2022 General Assembly Session Update – Volume 1
January 17, 2022
Last week, the 2022 Virginia General Assembly Session convened for 60 days with a new House Republican majority under the leadership of Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert. We also said farewell to Governor Ralph Northam, who delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address outlining the incredible accomplishments we made over the past four years. You can watch his speech here or read it here.
Saturday saw the inauguration of Glenn Youngkin as the 74th Governor of Virginia, Winsome Sears as Lieutenant Governor, and Jason Miyares as Attorney General. You can read Governor Youngkin’s inaugural address here.
Governor Youngkin addressed the General Assembly this afternoon at 4 pm. You watch his address here.
Governor Youngkin and House Republicans have wasted no time seeking to roll back the progress we’ve made on a number of issues. In his first act, Governor Youngkin signed 11 executive actions that signal his commitment to roll back progress on educational equity, keeping state employees, school children and staff safe from COVID, and addressing climate change. Many of his actions are beyond his authority as Governor, such as his unilateral attempt to undermine local school division mask mandates and to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Moreover, his order banning critical race theory from public schools is meaningless, since critical race theory is not part of any public school curriculum in Virginia. In short, the Governor cannot undo by executive order laws passed by the General Assembly or local school supervision adopted by local school boards.
House and Senate Republicans have already introduced bills to repeal or undermine the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the Reproductive Health Protection Act, parts of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, laws making it easier to vote and address gun violence, future increases in the minimum wage, and laws allowing individuals to present evidence of mental health conditions in criminal trials. I am confident Senate Democrats will hold the line against these efforts to roll back progress Virginia has made over the past two years.
I want to hear your feedback on the issues likely to come before the legislature. If you haven’t yet taken my legislative survey, please take a few minutes to do so.
As mentioned last week, my 2022 legislative package focuses on investing in Virginia communities, families, and schools as they build back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, I joined Delegates Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach) and Carrie Coyner (R-Chesterfield) for a press conference announcing our bipartisan bills to help prevent Virginians from receiving unsolicited lewd photos, the 21st century version of indecent exposure. We were joined by Payton Iheme, Head of Public Policy for North America/Latin America for Bumble and Jennifer Gaylor of The National Women’s Political Caucus of Virginia.
SB 493 and HB 334 establish a civil penalty ($250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses) for knowingly sending an unsolicited image by electronic means, directed to an adult. Minors are protected from such acts by other laws.
You can track the progress of my legislation here.
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have turned 93 this past Saturday. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Chair of the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, created by the General Assembly 30 years ago. During the Senate session, I gave remarks and moved to adjourn in the honor and memory of Dr. King, which you can watch here.
I also joined The 44th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders Awards to talk about the work of the Commission, particularly the Emancipation & Freedom Monument unveiled earlier this year, and the Fredericksburg Branch of the NAACP for their Martin L. King, Jr. Celebration to reflect on where we are in achieving Dr. King’s vision for a Beloved Community and where we go from here.
Dr. King understood the importance of voting to achieving the Beloved Community, stating in his 1957 speech “Give Us The Ballot” that “[t]he denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition.” That is why he worked so hard for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and why there is no better way to honor him than for Congress to pass The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and The Freedom to Vote Act. I joined Congressman Donald McEachin for a voting rights roundtable in honor of Dr. King’s commitment to voting rights this evening, which you can watch here.
Senate District 9 Town Hall Meeting
I am to be joined by Delegates Betsy Carr, Jeff Bourne, Delores McQuinn, and Dawn Adams, each of whom serve portions of Senate District 9.
We will also hear a COVID-19 update from Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments and former Virginia state vaccine liaison for the Virginia Department of Health.
To express your views on legislation or if you need help with a state agency, please reach out to me and my staff at [email protected] or (804) 698-7509. To keep up with all the action at the General Assembly throughout these next few weeks follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Until next week!