Last week, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned Sine Die, marking the finish of a successful 2022 legislative session. Back in November, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates set an ambitious agenda for the Commonwealth. We came to Richmond with a clear mandate from Virginians fed up with overregulation, overtaxation, and hyper-partisanship: get results. With the partnership of Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares, that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Republicans have worked to empower parents and students, strengthen our schools, grow and maintain Virginia’s thriving business community, lower taxes on essential goods and services for families, and help workers keep more of their hard-earned cash. Meanwhile, Democrats have insisted on the status quo and openly bragged about blocking legislation that Virginians want and need.
In spite of the road blocks, we’ve accomplished a lot for Virginia. I’m proud of that work, and I’m proud to represent the 29th District in the House of Delegates. There is still a lot to be done, but with the will of people from all over the Commonwealth behind us, we can’t and won’t fail.
Setting Virginia’s budget for the next two years is the primary responsibility of the General Assembly, and I’m disappointed to say that we did not get that work accomplished in our constitutionally allotted 60 day window.
House Republicans came to Richmond to get this work done. It should have been easy. Virginia’s finances are flush with cash, and there’s broad agreement on things that need to be in our budget – raises for teachers, more money for schools and law enforcement. But Democrats in the Senate decided to drag the process out and end the session with no budget rather than send significant money back to Virginians in the form of tax relief.
The House version of the budget – which the Senate has rejected – contained $5 billion in tax relief that Virginians need and deserve, including tax rebates of up to $300 for every tax filer and up to $600 for couples. We ended the grocery tax and doubled the standard income tax deduction to put more money back in your paycheck. We also exempted the first $40,000 in veteran retirement benefits from income taxes.
Governor Youngkin will call us back to Richmond in the near future to finish this work in the form of a special session, but rest assured, we will not stop fighting for this important tax relief.
America is in crisis. With inflation reaching record levels and gas prices soaring, Virginians are struggling every day to get to school and work, and to buy groceries and other essentials their families need.
Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Administration projects that Virginia’s surplus during the next budget cycle will reach $13.4 billion. House Republicans are working to return over $5 billion to Virginia taxpayers in the form of tax relief. Virginians work hard, and they deserve to keep more of the money that they’ve earned.
Unfortunately, Democrats don’t see it that way. Even in spite of the economic hardship Virginians are facing at the hands of bad Democratic policy-making, they argued against the House Republican Majority’s tax relief plan in the House of Delegates.
We advanced and I supported a number of bills during this General Assembly session that give Virginians much-needed tax relief, but the Democratic-controlled Senate refused to budge.
For example, with HB 90, House Republicans fought to eliminate Virginia’s grocery tax. With HB 935, we worked to offer individual filers a tax rebate of up to $300 and joint filers a tax rebate of up to $600. We supported a temporary suspension of gas tax hikes in the Commonwealth with HB 1144, a measure Democrats blocked while disingenuously calling on the Governor to provide reprieve from soaring gas-prices. And we made efforts to double the standard deduction for Virginia tax filers with HB 472 — another tax relief measure Democrats declined to advance.
I believe that when Virginians do well, Virginia does well, and I won’t stop fighting to make sure that Virginians are in control of how their hard-earned money is spent.
When we ran for office in 2021, our Republican team made a commitment to undo as much of the damage done by Democrats as quickly as possible. Much of the damage they did was in the area of public safety. They worked tirelessly to let more dangerous felons out of prison early and to treat police like criminals.
I’m proud to say that our Republican team passed a number of bills that would have reversed that trend. Our caucus passed legislation that makes the troubled Parole Board much more transparent, ensuring that any votes cast to release a felon from prison will be done publicly.
For instance, in partnership with Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares, Republicans ushered HB 283 through the House and the Senate, and with it, strengthened Virginia’s capacity to identify and prevent human trafficking in the Commonwealth. The legislation requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish training standards for law-enforcement personnel regarding the recognition, prevention, and reporting of human trafficking.
Unfortunately, Democrats still control the state Senate, and in many cases they made good on their promise to be a ‘brick wall’ against our efforts at course correction. They blocked legislation that would have repealed a “good behavior” system in our prisons that would let dozens of killers and other violent criminals out of jail this summer, rather than completing their sentences.
We will not stop working to keep Virginians safe by keeping dangerous felons where they belong – behind bars. However, it’s clear that it will take another election and Republicans back in control of the Senate of Virginia to make that happen.
When we began knocking on doors for the last campaign, the number of worried and angry parents who wanted to see major changes in education was striking. At door after door, we heard the same thing – our kids need to be in school, in person, and parents need to have a say in what they’re being taught.
What happens in Virginia’s schools determines Virginia’s future, and we owe it to parents and students to make certain students are getting a top-notch education in a safe and secure environment.
That’s why education was such a huge part of the House Republican agenda during the 2022 legislative session, and we made significant strides toward restoring parental rights, protecting students, revitalizing schools, and making certain Virginia schools are the strongest in the nation.
We set the tone for the national conversation about parental rights and masks in schools by passing SB 739, and putting decisions about whether or not students wear masks at school back in the hands of their parents.
Republicans were also successful in restoring race-blind admissions to our Governor’s Schools around the Commonwealth. Despite recent events in Fairfax County, it will soon be illegal to discriminate against any child for admission on the basis of their race, gender, or other characteristics. Merit and merit alone should determine who gets into our best schools.
No child can learn when the roof over their head is leaking. We proudly voted to fund a loan program that will leverage $2 billion in new school construction and repair. Senate Democrats disagree with us on this common sense measure to fix our crumbling schools, and it remains in limbo as part of the ongoing budget negotiations. Nonetheless we will continue to fight to see this become law.
We also made certain that parents know what their students are learning by passing SB 656, legislation that will ensure parents are notified when students are assigned explicit materials, and requires them to be assigned alternate materials if parents object.
Republicans also supported HB 346, legislation that expands opportunities for learning by setting aside funds for laboratory schools in conjunction with Virginia’s universities.
Finally, we’ve made changes to the law that will ensure students have the safest possible learning environment. With HB 4, we reinstated the requirement that school officials report certain violent, sexual, or other egregious misdemeanor crimes to law enforcement and to parents. We also passed SB 649, which requires that schools are notified when one of their students is arrested for certain serious offenses. These provisions are common-sense ways to keep our students safe and our parents and school officials in the know.
Further, we were successful in beginning the process of placing resource officers in every Virginia school. HB 873 requires that every local law enforcement agency – if their local schools don’t have resource officers – to train and designate at least one officer to serve as the liaison to schools, effectively creating a ‘resource officer on call’ for those districts that may not be able to afford them at this time.
The version of the budget that the House passed also includes well-deserved pay increases for Virginia teachers, including a 4 percent raise and a 1 percent bonus during each year of the biennium. Unfortunately, with Democrats stalling on the budget, that raise has yet to go into effect.
When Democrats left the General Assembly in 2021, they left a mess in regards to marijuana. They legalized possession of up to a pound of marijuana, but with no legal way to purchase it. They allowed people to grow up to four plants, but didn’t legalize the purchase of seeds.
They also created a broken framework that would have not only legalized retail sales, but would have given those with prior convictions for drug sales first chance at retail sales licenses. Our caucus looked at this mess and realized that we had to start over. If Virginia is to have legal marijuana sales, it must be done in a controlled, safe manner.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ mess left stores selling dangerous, unregulated drug products like “Delta-8” THC, a variant of the active drug in marijuana, to the public in a completely unregulated manner. Stores selling gummies, candies, and other child-appealing items loaded with intoxicants popped up all over Virginia.
We passed legislation that will put an end to these sales and ensure that retail sales of intoxicants – if they happen at all in the future – will be done in a safe, controlled manner that protects our communities.
After two years of COVID-19 closures and other mitigation measures, and now, a labor shortage and surging inflation, businesses and workers in Virginia need advocates in Richmond. It’s clear that overregulation, over-taxation, and government meddling have created nothing but trouble for the business community.
House Republicans are changing that.
One of our top priorities during the 2022 General Assembly legislative session has been to pull back the reins on out-of-control bureaucracy in Virginia.
We believe in rewarding good business decisions, not punishing them. We believe in incentivizing growth, not crushing it.
Under new Republican leadership, we spent this session working to make it easier for leaders in business, entrepreneurship, and economic developers to make certain Virginia is the best place in the country to live, work, and raise a family.
Following a “Day One” Executive Order by Governor Glenn Youngkin, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board voted to end the COVID-19 the inflexible and outdated COVID standards that had been in place for employers during much of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Republicans worked to pass legislation that will limit the emergency powers of any Virginia Governor, regardless of political party. HB 158 limits emergency orders to 45 days and requires the General Assembly to approve before the Governor can reissue the same rule, regulation, or order. Gone are the days when the Commonwealth’s executive branch can unilaterally declare a state of emergency with no end in sight.
Further, with HB 1301, we acted to help families who are struggling to cover the cost of energy by advancing legislation that would end Virginia’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Even advocates of RGGI admit that it fails to do the one thing it was created to do: reduce carbon emissions. Instead, it’s counted as a success by its advocates because of the cash it brings into the Commonwealth’s coffers. RGGI is a tax parading as a “free market solution.” Virginia needs real solutions. Not more taxes.
In that same vein, the House advanced legislation (HB 118) to roll back the so-called Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), a “green” measure that makes life a lot more expensive for Virginians (just as gas prices are sky-rocketing). What’s become clearer than ever during recent months is that the Commonwealth of Virginia and the whole of the United States need to embrace an all-of-the-above approach to energy, both as a savings measure and as a national security measure. According to State Corporation Commission estimates, the VCEA means that the average Virginia family pays $800 more each year in energy costs. That’s a price many Virginians, including our most vulnerable, can’t afford to pay.
As Democrats embrace a top-down, one-size-fits all approach to government, I’ll continue to fight for the rights of community and business leaders, and I’ll make sure your voice is heard.
Farmers are constantly on the receiving end of complaints about water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, as more urban areas seek to regulate how our farms operate. It’s not fair to ask farms to bear the costs of cleaning up the Bay on their own. That’s why our budget fully funds the Best Management Practices program with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This budget puts more money toward helping farmers pay to keep cattle out of streams and other best practices than any budget in recent history.
The House and Senate passed HB 206, legislation that preserves the integrity of prime agricultural soils, forest land, and other natural and historic resources by requiring applicants for certain solar and energy storage projects to analyze environmental impacts and — when necessary — submit a plan to mitigate any harmful impacts.
House Republicans believe that we can move Virginia toward a more sustainable future by empowering innovators, embracing free-market solutions (that don’t put the burden on the shoulders of taxpayers), and by supporting policies that make Virginia a hub for clean energy industries and jobs. The House budget also includes, for instance, $5 million for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to develop a Wind Industry Supply Chain Grant Fund to support recruitment of a supply chain industry to Virginia for the offshore wind industry.
Democrats in the Senate were adamant that they would not budge on any matters related to life. That being the case, our House team made a decision to push forward on legislation that we thought would be impossible for anyone to oppose.
The House brought forward HB 744, legislation that would make the killing of an unborn baby in an altercation or through some other reckless behavior by someone other than the mother a class 5 felony. Senate Democrats blocked it.
House Republicans advanced legislation (HB 212) that would have restored informed consent requirements for women seeking an abortion. It didn’t establish a waiting period, or require an ultrasound – it simply required women to be given information about what they were about to do. Democrats blocked it.
Worst of all, Senate Democrats blocked legislation that didn’t even deal with abortion. HB 304 mandated medical care be given to a baby that survived an attempted abortion. Remarkably, this legislation – that provided for care for a child who was outside the womb – was still too much for Democrats.
I am pro-life, and I will not stop fighting to protect the unborn. That’s why it’s so important that when the General Assembly is on the ballot again in 2023 that we flip the Senate and expand our Republican majority in the House.
If I can be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelBWiley@house.virginia.gov. You can also follow me on my Facebook page keep up to date with everything we have going on.
Until next week,
Delegate Bill Wiley
Virginia House of Delegates – 29th District
Richmond Office: (804) 698-1029
900 E. Main Street
4th Floor, Room 415
Richmond, VA 23219
District Office: 804-698-1029 or 540-686-1771
P.O. Box 2034
Winchester, VA 22812
Obenshain: New laws in Virginia that take effect July 1
With the approach of July, I wanted to provide you with an update on new laws that are taking effect as well as an update on the Commonwealth’s budget.
Every year, the General Assembly passes bills during Session which starts in early January and goes for either 45 days or 60 days depending on if it’s a budget year or not. If bills pass the legislature, they go to the Governor and if he signs them into law, most will go into effect on July 1 of that year.
Additionally, every two years (on even-numbered years), the General Assembly passes the Commonwealth’s two-year budget which is then amended or signed by the Governor. Governor Youngkin recently sent back a short list of amendments on which the General Assembly then voted and on Wednesday, he signed the budget for the next two years.
Below is a list of some of the most notable and important items that will go into effect as well as items that would have been good for Virginians but were not passed this year.
• The budget included $4.2 billion in tax relief in the form of one-time tax rebates, a reduction in the grocery tax, tax relief for veterans, and an increase in the standard deduction.
• $730 million was included for over two years for salary raises for teachers.
• Law enforcement officers are receiving $113 million in overdue salary increases.
• $45M in additional funds to support placing an SRO in schools that do not currently have one.
• The grocery tax was partially repealed. Despite pledging their support for its full repeal for years, the Democrats balked and would agree only to reduce it from 2.5 cents to 1 cent.
• Although my bill to expand the ability to open charter schools failed, the House and Senate passed a bill to allow for lab schools to be started in conjunction with colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.
• The House and Senate passed legislation that would make the votes of the Virginia Parole Board subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
• A bill requiring school principals to report to law enforcement and parents criminal offenses passed the House and Senate and was signed into law.
• On March 1, Youngkin signed an order that ended school mask mandates statewide. You can read more about it here.
• A bill requiring parental notification about sexually explicit material in schools passed the General Assembly.
• Senate Democrats defeated a number of bills that would have rolled back gun control efforts passed in past years by progressives. I outlined them in my update here.
• My bill that would have reinstated Virginia’s photo ID requirement in order to vote was defeated in the Senate.
If you have any questions about laws that are going to be taking effect in July or any bills that did not make it out of the General Assembly this year, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warner & Kaine applaud Senate passage of Legislation to extend child nutrition waivers
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the Senate passage of legislation to extend critical COVID-era school lunch flexibilities that have prevented children all over the country from going hungry during the summer and throughout the school year. The passage of the Keep Kids Fed Act comes just one week before waivers are set to expire, imposing cumbersome restrictions on parents just as summer break kicks off.
“Parents across Virginia are facing higher costs across the board – the last thing they need right now is to lose the commonsense flexibilities that have made it easier for them to keep their kids fed. We’re very proud to have voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will extend these flexibilities and help keep food insecurity at bay. We hope that the House will pass this bill expeditiously and send it to the President’s desk for approval,” said the senators.
The Keep Kids Fed Act will:
- Extend flexibilities for summer meals in 2022 by waiving area eligibility so summer providers can serve all children for free and continuing options like meal delivery and grab-and-go.
- Extend some of the administrative and paperwork flexibilities for schools through the 2022-23 school year.
- Allow students with a family income at or below 185 percent of the poverty level to qualify for free or reduced-cost meals for the 2022-23 school year.
- Increase the reimbursement rate for school lunch and school breakfast to help offset the increased cost of food and operating expenses. Schools will receive an additional 40 cents for each lunch and 15 cents for each breakfast served.
Provide an additional 10 cents per meal or snack for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) daycares and home providers, and expand eligibility to more providers. When combined, these actions will help offset increased costs for providers.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about the need to ensure that children have continuous access to healthy meals. They have expressed alarm about the imminent expiration of the child nutrition waivers and recently pushed Senate leadership to extend these flexibilities before the waivers expire. In April, they introduced the Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act – similar legislation to grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) additional flexibility so that schools and summer meal sites can stay open.
Warner and Kaine: On passage of Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – landmark legislation to curb gun violence in the wake of horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, and cities across the nation:
“Virginians know all too well the pain of gun violence—pain no one should have to experience. While nothing can bring back a life lost to gun violence, we are hopeful that the reasonable measures advanced through this bill will help curb the plague of shootings that continue to haunt American communities. We will continue to work to build on today’s milestone by advocating for additional measures to protect our neighborhoods from further senseless attacks. In the meantime, we urge our colleagues in the House to move quickly so that this bill can start saving lives.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes similar provisions to those proposed by Sens. Warner and Kaine in their Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence—a bill they introduced last year based on a series of commonsense measures adopted by Virginia. These provisions include improving background checks, strengthening safeguards for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement their own Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.
Warner statement on Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the federal constitutional right to abortion in America:
“This decision jeopardizes the health and autonomy of millions of American women and turns back the clock on nearly 50 years of settled and reaffirmed law – reflecting a Court that has increasingly issued politicized rulings that undermine the fundamental rights of Americans. This decision will take control over personal health care decisions away from individuals and give it to politicians in state legislatures across the country. I am heartbroken for the generations of women who now have fewer rights than when they were born, many of whom will be forced into life-threatening or prohibitively expensive circumstances to access health care as a result of this radical decision. For them and for all Virginians and Americans, I will continue working to protect needed access to safe, legal abortion.”
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion. The Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade means that after nearly 50 years, this freedom is no longer guaranteed nationwide, and more than half of states are expected to ban or harshly limit access to abortion following today’s ruling. In several states, there will be no exceptions for women who become pregnant through rape or incest or in cases where abortion is necessary to protect the health of the woman.
Overturning Roe v. Wade also opens the door for states to attempt to restrict or ban common birth control methods such as Plan B or intrauterine devices.
Kaine statement on Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On June 24, 2022, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the Constitution “does not confer a right to abortion,” overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey:
“I am deeply disturbed that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upsetting decades of precedent protecting the right of women to make fundamental personal decisions about contraception and abortion without unnecessary government interference. That’s why I’ve been engaged in efforts in the Senate to codify the basic framework of Roe v. Wade and related cases into federal law. We’re not going to give up on the fight to protect the right to choose.”
Warner and Kaine announce $9 million in federal funding for affordable housing in Virginia
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced the designation of $9,000,000 in federal funding to three Virginia-based organizations helping to provide affordable housing and services to low-income individuals. The funds were administered by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund through the department’s Capital Management Fund.
“Affordable, safe housing should be available to every Virginian,” the senators said. “This funding will allow Virginia organizations to continue their crucial work of securing housing for those in need.”
The funds will be broken down as follows:
• $5,000,000 for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Inc. in Arlington, VA.
• $2,000,000 for AHC Inc. in Arlington, VA.
• $2,000,000 for the Piedmont Housing Alliance in Charlottesville, VA.
This funding comes in addition to the nearly $115 million in funding for affordable housing in Virginia announced earlier this year. Sens. Warner and Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, have long supported efforts to increase affordable housing in Virginia. The Senators have introduced legislation that would address rising home prices, assist first-generation homebuyers, and close the widening wealth and homeownership gaps. Also, Kaine led the introduction of the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022, which would expand protections under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to include banning discrimination based on source of income, giving more individuals and families access to affordable housing, and a shot at economic mobility.
Sen. Warner has also been a leader in Congress for CDFI investment. To combat the hemorrhaging of jobs and economic opportunities during the pandemic, Sen. Warner led a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act. Sen. Warner was later able to secure provisions from the bill in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, providing an unprecedented $12 billion in funding for CDFIs. Last week, Sen. Warner introduced legislation to help unlock more equity and long-term financial capital for CDFIs to boost economic growth in low-income communities.