March 2020 –
The 2020 General Assembly Session was historic and yielded many positive pieces of common-sense legislation and victories for hard-working Virginia families. I would like to share some legislative accomplishments that I patroned or co-patroned.
K-12 education in the biennial budget
Senator Saslaw serves as chairman of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee’s K-12 Education Subcommittee. In the General Assembly’s 2020 session, he helped shape a biennial budget (HB30) that includes needed investments in Virginia’s public school system. The budget includes a two percent pay raise for teachers in each year of the biennium, makes reduced-price lunches free for students, funds more school counselor positions, and devotes $84.6 million to expanding the Commonwealth’s early childhood programs.
The most significant transportation overhaul in decades
Senator Saslaw carried the Omnibus Transportation Bill (SB890) in this year’s session. The bill—Virginia’s most far-reaching transportation overhaul in decades—modernizes the Commonwealth’s infrastructure, enhances and expands options for moving people and goods in the Commonwealth, and raises the revenues necessary to meet Virginia’s growing needs in a fiscally responsible manner. Key elements include maintenance of aging bridges, local transit improvements, and one of the largest investments in passenger rail in Commonwealth history. The bill also takes on congestion issues in Northern Virginia with funding for a new bridge across the Potomac.
A stronger economy and a fair shake for workers
A strong economy depends on decent wages and strong worker protections. This session, the General Assembly passed Senator Saslaw’s bills to raise the minimum wage (SB7), require public contractors to pay a region’s prevailing wage (SB8), allow public bodies to require the use of Project Labor Agreements (SB182), and authorize localities to permit public sector collective bargaining (SB939). It also approved his bill to expand the presumption of coverage for cancers that fire fighters and law enforcement officers may develop in the line of duty.
Common sense gun safety reforms
This session, Senator Saslaw introduced, patroned, and co-patroned numerous commonsense gun safety laws. The General Assembly approved gun sense reforms including universal background checks (SB70), a one handgun a month purchase limit (SB69), a ban on trigger activators (SB14), and preventing individuals subject to permanent protective orders from possessing firearms (SB479).
Equality for women and reproductive freedom
Senator Saslaw proudly voted for the Equal Rights Amendment when it first came before the Virginia Senate four decades ago. In the 2020 session, he co-patroned the resolution that was at last ratified by the General Assembly. Senator Saslaw also served as a co-patron on SB733, which removed medically-unnecessary obstacles to women seeking reproductive healthcare.
Environmental Protection and Energy
Senator Saslaw helped negotiate key environmental reforms in the 2020 session. The Virginia Clean Economy Act (SB851) transitions the Commonwealth’s economy to zero carbon emissions by 2045 and significantly expands solar and wind production, while protecting low-income ratepayers. Senator Saslaw’s bill to support the electric transmission line undergrounding pilot program (SB782) was also approved by the General Assembly.
Public safety has been among Senator Saslaw’s top priorities throughout his decades of public service. In the 2020 session, Senator Saslaw co-patroned legislation (SB160) preventing individuals from holding handheld personal communication devices while driving.