- Governor Northam also amended House Bill 2168, sponsored by Delegate Don Scott, to clarify that so-called “games of skill” will be prohibited beginning July 1, 2021.
The full list of legislation signed by Governor Northam from the 2021 special session is available here.