RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has signed more new bills into law, including legislation aimed at addressing concerns over food insecurity, legislation to help expand broadband access, and a measure codifying policies adopted during the pandemic giving restaurants more flexibility to sell alcohol.
“These new laws will make a real difference in the lives of Virginians and position our Commonwealth for a strong post-pandemic future,” Northam said in a statement. “I am grateful to legislators for their hard work this session and look forward to our continued partnership in the months ahead to build on this progress.”
The governor’s office shared the bills signed by Northam on Friday, two days after he signed landmark legislation to abolish the death penalty in Virginia. Northam has until March 31 to make any amendments on bills that were passed during this year’s legislative session.
Legislators will reconvene on April 7 to go over Northam’s amendments.
Northam’s office provided a list of the bills the governor has signed into law:
- House Bill 2203, sponsored by Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Bill 1188, sponsored by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program and Fund. This initiative allows Virginia farmers and food producers to directly donate or sell their food products to food banks, increasing the availability of fresh produce for food-insecure families.
- House Bill 1893, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst, and Senate Bill 1212, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, create the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority to support passenger rail expansion west of the City of Roanoke.
- House Bill 1903, sponsored by Del. Betsy Carr, increases bicycle safety by allowing localities to reduce the speed limit in residential or business districts.
- House Bill 1923, sponsored by Del. Hala Ayala, and Senate Bill 1334, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, expand an existing broadband capacity pilot program to increase access to high-speed internet in underserved areas of the Commonwealth.
- House Bill 2266, sponsored by Del. Hala Ayala, and Senate Bill 1471, sponsored by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, provide flexibility to restaurants to serve alcohol outside and during permitted events. These laws codify current policies in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Senate Bill 1284, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, establishes the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy to codify the goal of Virginia’s transition to a clean energy economy, including prioritizing the electrification of transportation.
- Senate Bill 1300, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, directs the Board of Local and Regional Jails to review and improve pregnancy-related care in consultation with stakeholders.
- Senate Bill 1442, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Morrissey, establishes a public defender office in Chesterfield County, which is currently the largest county in Virginia without a dedicated public defender’s office.
Northam also proposed changes to House Bill 2174, sponsored by Del. Luke Torian. The House Bill creates a state-administered retirement plan for workers without access to a 401k. Northam’s amendment expands eligibility to allow part-time workers access to the program.