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VAPLAN’s Summary of Week #4 of the 2024 Virginia General Assembly: Guns, “Gambling and marijuana, oh my!”


by Cindy, cross-posted from VAPLAN a MUST-follow and MUST-read if you want to be well-informed about what’s going on in the Virginia General Assembly!

Week 4: Things are really getting going now!

Things are starting to move along in week four, as bills with fiscal impacts need to be in the money committees by now in order to get through and be voted on the floors of their respective chambers before crossover.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK, David Hogg, Parkland shooting survivor, testifying at House Firearms subcommittee against a bill to arm teachers: “The best way to protect our schools from gun violence is doing it the same way they do it in every other country: it’s to ensure that bad guys have as hard of a time as possible at getting a firearm to begin with.”

Big floor votes:

  • The House passed on a party-line vote HB1 (Ward) to approve a raise in the minimum wage (this was a re-enactment of a bill passed in a previous year) to $13.50/hr on January 1, 2025; and $15.00/hr on January 1, 2026.
  • The House passed HB906 (Shin) that prevents utilities from shutting off service to consumers during a state of emergency or the next 30 days.
  • On party-line votes, the House passed HB183 (Simon) and the Senate passed SB368 (Boysko) to require gun owners with minors in the house store firearms and ammunition in a locked place inaccessible to the minor.
  • The House passed a ban on assault weapons (HB2-Helmer) on a party-line vote.

Gambling and marijuana, oh my!

  • SB675 (Marsden) to add Tyson’s to the list of localities that can host a casino (by referendum) was continued to next year, clearly lacking the support to pass this year.
  • HB1478 (Simonds) to allow gambling aboard Princess Cruises while in Virginia waters (rather than waiting until they reach international waters) was killed in a House subcommittee; a matching bill (SB689-Craig) in the Senate is still alive.
  • The House bill (HB590-Hayes) to allow, tax and regulate so-called “skill games” or “gray machines” was drastically amended in a subcommittee, putting lots more protections and guardrails on it before reporting out. The Senate version (SB212-Rouse) is sitting in the Finance and Appropriations Committee waiting to be heard, but does not have the changes made by the House, which may be complicated after crossover.
  • The Senate moved forward with its bill to create a framework for a retail marijuana market (SB448-Rouse), but it does not contain some of the equity provisions of the House version (HB698-Krizek) and some members continue to vote against it. Although the Governor has already indicated he does not support creating retail markets (preferring the illicit and unsafe black markets that currently exist instead I guess?), House GOP members said in subcommittee this week that they recognize the need to create these markets to ensure safe products are sold.

Some bipartisanship:

  • Six GOP senators joined the Democrats in passing the long-overdue bill granting all localities the ability to raise their own local sales taxes by referendum to fund school construction (SB14-McPike)
  • GOP Senator Suetterlein voted with the Democratic Senate Caucus on SB235 (Hashmi) to affirm that nothing in the 2023 sexually-explicit materials parental notification law should be interpreted as permitting book banning.
  • Unanimous passage in the House (HB22-Jones) and bipartisan support in the Senate (SB210-Perry) for bills to ban the sales and possession of auto sears, small inexpensive devices that turn any handgun into a fully automatic weapon. (Last year a similar bill died in a GOP-majority House subcommittee.)
  • Ten GOP delegates joined in with the Democratic Caucus in passing a bill to repeal the common-law crime of suicide (HB81-Simon).
  • 14 GOP delegates joined with the Democratic Caucus in passing a bill to facilitate opioid prescribing for patients with the extremely painful sickle cell disease (HB257-Mundon King).

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