The General Assembly kicked off the 2023 session on Wednesday. This is an odd year, so it’s a short session, scheduled to last 30 days (but in past years has sometimes been extended to 45 days). Democrats hold a slightly larger majority than last session, 22-18, after a special session win by Aaron Rouse, who flipped the district Sen. Kiggans formerly held. That’s going to be critical, as Governor Youngkin attempts to enact an abortion ban in Virginia.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Senator Hashmi asks Senator DeSteph if the premise of his bill to require parental consent for checking out “challenged, controversial” material from the school library is that “our school librarians are not doing what they are trained to do, using professional guidelines to. find age-appropriate materials?”
What Democrats vs Republicans are prioritizing
DEMOCRATS: Constitutional Amendment resolution affirming that every person has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom. (HJ519, Del. Herring; SJ255, Sen. McClellan); Protect reproductive data from unauthorized sale/dissemination (SB1243, Sen. Surovell).
REPUBLICANS: 15-week abortion ban, makes it a felony for a doctor to perform. (HB2278, Del. Byron; SB1385, Sen. Newman); Pregnant women register with EZ-Pass and count as two people for driving in HOV lanes (HB1894, Del. Freitas); Life begins at conception (HB1395, Del. March; SR87, Sen. Chase)
DEMOCRATS: Safe storage in residence where minors are present (SB1139, Sen. Boysko; HB2350, Del. Simon); Assault weapon bans (SB1192, Sen. Ebbin; HB2240, Del. Helmer); Mandatory waiting period (HB2273, Del. Hayes); ban sales of unserialized firearms (SB1181, Sen. Ebbin)
REPUBLICANS: Concealed carry handgun permit not required (HB1801, Del. Freitas; HB1393, Del. March); Repeal localities’ bans on carrying loaded firearms in public spaces and buildings (HB1428, Del. LaRock; SB1236, Sen. Obenshain); Repeal ban on dangerous weapons in churches and places of worship (HB2320, Del. E. Campbell)
DEMOCRATS: Constitutional Amendment resolution affirming a fundamental right to vote and that a person’s right to vote shall be automatically restored following release from incarceration for a felony. (SJ223, Sen. Locke; HJ520, Del. Herring)
REPUBLICANS: Repeal same day voter registration, bring back voter photo ID law, cut absentee voting period to 7 days. (HB2234, Del. Wachsmann; HB1467, Del. Wyatt; HB1847, Del. LaRock; HB1444, Del. Ware; SB884, Sen. Chase; SB900, Sen. McDougle; SB968, Sen. Peake; SB880, Sen. McDougle).
DEMOCRATS: Prohibit public procurement of single-use plastics and styrofoam, and allow localities to prohibit their sale/distribution (SB1012, Sen. Edwards); Create Electric Vehicle Rural Infrastructure Program and Fund (HB1588, Del. Sullivan); Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Tax Credit (HB1790, Del. Reid).
REPUBLICANS: Take Virginia out of RGGI and repeal Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act (SB1001, Sen. Stuart); Repeal Virginia Clean Cars Act (SB778, Sen. Stuart; and numerous others); Eliminate State Water Control Board reporting on toxins in waters (HB1623, Del. Wright).
DEMOCRATS: Revise Standards of Quality to lower pupil-counselor rate, pupil-ESL teacher rate, pupil-administrator rate, add teacher mentoring (SB1325, Sen. McClellan; HB2111, Del. Bourne); Require competitive pay rates for SOQ-funded positions (SB1215, Sen. Lucas; SB157, Sen Hashmi; HB1566, Del. Rasoul); Add mental health curriculum to public schools (SB818, Sen. Spruill)
REPUBLICANS: Constitutional Amendment creating charter schools (SJ254, Sen. Obenshain); School Choice Educational Savings Accounts to defund public schools (HB1396, Del. March; SB1290;HB1371, Del. P. Scott; Sen. DeSteph; SB1191, Sen. Reeves).
DEMOCRATS: Reform jail commissary over-charging (HB2039, Del. Shin; HB1914, Del. Hope; SB889, Sen. Morrissey); Second Chances bill, creating process to petition for judicial sentence modification (SB842, Sen. Petersen)
REPUBLICANS: Bring back known to be racially-biased traffic stops for secondary offenses like tinted windows, dangling air fresheners, etc. (HB1380, Del. Campbell; HB1445, Del. Wyatt; HB1703, Del. Durant; SB1010, Sen. DeSteph; SB875, Sen. McDougle); Bring back presumption of guilty until proven innocent in bail decisions (HB1365, Del. Williams; SB1229, Sen Obenshain);
DEMOCRATS: Extend Virginia Minimum Wage Act coverage to apply to workers with disabilities who are exempt under Federal Fair Labor laws (HB1924, Del. Hope).
REPUBLICANS: Exclude workers under 18 from Virginia Minimum Wage Act (HB1669, Del. Marshall).
And the differences don’t stop here, with Democrats fighting for fair housing laws, renters’ rights, sick leave for grocery workers and others, protecting LGBTQ+ rights and stopping bullying, marriage equality, and lots more. And Republicans mostly fighting to roll back progress and deprive Virginians of their rights. We hope you’ll follow along and make your voice heard this session as always!
If any of the above bills are important to you, now is the time to contact your legislators and tell them how this bill affects you and your family. Contact information for Delegates and Senators can be found HERE; if you aren’t sure who represents you, put your address in HERE to find out.
Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network
PO Box 2612, Merrifield Virginia 22116-2612 United States