On Saturday, the 2022 General Assembly Session adjourned “Sine Die” without an agreement on the biennial budget. Governor Youngkin is expected to call us into a special session, and the budget and a couple dozen bills in conference committees were carried over to that special session.
About a $3 billion difference in spending remains between the House and Senate budgets, which I summarized a few weeks ago. As I outlined in remarks on the Senate Floor last week, the Senate Budget makes generational investments in public education that will continue to break down disparities, better prepare our students, support our teachers and strengthen our economy moving forward.
The budget conferees continue to negotiate over the break between the regular and special session.
Beyond the budget, outstanding issues include:
- Legislation eliminating the sales tax on groceries and essential personal hygiene products;
- Remaining recommendations from the Commission on School Construction and Modernization to create a School Construction Fund and Program and strengthen school construction loans from the Literary Fund;
- Legislation expanding authority to create college partnership laboratory schools;
- Legislation creating the Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Center;
- Legislation to make the Board of Elections more independent;
- Legislation creating criminal penalties for hazing; and
- Legislation creating the Virginia Football Stadium Authority to finance a football stadium.
The Governor has until 11:59 pm on April 11th to act on about 840 bills that passed this session. We will reconvene on April 27th to address any vetoes or amendments.
To give my staff a break after their hard work during the session, my office will be closed today.
Twelve of the bills that I introduced this session passed the General Assembly with broad bipartisan support. Here is a summary of those bills:
SB 469 directs the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange to develop a budget and plan for enhanced marketing and navigator services. The Exchange was created by legislation I carried with Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax) in 2020. SB 469 is a recommendation of the Joint Commission on Health Care as part of its study addressing health insurance marketplace affordability in the individual market. Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) carried companion House legislation.
SB 474 allows judges to waive the appeal bond for eviction appeals, and provide indigent people with full legal rights in effort to stay in their homes. Under current law, indigent people must post an appeal bond when appealing an eviction for nonpayment in circuit court. Often, they are effectively prevented from appealing their eviction due to insufficient funds. Del. Jeffrey Bourne (D-Richmond) carried companion House legislation.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND PUBLIC SAFETY
SB 485 strengthens the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act (DPYDA), which focuses on funding prevention services for at-risk youth before they enter the juvenile justice system. The bill provides greater flexibility for localities, removing burdensome administrative responsibilities for localities to access DPYDA funding, and providing clearer guidelines for how localities could use the funding.
SB 493 helps protect Virginians from unsolicited intimate photographs sent digitally by establishing a civil penalty for an adult who knowingly sends an intimate image digitally to another adult who has not consented to or has expressly forbidden receipt of such image. SB 493 only applies to senders, recipients, and images involving individuals above the age of 18, as minors are protected by other laws. I worked on a bipartisan basis on this legislation with Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier), Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) and Dels. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach) and Carrie Coyner (R-Chesterfield). Read more here.
SB 658 requires that physical evidence recovery kits in Virginia be stored by law enforcement for 10 years, or, in the case of a minor victim, until 10 years after the victim turns 18. This bill ends an exemption requiring storage of physical evidence recovery kits for incidents that are categorized as “no crime occurred.” House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) carried House companion legislation. Read more here.
VIRGINIA HISTORY AND CULTURE
SB 477 expands eligibility for historic African-American cemeteries for maintenance and preservation support through the Virginia Historical African American Cemeteries and Graves Fund to those established before 1948. Currently, cemeteries established before 1900 are eligible for such funding. However, racially segregated cemeteries were not outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court until 1948. Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) carried House companion legislation. Learn more about how this bill will help cemeteries like Woodlawn Cemetery here.
SB 476 adds a representative of Richmond International Airport as a member of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA). The CVTA currently includes ex-officio members from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Port Authority, the airport Greater Richmond Transit Company, and the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Adding the airport provides the CVTA a more complete picture of regional transportation needs and issues. Del. McQuinn carried House companion legislation.
SB 478 authorizes the Capital Region Airport Commission – the entity that owns and operates Richmond International Airport – to make charitable donations and provide assistance to educational and charitable entities, organizations and programs. These endeavors will be designed to foster an appreciation by the public of the importance of aviation, assist the public in aviation travel, or help develop and educate the next generation of aviation professionals in the Commonwealth. Del. McQuinn carried House companion legislation.
SB 479 removes obsolete provisions from the health services sections of the Code of Virginia. This bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Code Commission.
SB 480 clarifies that under the Administrative Process Act, signed originals of final agency case decisions may be retained in an electronic medium. This bill also is a recommendation of the Virginia Code Commission.
Four of my bills that were in conference committee were carried over to the special session for consideration:
- SB 471 to adopt changes to the state Literary Fund to make more money available to local school divisions through loans with lower interest rates than currently allowed by law.
- SB 473 to create a School Construction Fund and Program to provide grants to school boards to finance school construction and modernization.
- SB 487 to establish the Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention at the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to work across public safety and public health sectors to collect data and publish reports on violence caused by firearms, including suicide. Read more here.
- SB 490 to set a new standard that increases the number of specialized student support positions – such as school social workers, school psychologists and school nurses – in schools across the Commonwealth.
As the daughter of Black educators who grew up during the Depression in the segregated South, Jenn was raised to understand that government can be a force for progressive change. She has spent 15 years in the state legislature representing the Richmond area, and working to break down barriers to opportunity for the people of Virginia. She has led generational progressive change in Virginia, including passing landmark laws to invest in education, increasing access to health care and protect reproductive rights, and making Virginia the first state in the South to pass a state-level Voting Rights Act.