Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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Several New State Laws Will Benefit Workers

Governor Ralph Northam highlighted new laws that took effect on July 1 with the start of a new fiscal year in the commonwealth. During one of the most consequential legislative sessions in modern Virginia history, Governor Northam worked with the General Assembly to advance policies that confront the biggest challenges facing Virginia, taking steps to help the commonwealth recover from the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.

“I am proud of the transformational legislation we passed this year to continue building a stronger, fairer, more inclusive, and more resilient commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “As we set our sights on post-pandemic life, Virginia’s future has never been brighter. From taking historic steps to end systemic racism and address racial disparities in our criminal justice system to improving voting access, raising teacher pay, expanding passenger rail, and making higher education more accessible, these new laws will have a lasting impact and move all Virginia forward.”

Key measures that just took effect include:

  • Strengthening worker protections, including the Virginia Overtime Wage Act, paid sick leave for home health workers, and prohibiting employers from taking retaliatory actions against employees who utilize leave. New measures also ensure that domestic workers are covered by employee protections, fair pay laws, and the Virginia Human Rights Act. Virginia is also expanding eligibility for workers’ compensation to first responders who contracted covid-19 on the job.
  • Accelerating Virginia’s renewable energy transition by establishing the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy and requiring car manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of electric or hybrid electric vehicles.

Other key measures that also took effect include:

  • Criminal justice reform
  • Increasing access to the ballot box
  • Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Supporting teachers and students
  • Transforming passenger rail
  • Advancing the rights and representation of LGBTQ+ Virginians
  • Making higher education more accessible to all Virginians
  • Commonsense gun violence prevention measures
  • Protecting women’s health

Summaries of key legislation prepared by the Division of Legislative Services are available here. Learn more about new laws related to the Department of Motor Vehicles here. Information about a new law requiring motorists to change lanes to pass bicyclists can be found here. New laws impacting the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority can be found here.

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