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Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: February 25, 2020
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Signs 16 Bills into Law

Newly-approved measures include pro-transit planning, parole reform

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced he signed 16 pieces of legislation into law, including bills to encourage local energy-efficient transit strategies and reform parole eligibility for certain juvenile offenders.

Transit-Oriented Development

The measures include House Bill 585, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, which requires certain Virginia cities and counties to consider incorporating into their comprehensive plans strategies to focus development around transit, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through coordination of transportation, housing, and land use planning. Local governments use comprehensive plans to guide future development and infrastructure.

“Transit-oriented development helps create walkable, accessible communities with smaller carbon footprints,” said Governor Northam. “I am happy to sign this bill to ensure that our localities consider transit in their land use planning.”

“Localities and cities are asked to do their part to fight climate change by considering options related to affordable housing, public transportation, and land use planning when preparing their comprehensive plans,” said Delegate Guzman. “By working together, we can drastically reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

Parole Reform

Governor Northam also signed House Bill 35, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Lindsey, which reforms parole by making people eligible for parole after serving 20 years of a sentence for crimes committed as juveniles and for which they received lengthy sentences. 

“Criminal justice reform includes reforming parole,” said Governor Northam. “This is about simple justice and fairness.”

The measure complements Governor’s Northam criminal justice reform package, which continues to move through the legislative process. The package funds public defenders, supports returning citizens, and further reforms parole.

“House Bill 35 is a landmark piece of legislation that gives an opportunity for youths who have committed serious crimes and repented, a future opportunity for social redemption,” said Delegate Lindsey.

Additional Measures

Governor Northam also signed the following bills:

  • House Bill 94: Adoption; proper notice of proceeding to legal custodian.
  • House Bill 278: Home/electronic incarceration program; payment to defray costs.
  • House Bill 369: Furloughs from local work release programs; furlough approved by local sheriff.
  • House Bill 406: Local government revenues and expenditures; comparative report, filing date.
  • House Bill 515: Urban county executive form of government; board of social services.
  • House Bill 598: Alcoholic beverage control; creates annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license.
  • House Bill 778: Family assessments; increases timeline for completion.
  • House Bill 949: Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of local special events licensees.
  • House Bill 1137: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Virginia Initiative for Education and Work; hardship exception.

These measures become law on July 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.

Until the session’s final week, the Constitution of Virginia requires the Governor to act on legislation within seven days. 

The General Assembly session is scheduled to adjourn on March 7, 2020.

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