2021 General Assembly2021 VA Legislature

This post has all the bills passed by both the House of Delegates and the State Senate during the 2021 General Assembly session.

You can also find the abstract about these bills in each of the committee posts in this Virginia onAir Hub (or select the  bills link e.g. SB 1188 to go to the Virginia Legislative Information Systems comprehensive details on each bill).

If a bill is not signed by Governor Ralph Northam, it will be noted in the appropriate committee post. All the Senate committees can be found under Governance > VA Senate Committees > Top Posts.  All the House committees can be found under Governance > VA House Committees > Top Posts.

The curators for the 2021 committee posts are George Mason University students who are interning with Democracy onAir as part of their Schar School Global Political Fellows program. They are Nanayaa Obeng, Samuel Strathmann, and Jordan Toledo.

$880 million pitch to General Assembly aims to match students and careers
Virginia Mercury, Jackie Llanos HernandezOctober 15, 2021 (Short)

A group of business and higher education leaders are pushing an $880 million proposal to make Virginia public colleges and universities more affordable and help industries facing worker shortages fill jobs.

The $880 million Growth4VA proposal, developed by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, is split into two different categories: $300 million for career development and $580 million for financial aid for both students and institutions.

Business leaders at a rollout event Thursday stressed the importance of the General Assembly making the investment in the 2022 legislative session, citing the rare opportunity to use a budget surplus, unallocated federal relief funds and growing state revenues. Earlier this year,Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation that offers free community college tuition to students who go into high-demand fields.

“There’s no question in my mind that there’s a will in the General Assembly and in both the candidates for governor, as well as Governor Northam, to do this,” said Don Finley, president of Virginia Business Higher Education Council.

The proposal, which envisions tax credits for employers and aid for students and interns, highlights the need to allocate $300 million toward increasing degrees in career fields that need more workers, such as health care and middle-skill jobs. Starting partnerships between businesses and higher-education institutions to provide internships for students is also essential to the future of Virginia’s economy, according to the proposal.

“When educators and employers in an industry or region collaborate to develop career-focused pathways, they align curricula so graduates gain the education and skills employers need, and they provide students with paid internships and other applied learning experiences that prepare them for the workplace, often supplying connections that lead to full-time employment,” the plan says.

Democrats on defense as their new House majority faces its first electoral test
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverOctober 4, 2021 (Medium)

Virginia Democrats are playing defense in nearly a dozen competitive House of Delegates districts this year as they defend their new majority against GOP challengers hoping to win back ground lost during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Commentators, observers and strategists across the political spectrum say they would not be shocked if Democrats lost between two and three seats to Republicans, an outcome that would still leave the party with a narrow majority in a chamber where they currently hold a five-seat advantage.

And some members of both parties say it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Democrats lose the majority entirely, ending the party’s unified control of state government after only two years — even if Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is victorious in his own tight race against Republican Glenn Youngkin.

“I think there are serious challenges to holding onto this trifecta,” said Gaby Goldstein, co-founder of Sister District Action Network, a Democratic-allied group that has been fundraising and phone banking for candidates in 12 competitive House districts. “I think Democrats need to be awake and aware of that possibility — any possibility that we might lose.”

She cited state-wide polls showing low enthusiasm among Democratic voters, who during Trump’s presidency turned out in droves for Virginia’s typically sleepy off-year elections.

With Trump out of office and President Joe Biden facing his own popularity problems, Democrats worry it will be tougher to get their supporters to the polls. “We know right now that Republicans have their base fired up, and we need the same,” said Heather Williams, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Sen. Janet Howell, who chairs the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, haven’t said for sure they won’t run again in 2023. But the Virginia Redistricting Commission is drawing lines like they aren’t.

The two influential Northern Virginia Democrats didn’t respond to requests from the Mercury this week asking for confirmation they won’t seek another four-year term. Meanwhile, one of their colleagues is treating it as known fact.

“Those are the two that are not running for re-election,” Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, a member of the Redistricting Commission, said earlier this month while explaining his own proposal for how Fairfax County should be divided up in the new map.

Barker’s remarks appear to be having an impact.

At a meeting this week, one of the commission’s consultants said proposed Northern Virginia Senate districts had been tweaked to avoid pairing incumbents who intend to run again in 2023.

According to an analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project, the draft Senate map now only pairs Howell with Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Loudoun, and Saslaw with Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax.

The significance of those comments didn’t go unnoticed by some statehouse watchers.

Region poised to lose state House seat in Va. redistricting
Bristol Herald-Courier, David McGeeSeptember 21, 2021 (Medium)

outhwest Virginia will likely lose a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates if the proposed statewide redistricting plans released Monday are approved.

The Virginia Redistricting Commission met Monday in Richmond to review two different versions of proposed redistricting plans for both the House and Senate, which would essentially combine and realign what are currently the 4th and 5th House Districts in Southwest Virginia.

The proposed changes coincide with population declines in the region compared to growth in other parts of the state. Similar declines 10 years ago resulted in the former 2nd House District shifting from the coalfields to Northern Virginia.

The commission has until Oct. 10 to submit its final recommendations to the General Assembly, and whatever changes are ultimately approved would not impact the current election, which includes all 100 House seats on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Hey incumbents, the General Assembly will survive without you
Virginia Mercury, Roger ChesleySeptember 10, 2021 (Medium)

George Barker may have thought he was in the clear. The state senator from Northern Virginia was the chief sponsor of his chamber’s bill to hold a voter referendum last year to start a redistricting commission. Citizens approved the plan by a large margin.

Surely the Fairfax County Democrat, in the Senate since 2008, would find smooth sailing as the 16-member panel crafted new boundaries for Virginia’s legislative and congressional seats. It’s the first time following the decennial census that the panel – composed of eight citizens and eight legislators, including Barker – had taken over the job formerly held by state lawmakers alone.

Previously, the party that controlled the General Assembly had had immense power in drawing the lines. That was often to the detriment of the minority party – and to many residents in the commonwealth, too.

Yet one of the initial drafts released last week did the unthinkable – at least, that’s what Barker suggested after consultants released possible legislative maps in Northern Virginia: He would be in the same district as another Democratic senator.

“I appreciate the draft part of it,” Barker said. “Because otherwise I would be submitting my resignation from the Senate today.”

When she was sworn in as the first woman to serve as speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Eileen Filler-Corn said she was struck by the diversity of the new Democratic majority looking back at her.

A year later, she was standing in a mostly empty room, speaking to “squares on a computer” as the oldest continuous legislative body in the Western Hemisphere tried lawmaking via Zoom.

It’s not yet clear when the House will return to normal. But after two years in power, Filler-Corn says she’s confident Virginia voters still want Democrats in charge.

“We heard the issues that were important to Virginians,” Filler-Corn said in a recent interview with The Virginia Mercury. “We campaigned saying we were going to do X, Y and Z. We were very upfront about it. Very bold. And there is no doubt about it that we followed through.”

The General Assembly approved legislation Wednesday that will make marijuana legal on July 1.

The votes make Virginia the 16th state to legalize the drug and the first in the South to take the step, though retail sales won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2024.

“The time has come for our state to legalize marijuana,” said House Majority Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who sponsored the bill, arguing the revised legislation ensures “that while we’re doing the complicated work of standing up a commercial market, we aren’t delaying immediate reforms that will make our commonwealth more equitable for all Virginians.”

The product of months of negotiation and last-minute amendments, the final legislation is complex and, in some key areas, ambiguous about what will and won’t be allowed.

The Virginia General Assembly voted Wednesday to tighten some Virginia Parole Board procedures at issue in a series of critical watchdog reports last year, while approving funding for an outside investigation into how one of those reports was prepared and edited.

Disagreement over the direction of that investigation led to fiery speeches from Republican legislators, who denounced it as a “sham” and said its limited scope fell far short of Gov. Ralph Northam’s calls to clear up the controversy surrounding a Parole Board run by Democratic appointees under fire for violating state law and its own procedures in releasing inmates.

“This is the final act of a cover-up,” said House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.

Democrats said Republicans were trying to stir up an election-year controversy and wouldn’t be satisfied with any investigation that doesn’t confirm their suspicions.

Virginia legislature speeds up pot legalization to this summer
Politico, Mona ZhangApril 7, 2021 (Short)

Personal possession and home cultivation would be legal starting in July.

The Virginia Legislature voted Wednesday to accelerate its timeline for marijuana legalization to July 1 instead of January 2024.

Personal possession and home cultivation would be legal starting in July. Marijuana sales still wouldn’t start until 2024, giving the government time to set up a cannabis regulatory agency to oversee the new industry.

The House voted 53-44 and the Senate voted 21-20 to adopt changes requested by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam after lawmakers sent a legalization bill to his desk in February. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax cast the deciding vote in the Senate.

Other changes: The governor requested accelerating the record-sealing and expungement provisions for past marijuana offenses and stronger labor protections for marijuana industry workers. He also proposed two budget amendments that would fund public health campaigns and training for law enforcement officers to recognize impaired driving.

When Virginia’s General Assembly first took up legislation billed as a major step toward giving regular people more control over their data in an increasingly online world, some of the first testimony lawmakers heard came from tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon.

Both companies said they were in full support of Virginia’s effort to become just the second state in America to pass its own data privacy bill, an early marker in a debate still unfolding in other states and at the national level.

Supporters of Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act, approved by the General Assembly this year and already signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, say the fact that Virginia was able to pass such significant legislation without a major fight is a testament to the quality of the bill, which lays out new consumer protections while largely shielding companies from a flood of data-related lawsuits.

Noting that an estimated 70 percent of internet traffic flows through servers in Virginia, Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, said Virginia’s legislation could be “a good starting place for a national privacy bill.”

Democrats have controlled Virginia government for two years. Here’s what they’ve done.
Virginia Mercury, Ned Oliver et al.March 3, 2021 (Long)

Virginia Mercury editors Ned Oliver Sarah Vogelsong Graham Moomaw|Kate Masters have done the best publicly available summary of what’s the Democrats have accomplished with control over Virginia’s three branches. Below are the first paragraphs of their coverage on key issues.

Elections and voting

Making it easier to vote was a top priority when Democrats took control, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of change to Virginia’s once-strict election laws.

Climate change

Before Democrats regained power, the state had passed no significant laws aimed at addressing climate change. In short order, policies began bubbling up just as surely as tidal floods in a Hampton Roads storm sewer.

Education

When Democrats took control of the General Assembly, they pledged to increase funding for education — touting it as a priority for the 2020 session.

Health

Virginia expanded Medicaid before Democrats took control of the General Assembly, allowing hundreds of thousands of previously ineligible Virginians to gain coverage. But in the two years since, they’ve made significant changes to the state health care exchange in an effort to stabilize enrollment and lower the prices on premiums..

Minimum wage

Democrats voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next three years — the first increase the state has seen since 2009, when the federal minimum went up to $7.25 an hour.

Guns

Before winning their majorities, Democrats made it clear they wanted to pass tighter laws to prevent potentially dangerous people from having access to guns and allow firearm bans in more public places. They mostly delivered on that front, but they’ve stopped short of outlawing specific types of weaponry.

Criminal justice

From abolishing the death penalty to legalizing marijuana, Democrats enacted sweeping reforms touching all aspects of the state’s criminal justice system.

Civil rights

The party has taken both concrete and symbolic steps on matters of freedom and equality. After his yearbook blackface scandal, Northam led an effort to repeal nearly 100 outdated, discriminatory laws still on the books. This year Democrats extended that symbolic step to LGBTQ rights, voting to repeal a ban on gay marriage still in the state Constitution, which was invalidated by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

Utility reform 

Democrats have remained deeply divided on electric utility reform over the past two years, with many House members joining with a cadre of Republicans in that chamber to push for a set of changes to state code that would restore much of the authority of Virginia’s public utility regulators, the State Corporation Commission, to regulate rates and earnings. Powerful members of the Senate however, with longstanding ties to the utilities, and particularly Dominion Energy, have been reluctant to relinquish legislative control, even amid regular reports of excessive profits by the monopolies.

Campaign finance

In his 2007 autobiography, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a prolific Democratic fundraiser, said his father taught him “money in politics was neither evil nor good.”

Taxes

Though the Democratic majorities have rewritten swathes of state policy to make Virginia more culturally progressive, they’ve shown less appetite for addressing economic disparities by changing the tax code.

Delegate David Bulova's 2021 Wrap-up
David BulovaFebruary 27, 2021 (Medium)

Yes, Virginia, we have a budget!

This year I was thrilled to be appointed again by the Speaker as a conferee to work out differences between the House and Senate budgets. This evening, we adopted the final report. I believe it is a budget Virginians can be proud of.

While individual bills often get the most attention, the budget is arguably the most important reflection of our values. This year’s budget process has been a roller coaster ride. After adopting an initial budget in March 2020, we had to cut $2.8 billion as a result of a COVID-driven revenue shortfall. Going into session, we anticipated a revenue rebound of $1.2 billion. Finally, a mid-session re-forecast provided an additional $730 million. That rebound was great news – but it still means we have about a billion dollars less in revenue from just a year ago.

Here are just a few of the budget highlights:

  • Income Tax Relief – $221M revenue reduction in order to fund income tax relief to individuals and businesses related to conformity with the federal CARES Act.
  • State Employee Pay Raises – 5% pay raise for state employees beginning July 1, 2021.
  • Virginia Retirement System – $100M deposit to the VRS to reduce unfunded liabilities. This is a key investment that will help to stabilize the system for the long-term.
  • PreK-12 Education – $443M to hold public school funding steady from the original 2020 appropriation; $40M for schools to address COVID-related learning loss; and, $76M to support increases in school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and behavioral analysts.
  • Teacher Pay Raises – State share of 5% pay raises for teachers. The Governor originally proposed a 2% bonus.
  • Preschool – $11.1M for increased investment in the Virginia Preschool Initiative.
  • Northern Virginia Cost-to-Compete – $14.6M more in supplemental funding to Northern Virginia in recognition of the higher cost of living for our region.
  • Higher Education – $149M to our institutions of higher learning to maintain affordable access through tuition stabilization and need-based financial assistance.
  • Human Resources – $173M in new spending for human resources, with a focus on long-term care, maternal and child health, and behavioral and developmental services. This includes $14.2M to add 435 Developmental Disability waiver slots in FY22, bringing the total for FY22 to 985 slots.
  • Vaccinations – $89M for mass vaccination efforts to maximize new federal dollars.
  • Water Quality – An additional $155M to meet our Chesapeake Bay restoration targets, including investments in wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and agricultural best management practices.
  • Broadband – Additional funding of $99M for broadband deployment in unserved areas.
  • Virginia Employment Commission – $10M to increase customer service levels and $5M to finish modernizing VEC’s IT systems to enable more efficient service delivery.
  • Voter Registration – $16.7M to replace and strengthen the state’s voter registration system.
  • Transportation – $83.5M to improve commuter rail service on the VRE Manassas Line and $32.4M to support and stabilize Metro.
  • Reserves – An additional $250M to the Revenue Reserve Fund. This brings combined balances in reserves to $2.16 billion, or about 9% of general fund revenues.

That last bullet deserves additional comment. Something we are proud of in Virginia is that we have maintained a AAA bond rating since 1938 – longer than any other state. This saves Virginia considerable amounts of money and reflects a commitment to keeping our budget structurally sound. While states are currently the beneficiaries of large amounts of federal assistance, it would be irresponsible to think that this will continue in perpetuity. Building up our reserves will ensure that Virginia can successfully transition once federal COVID-19 funding goes away.

Like most members, I introduced my own budget amendments and was pleased to see many of them incorporated into the final budget. These included funding for Northern Virginia Family Services, Brain Injury Services, Chesapeake Bay restoration, the Virginia International Trade Plan, Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, and our regional planning district commissions.

You can find a more detailed overview of the budget here and a list of my amendments here.

In-Person Learning

Few issues have garnered more constituent communication than SB1303, which deals with bringing our children back into the classroom. This is a personal issue for my family as well, as our 12 year old attempts to navigate his first year of middle school. While he is continuing to learn, and his teachers have done an amazing job, the learning loss is definitely real.

When SB1303 came over from the Senate, it simply mandated in-person learning. What came out of the House, and was eventually passed by the Senate, takes us to full in-person learning, but has guardrails to ensure safety. This includes incorporating CDC and VDH guidelines to the maximum extent practical and the ability of a school board to move specific schools back to virtual learning based on transmission metrics. Importantly, the bill allows parents to choose a virtual approach for their students based on family situations. All teachers must be offered the vaccine prior to in-person learning (which is occurring now under Phase 1b) and the bill maintains the current process for teachers to work virtually through a reasonable ADA accommodation.

The bill passed with a strong bi-partisan vote of 88Y-9N in the House and 36Y-3N in the Senate. I voted aye.

Standards of Learning

The dreaded SOL tests! It is a topic of much consternation when I speak with parents, students, and teachers alike. The Code of Virginia simply establishes that there will be SOL assessments, the purpose of which is to ensure that educational progress can be compared across Virginia. That is a laudable goal. Unfortunately, many of these tests have turned into high-stakes end-of-the-year tests that can promote rote memorization over critical thinking and applying what has been learned to the real world.

This year we passed changes to the SOL assessments that I am genuinely excited about. HB2027 replaces end-of-the-year tests with a through-assessment model where students take a series of three lower stakes tests throughout the year. That way teachers have a better sense of where a student is starting out, can make mid-year adjustments, and then see how the student has progressed at the end of the year. While the bill applies only to SOL tests from grades three through eight, if it is successful, it could be applied to all levels.

Advanced recycling bill goes to governor after ‘Great Polystyrene Compromise of 2021’
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 24, 2021 (Short)

Legislation to classify chemical recycling as manufacturing rather than solid waste management is on its way to the governor despite early resistance from the House of Delegates.

The hotly contested bill, which supporters say will encourage the repurposing of plastic waste while creating jobs and opponents say will allow the fledgling industry to sidestep regulation, passed the House Monday on a 90-8 vote.

Key to its success was a move by lawmakers to yoke the advanced recycling bill to a proposal from Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond, that would ban all food vendors from using plastic foam food containers starting in 2025.

Virginia Senate punts on campaign finance bill, but lawmakers agree to study future reform
Virginia Mercury, Virginia MercuryFebruary 23, 2021 (Medium)

A proposal to make it illegal for Virginia politicians to use campaign funds to enrich themselves failed in the state Senate Tuesday, the latest sign of the legislature’s continuing wariness on campaign finance reform.

Several senators said they agreed with the proposal generally, but insisted policymakers should take more time to study it before imposing new rules on candidates running in Virginia’s wide-open fundraising system.

“The critical component here is to actually get it right,” said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, an election lawyer who noted that she sponsored a similar bill in the past and wants it to be wrapped into an upcoming study on comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Under Virginia’s existing laws, political candidates are free to take as much money as they can get from any willing individual donor or corporation. But they don’t have to use it for their campaign.

When Virginia senators passed a bill requiring local school divisions to provide in-person instruction by the summer, some anticipated the legislation would face an uphill battle in the House.

Nearly a month later, though, the same legislation is now on the verge of passing both chambers after several rounds of revisions — and mounting pressure to return children to school buildings.

Just a few days after the Senate vote, Gov. Ralph Northam directed Virginia’s 132 local divisions to begin offering in-person classes by March 15, saying that months of remote learning was “taking a toll on our children and our families.” Northam’s announcement followed a pledge from President Joe Biden to reopen schools within his first 100 days of office, and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in buildings.

Virginia legislature sends death penalty repeal to Northam
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 22, 2021 (Short)

Virginia lawmakers gave final passage to legislation abolishing the death penalty Monday, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he’ll sign it.

Northam’s signature would make Virginia the first state in the South and the 23rd in the nation to end capital punishment.

“This legislation says a lot about who we are as a commonwealth, what kind of values we have as a commonwealth,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It says a lot about how we value human life. It says a lot about how our commonwealth is going to move past some of our darkest moments in terms of how this punishment was applied and who it was applied to. This vote also says a lot about justice.”

Push to extend minimum wage increase to farmworkers voted down by Virginia Senate
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 23, 2021 (Short)

When the General Assembly voted last year to ramp up Virginia’s minimum wage to $12, agricultural employees were among a handful of groups excluded from the increase — an exemption that traces its roots to Jim Crow-era segregation.

Lawmakers in the Senate said Monday they stand by that decision, voting down legislation passed by the House of Delegates that would have extended the state’s employment laws to farmworkers for the first time.

“I understand the exuberance and I understand the need to move forward, but we just had a robust discussion on this last year,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, one of 10 lawmakers on the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee who opposed the legislation.

Electric utility rate reform efforts quashed by Senate committee
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 15, 2021 (Short)

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday swiftly killed the last of more than half a dozen bills this session that aimed to reform Virginia’s system of electric utility rate review, which is seen by Wall Street investors as favorable to the utilities and by critics as an example of legislative capture by companies with an outsize influence over the General Assembly.

The move angered the growing number of groups and lawmakers of both parties in Virginia that over the past few years have been lobbying to roll back regulations seen as enabling excessive profits for the state’s two largest electric monopolies, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power.

“It’s a shame that the committee decided that it should not be the policy of the commonwealth that monopoly utility rates should be just and reasonable,” said Will Cleveland, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who frequently argues against the utilities before the State Corporation Commission. “It was clear that the Senate committee had no intention of debating the merits or the policy of the bills today.”

Fifteen years ago, more than 1.3 million Virginians said marriage should only mean a union between a man and a woman and same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to similar status that would give them the same rights under the law as straight couples.

That was the view of 57 percent of Virginians who voted in 2006, more than enough to put a same-sex marriage ban in the state Constitution.

Much has changed since then. And Democratic lawmakers want to give a new generation of Virginians an opportunity to make a different statement in 2022.

At General Assembly’s halftime, consumers hold a narrow lead
Virginia Mercury, Ivy MainFebruary 6, 2021 (Short)

Virginia is, famously, a state that prides itself on being business-friendly. That makes it all the more interesting that a number of bills favoring consumers have made it through the House. Democrats have led the charge, but several of the bills earned bipartisan support even in the face of utility opposition.

This doesn’t guarantee their luck will hold. Democrats aren’t just more numerous in the House, they are also younger and more independent-minded than the old guard Democrats in control of the Senate. The second half of the session is going to be a lot more challenging for pro-consumer legislation.

The action will be especially hot in the coming days around five bills dealing with utility reform and a customer’s “right to shop” for renewable energy (HB2048). All these bills passed the House with at least some Republican support. But they are headed to Senate Commerce and Labor, which, though dominated by Democrats, has a long history of protecting utilities.

But progressive priorities like reforming campaign finance appear dead for the year.

As Gov. Ralph Northam tacked on an extra two weeks to the Virginia legislative session, lawmakers reached Crossover Day on Friday. The deadline for a bill to be approved by at least one chamber offered a glimpse into broad changes Democrats hope to make in criminal justice, beginning with legalizing marijuana and abolishing the death penalty. It also showed the tension between moderates and progressives in the party on questions of resuming school and worker rights.

Criminal justice reform advocates said lawmakers were effecting a sea change that extended beyond marijuana and capital punishment to include sentencing, probation and parole. Republicans, in the minority of both chambers of the General Assembly, say the sweeping approach would result in Virginia becoming too easy on criminals.

Political commentator Bob Holsworth recalled that Democrats once supported Republican Gov. George Allen’s push in the 1990s to crack down on crime, including eliminating parole. Now the party, in its second year in power in the state legislature, is driving the change.

Summary

This post has all the bills passed by both the House of Delegates and the State Senate during the 2021 General Assembly session.

You can also find the abstract about these bills in each of the committee posts in this Virginia onAir Hub (or select the  bills link e.g. SB 1188 to go to the Virginia Legislative Information Systems comprehensive details on each bill).

If a bill is not signed by Governor Ralph Northam, it will be noted in the appropriate committee post. All the Senate committees can be found under Governance > VA Senate Committees > Top Posts.  All the House committees can be found under Governance > VA House Committees > Top Posts.

The curators for the 2021 committee posts are George Mason University students who are interning with Democracy onAir as part of their Schar School Global Political Fellows program. They are Nanayaa Obeng, Samuel Strathmann, and Jordan Toledo.

News

$880 million pitch to General Assembly aims to match students and careers
Virginia Mercury, Jackie Llanos HernandezOctober 15, 2021 (Short)

A group of business and higher education leaders are pushing an $880 million proposal to make Virginia public colleges and universities more affordable and help industries facing worker shortages fill jobs.

The $880 million Growth4VA proposal, developed by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, is split into two different categories: $300 million for career development and $580 million for financial aid for both students and institutions.

Business leaders at a rollout event Thursday stressed the importance of the General Assembly making the investment in the 2022 legislative session, citing the rare opportunity to use a budget surplus, unallocated federal relief funds and growing state revenues. Earlier this year,Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation that offers free community college tuition to students who go into high-demand fields.

“There’s no question in my mind that there’s a will in the General Assembly and in both the candidates for governor, as well as Governor Northam, to do this,” said Don Finley, president of Virginia Business Higher Education Council.

The proposal, which envisions tax credits for employers and aid for students and interns, highlights the need to allocate $300 million toward increasing degrees in career fields that need more workers, such as health care and middle-skill jobs. Starting partnerships between businesses and higher-education institutions to provide internships for students is also essential to the future of Virginia’s economy, according to the proposal.

“When educators and employers in an industry or region collaborate to develop career-focused pathways, they align curricula so graduates gain the education and skills employers need, and they provide students with paid internships and other applied learning experiences that prepare them for the workplace, often supplying connections that lead to full-time employment,” the plan says.

Democrats on defense as their new House majority faces its first electoral test
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverOctober 4, 2021 (Medium)

Virginia Democrats are playing defense in nearly a dozen competitive House of Delegates districts this year as they defend their new majority against GOP challengers hoping to win back ground lost during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Commentators, observers and strategists across the political spectrum say they would not be shocked if Democrats lost between two and three seats to Republicans, an outcome that would still leave the party with a narrow majority in a chamber where they currently hold a five-seat advantage.

And some members of both parties say it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Democrats lose the majority entirely, ending the party’s unified control of state government after only two years — even if Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is victorious in his own tight race against Republican Glenn Youngkin.

“I think there are serious challenges to holding onto this trifecta,” said Gaby Goldstein, co-founder of Sister District Action Network, a Democratic-allied group that has been fundraising and phone banking for candidates in 12 competitive House districts. “I think Democrats need to be awake and aware of that possibility — any possibility that we might lose.”

She cited state-wide polls showing low enthusiasm among Democratic voters, who during Trump’s presidency turned out in droves for Virginia’s typically sleepy off-year elections.

With Trump out of office and President Joe Biden facing his own popularity problems, Democrats worry it will be tougher to get their supporters to the polls. “We know right now that Republicans have their base fired up, and we need the same,” said Heather Williams, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Sen. Janet Howell, who chairs the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, haven’t said for sure they won’t run again in 2023. But the Virginia Redistricting Commission is drawing lines like they aren’t.

The two influential Northern Virginia Democrats didn’t respond to requests from the Mercury this week asking for confirmation they won’t seek another four-year term. Meanwhile, one of their colleagues is treating it as known fact.

“Those are the two that are not running for re-election,” Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, a member of the Redistricting Commission, said earlier this month while explaining his own proposal for how Fairfax County should be divided up in the new map.

Barker’s remarks appear to be having an impact.

At a meeting this week, one of the commission’s consultants said proposed Northern Virginia Senate districts had been tweaked to avoid pairing incumbents who intend to run again in 2023.

According to an analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project, the draft Senate map now only pairs Howell with Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Loudoun, and Saslaw with Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax.

The significance of those comments didn’t go unnoticed by some statehouse watchers.

Region poised to lose state House seat in Va. redistricting
Bristol Herald-Courier, David McGeeSeptember 21, 2021 (Medium)

outhwest Virginia will likely lose a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates if the proposed statewide redistricting plans released Monday are approved.

The Virginia Redistricting Commission met Monday in Richmond to review two different versions of proposed redistricting plans for both the House and Senate, which would essentially combine and realign what are currently the 4th and 5th House Districts in Southwest Virginia.

The proposed changes coincide with population declines in the region compared to growth in other parts of the state. Similar declines 10 years ago resulted in the former 2nd House District shifting from the coalfields to Northern Virginia.

The commission has until Oct. 10 to submit its final recommendations to the General Assembly, and whatever changes are ultimately approved would not impact the current election, which includes all 100 House seats on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Hey incumbents, the General Assembly will survive without you
Virginia Mercury, Roger ChesleySeptember 10, 2021 (Medium)

George Barker may have thought he was in the clear. The state senator from Northern Virginia was the chief sponsor of his chamber’s bill to hold a voter referendum last year to start a redistricting commission. Citizens approved the plan by a large margin.

Surely the Fairfax County Democrat, in the Senate since 2008, would find smooth sailing as the 16-member panel crafted new boundaries for Virginia’s legislative and congressional seats. It’s the first time following the decennial census that the panel – composed of eight citizens and eight legislators, including Barker – had taken over the job formerly held by state lawmakers alone.

Previously, the party that controlled the General Assembly had had immense power in drawing the lines. That was often to the detriment of the minority party – and to many residents in the commonwealth, too.

Yet one of the initial drafts released last week did the unthinkable – at least, that’s what Barker suggested after consultants released possible legislative maps in Northern Virginia: He would be in the same district as another Democratic senator.

“I appreciate the draft part of it,” Barker said. “Because otherwise I would be submitting my resignation from the Senate today.”

When she was sworn in as the first woman to serve as speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Eileen Filler-Corn said she was struck by the diversity of the new Democratic majority looking back at her.

A year later, she was standing in a mostly empty room, speaking to “squares on a computer” as the oldest continuous legislative body in the Western Hemisphere tried lawmaking via Zoom.

It’s not yet clear when the House will return to normal. But after two years in power, Filler-Corn says she’s confident Virginia voters still want Democrats in charge.

“We heard the issues that were important to Virginians,” Filler-Corn said in a recent interview with The Virginia Mercury. “We campaigned saying we were going to do X, Y and Z. We were very upfront about it. Very bold. And there is no doubt about it that we followed through.”

The General Assembly approved legislation Wednesday that will make marijuana legal on July 1.

The votes make Virginia the 16th state to legalize the drug and the first in the South to take the step, though retail sales won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2024.

“The time has come for our state to legalize marijuana,” said House Majority Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who sponsored the bill, arguing the revised legislation ensures “that while we’re doing the complicated work of standing up a commercial market, we aren’t delaying immediate reforms that will make our commonwealth more equitable for all Virginians.”

The product of months of negotiation and last-minute amendments, the final legislation is complex and, in some key areas, ambiguous about what will and won’t be allowed.

The Virginia General Assembly voted Wednesday to tighten some Virginia Parole Board procedures at issue in a series of critical watchdog reports last year, while approving funding for an outside investigation into how one of those reports was prepared and edited.

Disagreement over the direction of that investigation led to fiery speeches from Republican legislators, who denounced it as a “sham” and said its limited scope fell far short of Gov. Ralph Northam’s calls to clear up the controversy surrounding a Parole Board run by Democratic appointees under fire for violating state law and its own procedures in releasing inmates.

“This is the final act of a cover-up,” said House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.

Democrats said Republicans were trying to stir up an election-year controversy and wouldn’t be satisfied with any investigation that doesn’t confirm their suspicions.

Virginia legislature speeds up pot legalization to this summer
Politico, Mona ZhangApril 7, 2021 (Short)

Personal possession and home cultivation would be legal starting in July.

The Virginia Legislature voted Wednesday to accelerate its timeline for marijuana legalization to July 1 instead of January 2024.

Personal possession and home cultivation would be legal starting in July. Marijuana sales still wouldn’t start until 2024, giving the government time to set up a cannabis regulatory agency to oversee the new industry.

The House voted 53-44 and the Senate voted 21-20 to adopt changes requested by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam after lawmakers sent a legalization bill to his desk in February. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax cast the deciding vote in the Senate.

Other changes: The governor requested accelerating the record-sealing and expungement provisions for past marijuana offenses and stronger labor protections for marijuana industry workers. He also proposed two budget amendments that would fund public health campaigns and training for law enforcement officers to recognize impaired driving.

When Virginia’s General Assembly first took up legislation billed as a major step toward giving regular people more control over their data in an increasingly online world, some of the first testimony lawmakers heard came from tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon.

Both companies said they were in full support of Virginia’s effort to become just the second state in America to pass its own data privacy bill, an early marker in a debate still unfolding in other states and at the national level.

Supporters of Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act, approved by the General Assembly this year and already signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, say the fact that Virginia was able to pass such significant legislation without a major fight is a testament to the quality of the bill, which lays out new consumer protections while largely shielding companies from a flood of data-related lawsuits.

Noting that an estimated 70 percent of internet traffic flows through servers in Virginia, Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, said Virginia’s legislation could be “a good starting place for a national privacy bill.”

Democrats have controlled Virginia government for two years. Here’s what they’ve done.
Virginia Mercury, Ned Oliver et al.March 3, 2021 (Long)

Virginia Mercury editors Ned Oliver Sarah Vogelsong Graham Moomaw|Kate Masters have done the best publicly available summary of what’s the Democrats have accomplished with control over Virginia’s three branches. Below are the first paragraphs of their coverage on key issues.

Elections and voting

Making it easier to vote was a top priority when Democrats took control, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of change to Virginia’s once-strict election laws.

Climate change

Before Democrats regained power, the state had passed no significant laws aimed at addressing climate change. In short order, policies began bubbling up just as surely as tidal floods in a Hampton Roads storm sewer.

Education

When Democrats took control of the General Assembly, they pledged to increase funding for education — touting it as a priority for the 2020 session.

Health

Virginia expanded Medicaid before Democrats took control of the General Assembly, allowing hundreds of thousands of previously ineligible Virginians to gain coverage. But in the two years since, they’ve made significant changes to the state health care exchange in an effort to stabilize enrollment and lower the prices on premiums..

Minimum wage

Democrats voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next three years — the first increase the state has seen since 2009, when the federal minimum went up to $7.25 an hour.

Guns

Before winning their majorities, Democrats made it clear they wanted to pass tighter laws to prevent potentially dangerous people from having access to guns and allow firearm bans in more public places. They mostly delivered on that front, but they’ve stopped short of outlawing specific types of weaponry.

Criminal justice

From abolishing the death penalty to legalizing marijuana, Democrats enacted sweeping reforms touching all aspects of the state’s criminal justice system.

Civil rights

The party has taken both concrete and symbolic steps on matters of freedom and equality. After his yearbook blackface scandal, Northam led an effort to repeal nearly 100 outdated, discriminatory laws still on the books. This year Democrats extended that symbolic step to LGBTQ rights, voting to repeal a ban on gay marriage still in the state Constitution, which was invalidated by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

Utility reform 

Democrats have remained deeply divided on electric utility reform over the past two years, with many House members joining with a cadre of Republicans in that chamber to push for a set of changes to state code that would restore much of the authority of Virginia’s public utility regulators, the State Corporation Commission, to regulate rates and earnings. Powerful members of the Senate however, with longstanding ties to the utilities, and particularly Dominion Energy, have been reluctant to relinquish legislative control, even amid regular reports of excessive profits by the monopolies.

Campaign finance

In his 2007 autobiography, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a prolific Democratic fundraiser, said his father taught him “money in politics was neither evil nor good.”

Taxes

Though the Democratic majorities have rewritten swathes of state policy to make Virginia more culturally progressive, they’ve shown less appetite for addressing economic disparities by changing the tax code.

Delegate David Bulova’s 2021 Wrap-up
David BulovaFebruary 27, 2021 (Medium)

Yes, Virginia, we have a budget!

This year I was thrilled to be appointed again by the Speaker as a conferee to work out differences between the House and Senate budgets. This evening, we adopted the final report. I believe it is a budget Virginians can be proud of.

While individual bills often get the most attention, the budget is arguably the most important reflection of our values. This year’s budget process has been a roller coaster ride. After adopting an initial budget in March 2020, we had to cut $2.8 billion as a result of a COVID-driven revenue shortfall. Going into session, we anticipated a revenue rebound of $1.2 billion. Finally, a mid-session re-forecast provided an additional $730 million. That rebound was great news – but it still means we have about a billion dollars less in revenue from just a year ago.

Here are just a few of the budget highlights:

  • Income Tax Relief – $221M revenue reduction in order to fund income tax relief to individuals and businesses related to conformity with the federal CARES Act.
  • State Employee Pay Raises – 5% pay raise for state employees beginning July 1, 2021.
  • Virginia Retirement System – $100M deposit to the VRS to reduce unfunded liabilities. This is a key investment that will help to stabilize the system for the long-term.
  • PreK-12 Education – $443M to hold public school funding steady from the original 2020 appropriation; $40M for schools to address COVID-related learning loss; and, $76M to support increases in school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and behavioral analysts.
  • Teacher Pay Raises – State share of 5% pay raises for teachers. The Governor originally proposed a 2% bonus.
  • Preschool – $11.1M for increased investment in the Virginia Preschool Initiative.
  • Northern Virginia Cost-to-Compete – $14.6M more in supplemental funding to Northern Virginia in recognition of the higher cost of living for our region.
  • Higher Education – $149M to our institutions of higher learning to maintain affordable access through tuition stabilization and need-based financial assistance.
  • Human Resources – $173M in new spending for human resources, with a focus on long-term care, maternal and child health, and behavioral and developmental services. This includes $14.2M to add 435 Developmental Disability waiver slots in FY22, bringing the total for FY22 to 985 slots.
  • Vaccinations – $89M for mass vaccination efforts to maximize new federal dollars.
  • Water Quality – An additional $155M to meet our Chesapeake Bay restoration targets, including investments in wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and agricultural best management practices.
  • Broadband – Additional funding of $99M for broadband deployment in unserved areas.
  • Virginia Employment Commission – $10M to increase customer service levels and $5M to finish modernizing VEC’s IT systems to enable more efficient service delivery.
  • Voter Registration – $16.7M to replace and strengthen the state’s voter registration system.
  • Transportation – $83.5M to improve commuter rail service on the VRE Manassas Line and $32.4M to support and stabilize Metro.
  • Reserves – An additional $250M to the Revenue Reserve Fund. This brings combined balances in reserves to $2.16 billion, or about 9% of general fund revenues.

That last bullet deserves additional comment. Something we are proud of in Virginia is that we have maintained a AAA bond rating since 1938 – longer than any other state. This saves Virginia considerable amounts of money and reflects a commitment to keeping our budget structurally sound. While states are currently the beneficiaries of large amounts of federal assistance, it would be irresponsible to think that this will continue in perpetuity. Building up our reserves will ensure that Virginia can successfully transition once federal COVID-19 funding goes away.

Like most members, I introduced my own budget amendments and was pleased to see many of them incorporated into the final budget. These included funding for Northern Virginia Family Services, Brain Injury Services, Chesapeake Bay restoration, the Virginia International Trade Plan, Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, and our regional planning district commissions.

You can find a more detailed overview of the budget here and a list of my amendments here.

In-Person Learning

Few issues have garnered more constituent communication than SB1303, which deals with bringing our children back into the classroom. This is a personal issue for my family as well, as our 12 year old attempts to navigate his first year of middle school. While he is continuing to learn, and his teachers have done an amazing job, the learning loss is definitely real.

When SB1303 came over from the Senate, it simply mandated in-person learning. What came out of the House, and was eventually passed by the Senate, takes us to full in-person learning, but has guardrails to ensure safety. This includes incorporating CDC and VDH guidelines to the maximum extent practical and the ability of a school board to move specific schools back to virtual learning based on transmission metrics. Importantly, the bill allows parents to choose a virtual approach for their students based on family situations. All teachers must be offered the vaccine prior to in-person learning (which is occurring now under Phase 1b) and the bill maintains the current process for teachers to work virtually through a reasonable ADA accommodation.

The bill passed with a strong bi-partisan vote of 88Y-9N in the House and 36Y-3N in the Senate. I voted aye.

Standards of Learning

The dreaded SOL tests! It is a topic of much consternation when I speak with parents, students, and teachers alike. The Code of Virginia simply establishes that there will be SOL assessments, the purpose of which is to ensure that educational progress can be compared across Virginia. That is a laudable goal. Unfortunately, many of these tests have turned into high-stakes end-of-the-year tests that can promote rote memorization over critical thinking and applying what has been learned to the real world.

This year we passed changes to the SOL assessments that I am genuinely excited about. HB2027 replaces end-of-the-year tests with a through-assessment model where students take a series of three lower stakes tests throughout the year. That way teachers have a better sense of where a student is starting out, can make mid-year adjustments, and then see how the student has progressed at the end of the year. While the bill applies only to SOL tests from grades three through eight, if it is successful, it could be applied to all levels.

Advanced recycling bill goes to governor after ‘Great Polystyrene Compromise of 2021’
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 24, 2021 (Short)

Legislation to classify chemical recycling as manufacturing rather than solid waste management is on its way to the governor despite early resistance from the House of Delegates.

The hotly contested bill, which supporters say will encourage the repurposing of plastic waste while creating jobs and opponents say will allow the fledgling industry to sidestep regulation, passed the House Monday on a 90-8 vote.

Key to its success was a move by lawmakers to yoke the advanced recycling bill to a proposal from Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond, that would ban all food vendors from using plastic foam food containers starting in 2025.

Virginia Senate punts on campaign finance bill, but lawmakers agree to study future reform
Virginia Mercury, Virginia MercuryFebruary 23, 2021 (Medium)

A proposal to make it illegal for Virginia politicians to use campaign funds to enrich themselves failed in the state Senate Tuesday, the latest sign of the legislature’s continuing wariness on campaign finance reform.

Several senators said they agreed with the proposal generally, but insisted policymakers should take more time to study it before imposing new rules on candidates running in Virginia’s wide-open fundraising system.

“The critical component here is to actually get it right,” said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, an election lawyer who noted that she sponsored a similar bill in the past and wants it to be wrapped into an upcoming study on comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Under Virginia’s existing laws, political candidates are free to take as much money as they can get from any willing individual donor or corporation. But they don’t have to use it for their campaign.

When Virginia senators passed a bill requiring local school divisions to provide in-person instruction by the summer, some anticipated the legislation would face an uphill battle in the House.

Nearly a month later, though, the same legislation is now on the verge of passing both chambers after several rounds of revisions — and mounting pressure to return children to school buildings.

Just a few days after the Senate vote, Gov. Ralph Northam directed Virginia’s 132 local divisions to begin offering in-person classes by March 15, saying that months of remote learning was “taking a toll on our children and our families.” Northam’s announcement followed a pledge from President Joe Biden to reopen schools within his first 100 days of office, and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in buildings.

Virginia legislature sends death penalty repeal to Northam
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 22, 2021 (Short)

Virginia lawmakers gave final passage to legislation abolishing the death penalty Monday, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he’ll sign it.

Northam’s signature would make Virginia the first state in the South and the 23rd in the nation to end capital punishment.

“This legislation says a lot about who we are as a commonwealth, what kind of values we have as a commonwealth,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It says a lot about how we value human life. It says a lot about how our commonwealth is going to move past some of our darkest moments in terms of how this punishment was applied and who it was applied to. This vote also says a lot about justice.”

Push to extend minimum wage increase to farmworkers voted down by Virginia Senate
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 23, 2021 (Short)

When the General Assembly voted last year to ramp up Virginia’s minimum wage to $12, agricultural employees were among a handful of groups excluded from the increase — an exemption that traces its roots to Jim Crow-era segregation.

Lawmakers in the Senate said Monday they stand by that decision, voting down legislation passed by the House of Delegates that would have extended the state’s employment laws to farmworkers for the first time.

“I understand the exuberance and I understand the need to move forward, but we just had a robust discussion on this last year,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, one of 10 lawmakers on the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee who opposed the legislation.

Electric utility rate reform efforts quashed by Senate committee
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 15, 2021 (Short)

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday swiftly killed the last of more than half a dozen bills this session that aimed to reform Virginia’s system of electric utility rate review, which is seen by Wall Street investors as favorable to the utilities and by critics as an example of legislative capture by companies with an outsize influence over the General Assembly.

The move angered the growing number of groups and lawmakers of both parties in Virginia that over the past few years have been lobbying to roll back regulations seen as enabling excessive profits for the state’s two largest electric monopolies, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power.

“It’s a shame that the committee decided that it should not be the policy of the commonwealth that monopoly utility rates should be just and reasonable,” said Will Cleveland, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who frequently argues against the utilities before the State Corporation Commission. “It was clear that the Senate committee had no intention of debating the merits or the policy of the bills today.”

Fifteen years ago, more than 1.3 million Virginians said marriage should only mean a union between a man and a woman and same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to similar status that would give them the same rights under the law as straight couples.

That was the view of 57 percent of Virginians who voted in 2006, more than enough to put a same-sex marriage ban in the state Constitution.

Much has changed since then. And Democratic lawmakers want to give a new generation of Virginians an opportunity to make a different statement in 2022.

At General Assembly’s halftime, consumers hold a narrow lead
Virginia Mercury, Ivy MainFebruary 6, 2021 (Short)

Virginia is, famously, a state that prides itself on being business-friendly. That makes it all the more interesting that a number of bills favoring consumers have made it through the House. Democrats have led the charge, but several of the bills earned bipartisan support even in the face of utility opposition.

This doesn’t guarantee their luck will hold. Democrats aren’t just more numerous in the House, they are also younger and more independent-minded than the old guard Democrats in control of the Senate. The second half of the session is going to be a lot more challenging for pro-consumer legislation.

The action will be especially hot in the coming days around five bills dealing with utility reform and a customer’s “right to shop” for renewable energy (HB2048). All these bills passed the House with at least some Republican support. But they are headed to Senate Commerce and Labor, which, though dominated by Democrats, has a long history of protecting utilities.

But progressive priorities like reforming campaign finance appear dead for the year.

As Gov. Ralph Northam tacked on an extra two weeks to the Virginia legislative session, lawmakers reached Crossover Day on Friday. The deadline for a bill to be approved by at least one chamber offered a glimpse into broad changes Democrats hope to make in criminal justice, beginning with legalizing marijuana and abolishing the death penalty. It also showed the tension between moderates and progressives in the party on questions of resuming school and worker rights.

Criminal justice reform advocates said lawmakers were effecting a sea change that extended beyond marijuana and capital punishment to include sentencing, probation and parole. Republicans, in the minority of both chambers of the General Assembly, say the sweeping approach would result in Virginia becoming too easy on criminals.

Political commentator Bob Holsworth recalled that Democrats once supported Republican Gov. George Allen’s push in the 1990s to crack down on crime, including eliminating parole. Now the party, in its second year in power in the state legislature, is driving the change.

About

Source: Wikipedia

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World (Western Hemisphere), established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia’s clerk is known as the “Clerk of the Senate” (instead of as the “Secretary of the Senate”, the title used by the U.S. Senate).

Following the 2019 election, the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1996. They were sworn into office on January 8, 2020 at the start of the 161st session.

Capitol

The General Assembly meets in Virginia’s capital of Richmond. When sitting in Richmond, the General Assembly holds sessions in the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 and expanded in 1904. During the American Civil War, the building was used as the capitol of the Confederate States of America, housing the Congress of the Confederate States. The building was renovated between 2005 and 2006. Senators and Delegates have their offices in the General Assembly Building across the street directly north of the Capitol. The Governor of Virginia lives across the street directly east of the Capitol in the Virginia Executive Mansion.

History

The Virginia General Assembly is described as “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World”. Its existence dates to its establishment at Jamestown on July 30, 1619, by instructions from the Virginia Company of London to the new Governor Sir George Yeardley. It was initially a unicameral body composed of the Company-appointed Governor and Council of State, plus 22 burgesses elected by the settlements and Jamestown. The Assembly became bicameral in 1642 upon the formation of the House of Burgesses. At various times it may have been referred to as the Grand Assembly of Virginia. The General Assembly met in Jamestown from 1619 until 1699, when it first moved to the College of William & Mary near Williamsburg, Virginia, and from 1705 met in the colonial Capitol building. It became the General Assembly in 1776 with the ratification of the Virginia Constitution. The government was moved to Richmond in 1780 during the administration of Governor Thomas Jefferson.

Salary and qualifications

The annual salary for senators is $18,000. The annual salary for delegates is $17,640.

Under the Constitution of Virginia, Senators and Delegates must be 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly. Under the Constitution, “a senator or delegate who moves his residence from the district for which he is elected shall thereby vacate his office”.

The state constitution specifies that the General Assembly shall meet annually, and its regular session is a maximum of 60 days long in even-numbered years and 30 days long in odd-numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses. The Governor of Virginia may convene a special session of the General Assembly “when, in his opinion, the interest of the Commonwealth may require” and must convene a special session “upon the application of two-thirds of the members elected to each house”.

Redistricting reform

Article II, section 6 on apportionment states, “Members of the … Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly. Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district.” The Redistricting Coalition of Virginia proposes either an independent commission or a bipartisan commission that is not polarized. Member organizations include the League of Women Voters of Virginia, AARP of Virginia, OneVirginia2021, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Organizing. Governor Bob McDonnell’s Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting for the Commonwealth of Virginia made its report on April 1, 2011. It made two recommendations for each state legislative house that showed maps of districts more compact and contiguous than those adopted by the General Assembly. However, no action was taken after the report was released.

In 2011 the Virginia College and University Redistricting Competition was organized by Professors Michael McDonald of George Mason University and Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University. About 150 students on sixteen teams from thirteen schools submitted plans for legislative and U.S. Congressional Districts. They created districts more compact than the General Assembly’s efforts. The “Division 1” maps conformed with the Governor’s Executive Order, and did not address electoral competition or representational fairness. In addition to the criteria of contiguity, equipopulation, the federal Voting Rights Act and communities of interest in the existing city and county boundaries, “Division 2” maps in the competition did incorporate considerations of electoral competition and representational fairness. Judges for the cash award prizes were Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.

In January 2015 Republican State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester and Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth sponsored a Senate Joint Resolution to establish additional criteria for the Virginia Redistricting Commission of four identified members of political parties, and three other independent public officials. The criteria began with respecting existing political boundaries, such as cities and towns, counties and magisterial districts, election districts and voting precincts. Districts are to be established on the basis of population, in conformance with federal and state laws and court cases, including those addressing racial fairness. The territory is to be contiguous and compact, without oddly shaped boundaries. The commission is prohibited from using political data or election results to favor either political party or incumbent. It passed with a two-thirds majority of 27 to 12 in the Senate, and was then referred to committee in the House of Delegates.

In 2015, at Vesilind v. Virginia State Board of Elections in a Virginia state court, plaintiffs sought to overturn the General Assembly’s redistricting in five House of Delegate and six state Senate districts as violations of both the Virginia and U.S. Constitutions because they failed to represent populations in “continuous and compact territory”.

In 2020 before the 2020 redistricting, a constitutional amendment moved redistricting power to a commission consisting of eight lawmakers, four from each party, and eight citizens. The amendment passed with all counties and cities supporting the measure except Arlington.

All Bills passed

Source: VA Legislative Information System (LIS)

See specific committees for details on all bills passed that were reported out by a committee.

Agriculture, Chesapeake, Conservation, & Natural Resources

Senate Agriculture, Chesapeake, & Natural Resources Committee:

  • SB 1135 Dangerous dogs; restructures procedure for adjudication, penalty. 
  • SB 1164 Advanced recycling; not considered solid waste management, definition. 
  • SB 1188 Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program and Fund; established and created. 
  • SB 1193 Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program; established. 
  • SB 1194 Produce safety; removes the sunset date. 
  • SB 1196 Teachers and other licensed school board employees; cultural competency. 
  • SB 1199 Conservation easements; construction. 
  • SB 1210 Permit fee schedules; DEQ to revise current schedule for nonhazardous solid waste mgmt. facilities. 
  • SB 1220 State facilities; admission of certain aliens. 
  • SB 1258 Solar projects; erosion and sediment control. 
  • SB 1265 Natural gas pipelines; stop work orders. 
  • SB 1274 Wildlife corridors; various agencies to consider and incorporate. 
  • SB 1280 Dams; negotiated settlement agreements. 
  • SB 1282 Greenhouse gas emissions inventory; regulations. 
  • SB 1290 ConserveVirginia program; established. 
  • SB 1291 Va. Water Protection Permit; withdrawal of surface water or ground water, plans for water auditing. 
  • SB 1311 Water quality standards; modification of permits and certifications. 
  • SB 1319 Waste Diversion & Recycling Task Force; Department of Environmental Quality to continue Task Force. SB 1354 Chesapeake Bay; wastewater treatment, Enhanced Nutrient Removal Certainty Program established. 
  • SB 1374 Carbon Sequestration Task Force; established. 
  • SB 1379 Humane Cosmetics Act; civil penalties. 
  • SB 1396 Onsite Sewage Indemnification Fund; use of Fund for grants to certain property owners. .
  • SB 1402 Trout fishing in stocked waters; equalizes for residents and nonresidents requirements to fish. 
  • SB 1404 Stormwater Local Assistance Fund; grants awarded for projects related to Chesapeake Bay. 
  • SB 1411 Peanuts; extends sunset date of excise tax on all peanuts grown in Virginia. 
  • SB 1412 Pet shops, dealers, and dog breeders; employees convicted of animal abuse, penalty. 
  • SB 1417 Animal testing facilities; definitions, adoption of dogs and cats, civil penalty. 
  • SB 1453 Mines and Mining and Virginia Energy Plan; revision of Titles 45.1 and 67. 

House Agriculture, Conservation, & Natural Resources Committee

  • HB 1750 Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program; established.
  • HB 1751 Peanuts; extends sunset date of excise tax on all peanuts grown in Virginia.
  • HB 1760 Conservation easements; certain easements be liberally construed in favor of purpose which created.
  • HB 1763 Tax credit; agricultural best management practices.
  • HB 1804 State parks; DCR to develop recommendations for funding, report.
  • HB 1819 Rappahannock River; designating a 79-mile portion as a component of Va. Scenic Rivers System.
  • HB 1833 Conservation and Recreation, Department of; leasing of land.
  • HB 1836 Natural Resources, Secretary of; name changed to the Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources.
  • HB 1837 Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board; clarifies membership.
  • HB 1902 Expanded polystyrene food service containers; prohibition, civil penalty.
  • HB 1928 Historic resources; acquisition and lease of land.
  • HB 1958 South River; designates segment in City of Waynesboro as part of Va. Scenic Rivers System.
  • HB 1965 State Air Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program.
  • HB 1982 Nutrient credits; use by facility with certain stormwater discharge permit.
  • HB 1983 Wetland and stream mitigation banks; proximity of impacted site.
  • HB 2030 Neonicotinoid pesticides; communication between beekeepers and applicators.
  • HB 2068 Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program; established.
  • HB 2078 Industrial hemp; updates laws to address the new hemp producer license.
  • HB 2129 Chesapeake Bay; wastewater treatment, Enhanced Nutrient Removal Certainty Program established.
  • HB 2159 Balloons; release of nonbiodegradable balloons outdoors prohibited, civil penalty.
  • HB 2187 Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, Commonwealth Center; study topics to manage water quality, etc.
  • HB 2203 Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program and Fund; established and created.
  • HB 2213 Gold; Secretary of Natural Resources, et al., to study mining and processing.
  • HB 2250 Humane Cosmetics Act; civil penalties.
  • HB 2298 Muzzleloading rifle and shotgun; clarifies definitions.
  • HB 2302 Farmers market food and beverage products; sales considered essential during state of emergency.
  • HB 2311 Objects of antiquity; unlawful to remove from battlefield, penalty.

Appropriations and Finance

Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee:

  • SB 1112 Research and development expenses; tax credit available against the bank franchise tax.
  • SB 1130 Personal property tax; exemption for motor vehicle of a 100 percent disabled veteran.
  • SB 1134 Refunding bonds; alters the principal and interest requirements.
  • SB 1145 Commonwealth of Virginia Higher Educational Institutions Bond Act of 2021; created.
  • SB 1146 Income tax, state; conformity with the Internal Revenue Code.
  • SB 1254 Sports betting; clarifies certain procedures.
  • SB 1155 Capital outlay plan; repeals existing six-year capital outlay for projects to be funded.
  • SB 1156 Technology Development Grant Fund; created.
  • SB 1158 Port of Virginia tax credits; extends the sunset date.
  • SB 1162 Tax credit; agricultural best management practices.
  • SB 1163 Agricultural equipment; establishes a refundable individual and corporate income tax credit.
  • SB 1197 Virginia housing opportunity; tax credit established.
  • SB 1201 Energy storage systems; definitions, tax exemption, revenue share for systems.
  • SB 1204 George Mason University; management agreement with the Commonwealth.
  • SB 1251 Virginia Retirement System; technical amendments.
  • SB 1252 Coal tax credits; sunset dates.
  • SB 1326 Local cigarette taxes; regional cigarette tax boards.
  • SB 1398 Retail sales and transient occupancy taxes; room rentals.
  • SB 1403 Retail Sales and Use Tax; exemption for personal protective equipment.
  • SB 1423 Data centers; sales and use tax exemption, identifying a “distressed locality.”
  • SB 1438 Combined transient occupancy and food and beverage tax; technical amendments.

House Appropriations committee:

  • HB 2101: GO Virginia Grants; matching funds, extends sunset provision
  • HB 2174: VirginiaSaves Program; established, membership
  • HB 2177:  Capital outlay plan; repeals existing six-year capital outlay for projects to be funded
  • HB 2178:  Commonwealth of Virginia Higher Educational Institutions Bond Act of 2021; created
  • HB 2179: Refunding bonds; alters the principal and interest requirements
  • HB 2181:  Virginia Retirement System; technical amendments
  • HB 2187:  Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, Commonwealth Center; study topics to manage water quality, etc
  • HB 2223: Treasury and State Treasurer, Department of the; surety bonds
  • HB 5001: Shipping and Logistics Headquarters Grant Program; established, report

House Finance committee:

  • HB 1763 Tax credit; agricultural best management practices. 
  • HB 1774 Tangible personal property taxes;classification of certain motor vehicles, trailers, & semitrailers. 
  • HB 1800 Budget Bill. 
  • HB 1899 Coal tax credits; sunset dates. 
  • HB 1916 Research and development tax credits. 
  • HB 1935 Income tax, state; conformity with the Internal Revenue Code.
  • HB 1969 Administration of blighted and derelict properties; modifies definition of “qualifying locality.” 
  • HB 1979 Electric vehicle rebate program; creation and funding, report, sunset date. 
  • HB 1999 Tax Commissioner; waiver of accrual of interest in the event that Gov. declares state of emergency. 
  • HB 2006 Energy storage systems; definitions, tax exemption, revenue share for systems. .
  • HB 2059 Delinquent returns; enforcement, when approval required. 
  • HB 2060 Online portal for tax practitioners; Department of Taxation shall analyze prospect of establishing. 
  • HB 2118 Virginia Electric Vehicle Grant Fund and Program; created, report. 
  • HB 2185 Retail Sales and Use Tax; exemption for personal protective equipment. 
  • HB 2273 Data centers; sales and use tax exemption, criteria, report. 
  • HB 2293 Local gas severance tax; extends sunset date. 

Communications, Technology, and Innovation

Senate General Laws and Technology Committee:

  • SB 1183Property Owners’ Association Act/Condominium Act; use of electronic means for meetings and voting. 
  • SB 1271Virginia Freedom of Information Act; meetings held through electronic communication means during a state of emergency.  
  • SB 1314Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; Office of Education and Labor Market Alignment established; workforce and higher education alignment 
  • SB 1343Virginia Freedom of Information Act; proprietary records and trade secrets; carbon sequestration agreements.
  • SB 1365- Data governance; Office of Data Governance and Analytics; Chief Data Officer; Virginia Data Commission; report.
  • SB1392Consumer Data Protection Act.
  • SB1418Grants from the Commonwealth’s Development Opportunity Fund; waiver or reduction of capital investment and local match requirement.
  • SB1458Secretary of Commerce and Trade; Identity Management Standards Advisory Council.

House Communications, Technology, and Innovation Committee:

  • HB 1851 Unmanned aircraft; exempts an owner from the requirement to register.
  • HB 2031 Facial recognition technology; authorization of use by local law-enforcement agencies, etc.
  • HB 2163 Motor Vehicles, Department of; limits the release of privileged information to government entities.
  • HB 2307 Consumer Data Protection Act; personal data rights of consumer, etc.

Commerce and Labor

Senate Commerce and Labor Committee:

  • SB 1182: Motor vehicle liability insurance; increases coverage amount.
  • SB 1219: Paid family and medical leave; SCC’s Bureau of Insurance to review and make recommendations, report.
  • SB 1223: Virginia Energy Plan; amends Plan to include an analysis of electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • SB 1225: Broadband services; school boards to appropriate funds for expansion of services for education.
  • SB 1247: Electric generating facility closures; integrated resource plan.
  • SB 1255: SCC; issuance or renewal of insurance licenses or registrations during an emergency.
  • SB 1269: Health insurance; authorization of drug prescribed for the treatment of a mental disorder.
  • SB 1275: Workers’ compensation; presumption of compensability for certain diseases
  • SB 1284: Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy; established.
  • SB 1289: Health insurance; carrier business practices, provider contracts
  • SB 1295: Electric utilities; procurement of certain equipment.
  • SB 1310: Va. Human Rights Act; application of laws applicable to employee safety and payment of wages.
  • SB 1334: Broadband capacity; expands existing pilot program, municipal broadband authorities.
  • SB 1351: Workers’ compensation; claims not barred.
  • SB 1375: Workers’ compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19
  • SB 1413: Phase I or Phase II electric utilities; provision of broadband capacity
  • SB 1420: Electric utilities; nonjurisdictional customers, third party power purchase agreements.

House Labor and Commerce Committee:

Note: Details on bills passed below are in the Heading “Bills passed”)

  • HB 1807 Health maintenance organizations; insolvency.
  • HB 1818 Workers’ compensation; presumption of compensability for certain diseases.
  • HB 1829 Health insurance; credentialing health care providers.
  • HB 1832 Virginia Highway Corporation Act; alteration of certificate of authority, powers and duties of SCC.
  • HB 1834 Electric generating facility closures; public disclosure, integrated resource plans.
  • HB 1877 Legal service plans; seller registration.
  • HB 1881 Enterprise zone job creation grants; wage requirements.
  • HB 1884 Income tax, state; voluntary inclusion of personal & contact information on appropriate forms.
  • HB 1892 Property and casualty insurance form; approval of form by State Corporation Commission.
  • HB 1896 Essential health benefits; abortion coverage.
  • HB 1907 Electric utilities; advanced renewable energy buyers.
  • HB 1923 Broadband capacity; expands existing pilot program, municipal broadband authorities.
  • HB 1925 Virginia Brownfield and Coal Mine Renewable Energy Grant Fund and Program; established, report.
  • HB 1942 Public adjusters; continuing education requirements
  • HB 1964 State Corporation Commission; supervisory merger or transfer of assets of certain unions.
  • HB 1965 State Air Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program.
  • HB 1985 Workers’ compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19.
  • HB 1994 Small agricultural generators; expands definition.
  • HB 2008 Health insurance; authorization of drug prescribed for the treatment of a mental disorder.
  • HB 2032 Employees providing domestic service; application of laws applicable to employee safety.
  • HB 2034 Electric utilities; nonjurisdictional customers, third party power purchase agreements.
  • HB 2036 Virginia Employment Commission; communications with parties, use of electronic means, report.
  • HB 2040 Unemployment compensation; continuation of benefits, repayment of overpayments.
  • HB 2062 Food delivery platforms; agreements required, penalty.
  • HB 2063 Virginia Overtime Wage Act; overtime compensation employees, definitions, penalties.
  • HB 2121 State Corporation Commission; business entities filings.
  • HB 2134 Employee classification; provision of personal protective equipment in response to a disaster.
  • HB 2137 Paid sick leave; employers to provide to certain employees.
  • HB 2207 Workers’ compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19.
  • HB 2219 Pharmacies; freedom of choice by covered individual.
  • HB 2250 Humane Cosmetics Act; civil penalties.
  • HB 2257 Hampton Roads Sanitation District; changes to the enabling act.
  • HB 2269 Solar energy projects and energy storage systems; revenue share for projects and systems.
  • HB 2282 State Corporation Commission; transportation electrification, utility recovery of certain costs.
  • HB 2304 Phase I or Phase II electric utilities; provision of broadband capacity.
  • HB 2332 Commonwealth Health Reinsurance Program; established, report.

Counties, Cities, Towns, & Local Government

Senate Local Government Committee:

  • SB 1120: County executive form of government; local budgets
  • SB 1128: Norfolk, City of; amending charter, general updates
  • SB 1136: License plates, special; repeals issuance of certain plates
  • SB 1216: Crewe, Town of; amending charter, changes to charter including town council, elections and powers
  • SB 1152: Appomattox, Town of; amending charter, shifts local elections from May to November, etc
  • SB 1157: Municipal elections; shifting elections to November
  • SB 1207: Solar and energy storage projects; siting agreements throughout the Commonwealth
  • SB 1208: Continuity of government; extends period of time that locality may provide after disaster, etc
  • SB 1267: Covington, City of; amending charter, consolidated school division, salaries
  • SB 1270: Eminent domain; notice of intent to file certificate
  • SB 1298: Tourism improvement districts; authorizes any locality to create
  • SB 1309: Local stormwater assistance; flood mitigation and protection
  • SB 1385: Underground utility facilities; Fairfax County
  • SB 1393: Trees; replacement and conservation during development, effective date
  • SB 1399: Tourism Development Authority; name change
  • SB 1447: Buckingham County; fees for disposal of solid waste
  • SB 1457: Historic sites; urban county executive form of gov’t. (Fairfax County), provisions in its ordinance

House Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee:

  • HB 1749 Nassawadox, Town of; amending charter, updates to reflect town’s shift of municipal elections. 
  • HB 1764 Crewe, Town of; amending charter, changes to charter including town council, elections and powers. 
  • HB 1778 Removal of clutter from property; definition, civil penalty. 
  • HB 1783 Glasgow, Town of; new charter (previous charter repealed). 
  • HB 1858 Appomattox, Town of; amending charter, shifts local elections from May to November, etc. 
  • HB 1898 Zoning appeals, board of; appointments. 
  • HB 1919 Local green banks; authorizes a locality, by ordinance, to establish. 
  • HB 2042 Trees; replacement and conservation during development, effective date. 
  • HB 2053 Affordable & market-rate housing; DHCD to evaluate growing demand. 
  • HB 2091 Covington, City of; amending charter, consolidated school division, salaries. 
  • HB 2095 Bristol, City of; amending charter, changes to powers and organization. 
  • HB 2180 Lynchburg, City of; amending charter, salaries of members of City Council. 
  • HB 2186 Mathews County; appointment of bd. of director to the Economic Development Authority of the County. 
  • HB 2201 Solar and energy storage projects; siting agreements throughout the Commonwealth. 
  • HB 2217 Public access authorities; granted certain liability protections. 
  • HB 2252 Tazewell County; quitclaim and conveyance of easement by Board of Wildlife Resources. 
  • HB 2287 Economic development authorities; size of board in Powhatan County. 
  • HB 2323 Library aid; former regional library system. 
  • HB 2326 Child-care services; regulation in localities. 

Courts, Judiciary

Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • SB 1108: General district courts; jurisdictional limits
  • SB 1113: Communicating threats of death or bodily injury to a person with intent to intimidate; penalty
  • SB 1119: Law-enforcement agencies; body-worn camera systems
  • SB 1122: Habitual offenders; repeals remaining provisions of Habitual Offender Act
  • SB 1138: Sexually transmitted infections; infected sexual battery, penalty
  • SB 1142: Marriage; persons who may celebrate rites, authorizes current members of the General Assembly
  • SB 1165: Death penalty; abolition of current penalty
  • SB 1168: “Abused or neglected child;” definition
  • SB 1181: Special immigrant juvenile status; jurisdiction
  • SB 1184: Standby guardianship; triggering event
  • SB 1209: Subcontractor’s employees; liability of general contractor for wages
  • SB 1213: Restricted licenses; DMV authorized to issue
  • SB 1234: Virginia State Bar examination; foreign applicants, evidence required
  • SB 1241: Personal injury claim; disclosure of insurance policy limits
  • SB 1242: Personal appearance by two-way electronic video and audio communication; entry of plea
  • SB 1248: Juveniles; competency evaluation, receipt of court order
  • SB 1256: Criminal Justice Services Board and Committee on Training; membership
  • SB 1261: Court of Appeals; expands jurisdiction, increases from 11 to 17 number of judges on Court
  • SB 1262: Restricted permit; prepayment of fines and costs
  • SB 1266: Admission to bail; rebuttable presumptions against bail
  • SB 1272: Unrestorably incompetent defendant; disposition, capital murder charge, inpatient custody
  • SB 1315: Criminal proceedings; consideration of mental condition & intellectual & developmental disabilities
  • SB 1316: Child care providers; background checks, portability
  • SB 1325: Visitation; petition of grandparent
  • SB 1336: Ignition interlock systems; restricted permits to operate a motor vehicle
  • SB 1339: Criminal records; sealing of records, Sealing Fee Fund created, penalties, report
  • SB 1381: Weapons; possessing or transporting within Capitol Square, etc
  • SB 1391: Pretrial data collection; VCSC to collect and disseminate on an annual basis
  • SB 1400: Tazewell County; quitclaim and conveyance of easement by Board of Wildlife Resources
  • SB 1415: Protective orders; violations of preliminary child protective order, changes punishment, etc
  • SB 1426: Orders of restitution; docketed on behalf of victim, enforcement
  • SB 1431: Unrestorably incompetent defendant; competency report
  • SB 1442: Public defender office; establishes an office for the County of Chesterfield
  • SB 1456: Juveniles; eligibility for commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice
  • SB 1461: Bribery in correctional facilities; penalty
  • SB 1468: Victims of crime; certifications for victims of qualifying criminal activity
  • SB 1475: Search warrants; date and time of issuance, exceptions

House Courts of Justice Committee:

  • HB 1806:  Suspension or modification of sentence; transfer to the Department of Corrections
  • HB 1814: Garnishment of wages; protected portion of disposable earnings
  • HB 1821: Experiencing or reporting overdoses; prohibits arrest and prosecution
  • HB 1852: Uniform Collaborative Law Act; created
  • HB 1853: Lawyers; client accounts
  • HB 1864: Virginia Human Rights Act; expands definition of employer
  • HB 1866: Court-appointed special advocates; information sharing
  • HB 1867: Victims of crime; compensation, reporting requirement
  • HB 1878: Juvenile intake and petition; appeal to a magistrate on a finding of no probable cause
  • HB 1882: Deeds of trust; amendment to loan document, statement of interest rate of a refinanced mortgage
  • HB 1895: Fines and costs; accrual of interest, deferral or installment payment agreements
  • HB 1911: No-fault divorce; corroboration requirement
  • HB 1912: Child support payments; juvenile in custody of or committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice
  • HB 1936: Robbery; penalties
  • HB 1991: Juveniles; release and review hearing for serious offender, plea agreement
  • HB 1992: Firearms; purchase, etc., following conviction for assault and battery of a family member
  • HB 2002: Child support; health care coverage, eligibility requirements
  • HB 2009: Chamberlin Hotel at Fort Monroe; reverts certain property to the Commonwealth
  • HB 2010: Earned sentence credits; rate at which sentence rates may be earned, prerequisites
  • HB 2012: Protective orders; violations of preliminary child protective order, changes punishment, etc
  • HB 2017: Juvenile offenders; youth justice diversion programs
  • HB 2018: Emergency order for adult protective services; acts of violence, etc., or financial exploitation
  • HB 2038: Probation, revocation, and suspension of sentence; limitations on sentence, technical violation
  • HB 2047: Criminal proceedings; consideration of mental condition and intellectual, etc
  • HB 2055: Child support obligations; party’s incarceration not deemed voluntary unemployment/underemployment
  • HB 2064: Recording an electronic document; electronic notarial certificate
  • HB 2081: Polling places; prohibited activities, unlawful possession of a firearm, penalty
  • HB 2099: Judgments; limitations on enforcement, judgment liens, settlement agents, effective date
  • HB 2110: Pretrial data collection; VCSC to collect and disseminate on an annual basis
  • HB 2113: Criminal records; sealing of records, Sealing Fee fund created
  • HB 2128: Firearms; criminal history record information check delay increased to five days
  • HB 2132: Homicides and assaults and bodily woundings; certain matters not to constitute defenses
  • HB 2133: Commercial sex trafficking; issuance of writ of vacatur for victims
  • HB 2139: Accrual of cause of action; diagnosis of latent injury
  • HB 2147: Human Rights, Division of; renamed as Office of Civil Rights
  • HB 2150: Jurisdiction over criminal cases; certification or appeal of charges
  • HB 2167: Parole; notice and certification, monthly reports, discretionary early consideration
  • HB 2168: Illegal gambling; skill games, enforcement by localities and Attorney General, civil penalty
  • HB 2169: Prostitution; reorganizes the statute penalizing into two distinct sections
  • HB 2190: Wrongful death; beneficiaries
  • HB 2192: Support orders; contents of orders, change in employment status, unemployment benefits
  • HB 2194: Communicating threats of death or bodily injury to a person with intent to intimidate; penalty
  • HB 2233: Orders of restitution; docketed on behalf of victim, enforcement
  • HB 2234: Victims of sex trafficking; affirmative defense to prosecution for certain offenses
  • HB 2236: Behavioral health docket; transfer of supervision
  • HB 2038: Probation, revocation, and suspension of sentence; limitations on sentence, technical violation
  • HB 2252: Tazewell County; quitclaim and conveyance of easement by Board of Wildlife Resources
  • HB 2258: Substantial Risk Order Registry; maintenance by State Police
  • HB 2263: Death penalty; abolition of current penalty.
  • HB 2290: Larceny; repeals punishment for conviction of second or subsequent misdemeanor
  • HB 2298: Muzzleloading rifle and shotgun; clarifies definitions
  • HB 2310: Concealed handgun permits; demonstration of competence
  • HB 2317: Sexual and Domestic Violence, Advisory Committee on; increases membership, duties

Education

Senate Education and Health Committee:

  • SB 1121 Provides that every request for an amendment to a birth certificate shall be reviewed to determine whether the requested amendment can be made administratively or if a judicial order is required for the amendment.
  • SB 1132 Provides that when severe weather conditions or other emergency situations have resulted in the closing of any school in a school division for in-person instruction, the school division may declare an unscheduled remote learning day whereby the school provides instruction and student services, consistent with guidelines established by the Department of Education to ensure the equitable provision of such services, without a reduction in the amount paid by the Commonwealth from the Basic School Aid Fund.
  • SB 1147 Expands eligibility for the Nurse Loan Repayment Program to include certified nurse aides who meet criteria determined by the State Board of Health.
  • SB 1154 Requires the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (the Commissioner) to add written reports of the facts of alleged serious incidents, deaths, abuse, or neglect of individuals receiving services in programs operated or licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (the Department) to the list of reports the Commissioner must provide to the Director of the Commonwealth’s designated protection and advocacy system.
  • SB 1169 Requires (i) driver education programs to include instruction on the dangers of distracted driving and speeding and (ii) a student to submit a standard application form developed by the Department of Education by which the student provides evidence that he possesses a valid driver’s license or driver privilege card before being issued a pass to park a vehicle on high school property.
  • SB 1175 Removes the Brunswick County school board from the list of approved member salaries for appointed school boards.
  • SB 1178 Repeals the conscience clause for genetic counselors who forgo participating in counseling that conflicts with their deeply held moral or religious beliefs, provided that they inform the patient and offer to direct the patient to the online directory of licensed genetic counselors maintained by the Board of Medicine.
  • SB 1187 Extends from 30 days to 60 days the time allowed for a physical therapist who has complete a doctor of physical therapy program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education or who has obtained a certificate of authorization to evaluate and treat patients after an initial evaluation without a referral under certain circumstances.
  • SB 1189 Authorizes Virginia to become a signatory to the Occupational Therapy Interjurisdictional Licensure Compact.
  • SB 1190 Health Standards of Learning; advanced directive education for high school students.
  • SB 1205 Career fatigue and wellness in certain health care providers; programs to address, civil immunity.
  • SB 1220 State facilities; admission of certain aliens.
  • SB 1221 Loudoun County; operation of local health department.
  • SB 1227 Hormonal contraceptives; payment of medical assistance for 12-month supply.
  • SB 1257 SOQ; school board to provide at least three specialized student support positions.
  • SB 1276 Essential health benefits; abortion coverage.
  • SB 1288 Special education; Department of and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures.
  • SB 1302 Crisis Call Center Fund; created, collection of 988 charges.
  • SB 1303 Local school divisions; availability of virtual and in-person learning to all students.
  • SB 1304 Community services boards; discharge planning.
  • SB 1307 School-based health services; Bd. of MAS to amend state plan for services to provide for payment.
  • SB 1313 Children’s Services Act; funds expended special education programs.
  • SB 1320 Licensed certified midwives; clarifies definition, licensure, etc.
  • SB 1322 Public schools; seizure management and action plans, biennial training, effective date.
  • SB 1333 Pharmaceutical processors; permits processors to produce & distribute cannabis products.
  • SB 1338 Telemedicine services; remote patient monitoring services.
  • SB 1356 Hospitals, nursing homes, etc.; visits by clergy.
  • SB 1357 Standards of Learning; reading & mathematics assessments for students in grades three through eight
  • SB 1387 Students; eligibility for in-state tuition.
  • SB 1405 Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and Program; established.
  • SB 1408 Health Care, Joint Commission on; repeals sunset provision.
  • SB 1421 Brain injury; clarifies definition.
  • SB 1436 Eligible Health Care Provider Reserve Directory; established.
  • SB 1439 Students; guidelines on excused student absences, civic engagement.
  • SB 1464 Drug Control Act; adds certain chemicals to Schedule I of Act.
  • SB 1465 Illegal gambling; skill games, definitions, enforcement by localities and Attorney General

House Education Committee:

  • HB 1747 Clinical nurse specialist; licensure of nurse practitioners as specialists, etc.
  • HB 1776 Education, Board of; temporary extension of certain teachers’ licenses.
  • HB 1790 Public schools; severe weather conditions and other emergency situations. 
  • HB 1798 Brunswick County school board; appointed school board salaries. 
  • HB 1823 Public schools, child day programs, and certain other programs; carbon monoxide detectors required. 
  • HB 1827 Education, Board of; geographic representation of members.
  • HB 1838 Loudoun County school board; staggered terms of its members. 
  • HB 1855 Mines, Minerals and Energy, Department of; renamed the Department of Energy. 
  • HB 1865 Kindergarten through grade 3; reading intervention services for certain students. 
  • HB 1904 Teachers and other licensed school board employees; cultural competency. 
  • HB 1905 Economic education and financial literacy required in middle and high school grades; employment. 
  • HB 1918 Student driver safety; driver education program shall include dangers of speeding. 
  • HB 1930 Higher educational institutions, public; admissions applications criminal history questions. 
  • HB 1940 Students; guidelines on excused student absences, civic engagement.
  • HB 1980 Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program; established, report. 
  • HB 1986 George Mason University; management agreement with the Commonwealth. 
  • HB 1998 Public schools; lock-down drills, annual requirement. 
  • HB 2013 School boards; board policy for students unable to pay for a meal at school. 
  • HB 2019 Public elementary and secondary schools; administration of undesignated stock albuterol inhalers. 
  • HB 2027 Standards of Learning assessments; reading and mathematics; grades three through eight. 
  • HB 2035 Virginia Initiative for Education and Work; participants, modifies Full Employment Program. 
  • HB 2058 Virginia STEM Education Advisory Board; established, report. 
  • HB 2105 Early childhood education; quality rating and improvement system participation. 
  • HB 2119 Student driver education program; parent/student component exemption. 
  • HB 2120 Higher educational institutions, public; governing boards, meetings, input, and disclosures. 
  • HB 2123 Students; eligibility for in-state tuition. 
  • HB 2135 School boards, certain; participation in the Afterschool Meal Program. 
  • HB 2148 Small renewable energy projects; energy storage. 
  • HB 2176 School board policies; abusive work environments, definitions. 
  • HB 2182 Traumatic brain injury; definition. 
  • HB 2204 Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and Program; established.
  • HB 2218 Pharmaceutical processors; permits processors to produce & distribute cannabis products. 
  • HB 2299 Special education; training for school divisions on developing IEPs for children w/ disabilities. 
  • HB 2316 Students w/ disabilities; Dept. of Education to update its special education and related services. 

House Health Committee:

General Laws

Senate General Laws Committee:

  • SB1110–  Property; duties of real estate settlement agents.
  • SB 1127 Charitable gaming; conduct of instant bingo, network bingo, pull tabs, and seal cards.
  • SB1150– Department of Veterans Services; Military Spouse Liaison; position created. 
  • SB 1183– Property Owners’ Association Act/Condominium Act; use of electronic means for meetings and voting. 
  • SB 1215– Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; tenant remedies for exclusion from dwelling unit, interruption of services, or actions taken to make premises unsafe.
  • SB 1271– Virginia Freedom of Information Act; meetings held through electronic communication means during a state of emergency.
  • SB 1279- Department of Veterans Services; initiatives to reduce unemployment among veterans; comprehensive transition program. 
  • SB 1287– Charitable Gaming Board; regulations; electronic pull tabs.
  • SB 1314– Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; Office of Education and Labor Market Alignment established; workforce and higher education alignment.
  • SB 1343– Virginia Freedom of Information Act; proprietary records and trade secrets; carbon sequestration agreements.
  • SB 1365- Data governance; Office of Data Governance and Analytics; Chief Data Officer; Virginia Data Commission; report.
  • SB1392– Consumer Data Protection Act.
  • SB1429– Disposition of property previously used by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services as the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute.

House General Laws Committee:

 

  • HB 1811: Virginia Public Procurement Act; preference for energy-efficient and water-efficient goods
  • HB 1812: Casino gaming; technical amendments.
  • HB 1816: Property Owners’ Association Act/Condominium Act; use of electronic means for meetings and voting.
  • HB 1824: Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; required disclosures for buyer to beware, mold.
  • HB 1830: Virginia Small Business Financing Authority; members to have small business lending experience
  • HB 1842: Property owners’ associations & unit owners’ associations; rulemaking authority concerning smoking
  • HB 1843: Charitable gaming; increase in certain maximum allowable prize amounts
  • HB 1845: Alcoholic beverage control; license fee reform
  • HB 1847: Sports betting; clarifies certain procedures
  • HB 1848: Virginia Human Rights Acts; adds discrimination on the basis of disability
  • HB 1849: Apprenticeship training programs; DOLI, DGS, et al., shall review availability of programs
  • HB 1864: Virginia Human Rights Act; expands definition of employer
  • HB 1876: Workforce development; expands type of data sharing
  • HB 1879: Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages and pre-mixed wine
  • HB 1882: Deeds of trust; amendment to loan document, statement of interest rate of a refinanced mortgage
  • HB 1889: Va. Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; landlord remedies, noncompliance with rental agreement
  • HB 1891: Annual safety and disaster awareness training; DHRM, et al., to develop an online training module
  • HB 1900: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; tenant remedies for exclusion from dwelling unit
  • HB 1931: Virginia Freedom of Information Act; public body authorized to conduct electronic meetings
  • HB 1943: Charitable Gaming Board; regulations, electronic pull tabs
  • HB 1944: Casino gaming; requirements for issuance of operator’s license, human trafficking training
  • HB 1967: Virginia Jobs Investment Program and Fund; minimum wage requirements
  • HB 1971: Virginia Fair Housing Law; reasonable accommodations, disability-related requests for parking
  • HB 1973: Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of banquet licensees
  • HB 1981: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; access to dwelling unit during certain emergencies
  • HB 1993: State agencies and their appointing authorities; diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plans
  • HB 2001: State and local buildings, certain; building standards
  • HB 2004: Virginia Freedom of Information Act; law-enforcement criminal incident information, criminal files
  • HB 2014: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; landlord’s acceptance of rent with reservation
  • HB 2025: Virginia FOIA; record exclusion for personal contact information provided to a public body
  • HB 2029: Fire training activities; prohibition on the use of certain oriented strand board
  • HB 2031: Facial recognition technology; authorization of use by local law-enforcement agencies, etc
  • HB 2046: Virginia Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices
  • HB 2054: Comprehensive plan; provision for transit-oriented development
  • HB 2072: Virginia Good Neighbor Next Door program; VHDA shall report recommendations for creating Program
  • HB 2085: Emergency Services and Disaster Law; local and interjurisdictional emergency operations plans
  • HB 2130: Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board; established, report
  • HB 2131: Alcoholic beverage control; license application, locality input
  • HB 2140: Alternative application for employment for persons with a disability; DHRM to create a process
  • HB 2147: Human Rights, Division of; renamed as Office of Civil Rights
  • HB 2161: Active military or a military spouse; prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, etc
  • HB 2170: Virginia Small Business Financing Authority; risk-based review of outstanding loans
  • HB 2171: Virginia Small Business Financing Authority; utilization or award of loan and grant program funds
  • HB 2172: Small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses; right to appeal denial of initial certification
  • HB 2175: Homeowners and tenants of manufactured home parks; housing protections, foreclosures, etc
  • HB 2202: Elevator mechanic or accessibility mechanic, certain; exemption from certification
  • HB 2222: Military medical personnel program; facilities that offer medical services to public, etc
  • HB 2227: Uniform Statewide Building Code; amendments, energy efficiency and conservation
  • HB 2229: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; responsibilities of real estate brokers, etc
  • HB 2249: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; landlord charges for security deposits
  • HB 2266: Alcoholic beverage control; outdoor refreshment area license
  • HB 2307: Consumer Data Protection Act; personal data rights of consumer, etc
  • HB 2308: Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, etc.; quantity of land certain associations may hold
  • HB 2312: Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, etc
  • HB 2320: Real property; required disclosures for buyer to exercise due diligence, flood risk report
  • HB 2321: Labor, Secretary of; position created in Governor’s Cabinet
  • HB 2322: Opioid Abatement Authority; established, report
  • HB 2327: Prevailing wage rate; clarifies that public works includes transportation infrastructure projects

 

 

Health, Welfare, Rehabilitation, & Social Services

Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee:

  • SB 1297: Emergency order for adult protective services; acts of violence, etc., or financial exploitation
  • SB 1299: Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages and pre-mixed wine
  • SB 1300: Inmates; Board of Local and Regional Jails to review services provided during pregnancy, etc
  • SB 1321: Confirmatory adoption; expands the stepparent adoption provisions
  • SB 1328: State-Funded Kinship Guardianship Assistance program; created
  • SB 1366: Aging services; economic and social needs
  • SB 1397: Parole and conditional release; notice by electronic means and certification
  • SB 1428: Alcoholic beverage control; operation of government stores, sale of low alcohol beverage coolers
  • SB 1471: Alcoholic beverage control; local special events license, taxes and fees
  • SB 1472: Individuals w/ intellectual & developmental disabilities; DMAS to study use of virtual support, etc

House Health, Welfare & Institutions Committee:

  • HB 1737 Nurse practitioners; practice without a practice agreement. 
  •  Clinical nurse specialist; licensure of nurse practitioners as specialists, etc. 
  • HB 1805 Aging services; economic and social needs. 
  • HB 1808 Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Commissioner of; reports to designated protection. 
  • HB 1817 Certified nurse midwives; practice. 
  • HB 1820 SNAP benefits program; eligibility for benefits, postsecondary education. 
  • HB 1823 Public schools, child day programs, and certain other programs; carbon monoxide detectors required. 
  • HB 1831 Home care organizations; personal care services through audio-video telephone communication. 
  • HB 1845 Alcoholic beverage control; license fee reform. 
  • HB 1873 Brain injury; clarifies definition. 
  • HB 1874 Behavioral health; assessments in local correctional facilities, report. 
  • HB 1879 Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages and pre-mixed wine. 
  • HB 1885 Comprehensive review of computer science standards, etc., in public schools; DOE to perform, report. 
  • HB 1894 Naloxone or other opioid antagonist; certain employees of DJJ authorized to administer. 
  • HB 1913 Career fatigue and wellness in certain health care providers; programs to address, civil immunity. 
  • HB 1950 Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team; Va. Department of Health, et al., to establish, report.  
  • HB 1953 Licensed certified midwives; clarifies definition, licensure, etc. 
  • HB 1957 Adult adoption; investigation and report. 
  • HB 1962 Foster care; termination of parental rights, relatives and fictive kin. 
  • HB 1973 Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of banquet licensees. 
  • HB 1976 Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority; mission of Authority, membership. 
  • HB 1987 Telemedicine; coverage of telehealth services by an insurer, etc. 
  • HB 1986 George Mason University; management agreement with the Commonwealth. 
  • HB 1989 Public health emergency; emergency medical services agencies, real-time access to information. 
  • HB 1995 Rare Disease Council and Rare Disease Council Fund; created, report. 
  • HB 2002 Child support; health care coverage, eligibility requirements. 
  • HB 2010 Earned sentence credits; rate at which sentence rates may be earned, prerequisites. Contains a technical amendment. This bill is declarative of existing law.
  • HB 2039 Physician assistant; eliminates certain requirement for practice. 
  • HB 2061 VIIS; any health care provider in the Commonwealth that administers immunizations to participate. 
  • HB 2065 Produce Rx Program; Dept. of Social Services, et al., to develop a plan for a 3-yr. pilot Program. 
  • HB 2070 Community services boards; contracts with private providers. 
  • HB 2079 Pharmacists; initiation of treatment with and dispensing and administering of drugs and devices. 
  • HB 2086 Child care providers; background checks, portability. 
  • HB 2092 DBHDS; background checks, persons providing contractual services. 
  • HB 2098 Southwestern Va. Mental Health Institute; Governor to lease a portion of property to Smyth County.
  • HB 2111 Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures, Task Force on; established, report. 
  • HB 2116 Funeral service licensees, etc.; priority for personal protective equipment and immunization, etc. 
  • HB 2117 Children’s Services Act; funds expended special education programs. 
  • HB 2124 COVID-19; DMAS shall deem testing, treatment, and vaccination to be emergency services. 
  • HB 2131 Alcoholic beverage control; license application, locality input. 
  • HB 2154 Hospitals, nursing homes, etc.; regulations, patient access to intelligent personal assistant. 
  • HB 2162 Medical care facilities; designated support persons for persons with disabilities. 
  • HB 2065 Produce Rx Program; Dept. of Social Services, et al., to develop a plan for a 3-yr. pilot Program. 
  • HB 2166 Involuntary admission; provisions governing involuntary inpatient & mandatory outpatient treatment. 
  • HB 2191 Social services, local departments of; investigations and family assessments, etc. 
  • HB 2197 Individuals w/ intellectual & developmental disabilities; DMAS to study use of virtual support, etc. 
  • HB 2206 Child Care Subsidy Program; expanding Program to serve more families.
  • HB 2212 Children’s Services Act; effective monitoring and implementation.
  • HB 2220 Surgical technologist; certification, use of title. 
  • HB 2222 Military medical personnel program; facilities that offer medical services to public, etc. 
  • HB 2230 Supported decision-making agreements; DBHDS to develop and implement a program, etc. 
  • HB 2039 Physician assistant; eliminates certain requirement for practice.
  • HB 2284 Driving privileges, certain; Commissioner of DMV to reinstate privileges and waive fees. 
  • HB 2300 Hospitals; emergency treatment for substance use-related emergencies. 
  • HB 2314 Special education; Bd. of Education to amend certain regulation. 

Privileges and Elections

Senate Privileges and Elections Committee:

  • SB 1097: Absentee voting; witness signature not required
  • SB 1111: Elections; preservation of order at the polls, powers of officers of election
  • SB 1148: Elections; date of June primary election
  • SB 1239: Absentee voting; third-party absentee ballot assembly and distribution
  • SB 1245: Absentee voting; establishment of drop-off locations preprocessing returned absentee ballots
  • SB 1281: General registrar; qualifications, residency
  • SB 1331: Absentee voting; accessibility for voters with a visual impairment or print disability
  • SB 1395: Discrimination; prohibited in voting and elections administration, etc
  • SJ 270: Constitutional amendment; marriage (first reference)

House Privileges and Elections Committee:

  • HB 1749 Nassawadox, Town of; amending charter, updates to reflect town’s shift of municipal elections. r.
  • HB 1810 Voter registration; failure of online voter registration system, deadline extension. 
  • HB 1838 Loudoun County school board; staggered terms of its members. 
  • HB 1858 Appomattox, Town of; amending charter, shifts local elections from May to November, etc. 
  • HB 1888 Absentee voting; procedural and process reforms, availability and accessibility reforms, penalty. 
  • HB 1890 Discrimination; prohibited in voting and elections administration, etc. 
  • HB 1921 Assistance for certain voters; curbside voting. 
  • HB 1968 Absentee voting; availability on Sundays in office of general registrar or voter satellite office.
  • HB 2020 Nomination of candidates for elected offices; restrictions on nomination method selected. 
  • HB 2081 Polling places; prohibited activities, unlawful possession of a firearm, penalty.
  • HB 2125 Voter registration; preregistration for persons 16 years of age or older, effective date. 
  • HB 2198 Local elections for governing bodies; elections for school boards, qualification of voters. 

Public Safety

House Public Safety Committee:

  • HB 1796 License plates, special; removes fee for issuance to Va. National Guard retirees.
  • HB 1894 Naloxone or other opioid antagonist; certain employees of DJJ authorized to administer.
  • HB 1895 Fines and costs; accrual of interest, deferral or installment payment agreements.
  • HB 1909 School board building or property, certain; establishment of gun-free zone permitted.
  • HB 2128 Firearms; criminal history record information check delay increased to five days.
  • HB 2216 Va. Missing Child w/ Autism Alert Program; renames Va. Missing Person w/ Autism Program.
  • HB 2258 Substantial Risk Order Registry; maintenance by State Police.
  • HB 2295 Firearm; carrying within Capitol Square and the surrounding area, state-owned bldgs.
  • HB 2310 Concealed handgun permits; demonstration of competence.

Rules

Senate Rules Committee:

  • B 1126 Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads; change in membership.
  • SB 1273 Behavioral Health Commission; created, report.
  • SB 1414 Henrietta Lacks Commission; extends sunset provision.
  • SB 1473 Health Insurance Reform Commission; mandated health insurance benefit or provider.
  • SJ 293 Assisted living and auxiliary grants; Joint Commission on Health Care to study available data.
  • SJ 294 JLARC; costs of education, report.

House Rules Committee:

  • HB 1990 Criminal justice legislation; racial and ethnic impact statements.
  • HB 2208 Harry F. Byrd, Sr., statue; removal from Capitol Square.
  • HB 2213 Gold; Secretary of Natural Resources, et al., to study mining and processing

Transportation

Senate Transportation Committee:

  • SB 1126 Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads; change in membership.
  • SB 1136 License plates, special; repeals issuance of certain plates.
  • SB 1144 Aircraft civil; registration and licensing.
  • SB 1160 Removal of vehicles involved in accidents; lien of keeper of vehicles.
  • SB 1212 New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority; creation of authority in Planning District 4.
  • SB 1214 Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; repeals effective date for creation of Authority.
  • SB 1229 License plates, special; issuance for supporters of Ducks Unlimited, fees.
  • SB 1253 Access roads to economic development sites; criteria for use of funds.
  • SB 1259 Virginia Highway Corporation Act; alteration of certificate of authority, powers and duties of SCC.
  • SB 1260 Transportation purposes; entry onto land for inspection.
  • SB 1277 Motor Vehicles, Department of, and Supreme Court of Virginia; repeals reporting requirement.
  • SB 1329 Summons; promises to appear after issuance.
  • SB 1335 Learner’s permits; use of personal communication devices, restrictions.
  • SB 1350 Transportation funding; statewide prioritization process, resiliency.
  • SB 1470 Vehicle registration; special communication needs indicator.

House Transportation Committee:

  • HB 1796 License plates, special; removes fee for issuance to Va. National Guard retirees.
  • HB 1801 Disposing of litter; penalty. 
  • HB 1813 Highway construction by state or local employees; limit.
  • HB 1828 Commissioner of DMV; powers and duties during a declared state of emergency. 
  • HB 1832 Virginia Highway Corporation Act; alteration of certificate of authority, powers and duties of SCC. 
  • HB 1841 Crosswalk design; Dept. of Transportation to convene work group to determine model policies. 
  • HB 1846 License restrictions for minors; prohibition on use of handheld personal communications devices. 
  • HB 1850 Motor vehicle weight limits; vehicles powered primarily by electric battery power, etc. 
  • HB 1851 Unmanned aircraft; exempts an owner from the requirement to register.
  • HB 1854 U.S. Route 29; county manager plan of government. 
  • HB 1868 Commercial driver’s licenses; disqualification for life from holding license, human trafficking. 
  • HB 1887 Foreign market vehicles; titling and registration. 
  • HB 1893 New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority; creation of authority in Planning District 4. 
  • HB 1895 Fines and costs; accrual of interest, deferral or installment payment agreements. 
  • HB 1901 Online Virginia Driver’s Manual course; training school. 
  • HB 1903 Local government; authority to reduce the speed limit in a business district or residence district. 
  • HB 1926 Central Virginia Transportation Authority; membership. 
  • HB 1960 Vehicle registration; special communication needs indicator. 
  • HB 1961 Special identification cards; application by guardian. 
  • HB 2024 Dept. of Transportation to work w/ Patrick County in constructing replica. 
  • HB 2069 License plates, special; cost of plates for recipients of military decorations. 
  • HB 2071 Transportation funding; statewide prioritization process, resiliency. 
  • HB 2075 Jefferson Davis Highway; renames any section of U.S. Route 1 to “Emancipation Highway.” 
  • HB 2138 Identification privilege cards; authorizes DMV to issue, fee, confidentiality, penalties. 
  • HB 2216 Va. Missing Child w/ Autism Alert Program; renames Va. Missing Person w/ Autism Program. 
  • HB 2261 License plates, special; removes fee for issuance to a member of the Virginia National Guard. 
  • HB 2262 Bicycles; traffic regulations, report. 
  • HB 2163 Motor Vehicles, Department of; limits the release of privileged information to government entities. 
  • HB 2269 Solar energy projects and energy storage systems; revenue share for projects and systems. 
  • HB 2284 Driving privileges, certain; Commissioner of DMV to reinstate privileges and waive fees. 
  • HB 2294 Vehicle’s odometer; disclosure exemption. 
  • HB 2318 Test driving vehicles; residence districts, civil penalty. 
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Virginia General Assembly 1Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619.

The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia’s clerk is known as the “Clerk of the Senate” (instead of as the “Secretary of the Senate”, the title used by the U.S. Senate).

Following the 2019 election, the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1996. They were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.

Here is an excellent concise summary  by Wyatt Gordon of how the Virginia General Assembly works.

Summary

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619.

The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia’s clerk is known as the “Clerk of the Senate” (instead of as the “Secretary of the Senate”, the title used by the U.S. Senate).

Following the 2019 election, the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1996. They were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.

Here is an excellent concise summary  by Wyatt Gordon of how the Virginia General Assembly works.

Capitol

Source: Wikipedia

The General Assembly meets in Virginia’s capital of Richmond. When sitting in Richmond, the General Assembly holds sessions in the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 and expanded in 1904. During the American Civil War, the building was used as the capitol of the Confederate States of America, housing the Congress of the Confederate States. The building was renovated between 2005 and 2006. Senators and Delegates have their offices in the General Assembly Building across the street directly north of the Capitol. The Governor of Virginia lives across the street directly east of the Capitol in the Virginia Executive Mansion.

History

Source: Wikipedia

The Virginia General Assembly is described as “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World”. Its existence dates to its establishment at Jamestown on July 30, 1619 by instructions from the Virginia Company of London to the new Governor Sir George Yeardley. It was initially a unicameral body composed of the Company-appointed Governor and Council of State, plus 22 burgesses elected by the settlements and Jamestown.

The Assembly became bicameral in 1642 upon the formation of the House of Burgesses. At various times it may have been referred to as the Grand Assembly of Virginia. The General Assembly met in Jamestown from 1619 until 1699, when it first moved to the College of William & Mary near Williamsburg, Virginia and later met in the colonial Capitol building. It became the General Assembly in 1776 with the ratification of the Virginia Constitution. The government was moved to Richmond in 1780 during the administration of Governor Thomas Jefferson.

Salary and qualifications

Source: Wikipedia

The annual salary for senators is $18,000. The annual salary for delegates is $17,640.

Under the Constitution of Virginia, Senators and Delegates must be 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly. Under the Constitution, “a senator or delegate who moves his residence from the district for which he is elected shall thereby vacate his office”.

The state constitution specifies that the General Assembly shall meet annually, and its regular session is a maximum of 60 days long in even-numbered years and 30 days long in odd-numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses . The governor of Virginia may convene a special session of the General Assembly “when, in his opinion, the interest of the Commonwealth may require” and must convene a special session “upon the application of two-thirds of the members elected to each house”.

Redistricting reform

Source: Wikipedia

Article II, section 6 on apportionment states, “Members of the … Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly. Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district.”  The Redistricting Coalition of Virginia proposes either an independent commission or a bipartisan commission that is not polarized. Member organizations include the League of Women Voters of Virginia, AARP of Virginia, OneVirginia2021, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Organizing Project. Governor Bob McDonnell’s Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting for the Commonwealth of Virginia made its report on April 1, 2011. It made two recommendations for each state legislative house that showed maps of districts more compact and contiguous than those adopted by the General Assembly.

In 2011, the Virginia College and University Redistricting Competition was organized by Professors Michael McDonald of George Mason University and Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University. About 150 students on sixteen teams from thirteen schools submitted plans for legislative and U.S. Congressional Districts. They created districts more compact than the General Assembly’s efforts. The “Division 1” maps conformed with the Governor’s Executive Order, and did not address electoral competition or representational fairness. In addition to the criteria of contiguity, equipopulation, the federal Voting Rights Act and communities of interest in the existing city and county boundaries, “Division 2” maps in the competition did incorporate considerations of electoral competition and representational fairness. Judges for the cash award prizes were Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.

In January 2015, Republican State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester and Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth sponsored a Senate Joint Resolution to establish additional criteria for the Virginia Redistricting Commission of four identified members of political parties, and three other independent public officials. The criteria began with respecting existing political boundaries, such as cities and towns, counties and magisterial districts, election districts and voting precincts. Districts are to be established on the basis of population, in conformance with federal and state laws and court cases, including those addressing racial fairness. The territory is to be contiguous and compact, without oddly shaped boundaries. The commission is prohibited from using political data or election results to favor either political party or incumbent. It passed with a two-thirds majority of 27 to 12 in the Senate, and was then referred to committee in the House of Delegates.

In 2015, at Vesilind v. Virginia State Board of Elections in a Virginia state court, plaintiffs sought to overturn the General Assembly’s redistricting in five House of Delegate and six state Senate districts as violations of both the Virginia and U.S. Constitutions because they failed to represent populations in “continuous and compact territory”.

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