Tommy Wright: The session is over. What’s next?

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

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We’re several weeks into the interregnum between the regular and reconvened sessions, and the state of play between the Governor, the House and Senate majorities remains fraught at best.

Democrats continue to attack the Governor, who in turn has said he has not ruled out vetoing the entire budget.

Governor Youngkin is not pleased with the budget sent to him by the General Assembly, to put it mildly. With $2 billion+ in higher taxes, the potential release of thousands of dangerously violent felons, and a mandatory re-entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative, Governor Youngkin has yet to rule out a veto of the entire budget document.

A full veto would likely be a last resort that would occur after the Reconvened Session meets to consider a series of amendments designed to remove the parts of the budget the Governor so vehemently opposes.

Youngkin has been conducting a “road show” regarding the budget over the past week, meeting with voters, business owners, and others. Calling it the “backwards budget”, the events call attention to the impact the budget would have on hard working Virginia families, i.e. making life more expensive for everyone.

Expect more public events this week and likely next. Meanwhile, the Governor has been actively reviewing legislation, including issuing more than 20 vetoes. Vetoed measures include bills that would create class-action lawsuits in state courts, diversity, equity, and inclusion standards for Major Employment Initiative grants, and the creation of a General Services Board that would make the Department of General Services an independent agency.


Unfortunately, Republican legislation that would have ended the electric vehicle mandate was defeated. The current mandate, which requires 35 percent of all new cars sold in Virginia to be electric vehicles by 2035, will not only make it more expensive to buy a new car, but it will also drive up the cost of used cars as gasoline-powered vehicles become more and more rare.

Legislation requiring suppliers of electric vehicle batteries to certify that the manufacture or sourcing of their batteries did not involve child or slave labor was also not allowed to advance.


House Bill 55 passed the General Assembly and provides that if a person who is a candidate for nomination by a political party at a primary election and who appears on the ballot for such election withdraws his candidacy on or after the forty-fourth day before but prior to the Tuesday immediately preceding the primary election, and the result of such withdrawal is one remaining candidate who is now unopposed, the remaining candidate will be declared the party’s nominee for the office sought and the primary election will be canceled. The bill requires the notice of withdrawal to be signed and notarized and to be submitted to the general registrar, who then transmits it to the local electoral board and the State Board of Elections along with a certification that the remaining candidate is now unopposed for nomination. The State Board is required to declare the remaining candidate to be the nominee within one calendar day of receiving such notice, and the local electoral board is then required to petition the circuit court for the cancellation of the primary election. Finally, the bill directs the State Board to prescribe procedures for canceling a primary election, including instructions for locking and securing voting systems, disposition of marked and unmarked absentee ballots, and voter notification. The bill has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2025. In short, this bill will save localities from wasting taxpayer money on a primary where the candidate has already been decided. 

House Bill 57 clarifies that the provision in current law that exempts certain organizations including churches, fraternal or school organizations, and volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency medical services agencies to allow such organizations to offer food for sale to the public as a participant in occasional fundraising event. Now exempt organizations can hold or participate in occasional fundraising events. This bill passed unanimously and was signed by the Governor.


The Democrats brought forward an aggressive agenda aimed at curtailing our Second Amendment rights. Democrats voted to ban the sale of new modern sporting rifles, to put age limits on those sales, create a waiting period on all sales, and to implement a licensing program to even purchase a firearm.

Much of the agenda put forward by the majority has been found unconstitutional by Federal courts. In fact, age limits for those over 18 were overturned by a Federal court in Virginia in 2023.

Worse, they passed a bill that would ostensibly let anyone sue a gun store for “nuisance” problems just as some sued tobacco companies, to make an end run around the Federal law that blocks such lawsuits. Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to stop just these kinds of cases from being filed in either Federal or state courts. Similar efforts in other states have been unsuccessful.

While all those gun bills went to the Governor, I voted against any bill that would infringe our 2nd amendment rights, and I’m optimistic that the Governor will either veto or substantially amend them. As Governor Youngkin said recently, our gun laws are among the toughest in the nation, and there’s no need to make significant changes.


A great deal remains unsettled. As of this writing, the Governor is continuing his review of the 1,000-plus bills sent to his desk. More than 20 vetoes have already been announced, with more likely on the way.

We will return to the Capitol on April 17 th to consider amendments to bills sent down by Governor Youngkin, including changes to the biennial budget. Given the controversy between the Governor and the Democratic majority in both chambers, I expect we will have a lively discussion at that time before all our work is finalized.

I will update you on the outcome once we have adjourned that one-day session.

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at or (804) 698-1061.