Virginia lawmakers begin filing bills for 2024 General Assembly session

Posted at 11:47 AM, Dec 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-27 11:47:00-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Wednesday marks two weeks until state lawmakers return to Richmond for the 2024 General Assembly session.

Ahead of that, lawmakers from each party have begun filing dozens of bills.

CBS6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said each party will face different challenges to get their priorities turned into law as Republican Glenn Youngkin is in the Governor’s mansion, while Democrats maintained control of the Senate and retook the House in November’s elections.

“The controversial bills filed by Republicans are just going to meet an early death. Because the Democrats control both chambers, they control the committees and by-and-large, most of these bills are not going to get out of the committees,” said Holsworth.

Among the bills filed by Republicans, include repealing a law tying vehicle emission standards to California, reducing early voting days from 45 to 30, and allowing medical providers to not take part in a procedure that violates their conscience.

Democrats have filed several pieces of gun control legislation including an assault weapons ban and holding gun owners liable if a minor accesses or uses their firearms and raising the minimum wage.

“There are a set of other democratic priorities that the Democrats will put forward that would require gubernatorial approval, and that at that point, the governor will veto them. And the Democrats are unlikely to have enough support in the assembly to overturn those vetoes.”

But, Holsworth said Democrats could avoid a Youngkin veto through constitutional amendments, which do not require a governor's signature, and have already filed some legislation to that effect.

“They are going to ask for constitutional amendments to be put on the ballot for the automatic restoration of rights of felons who serve their time and some version of solidify, codifying in the Constitution, Roe v. Wade in Virginia,” said Holsworth.

However, constitutional amendments are required to be passed in two legislative sessions separated by an election — meaning Democrats would likely need to keep control of both chambers — before going to voters for a referendum.

One area Holsworth expects to see a political fight is over Youngkin’s attempts to bring Washington, D.C.’s NHL and NBA franchises to Alexandria, Va.

“The Governor initially said it really wouldn't require much state money, it's going to require state money, certainly for transportation, and certainly for the tax financing of the district. And at that point, what's going to happen is that you're going to have legislators from the Richmond area, from Hampton Roads, from southwest Virginia saying, ‘What do we get out of this?’ You know that they're not going to go along with that proposal unless they find a way to actually ensure that there's some other benefit to their region,” added Holsworth.

However, he said there are areas he expects to see the parties work together.

“What I'm looking for in these bills is to see what they're going to do on mental health to try to ensure that they have more access to mental health, what they're going to use for opioid addiction,” said Holsworth.

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