2024 Legislative Wrap

The Virginia General Assembly is nominally controlled by the Democratic party with the slimmest of one vote margins in each chamber. The govenor’s mansion is occupied by Republican Glenn Youngkin who can’t move legislation without democratic approval but does have the power to veto bills with little fear of an override. In such a situation, and with the neccessity of producing a biannual budget, there are good reasons for both sides to cooperate. In the 2024 General Assembly session this happened now and then, but for the most part poth sides did as they pleased and, in the end, not much happened either good or bad. They’ll be another election in two years, and we will see what we will see. In the meantime APV continues to monitor events at the Capitol.

Things that didn’t happen:

* The Digital Sales Tax is out of the budget, but most budget priorities in the original budget are still there including the 3% pay raise for teachers. Also, there will be an increase in K-12 spending though not as much as we had hoped.

* At the beginning of his term Gov. Youngkin pulled Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (APV has lobbied in favor of RGGI). There is still an argument about whether the governor had the authority to do this, but this will have to be sorted out in the courts or after the next election.

* Right now, it is still illegal for convenience stores and restaurants to have slot machines (so-called skill games) on their premises. The attempt to lift the ban in the GA this year failed and the legislation to tax machines died after the governor heavily amended the bills. This isn’t completely over yet. There are an estimated 90 million dollars in revenue at stake and powerful forces on both sides of the aisle have an interest in making something happen so stay tuned. APV opposes allowing more access to these so-called “one-eyed bandits”. Virginia’s new reliance on gambling as a source of state revenue disproportionately places the burden on communities and individuals at risk.

Gov. Youngkin vetoed a record 150+ bills this year, gutting legislation that would have furthered reasonable gun laws and protected women’s reproductive rights among other issues. The governor did sign several bills that APV supported.

Bills that passed:

*HB78/SB16 Watts, Favola: Search warrants, subpoenas, court orders, or other process; menstrual health data prohibited. Signed

*HB22 Jones: Auto sears and trigger activators; prohibition on manufacture, importation, sale, etc., penalty. Signed

HB994 Krys-Gamarra: Legal age for marriage. Establishes the legal age of marriage to be 18 years of age and eliminates the ability for a minor to be declared emancipated based on the intent to marry. Signed

HB48/SB46 Helmer, VanValkenburg: Prohibits any public institution of higher education from providing any manner of preferential treatment in the admissions decision to any student applicant based on such student’s legacy status, defined in the bill, or such student’s familial relationship to any donor to such institution. Signed

SB546 HB1242 Bagby/Whillett: Emergency custody and temporary detention orders; evaluations; presence of others. Requires (i) the evaluator conducting the evaluation of an individual to determine whether such individual meets the criteria for temporary detention or (ii) the hospital emergency department and treating physician or other health care provider designated by the physician, when providing services to an individual who is being evaluated to determine whether the individual meets the criteria for temporary detention, to allow the individual’s family member or legal guardian who is present and who may provide support and supportive decision making to be present with the individual unless the individual objects or the evaluator or treating physician determines that their presence would create a medical, clinical, or safety risk to the patient or health care provider or interferes with patient care. Signed

Governor Youngkin also signed *HB1491: O’Quinn, Phase I Utility; recovery of development costs associated with small modular nuclear facility, which APV opposed.

The session ended (for now), in a stalemate: In a special session in June, efforts to rework the funding and qualifications for education grants to wounded or deceased veterans and their families were tabled and another attempt to pass “skill” gaming legislation also failed. While the two issues are not related on a policy level, they are tied together as part of the brinksmanship at play at the General Assembly this year.