2021 Legislative Wrap-Up

On Monday, March 1 the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die, concluding a historic and unprecedented 2021 legislative session.


On behalf of SAARA of Virginia and our community of advocacy warriors, thank you for your support throughout the 2021 legislative session. Your digital action on our petition and letter contacted our state legislators over 335 times. Additionally, SAARA provided public comment and testimony to help support the bills and budget amendments below--many of which are historic wins for the state of Virginia.


In total, 1,549 bills and hundreds of budget amendments were introduced related to a broad array of issues and policies. At the conclusion of session, more than 800 bills were approved and sent to Governor Northam.


The General Assembly will next meet for a one-day reconvened session on April 7th to act on bills that are vetoed or amended by the Governor. SAARA will continue to amplify the voices of the recovery community. See below for our 2021 Legislative Session Wrap-Up.

2021 Budget Investments Impacting SUD and Recovery Communities

Appalachian Center for Hope Drug Treatment Program: $50,000 GF

  • Supports planning and start-up costs of the recovery, reentry and residential drug treatment program at the Appalachian Center for Hope, in Southwest Virginia.

Tobacco Cessation Coverage: $34,718 GF

  • The final budget restores $34,718 GF and draws down a like amount of federal Medicaid matching funds to add tobacco cessation services for adults in the Medicaid program.

Accredited Recovery Residences: $250,000 GF

  • We are pleased that the final budget included an additional $250,000 GF to support Accredited Recovery Residences in FY2022.

  • This amendment adds to the existing $250,000 currently in the state budget, bringing total funding for Accredited Recovery Residences up to $500,000 yearly.

Inpatient Substance Use Disorder Treatment as a Benefit in FAMIS MOMS: $13,497 GF

  • This amendment includes $13,497 GF in FY2022 to allow pregnant women in the FAMIS MOMS program to access inpatient substance use disorder (SUD) services.

  • FAMIS MOMS provides coverage to pregnant women with incomes from 143 to 205 percent of the federal poverty level and the federal funding for this item ($25,067 NGF) is paid from the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Expand Opioid Treatment Services: $881,306

  • Allows individuals with a mental health diagnosis to access preferred office-based opioid treatment services.

  • Virginia will also be able to draw down $1.3 million in federal dollars to support office-based opioid treatment services.

2021 Policy Changes and Legislative Outcomes 

International Overdose Awareness Day | HJ562 (Miyares)

  • Designates August 31 as the International Awareness Day in Virginia.

Emergency treatment for substance use-related emergencies at hospitals | HB2300 (Delaney)

  • This bill requires each hospital with an emergency department to establish a protocol for treatment of individuals experiencing a substance use-related emergency.

Behavioral Health Commission Created | SB1273 (Deeds)

  • This bill created the Behavioral Health Commission in the legislative branch.

Establishing an Opioid Abatement Authority | SB1469 & HB2322 (Sen. Barker & Del. Herring)

  • Funds can be used to provide grants and loans to Virginia agencies and certain localities for the purpose of treating, preventing and reducing opioid use disorder and the misuse of opioids in the Commonwealth

Arrest and prosecution when reporting overdoses | HB1821 (Del. Bulova)

  • This bill prohibits the arrest or prosecution of an individual for the unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of substances if that individual renders emergency care, remains at the scene of the overdose, and identifies themselves to first responders

Employees of Department of Juvenile Justice Authorized to dispense naloxone | HB1894 (Del. Kory)

  • Allows parole officers or as juvenile correctional officers to possess and administer naloxone or another opioid antagonist for overdose reversal.

Key Criminal Justice Reform and Racial Justice Legislation

Automatic Expungement of criminal records | HB2113 & SB1339 (Del. Herring & Sen. Surovell)

  • Allows automatic expungement of nine misdemeanor offenses after seven years without a subsequent conviction.

  • Creates a process for people to request a court remove other crimes from their record after seven years of good behavior.

Abolition of the death penalty | SB1165 & HB2263 (Sen. Surovell & Del. Mullin)

  • This bill provides that no person may be sentenced to death or put to death, including the two individuals currently on death row in Virginia.

Legalization of Marijuana | SB1406 & HB2312 (Sen. Ebbin & Del. Herring)

  • Lawmakers approved legislation that legalizes recreational use of marijuana by adults over the age of 21 beginning in 2024.

  • Additionally, this bill allows the Commonwealth to develop a regulated market for the drug, called the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority.

Constitutional amendment allowing for automatic restoration of political rights | HJ555 (Del. Jones & Del. Herring)

  • The General Assembly gave initial approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore the voting rights of people convicted of a felony and released from prison.

Recognizes Racism as a public health crisis in Virginia | HJ537 (Del. Aird )

  • Virginia lawmakers passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in the Commonwealth.

Removal of Harry F. Byrd statue from Capitol Square | HB2208 (Del. J. Jones)

  • Both the House and Senate passed legislation to remove the statue of segregationist Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd from the Virginia Capitol Square.

The bill tracker will be updated live during legislative session.

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