Virginia Viewpoint – April 1, 2022 – Special Session – Hoping this won’t be April Fools’ Joke
April 1, 2022
April 1, 2022
After the General Assembly failed to adopt a new state budget during the recently concluded regular session of the legislature, Governor Youngkin called the General Assembly back to Richmond for a Special Session beginning Monday, April 4, 2022. As of today, the budget negotiators have not reached a compromise. While it feels like Delegates and Senators are in no rush to finalize a budget, those relying on tax relief, pay raises, or new investments in education and public safety are growing restless.
Some of the issues being worked on are a suspension of the gas tax, elimination of the grocery tax, increasing the standard deduction and gun violence prevention money. The Governor did sign into law one tax measure that is not stuck in the budget, HB 1239 (Scott) allowing localities to lower vehicle tax rates to help give tax relief to struggling Virginians.
While we await a budget during the Special Session, Governor Youngkin’s Administration is reviewing all of the legislation passed during the regular session. The Governor has until midnight on April 11th to sign, amend, or veto bills. One bill facing possible amendments deals with regulations to address cannabis products, including synthetics, aimed at bringing the retail market under control and providing consumer safety protections. While the legislature pushed back the timeline for establishing a legal marijuana retail market, they did pass legislation providing a path to regulate cannabis products, specifically Delta-8, in the retail market and prohibiting certain shapes of retail marijuana products including the shape of a human, animal, vehicle, or fruit which are more appealing to children (SB591–Hanger).
The creation of a Stadium Authority, in hopes of wooing the Washington Commanders new stadium to the Commonwealth, may see a significant reduction in scope and size. The Senate bill originally called for as much as $1 billion in bonds to finance the project but now, many are reporting, the bill conferees are looking to reduce the amount by two-thirds to $350 million. Even with the reduction in financial scope, Virginia’s proposed bid is greater than both Maryland and DC.
Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Worker Safety Board (DOLI) voted to remove additional workplace safety restrictions for COVID-19 that were widely seen as overly burdensome. The new guidance directs businesses to follow OSHA and CDC directives, thus allowing business owners greater flexibility to limit spread and calls for employers to facilitate vaccines and boosters, encourage workers who are ill to stay home, provide masks and promote sanitation and good ventilation, educate workers on COVID policies and report infections.
There are several groups – the Virginia League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Virginia, the Virginia NAACP – calling for new elections in 2022 for the recently redrawn legislative districts. Whether the elections are in 2022 or 2023, many legislators and politicos are putting their names forward for the newly redrawn House of Delegates, Senate and Congressional districts.
By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)
Gov. Glenn Youngkin is putting pressure on the Virginia legislature with a new TV ad — that will air across the state starting Thursday — pitching his package of tax cuts. Youngkin also announced that he will call lawmakers back to Richmond for a special session April 4 to wrap up work on the budget. Speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Youngkin said he signed a proclamation calling legislators to a special session to finish work on the budget and other pending legislation.
By GARY BOYER AND SARAH FEARING, WAVY-TV
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed a new law meant to empower localities across the commonwealth to cut tax rates and prevent huge tax hikes driven by dramatic increases in used vehicle values. . . . If local government leadership does not address the increased value of used vehicles, then taxpayers will likely be facing significant increases in taxes as the Commonwealth of Virginia constitutionally mandates 100 percent fair market value in property tax assessments.
By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall – 7 articles a month)
Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday hailed a move by a state board to formally remove a set of rules that required employers to treat COVID-19 as a work place hazard and institute mitigation measures like requiring masks and ensuring social distancing. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Worker Safety Board voted Monday to remove what Youngkin said were unnecessary restrictions put in place under then-Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration. As expected, the board determined that COVID no longer poses a grave threat to Virginians in the workplace.
By EMMA GOLDBERG, New York Times (Metered Paywall – 1 to 2 articles a month)
Virginia’s workplace safety board voted on Monday to withdraw the state’s emergency rules for protecting workers from Covid-19, leaving employers to follow looser guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace. Virginia, which has its own workplace safety agency, was the first state in the country to put in place emergency standards to protect workers from the virus. Under those standards, which were enacted in July 2020 under Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, employers had to require indoor masking in higher-risk areas, as well as report Covid outbreaks to the state’s Department of Health.
By HANNAH NATANSON AND RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall – 3 articles a month)
A federal judge in Charlottesville ruled Wednesday that a handful of schools in Virginia could require face masks if necessary to protect a dozen immunocompromised children whose families sued over mask-optional policies. The ruling includes schools in the state’s largest districts, Loudoun and Fairfax. Judge Norman K. Moon emphasized repeatedly, though, that he is not undoing state law and an executive order that makes masks optional. His order is limited to the 12 families who sued in Charlottesville federal court, whose children attend 10 different school districts in Virginia and range in age from preschool to 11th grade.
By DEAN MIRSHAHI, WRIC-TV
Public support for new Virginia House of Delegates elections this year has grown over the last month, but voting rights advocates have questioned the reticence from state lawmakers and groups to get behind the push. The Virginia League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Virginia, the Virginia NAACP and several of its local branches have all recently backed the calls for new elections using newly redrawn districts that reflect the population shifts over the last decade. . . . But the Democratic Party of Virginia has not weighed in on the effort, nor have any of the party caucuses in the House or state Senate.
By JO DEVOE, ArlNow
A full slate of candidates is vying to unseat Rep. Don Beyer as Arlington’s representative in Congress. Beyer has held onto his 8th District seat — which includes all of Arlington County, the cities Alexandria and Falls Church, and portions of Fairfax County — since he replaced the retiring Rep. Jim Moran in 2014. The incumbent, who declared his re-election bid in January, will face off local progressive Democrat challenger Victoria Virasingh in a Democratic primary scheduled for June 21. . . . Local Republicans, meanwhile, will be able to select their preferred candidate from five hopefuls.
By LUKE WEIR, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall – 5 articles a month)
Hemp legalization was not intended to get people high, said a lawmaker whose proposal to close loopholes in state cannabis code was approved this winter by the legislature, to the dismay of hemp businesses in Southwest Virginia. In response to a proliferation of Delta 8 THC products for sale in stores across Virginia, Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, this year carried a bill alongside Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, to redefine legal distinctions between the non-intoxicating hemp plant and its mind-altering sibling, the cannabis plant.
By JILLIAN LYNCH, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall – 5 articles a month)
A bill approved by the General Assembly aims to change the legal definition of marijuana in Virginia. In Virginia, hemp is classified as cannabis with a concentration of 0.3% THC or lower, according to the state code. If signed into law, SB 591, introduced by Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, Virginia would be more restrictive to THC in classifying hemp products than federal law. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main compound in marijuana that produces a “high.”
By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press
Over the past few years, Jonny Griffis has invested millions of dollars in his legal marijuana farm in northern Michigan, which produces extracts to be used in things like gummy bears and vape oils. But now that farm — like many other licensed grows in states that have legalized marijuana — faces an existential threat: high-inducing cannabis compounds derived not from the heavily regulated and taxed legal marijuana industry, but from a chemical process involving little-regulated, cheaply grown hemp….Virginia lawmakers this month approved a bill to strictly limit the amount of THC allowed in hemp-derived products; Gov. Glenn Youngkin has not yet signed it.
By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall – 10 articles a month)
Even though it was less than three months ago that Lashrecse Aird’s time in the General Assembly officially ended, the decision to jump back into the political fray actually was a bit difficult. “It really was a hard decision,” Aird said in a phone interview Wednesday morning, the same day she announced she would run for the Democratic nomination in the newly created 13th Senate District.
Potomac Local (Subscription Required)
Former Prince William County delegate turned lieutenant governor candidate Hyla Ayala announced a bid for Virginia Senate today. Ayala will run for the newly created 33rd District seat representing portions of south Fairfax, Lake Ridge, and Woodbridge. Currently, there is no incumbent in the district.
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