RICHMOND, Virginia – The General Assembly met briefly on Monday afternoon after Governor Glenn Youngkin recalled them for a special session to complete and pass a budget compromise and finish other legislation. The legislators passed rules for the special session that allow them to adjourn until Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) or Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) recall the legislators with 48-hours’ notice. Then, since the budget compromise isn’t ready, the legislators adjourned.
“I was disappointed at the pace the work was going,” Youngkin told the media after a ceremonial bill signing on Monday morning. “I was disappointed there wasn’t more work last week. Everybody’s here today, and I expect them to get to work today. And I know that there are meetings that can be held, and should be held, and will be held. So it’s important to go ahead and get people back to work, and I think calling them back to special session is an important motivator to do that.”
Amid high gas prices, Virginia Democrats are calling on Governor Glenn Youngkin to enact a state of emergency, which would cause an anti-price gouging law to take effect.
“Governor Youngkin has the power to act and help protect Virginians at the pump, but so far, has failed to do so. Instead, he continues to point fingers and waste precious time,” Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said in a Thursday press release. “Virginians do not need talking points and failed campaign promises—we need leadership and action.”
Virginia House Democrats tried one last time to pass a rule change to bring constitutional amendments to the floor for a vote on Wednesday. The amendments would automatically reinstate felon voting rights and to eliminate Virginia’s defunct gay marriage ban. They were passed for the first time in 2021, but needed to pass again this year to go to Virginia voters for approval. House Republicans killed the bills in committee, a tactic used by both parties to prevent a few moderate legislators from joining the minority party to pass bills on the floor.
The House of Delegates passed SB 739, which will require schools to make masks optional. After Republicans were surprised by bipartisan votes in the Senate last week to amend the bill to include the mask clause and to pass the bill, Republicans hustled the bill through the necessary House committee hearing and through three required floor sessions, including a two-minute-long pro-forma session on Sunday. By 1 p.m. on Monday, Republicans had already delivered the bill to Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has committed to adding an emergency clause to make it take effect immediately.
After Youngkin adds the clause, both chambers can pass the bill and emergency clause with simple majority votes, setting up the bill to be law and in effect potentially by the end of the week, House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) said on The John Fredericks Show Monday morning.
“Once we adopt his [Youngkin’s] amendments, he’s already signed it and sent it back, it’ll be the law, and we can put this behind us,” Kilgore told The Virginia Star’s publisher, John Fredericks.
RICHMOND, Virginia – The House Education Committee voted to advance school mask-optional language in a special meeting Friday; Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 739 was the only bill on the agenda.
As introduced in the Senate, Dunnavant’s original bill focused on in-person learning, but earlier this week Senator Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax City) moved to amend the bill to include the masking clause; that vote got broad support from both sides of the aisle. A later vote to pass the amended bill only had two Democrats supporting it, but that was enough to pass out of the Democrat-controlled Senate. On Wednesday, Delegate Amanda Batten (R-York) said that the sudden change surprised Republicans.
Governor Glenn Youngkin used his first State of the Commonwealth address to describe a Virginia in need of reform, with underfunded schools whose leaders are out of touch with parents, rising crime rates, rising cost of living, and a stalled economy. The Monday message contrasted with former Governor Ralph Northam’s State of the Commonwealth delivered last Wednesday, where Northam highlighted economic success, education that reckons with Virginia’s past, and progress on equity.
“From the perspective of everyday Virginia families, times are tough and the State of the Commonwealth is not what it should be,” Youngkin said. “The good news is that we have the ability to course-correct before this poor performance becomes permanent.”
In a Wednesday tweet, Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert blasted Governor Ralph Northam’s final State of the Commonwealth address, leading House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn to respond in a floor statement on Thursday.
“Ralph Northam is leaving office as his own lost cause, condescendingly lecturing us all from some assumed moral high ground because he read the book ‘Roots’ and then went on a non-stop reconciliation tour. Saturday can’t come fast enough,” Gilbert wrote.