The three bills signed by McDonnell increase punishment for human trafficking of minors, improve sharing of information between law enforcement agencies, and order state agencies to develop more services for victims of human trafficking.
But before he brandished his pen, McDonnell and the other lawmakers present made it clear that increased awareness among all Virginians may be the most important tool in fighting this type of crime.
"Human trafficking is something that is not talked about much," McDonnell said, "and in fact not nearly enough."
Delegate Tim Hugo of Fairfax County helped usher the measures through the General Assembly.
"What it does is it says to the criminals: 'You are not welcome in Virginia,'" Hugo said.
Legislators say Northern Virginia is a hub for human trafficking because of its international airports and ease of movement along Interstate 95.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center ranked Virginia in the top 10 among states in terms of calls to its hotline over a three-year period.
Though estimates very widely, more than 800,000 people are thought to be trafficked across international borders every year.