by Cindy, cross-posted from VAPLAN
This was the last week before crossover. All bills that will make it to the other chamber had to be heard in committee this week. The House has passed 410 bills and the Senate has passed 331; both have hundreds more pending. The beginning of next week will have very long floor sessions.
How environmental bills are faring:
- The bill creating the electric vehicle rural infrastructure fund to help build charging stations in distressed areas (HB107-Sullivan) passed the House with bipartisan support.
- HB106 (Sullivan) and SB253 (Surovell) to expand the Shared Solar program are expected to get voted on their respective floors next week.
- HB950 (Lopez) to protect the Virginia Building Code (including its energy efficiency regulations) from ad hoc regulatory slashing by a governor’s executive order reported from the Counties, Cities and Towns committee.
- Both the House (HB644-Sullivan) and Senate (SB305-Salim) bills to allow localities to establish ordinances on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers are dead for this year.
Criminal justice reform bills:
- The House bill to set a minimum age of adjudication (when one can be arrested and handled by the legal system for delinquent acts) of 11 years old (HB1420-Watts) passed the House, and its Senate cognate (SB23-Locke) will be up for a vote next week.
- Bills (HB833-Cousins and SB115-Lucas) providing that marijuana possession does not constitute child abuse or neglect for the purpose of custody decisions passed both chambers with bipartisan support.
- A House (HB1244-Cole) and Senate (SB719-Bagby) bill to restrict use of solitary confinement in prisons will both be voted on this week.
- Nearly unanimous support in the House for a bill (HB912-Shin) to require jails spend the profits they make from commissary sales and phone calls on programs and mental health services for incarcerated people.
A few education bills:
- HB624 (Rasoul) and SB105 (Lucas) implementing some of the recommendations of a 2023 JLARC study on the school funding formula, including making changes to the way at-risk students are counted in the formula, will be voted on the House and Senate floors this week.
- Bills (HB398-McQuinn and SB586-Pekarsky) to require schools use evidence-based alternative disciplinary practice used to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and disciplinary referrals (unless firearms or violent crimes are involved) will get a floor vote this week.
Something to watch for:
- Although a House subcommittee killed two bills (HB1364-Griffin and HB1184-P.Scott) banning abortion this week, the House Rules committee reported to the floor with no recommendation a bill to create a state version of the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting spending of public dollars for abortion care. (HB404-Griffin) This INCLUDES for people who are the victims of rape or incest, and cases where the fetus will be born with totally incapacitating physical deformity.
- Democrats on the committee pushed for this to be sent to the floor so that every Virginian can find out exactly where their representative stands on this kind of extreme abortion policy (and because they have the votes to kill it).
- The bill should be up for discussion on Monday, with a final vote on Tuesday.