It’s hard to believe that the year is almost half over! Tomorrow is the beginning of Virginia’s new fiscal year, and that means many of the new laws we passed this past session will come into effect.
Likely the most important thing we did that takes effect on July 1 is the biennial budget, which allocates how the Commonwealth will spend more than $160 billion of our tax dollars. Fortunately, after some long, tough negotiations with Senate Democrats, we were able to return about $4 billion to the taxpayers, while still funding our critical needs like schools and law enforcement.
Some of the tax relief we passed includes:
Nearly doubling the standard income tax deduction from $9,000 to $16,000 for married couples, half that for individual filers.
A rebate of $250 per tax filer, $500 per couple paid directly to the taxpayer.
The end of the 1.5 percent state-share of the grocery tax, as of January 1, 2023.
We’ve also funded 10 percent raises for teachers, and major pay increases for our law enforcement officers and other hard-working state supported employees.
Here are some of the other important bills we passed and Governor Youngkin signed into law.
TIME LIMIT ON EXECUTIVE ORDERS
House Bill 158 limits the duration of any executive order issued by the Governor pursuant to his powers under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law to no more than 45 days.
House Bill 4 restores a requirement that school principals report serious misdemeanors such as sexual battery to law enforcement. Under a law passed by Democrats in 2020, administrators had discretion over whether or not these crimes would be reported to police.
House Bill 127 takes a big step toward rolling back racist admissions to our elite Governor’s Schools, returning them to a race-blind admissions process. Academic performance should be the only thing that matters, not where someone is from or the color of their skin.
Senate Bill 656 is one I’ve been fighting for since 2016. This bill requires the Department of Education to create guidelines for notifying parents when students will be taught from explicit materials, and provides an opt-out with different materials for parents who object. If the school will be teaching from a book that has explicit material, they have to inform parents and give parents a chance to review the materials and opt out their child.
New rules also go into effect requiring schools to have detailed safety audit plans, and at a bare minimum, a dedicated contact at the local law enforcement agency to handle any threats or dangerous situations that arise.
House Bill 927 requires that absentee ballots be reported as part of the precinct where they otherwise would have been cast. The net effect of this will be the end of late night ‘vote dumps’ that suddenly shift election outcomes, undercutting faith in our election system.
Senate Bill 80 and House Bill 205 (similar to my HB 1101) prohibit private money (like the infamous "Zuckerbucks") from influencing elections by funding official voter activities in localities.
House Bill 16 Provides an affirmative defense in certain criminal prosecutions and civil proceedings regarding child abuse or neglect to a parent who safely delivers his child within the first 30 days of the child's life to a newborn safety device located at a hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services or at an attended emergency medical services agency that employs emergency medical services personnel.
Senate Bill 163 Provides that any provision of a surrogacy contract requiring the surrogate mother to receive an abortion or "selective reduction" is against the public policy of the Commonwealth and is void and unenforceable. A few years ago, I spoke against the dangers of the underlying legislation, including concerns with the forced abortion provisions now fixed by SB163 (video here and here).
House Bill 1303 corrects a major oversight in our criminal justice system and brings the votes of our Parole Board into the sunlight. Until now, when the Board voted to release one of the few inmates who are still eligible for parole, they could do so in secret. Big decisions like this need to be made with public scrutiny.
Switchblade knives are legal again, just a few decades after the last documented rumble between the Sharks and the Jets.
On the law enforcement front, House Bill 283 created training standards for police officers to become more educated on how to recognize and prevent human trafficking, keeping more young people out of the hands of these monsters.
We also took action to correct some of the worst errors in the Democratic legislation that legalized marijuana. Small amounts of cannabis are still decriminalized, but the possession of more than four ounces of marijuana in public is now a Class 3 misdemeanor, with a $500 fine attached.
House Bill 763 changes the rules and regulations for charitable gaming, aka those machines run by places like the VFW and Moose Lodge that look like slot machines. The new law lets these charities continue to use these things to raise money, but puts an end to these fly-by-night pop-up mini-casinos that we’ve seen in strip malls all over Virginia.
TICKET QUOTAS BANNED
House Bill 750 bans police departments from issuing “ticket quotas” that require police officers to issue a certain number of traffic tickets in a fixed period of time. Tickets should be given when someone breaks the law, with no other motivation other than safety behind it.
Senate Bill 8 allows hunting on Sunday on public or private land, so long as it takes place more than 200 yards from a place of worship. Hunters who use dogs now have to have a collar with a tag attached that identifies the name of the owner of the dog and a current phone number.
Two of the bills I filed this year go into effect tomorrow - revisions to the Lovettsville Town Charter and a bill to help VDOT incident management vehicles respond to and help clear accidents on highways more efficiently.
Virginia drivers will be paying more at the pump tomorrow, as the gas tax rises to keep pace with inflation. House Democrats passed House Bill 1414 in 2020, which not only raised the gas tax 10 cents per gallon over the last two years, it also indexed the tax to ensure that it rises every July from now on. This year, that hike will be 7%, at a time when gas prices are at near record levels. Raising the gas tax at a time when families are already struggling to put gas in the tank is a bad idea, but that’s exactly what Democrats have voted to do. Not only did the bill authorizing the tax hikes pass in 2020 with no Republican votes, Democrats voted this month to kill Republican efforts to hold any increase to 2 percent. The contrast here is simple – Republicans voted to reduce the gas tax temporarily to give hard pressed families a break. Democrats voted to make gas more expensive.
OTHER NEW LAWS
These are just some of the new laws that take effect on July 1. A more comprehensive document called In Due Course is a selection of legislation passed by the 2022 Regular Session of the General Assembly that is likely to affect the daily lives of the citizens of Virginia. A PDF is available online here. Complete information on actions of the 2022 Regular Session is available on the LIS website here. As always, if I or my staff can be of any help to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It is my honor to be your voice in Richmond.