Tammy Mulchi: We came, we voted and left ‘Sine Die’

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, March 14, 2024

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The 2024 General Assembly Session is a wrap! After sixty days of proposing, debating, and pushing through legislation, on Saturday, we went into “Sine Die,” which marks the official end of the legislative session. In Virginia, you elect part-time legislators to the General Assembly, and as a result, we only meet for a short period each year to propose new laws. Despite the short time that we met, we worked extremely hard to improve the Commonwealth, but for now, the session has come to an end. 

Next, we will reconvene on April 17 for a “Veto Session,” to address any vetoes and amendments the Governor has made to bills placed on his desk. He will be able to make necessary amendments to bills that could have had bipartisan support and improve other pieces of legislation that may have had good provisions taken out. This will help mitigate some bad bills and make them more acceptable for Virginians.

In addition to the Veto session, we will need to do more work on the Budget. Unfortunately, the budget, as it was presented, was a left-wing, progressive wish list that I was not able to vote in favor of. 

For starters, it had provisions that would mandate Virginia rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will only increase our electricity bills. The RGGI scheme does not reduce pollution; it just levies a $600 million tax increase on hardworking Virginia families and businesses over the next two years.

Additionally, the budget would cut funding to Operation Bold Blue Line, whose objective is to recruit law enforcement officers to fill the vacancies in our police forces. Addressing these shortages is crucial to make our Commonwealth a safer place to live and raise a family, but unfortunately, it was not a priority for the Democratic majority.

What is even more upsetting is that, in addition to refusing to replenish our police force, the budget would reduce the sentences for around 8,300 inmates who have been convicted of violent felonies, including murderers, rapists, and sex offenders. I find this completely deplorable!

This budget also cuts $10 million in funding for critical school resource officers that keep our kids safe in school.

This, along with the increase in taxes and the removal of funding from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Fund, makes this budget detrimental to Virginia. I could not, in good conscience, support a budget that does not prioritize the safety and well-being of our citizens and hurts our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.

Fortunately, the Governor is aware of these concerns and will diligently negotiate with Democrats to reach a budget that prioritizes all Virginians. I will do everything in my power to advocate for all rural Virginians and will keep you all updated as we make progress on the budget.

It’s not all bad, though. Many things in the budget will benefit not only the citizens of my district but all citizens of the Commonwealth. I will continue encouraging the Governor to keep those items as he seeks to amend and veto the budget.

In the meantime, it is important to recognize that, despite our disagreements on many contentious issues, these represent only a fraction of the overall legislation passed through both chambers. This week, we managed again to find common ground on a variety of pieces of legislation that will significantly enhance the lives of all Virginians.

A couple of my important bills that passed this session are on their way to the Governor’s desk. 

Senate Bill 142 will allow a one-year local eligibility license for our school divisions to address the problem of teacher shortages. This will allow our local school boards, upon recommendation of the division superintendent and in accordance with certain criteria, to hire individuals who need additional coursework while they are working toward their licensure.

Senate Bill 722, which we combined with my colleague’s similar bill SB 679, will allow the renewal of Enterprise Zones across the Commonwealth. While my bill would have only impacted three counties, by incorporating my bill into SB 679, the entire state can now benefit. The Virginia Enterprise Zone program is one of the best tools we have for supporting local economic growth. Allowing additional renewal periods will be an asset for our area.

Tammy Mulchi serves as the District 9 state senator. She can be reached at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov or by calling 804-698-7509