New Laws Take Effect

On July 1st, the majority of legislation passed by the 2018 General Assembly Session took effect.  In Due Course, published by the Division of Legislative Services, provides a good overview of new laws likely to affect the daily lives of Virginians. 

Complete information on actions of the 2018 General Assembly Session can be found on the Legislative Information System webpage.

After five years of trying, the General Assembly passed a budget last week that includes Medicaid Expansion. 

Once the Federal government approves Virginia's pan, 18-64 years olds who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. This will close the coverage gap for nearly 300,000 Virginians who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid now, but not enough to qualify for subsidies on the federal health insurance marketplace. The plan includes a work requirement in which able-bodied adults under 65 are required to work, seek employment, or participate in job training, education, or community/engagement programs that improve work readiness. Exemptions are provided for children, pregnant women, the aged, disabled, and seriously mentally ill, caregivers of disabled dependents, and individuals working in the TANF VIEW program or SNAP. These requirements are waived in parts of the state with high unemployment.

The budget we adopted invests significant funding in behavioral health and developmental services, education and workforce training, and raises for state employees and teachers. For more details, you can read this summary prepared by the House Appropriations Committee Staff here.
Here are a few highlights about the budget: 
  • Adds $189 million in new general fund resources for behavioral health and developmental services, including $84.1 million for community mental health services and $67 million to expand services for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Includes more than $530 million in general funds for K-12 education, and $131 million for a three percent pay raise for state-supported teachers and support staff, effective July 1, 2019.Adds $1.5 million in support for teacher residency partnerships between schools and universities.
  • Includes $87 million for a two percent pay raise for state and state-supported local employees, and another $38 million for a two percent merit raise for state workers with at least three years of service. The budget also provides $49 million for targeted pay raises for direct care staff at our state behavioral health facilities; corrections officers at our Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice facilities; and marine police and deputy sheriffs.

You can find the "Caboose Budget" Bill (HB 5001) amending the current budget here.

You can find the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget Bill (HB 5002) here.

Governor Northam Signs School Discipline Bills   

n 2016, the Legal Aid Justice Center released an analysis of public school exclusionary discipline data for the 2014-2015 academic year. The results were stark, demonstrating that students of color and students with disabilities were disproportionately suspended and expelled. The data spurred the General Assembly into action, with bills sponsored by Senator Bill Stanley and Delegate Dickie Bell that I was proud to co-sponsor and highlight in an RTD op-ed. But we were unable to reach consensus on how to address the school discipline issue.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Awards Senator McClellan With the 2018 Aggie Wolf Defender of Choice Award. 
At its annual Power of Choice Gala last month, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia awarded me the 2019 Aggie Wolf Defender of Choice Award. The award recognizes a policy maker or legislator who has dedicated their time to defending reproductive freedom.
Unfortunately, because the Senate was in session, I was unable to accept the award in person. However, I was able to FaceTime with the crowd to give my thanks!  
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Senator McClellan with a Free Enterprise Award for Education and Workforce. 
Last month, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce recognized the recipients of its Free Enterprise Award for their support of the principles and initiatives outlined in the Chamber's long-term economic development plan, Blueprint Virginia 2025.
I was one of several legislators recognized with the Education and Workforce Award for our work on SB 349and HB 1125 making several changes to the Virginia's teacher licensure requirements.  For a complete list of Free Enterprise Award recipients, click here.
We are now over a month into Special Session and have yet to complete work on the budget for the 2018-2020, which starts 

On Saturday, March 10th, the 2018 General Assembly Session adjourned sine die after passing over 800 bills. You can read a summary of some of the major legislation considered here. 

This is the final week of the 2018 General Assembly Session.  As of Tuesday evening, we have passed about 750 bills, with another 175 pending.  The Budget conferees have not yet reached an agreement to bridge the approximately $600 million gap between the House and Senate Budgets, primarily due to their disagreement over Medicaid Expansion. Seven of my bills have passed both the Senate and the House and now await action by the Governor.

We are in the final week of the 2018 Session. So far we have passed about 750 bills, with another 175 pending.  The Budget conferees have not yet reached an agreement to bridge the approximately $600 million gap between the House and Senate Budgets, primarily due to their disagreement over Medicaid Expansion.

Last week the House and Senate adopted their amendments to the 2018 - 2020 biennial budget introduced by Governor McAuliffe on December 18, 2017.  The two budgets are about $600 million apart.  The key difference between the two budgets is Medicaid expansion.

Last week, the Senate and House each passed their proposed amendments to the Biennial Budget introduced by the Governor.  
The key difference between the two budgets is Medicaid expansion. The House budget extends health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need it by expanding Medicaid and accepting more than $3 billion in federal funding to do so. The House budget also directs the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to apply to the federal government for a waiver that imposes work requirements for certain Medicaid recipients.

In addition to my legislative activities, being a member of the General Assembly has afforded me the opportunity to serve on, and now Chair the Virginia General Assembly’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission.  Created in 1992 to honor the memory and legacy of Dr. King, the Commission continues his work through educational, historical and cultural programs, public policy analysis, and public discourse on contemporary issues.  

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