(CNSNews.com) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a slew of bills into law on Easter weekend, transitioning the Commonwealth into the liberal bastion that Democrats want it to be.
On Sunday, Northam signed legislation expanding early voting to 45 days before an election without a stated excuse; repealing the state's voter ID law; and making Election Day a holiday.
To maintain the same number of state holidays, lawmakers repealed the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, established over 100 years ago to honor Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Northam said in a news release. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”
Northam on Easter Sunday also signed:
The felony larceny threshold is now increased from $500 to $1,000.
Other bills permanently eliminate driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fines, fees, and court costs; raise the age of juvenile transfer to adult court from 14 to 16; and change certain parole conditions.
The governor’s package also includes decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana and sealing the records of prior convictions. The governor proposed that a study be completed to assess the impact of fully legalizing marijuana in the Commonwealth.
“Every Virginian deserves access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,” said Governor Northam. “These bills combat mass incarceration, increase support for returning citizens, and ensure that those who have paid their debt to society have a meaningful second chance.”
The Department of Taxation is now authorized to oversee investigations into suspected cases of workers misclassified as "independent contractors" by their employers; workplace discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, sexual orientation or gender identity is now banned; and it is now easier for workers to combat “wage theft” by recovering unpaid wages.
Employers are prohibited from entering into a non-compete contract with any of their low-wage employees.
The governor proposes to increase the minimum wage starting on May 1, 2021.
Northam said he signed a number of clean energy bills that will "propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change.”
One law requires new measures to promote energy efficiency, sets a schedule for closing old fossil fuel power plants, and requires electricity to come from 100 percent renewable sources such as solar or wind by 2045-2050.
Energy companies must pay penalties for not meeting their targets, and part of that revenue would fund job training and renewable energy programs in historically disadvantaged communities.
The legislation advances offshore wind generation; advances solar and distributed generation; and establishes a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions from power plants, in compliance with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
“By joining RGGI, Virginia will take part in a proven, market-based program for reducing carbon pollution in a manner that protects consumers,” said Governor Northam.
On Saturday, Gov. Northam signed another batch of bills involving:
The new laws repeals "racist and discriminatory language from Virginia’s Acts of Assembly,” give localities the ability to remove or alter Confederate monuments in their communities, and begin the process of replacing Virginia’s statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the United States Capitol.
“Racial discrimination is rooted in many of the choices we have made about who and what to honor, and in many of the laws that have historically governed this Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam.
These new laws make Virginia more equitable, just, and inclusive, and I am proud to sign them,” said the governor who posed for his medical school yearbook either in blackface or in a KKK hood.
Northam said Confederate monuments "tell a particular version of history that doesn’t include everyone,” Governor Northam said. “In Virginia, that version of history has been given prominence and authority for far too long.”
One of the bills signed by Northam on Saturday establishes a commission to study slavery in Virginia and subsequent racial and economic discrimination. The Commission will be comprised of 11 members, including three legislative members and eight non-legislative citizen members, and will make recommendations to Governor Northam and the General Assembly on appropriate remedies.
Northam on Saturday signed legislation making Virginia the first state in the South to enact comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ community against discrimination in housing, employment, public spaces, and credit applications.
On Friday, Gov. Northam signed the Virginia Reproductive Health Protection Act, which repeals "medically-unnecessary restrictions on women’s healthcare," including ultrasound requirements and 24-hour waiting periods for abortion.
“No more will legislators in Richmond -- most of whom are men -- be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” said Governor Northam. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.”"
Northam on Friday also signed gun control legislation requiring background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia; enacting Extreme Risk Protection Orders; requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms; limiting most people to one handgun purchase a month; and increasing the penalty for "recklessly leaving firearms" in the presence of children.