Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: March 26, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky,

Governor Northam Signs Additional Bills into Law

Newly-approved measures address food insecurity, passenger rail in Southwest Virginia

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced he has signed several pieces of legislation into law, including measures to combat food insecurity, boost passenger rail in Southwest Virginia, expand access to broadband, and codify increased flexibility for restaurants selling alcohol. 

“These new laws will make a real difference in the lives of Virginians and position our Commonwealth for a strong post-pandemic future,” said Governor Northam. “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 bills Governor Northam signed into law include:

  • House Bill 2203, sponsored by Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Bill 1188, sponsored by Senator 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 Delegate Chris Hurst, and Senate Bill 1212, sponsored by Senator 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 Delegate Betsy Carr, increases bicycle safety by allowing localities to reduce the speed limit in residential or business districts.
  • House Bill 1923, sponsored by Delegate Hala Ayala, and Senate Bill 1334, sponsored by Senator 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 Delegate Hala Ayala, and Senate Bill 1471, sponsored by Senator 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 Senator 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 Senator 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 Senator 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.

Governor Northam proposed changes to the following bill:

  • House Bill 2174, sponsored by Delegate Luke Torian, creates a state-administered retirement plan for workers without access to a 401k. Governor Northam’s amendment expands eligibility to allow part-time workers access to the program.

The full list of legislation signed by Governor Northam from the 2021 special session is available here.

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