Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: June 4, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Signs Executive Order Establishing Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law

Governor Northam announces commission during ceremonial bill signing of Senator Spruill’s Senate Bill 1079, a measure to repeal Jim Crow-era minimum wage exemptions

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Thirty-Two, establishing the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. Governor Northam made the announcement in Norfolk during a ceremonial signing of Senator Lionel Spruill’s Senate Bill 1079, a measure to repeal Jim Crow era minimum wage exemptions.

The leadership of Senator Spruill and Delegate Marcia Price on Senate Bill 1079 and House Bill 2473 inspired the Commission’s creation and its mission to identify similar remainders of racially discriminatory language on Virginia’s books.

“Identifying the vestiges of racial discrimination that still remain in Virginia’s laws today is critical to the work before us to build a Commonwealth that is equitable for all who call it home,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “The task before the Commission is significant and its efforts will help lay the groundwork for further progress.”

The Commission will review the Virginia Acts of Assembly, Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations with the goal of identifying and making recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity. In the case of the Acts of Assembly, discriminatory laws were enacted and in some cases obviated by court rulings, but the words still remain.

“The legislation removing the Jim Crow-era minimum wage exemptions is an example of how we must work to address inequitable laws,” said Senator Lionel Spruill. “The goal of the Commission is to identify other instances of historical discrimination.”

The Commission will issue an interim report with its findings and recommendations no later than November 15, 2019.

“This Commission will bring people with diverse expertise and backgrounds together to move Virginia forward,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby. “I look forward to supporting action items identified by the Commission. I am confident that they will uncover opportunities that will positively impact every corner of the Commonwealth. We must remove these unjust laws from the books immediately.”

The full text of Executive Order Thirty-Two can be found here.

Those interested in serving on the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law should apply no later than Friday, June 14. Further information about applying to serve on this Commission can be found at the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

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