To the Constituents of the 19th House District:
The General Assembly has concluded its final scheduled week of the 2022 Regular Session, though, with more than forty important bills still in conference, including our state budget, our work is not yet finished. While House Republicans intended to stay in Richmond to work until the job was done, Senate Democrats had other ideas, going home on Saturday afternoon. Governor Youngkin will address this by calling a Special Session in the near future. This Special Session will be limited to passing a budget and the aforementioned outstanding bills in conference.
As a budget conferee, I look forward to working towards Republican priorities for tax relief, education, law enforcement, and behavioral health. As I have said before, the reality of split-majority General Assembly means that while the Senate version does include some agreeable measures, it does not go far enough. The general sticking point is tax relief: our House budget has $5.5 billion, while the Senate’s version has around $2 billion. More specifically, the House Budget includes doubling the standard deduction, eliminating the sales tax on groceries, and providing tax rebates of $300 for individuals and $600 for couples. The Senate Budget does not go nearly as far in any of those measures. That being said, I am confident we will come to a reasonable consensus once we are all able to sit at the table.
While we still have work to do, the situation we find ourselves in is not unprecedented. As our Governor says, “it is better to get it right,” and I agree. Virginia’s $150 billion biennial budget sets the direction for our Commonwealth over the next two years, and sometimes a 60-day session is not sufficient when both parties have a majority in either Chamber. However, it is important to remember that a tremendous amount of work was accomplished, and there are several good bills that have passed through the General Assembly and have been signed or will soon be signed by Governor Youngkin. Below are some bills of interest, beginning with a few that I patroned:
HB462 (Austin) – Extends the sunset date for the sales and use tax exemption for parts, engines, and supplies for the maintenance and repair of aircraft and their systems.
HB463 (Austin) – Removes the authorization for the Department of Wildlife Resources to charge a fee for the use of facilities that it manages but does not own.
HB482 (Austin) – Streamlines the real estate development process through data-driven metrics.
HB507 (Austin) – Permits college student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness, ensuring Virginia’s higher education institutions can compete in athletic recruitment with the twenty-four other states that have similar legislation.
HB55 – Requires the State Registrar of Vital Records to transmit a weekly list of decedents from the previous week to the Department of Elections. Currently, this list is transmitted monthly. The bill requires the general registrars to use this information to conduct list maintenance and to promptly cancel the registration of a person on the list.
HB246 – Allows students who miss a partial or full day of school while participating in 4-H educational programs and activities to not be counted as absent. Students will also now receive course credit in the same manner as they would for a school field trip.
HB270 – Requires the Virginia Employment Commission to establish and utilize metrics to address staffing, communications, and other relevant aspects of operations to improve the administration of the Unemployment Insurance program.
HB283 – Requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish training standards for law-enforcement personnel regarding the recognition, prevention, and reporting of human trafficking.
HB553 – directs the Secretary of Transportation to work with other agencies of the Commonwealth to promote and implement various initiatives that will help address the need for more Commercial Driver Licensed (CDL) operators.
HB828 – Expands eligibility for participation in the Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program to include dairy producers who have an approved Natural Resource Conservation Service nutrient management or soil health plan developed by an approved planner. The bill also changes the application deadline from February 1 to May 15 each year.
HB895 – Requires local electoral boards and general registrars to perform risk-limiting audits under the supervision of the Department of Elections. The bill provides that localities are required to participate in such audits at least once every five years. The bill also provides that the Department shall submit a report on the results of such audits to the State Board.
HB1146 – Authorizes the Virginia Community College System, if certified as a third-party tester, to test and train drivers employed by another governmental entity. It also extends the validity of a skills test certification from 60 days to six months.
HB1112 – Requires the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to provide an option to purchase a multi-year recreational saltwater fishing license.
SB119 – Establishes a requirement for anyone who is subject to an evaluation for involuntary temporary detention and is receiving services in a hospital emergency department that the treating physician and the employee of the local community services board consult and disclose relevant information pertaining to the individual’s treatment in the emergency department.
I look forward to updating you as we work towards reporting and passing a budget. As always, if my office can be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelTAustin@House.Virginia.gov.