By Ashleigh Crocker
Whew! We survived another legislative session with a Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Governor Youngkin, who continues to improve his MAGA impression. We did some great work beating back bills that would have harmed our communities, and we even managed to pass a few good things! Here’s a rundown of what happened.
Good Bills That Passed!
Unfortunately, with a divided government, this list is pretty short, but there were still a few victories we can be proud of.
First up, in a win for transparency in government, Delegate Betsy Carr’s HB1738 passed, requiring that public meetings have a virtual access component going forward. This allows people who are at home, feeding their kids dinner to also show up to school board or other local government meetings to make their voice heard. This is a huge win because often it is hard for working families to make it to these meetings in person.
Next up are some wins for renters! HB1635, sponsored by Delegate David Bulova, passed and will allow tenants to get a full refund if they move into a new house or apartment and find that it is uninhabitable. That seems pretty basic, but renters have had to fight tooth and nail just to live in a place that is safe for their families. We also passed HB1702 which requires certain kinds of landlords to provide at least 60 days notice before they can increase the rent. Again, something pretty basic, but not something that has been protected before, so I’m calling both of these bills a win for sure!
Finally, in a win for utility regulation, we passed Senator Jennifer McClellan’s SB1321. This empowers the SEC, the commission responsible for regulating our utility monopolies like Dominion Power and Appalachian Electric Power, to reduce the amount that customers pay if they determine that these monopolies are making more than a reasonable amount of profit. This is huge because until now, these monopolies could overcharge customers. And when they are providing heat and electricity, it’s not like customers can simply choose to go without when the costs get too high.
Bad Bills That Got Thrown Away!
This is where we put most of our energy this session. There were bad bills on everything from reversing gun violence prevention measures, limiting abortion access, harming trans kids, rolling back voting rights, and much more. But thanks to our hard work and the Blue Wall in the Democratic-controlled State Senate, those bills got thrown directly in the trash.
There were so many bad abortion bills, it’s almost impossible to count them all. But some of the ones we defeated include HB1395, sponsored by Delegate Marie March which would have banned abortion completely and HB2278, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Byron, which would have banned abortion after 15-weeks pregnancy. We also defeated HB2270, sponsored by Delegate Karen Greenhalgh, which would have rolled back the protections to abortion action we passed with the Reproductive Health Protection Act.
When it comes to gun violence prevention, Republicans seem to be 100% against it. In this session, we managed to defeat bills like SB1488, sponsored by Senator Amanda Chase, that would have repealed the extreme risk protection order we passed that allows law enforcement to remove guns from people who are deemed by a judge to be a risk to themselves or others. We also defeated HB1427, sponsored by Delegate Dave LaRock, that would have taken away a city or county’s ability to prohibit guns from being in public spaces like parks and community centers. I don’t know about you, but when I take my kids to the park, I definitely don’t want some weirdo with a gun to be there.
Then there were just the straight up cruel bills designed to hurt trans kids. Thankfully, we killed HB1387, sponsored by Delegate Greenhalgh, which would have prevented trans kids from playing sports and required a doctor to inspect a kid’s genitals before they can play a game. I don’t even have words for how f*cked up that is. Then there was HB2432, sponsored by Delegate LaRock, that would have required teachers and school counselors to out their trans students to their parents. If a kid doesn’t feel safe telling their parents their gender identity, there’s probably a reason for that and this would make kids less safe and open them up to abuse. I’m glad it got defeated.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on the bad bills that thankfully didn’t pass this session. We have to remain on high alert because Republicans in Virginia would have us be the next Florida if they thought they could get away with it. But we won’t let them. We’re ready to vote for progressive champions in the primaries and the general election this November and ensure that we hold the State Senate and take back the House of Delegates so we can get back to doing the work of the people instead of whatever it is MAGA Republicans are trying to do. Join us in voting in every election we can and in the primaries on June 20 and the general election on November 7!