April was a busy month, the General Assembly returned to Richmond for the 2022 Reconvene Session. Also known as “veto session”, we meet to vote on legislation that the Governor has vetoed or issued recommendations for in the form of amendments or substitutes. See below for a recap of the day, an update on the 2022 Special Session, and other updates and news from across the Commonwealth and the 93rd district.
2022 Reconvene Session – General Assembly Returns to Richmond
Last Wednesday the General Assembly met in Richmond for the 2022 Reconvene Session. This is a constitutionally required session on the 6th or 7th Wednesday following the adjournment of the Regular Session. Legislators typically meet for one day to consider legislation from the 2022 Regular Session that was amended or vetoed by the Governor but can last as long as three days. We were on the floor on Wednesday for about 8 hours, and fortunately, were able to finish all of our work in just one day.
The House of Delegates sustained all 26 of the Governor’s vetoes, preventing the bills from becoming law. You can see a list of all vetoed legislation online here. The General Assembly has the power to override the Governor’s veto with a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate. While several bills were contested, the required threshold was not met. Below is a list of a few of the bipartisan bills the Governor vetoed from becoming law.
- HB573 — This bill would have created a three-year statute of limitations for medical debt. Medical debt haunts thousands of Virginia families, and this would have ensured that your wages can’t be garnished for a procedure from 20 years ago.
- HB802 — This bill would have allowed localities to enforce laws related to rental maintenance, safety, and repairs. This would help protect Virginia tenants from unfit living conditions that pose a threat to their health and safety.
- HB675 — Would have lowered premiums by up to 4.5% and reduced the number of uninsured by up to 14,000 by eliminating the authority of health insurers to charge a surcharge for tobacco use. This bill was also a bipartisan recommendation by the Joint Commission on Health Care.
The General Assembly also considered legislation that was amended by the Governor through recommendations. Virginia’s Governor has more power in the legislative process compared to other states, as the Governor can issue line-item vetoes and amendments or substitutions that can significantly change the legislation that originally passed the House and Senate. The Governor’s recommendations can be severed — individual provisions are broken up and voted on individually — or voted on together as one recommendation.
A number of the Governor’s recommendations were uncontested. This is common, as the Governor’s office can also serve as a third check on legislation, offering minor amendments to slightly modify or clarify provisions of the bill. However, other recommendations drew greater debate, including SB591. The bill was intended to crack down on the untested and often illegal products made with synthetic THC manufactured from industrial hemp, however, the Governor sent down recommendations that would have established new criminal penalties for possession of cannabis over 2 ounces. The Senate sent the bill to committee, effectively killing the legislation for this year.
Update on Special Session and Governor Youngkin’s Gas Tax Proposal
While we met on Wednesday for the 2022 Reconvene Session, we are also still in the middle of a Special Session to finish work on the 2022-2024 budget, outstanding bills from the Regular Session, and the Governor’s new legislative proposal on a gas tax holiday.
If you are confused about the coinciding sessions, you are not alone. When the General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 12th, we carried over the budget bills as well as a few outstanding pieces of legislation that needed more time for the House and Senate to reach a compromise. On Wednesday, both chambers met on the floor to only consider legislation that passed by March 12th, and that the Governor had amended through recommendations or vetoed. While we are still in a special session, we did not consider provisions related to the budget, legislation that was carried over into the special session, or the Governor’s new gas tax proposal.
However, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee met on Wednesday morning before we gaveled in to vote on the Senate version of the Governor’s gas tax holiday proposal, SB6001. The House Finance Committee, which I serve on, met on Monday, April 19th to consider the house proposal, HB6001. The bills are identical, and if passed, would establish a statewide gas tax holiday from May through July, and a reduced tax rate in August (50%) and September (25%).
The Senate bill was defeated on Wednesday morning on a bipartisan vote of 12Y – 3N. The proposal, however, is still alive in the House. The House Finance Committee voted to refer the bill to the House Appropriations Committee, after rejecting a Democratic substitute that would have provided a $50 rebate to every driver in Virginia (up to $100 per household) to cover the rising cost of gas.
Peninsula State & Local Officials Join Together in Support of the Senate Budget
On Thursday, April 14th, elected officials from across the Peninsula held a press conference to speak about their support of the Senate budget, which focuses on public education and economic relief for working families – such as the Earned Income Tax Credit which puts more money in the hands of working families, affordable housing, greater pay raises for teachers and funding for at-risk schools.
Local governments and school divisions are staring down their own budget deadlines and the inaction in Richmond has left them hanging, unable to make necessary decisions. Despite this, Governor Youngkin and House are willing to bring the budget process to a stop rather than funding these critical items for Virginia families.
Senator Mason’s 8th Annual College Creek Clean-up
Each year around Earth Day the boys and I do Senator Mason’s College Creek Cleanup at the end of New Hope Road in Williamsburg. It’s always great to come together as a community and work to keep our environment and waterways clean!
Commending The Newport News Public Library
It was an honor to present HJR 749 from 2021 to Anita N. Jennings, Director Newport News Public Library (NNPLB). In 2020 the NNPLB received an Innovations Initiative Honorable Mention from the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) annually recognizes member library systems for implementing cutting-edge programs, strategies, tools, techniques, and ideas. The ULC honored NNPLB in the category of digital citizenship for establishing a mobile Wi-Fi program that brought connectivity to areas of Newport News with limited Internet access. Even with its library branches closed due to the pandemic, the NNPLB’s mobile Wi-Fi program identified areas in the city with little to no access to the Internet, staff with the NNPLB drove Wi-Fi hotspots to designated, pre-announced locations, enabling up to 30 simultaneous users to use the Internet for hours at a time.
In the News
The Virginian-Pilot: New drug treatment center opens to serve Newport News area
The Virginia Gazette: Williamsburg holds groundbreaking ceremony for new fire station
WY Daily: Riverside to Open Region’s First Standalone Psychiatric Emergency Department
WAVY 10: State & local officials rally behind VA Senate budget as stalemate continues
The New York Times: Supreme Court Highlights: Senate Confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson
As always, thanks for reading! Keep connected with our office by calling (757) 525-9526, emailing DelMMullin@house.virginia.gov, or @mikemullin4va on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If my office can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us!