His thoughts — New month, new laws

Published 12:15 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

July is an exciting month in the Commonwealth. Not only do we celebrate America’s independence, but July 1 is when new legislation takes full effect in Virginia that passed in the 2022 General Assembly session.

Here are some of the other important bills we passed, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law:

House Bill 4 restores a requirement that school principals report serious misdemeanors such as sexual battery to law enforcement. Under a law passed by Democrats in 2020, administrators had discretion over whether these crimes would be reported to police.

House Bill 127 takes a big step toward rolling back ‘holistic’ admissions to the elite Governor’s Schools, returning them to a race-blind admissions process. Academic performance should be the only thing that matters, not where someone is from or the color of their skin.

Senate Bill 656 is one we’ve been fighting for a long time. This bill requires the Department of Education to create guidelines for notifying parents when students will be taught from explicit materials and provides an opt-out with different materials for parents who object. If the school will be teaching from a book that has explicit material, it must inform parents and give them a chance to opt out.

House Bill 927 requires that absentee ballots be reported as part of the precinct where they otherwise would have been cast. The net effect of this will be the end of late night ‘vote dumps’ that suddenly shift election outcomes, undercutting faith in our election system.

House Bill 1303 corrects a major oversight in our criminal justice system and brings the votes of our parole board into the sunlight. Until now, when the board voted to release one of the few inmates who are still eligible for parole, they could do so in secret. Big decisions like this need to be made with public scrutiny.

House Bill 833, included in the budget, brings Project Ceasefire to Virginia, a proven solution for firearm violence that does not require gun control.

On the law enforcement front, House Bill 283 created training standards for police officers to become more educated on how to recognize and prevent human trafficking, keeping more young people out of the hands of these monsters.

We’ve also funded 10 percent raises for teachers, major pay increases for our law enforcement officers, and other hard-working state supported employees.

GAS TAX HIKE

Virginia drivers will be paying more at the pump, as the gas tax rose on Friday to keep pace with inflation.

A project of House Democrats, House Bill 1414 in 2020 not only raised the gas tax 10 cents per gallon over two years, but it also indexed the tax to ensure that it rises every July.

This year, that hike will be 7% at a time when gas prices are at near record levels.

Raising the gas tax at a time when families are already struggling to put gas in the tank is a bad idea.

Yet it’s exactly what Democrats have voted to do. Not only did the bill authorizing the tax hikes pass in 2020 with no Republican votes, but Democrats also voted to kill Republican efforts to hold any increase to 2%.

The contrast here is simple – Republicans voted to reduce the gas tax temporarily to give hard pressed families a break. Democrats voted to make gas more expensive.

These are just some of the new laws that take effect on July 1. Our office will continue to inform you on other important legislation passed in the 2022 General Assembly session.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

There is no question that America is the greatest country on this planet. I hope all families enjoy celebrating the day of our country’s independence. We thank our almighty Lord and Savior for blessing us with our freedoms, and in freedom we praise his name. Let freedom ring!

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@House.Virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.