Each year Virginia's governor publicly signs a few pieces of legislation that he considers especially significant in bill signing ceremonies. This year Governor Northam selected four of my bills for this special honor. I had about 20 bills pass this past session. The most important, of course, was the budget. But, I am so pleased that the Governor also considered these bills to be worthy of special attention.
- SB. 111 - After a dozen years of effort, the no-excuse in-person absentee voting bill passed. It was just in the nick of time! With the pandemic, many voters want the option to vote absentee without having to give a legally permitted reason. With this bill, you can vote absentee up to 45 days before the election for any reason. Plus, you may vote by mail or in person at designated locations.
- SB. 578 - First Lady Pam Northam and I teamed up two years ago to reform our early childhood programs in Virginia. With this legislation, we reorganized and restructured programs for young children. We also succeeded in providing significant funds so that every four year old in Virginia would have access to quality and affordable childcare -- we budgeted almost $80 million for this initiative. With the pandemic, we are struggling to keep these funds.
- SB. 77 - The most vicious battle of my career involved passing legislation requiring student loan servicers to be licensed. The often sleazy student loan servicing companies fought this bill for four years. Ultimately, with the help of student groups, progressive voices, and the Northam Administration, we succeeded over the opposition of, among others, the Trump Administration. Now these financial intermediaries will have to meet ethical standards and pass licensure.
- SB 576 - Another reorganization bill was the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority. Two years of effort led to this massive reorganization of Virginia's economic development agencies. The emphasis is on innovation and cooperation. I was very grateful for the support of the business community in getting this very long and complicated bill passed!
Although I "carried" these bills, each was the result of team efforts. Students, volunteers, progressive groups, business groups, early childhood advocates, educators, agency experts and my staff all did the heavy lifting. I am very grateful to them.