Spring has finally sprung, and that means that the 2021 campaign season is now in full swing! Last week, I announced that I am running for my 4th term in the House of Delegates to continue representing my lifelong home of Mount Vernon down in Richmond. While I do not have a primary this upcoming June 8, Virginia voters will have important decisions to make at the ballot box regarding candidates for the three statewide offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. As the start of early voting is swiftly approaching (indeed, early voting begins on April 23 by mail), many constituents have asked for my thoughts on the candidates, so I want to share my choice for our next Governor.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan has my strong endorsement to be the next Governor of Virginia. No one is more prepared to lead our Commonwealth into the future.
I have followed Jennifer’s career in public service for decades, from our time serving together during our youth in the Virginia Young Democrats to working as colleagues in the General Assembly.
Throughout the years, I have marveled at her drive, her determination, and strong advocacy for the values Virginians care about, from quality education for all, combating racial inequity, access to reproductive health, criminal justice reform, and safeguarding worker rights.
Sen. McClellan’s legislative prowess has demonstrated her ability to meet the moment and pass critical legislation for the benefit of all Virginians. In just the last two years, she has led the fight and passed nearly four dozen pieces of legislation. I will highlight just a few for you. These are all law now and I am proud to have supported her efforts and voted for each of these important bills.
Equal Rights Amendment (SJ 1) – Made Virginia the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Removing Segregation Laws (SB 722) – Repealed several laws passed from 1901 to 1960 that implemented and enforced racial segregation and discrimination.
Domestic Workers Rights (SB 804) – Makes Virginia the first state in the South to extend workplace protections to domestic service workers, removing Jim Crow-era exceptions that prevented domestic workers from receiving the same minimum wage as other Virginia workers. The bill also begins the process of expanding other worker protections to domestic service workers.
The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (SB 712) – Makes Virginia the 28th state to pass stronger protections for pregnant workers by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and mothers of infants.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act (SB 851) – Comprehensive energy bill that transitions Virginia to a 100% clean energy grid by 2045, while saving customers money, creating thousands of jobs in the clean energy economy, and addressing the impacts of climate change.
The Solar Freedom Act (SB 710) – Democratizes solar energy, removing barriers on local governments, residents, and businesses to install solar for their own use. The bill will open up a major marketplace for distributed solar energy in Virginia, and support clean energy job creation.
- State-Based Health Exchange (SB 732) – Created The Virginia Health Benefit Exchange under the Affordable Care Act to improve access, lower premiums and improve the efficiency of health care for Virginians. McClellan first introduced a state-based exchange as a delegate in 2012.
Criminal Justice Reform:
Ending Mandatory Minimums for License Suspensions (SB 711) – Eliminated the mandatory minimum 10-day jail term for a third or subsequent conviction of driving on a suspended license, returning discretion to judges on such cases. Nearly half of suspended license cases in Virginia were due to nonpayment of court fees, according to the Legal Aid Justice Center.
Statute of Limitations for Sexual Offenses (SB 724) – Increased the statute of limitations for prosecuting child misdemeanor sexual offenses from when the survivor turns 19 to when they turn 23.
Public Housing Demolition Notice (SB 708) – Requires public housing authorities to send notice of their plans to demolish, sell, or otherwise dispose of a housing project to every resident at least 12 months in advance.
Tenants Bill of Rights (SB 707) – Requires all landlords to provide new tenants with a written explanation of their right to request repairs. The bill empowers tenants to take action when their landlord allows property to fall into disrepair or become unsafe – and it lays out clear responsibilities of tenants to report such conditions.
Disorderly Conduct (SB 3) – Eliminates the vague Class 1 misdemeanor “disorderly conduct” charge for student behavior deemed disruptive at a school or school-sponsored event. The frequent use of “disorderly conduct” charges for school incidents led to an increase in the number of students in the school-to-prison pipeline, and increased racial disparities in Virginia’s education system. McClellan first introduced disorderly conduct legislation as a Delegate in 2016.
Disciplinary Discretion (SB 729) – Returns discretion to school administrators over whether to report behavior that constitutes a misdemeanor to law enforcement or handle through the disciplinary process. McClellan has worked on this legislation for more than 7 years, since she was in the House of Delegates.
Sen. McClellan is a tireless fighter for her constituents, and always willing to put in the work, which is how I know that she will do the same for all Virginians as our Commonwealth’s next Governor.