Next week the General Assembly will arrive at Crossover, the midpoint of the legislative session where both the House and Senate must complete their own work so that it may ‘crossover’ to the other body for consideration. As such, all Delegates have been busy with both committee meetings and floor sessions to ensure we meet the Crossover deadline.
In this week’s update, I would like to highlight many of the key bills that passed the House. This includes several election reform bills.
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The House considered a large number of election reform bills this week that I wish to highlight. Many of the new election laws passed by Democrats over the last two years were billed as temporary fixes to ensure that Virginians could vote during the beginning of the COVID pandemic. As we have learned to live with COVID, it is imperative that we reconsider those laws at this time.
HB1090 will reinstate the photo ID requirement for elections. This measure is popular, with a poll from Monmouth showing that 80% of people support photo ID requirements for voting. Doubts about the integrity of the election continue to erode trust in the democratic process. This bill is a commonsense measure to restore trust in our election system. This bill would require the state to offer free photo IDs to ensure that lack of an ID is not a barrier to voting.
HB34 to do away with absentee ballot drop boxes. Security issues have been documented with the implementation of these boxes. This measure was originally implemented solely for the pandemic. Now that the pandemic has ended this law needs to be repealed.
Additionally, HB39 will reduce the early voting period from 45 days to 14 days prior to Election Day while expanding those early voting hours from business hours to 7am to 7pm. Apart from the first day of early voting, few voters cast a ballot outside of the final two weeks of early voting, with many local voter registrars having difficulty staffing the full 45 days. This strikes a balance between the need for early voting and ensuring that working Virginians can vote outside of normal business hours.
In addition to these election bills noted above, the House and Senate have both taken action to codify Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order No. 2 (EO2). HB 1272 and SB 739 will make masks optional in public schools. As a parental rights state, Virginia gives the ultimate authority to make medical decisions for children to their parents. These two identical bills respect that right while still allowing students to wear masks if they wish. The bills additionally require that schools offer in-person learning 5 days per week, while still allowing for virtual options. Governor Youngkin has indicated that he will offer an amendment to this bill so that it can go into effect immediately upon his signature.
IN THE NEWS
Here’s a few articles that you may find of interest:
- Senate kills a bill which would allow Casino to be built in Petersburg
- Senate panel backs compromise to repeal grocery tax
- School Masking Choice Passes Virginia Senate
- Audio: House Majority Leader Delegate Terry Kilgore provides an update from the General Assembly
It is an honor to represent you and your family in the Virginia House of Delegates. Please reach out to me with concerns on any bills making their way through the legislative process or if you need assistance with a state agency. My staff and I stand ready to assist you in any way possible.