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Virginia legislators uphold Youngkin vetoes, no vote yet on state budget bill

General Assembly -- Virginia State Capitol Generic Virginia Politics
Posted at 2:32 PM, Apr 12, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. — The politically divided Virginia General Assembly convened in Richmond and worked through scores of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed amendments to legislation during a one-day session.

The legislature upheld the Republican governor's three vetoes Wednesday.

However, his amendments to a bill requiring porn websites to verify a person is not a minor failed the state Senate. Democrats raised concerns over data privacy saying that attempting to reign in the internet would be fruitless.

Of the 819 measures the General Assembly sent to Youngkin during the regular session that ended in late February, the governor signed 738 into law and proposed amendments to 78. Some of the changes lawmakers took take up Wednesday were small or technical; for other measures, Youngkin sought a more wholesale rewrite.

Lisa Smith and her daughter, Haley.
Lisa Smith and her daughter, Haley.

Lisa Smith and her daughter, Haley, drove to Richmond to back Youngkin's amendments to the much-publicized hemp regulation bill aimed at cracking down on synthetic THC products at Virginia stores.

"It's not so easy when you're dealing with a medically complex child,” Smith explained.

The amended bill would allow the Smiths to keep getting CBD oil they say is necessary to control Haley's seizures, which the original bill would've banned.

"It's frustrating because eight years ago we did this work and showed this body it was a safe, benign oil," Smith said.

The hemp regulation bill creating the most heated debates during reconvened session.

Despite concern voiced by Democrats, both chambers approved the Youngkin’s amendments.

Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly

With a $3.6 billion surplus, lawmakers did not vote on the full state budget bill, as negotiators have yet to reach a deal.

Dr. Bob Holsworth, a political analyst for WTVR CBS 6, said that with primary elections coming in June, some negotiators may be reflecting on how that vote would used by their opponents.

"We have this unusual situation where there's no budget," Holsworth said. "Probably one good reason for not having it, is let's wait a month or so to see whether or not the economy actually goes into recession. But there's other reasons that are contribute to this stalemate — and those are more political than economic."

Abby Zwerner, teacher shot by her 6-year-old student, honored by Virginia Senate
Abby Zwerner, teacher shot by her 6-year-old student, honored by Virginia Senate on April 12, 2023.

In one of its first actions, the state Senate honored Abigail Zwerner, a Newport News first-grade teacher who was shot and wounded by her 6-year-old student in January.

Zwerner stood with her family as she was given a framed resolution commending her for her “heroic actions” and devotion to the safety of her students.

Police have said that after Zwerner was shot, she ushered her students to safety and was the last one to leave the classroom, despite life-threatening injuries. She collapsed in a school office and spent two weeks in the hospital. Since then, she’s had four surgeries and is still recovering from wounds to her hand and chest. No one else was hurt in the shooting.

“She truly is one of Virginia’s great heroes, and I have enormous admiration for her,” said Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment.

The Senate also welcomed a new member, Lamont Bagby, who won a special election last month to fill the open Richmond-based seat previously held by Jennifer McClellan. McClellan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election a month earlier.