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Gov. Youngkin Signs 23 Bills, Including Important Pro-Freedom Protections

As Governor Youngkin took final action on bills presented to him in the 2022 General Assembly, he signed 23 more bills into law today as well as vetoed seven.

As reported by the nonpartisan, Richmond-based Virginia Family Foundation, two of the bills he signed into law include important protections involving limited government and freedom of conscience.

One aims to strengthen the principle of limited government by clearly codifying one aspect of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. For example, during the recent Covid quarantines, lockdowns, and curfews, many civil libertarians and other Virginians were aghast at the broad, sweeping executive orders that then-Governor Ralph Northam issued, claiming they were necessary due to the extreme emergency the Commonwealth and nation faced. Moreover, the emergency orders were often issued for indefinite lengths of time.

To prevent that from happening again, Governor Youngkin signed into law today HB 158 (R-Byron) and SB 4 (R-Suetterlein). These bills will provide that any emergency executive order issued by the Governor pursuant to his powers under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law is only valid up to 45 days, unless the General Assembly takes further action. In other words, the governor can act under emergency powers. However, after 45 days, he or she must receive approval from the 140-member General Assembly.

Or particular note to our region, Del. Byron represents an area around Bedford County and Smith Mountain Lake, while Sen. Suetterlein represents a district that sprawls from the outskirts of Lynchburg, around Roanoke, and down to Wytheville.

Another bill the Governor signed into law is HB 1063, sponsored by freshman Delegate Irene Shin (D-Herndon), which defines the term “religion” under Virginia law as it appears in various anti-discrimination code sections.  Under this bill, “religion” is defined as “any outward expression of religious faith, including adherence to religious dressing and grooming practices and the carrying or display of religious items or symbols.” According to the Family Foundation, this bill will help enhance the legal protection of all Virginians’ religious exercise.

Today Governor Youngkin released this statement:

“On April 27th, the General Assembly agreed to the vast majority of my recommendations, and today, I have taken final action on the remaining bills. While most of these bills were returned to me in an imperfect form, I firmly believe they offer a bipartisan path forward. However, select bills required essential changes. Therefore, I have vetoed seven additional bills that would not be in the best interest of the Commonwealth as my recommendations were not adopted. While the action from the bills passed during the 2022 regular session is now complete, I eagerly await the return of the General Assembly next week to send a budget to my desk that will offer significant tax relief for all Virginians while making historic investments in education, public safety, economic development, and behavioral health.”

As reported by the Office of the Governor, the 23 bills he signed into law include:

  • SB 4, Senator Suetterlein, Emergency Services and Disaster Law; limitation on duration of executive orders
  • SB 24, Senator Locke, Eviction Diversion Pilot Program; extends sunset date, report.
  • SB 36, Senator Norment, School principals; incident reports, written threats against school personnel, etc.
  • SB 46, Senator Petersen, Emergency and quarantine orders, certain additional procedural requirements.
  • SB 163, Senator Peake, Surrogacy contracts; provisions requiring abortions or selective reductions unenforceable.
  • SB 192, Senator Mason, Local health director; qualifications
  • SB 199, Senator Mason, Rental agreement; agreement may provide occupant with option to designate an alternative contact.
  • SB 283, Senator Hanger, Removal of county courthouse; Augusta County; authorization by electorate
  • SB 345, Senator Barker, Driver’s license or identification card; indication of blood type to be noted on license or card.
  • SB 416, Senator DeSteph, Virginia Public Procurement Act; purchase of personal protective equipment
  • SB 575, Senator Mason, DGS; state fleet managers to use total cost of ownership calculations, report.
  • SB 672, Senator Dunnavant, Pharmacists; initiation of treatment with and dispensing and administration of vaccines.
  • HB 4, Delegate Wyatt, School principals; incident reports, written threats against school personnel, etc.
  • HB 158, Delegate Byron, Emergency Services and Disaster Law; limitation on duration of executive orders
  • HB 385, Delegate Sullivan, Relief; Morman, Bobbie James, Jr.
  • HB 517, Delegate Bulova, Chief Resilience Officer; clarifies designation and role
  • HB 526, Delegate Batten, Victims of human trafficking; eligibility for in-state tuition.
  • HB 717 , Delegate Filler-Corn, Unaccompanied homeless youths; consent for housing services.
  • HB 902, Delegate Avoli, Removal of county courthouse; Augusta County; authorization by electorate
  • HB 1063, Delegate Shin, Public accommodations, employment, and housing; prohibited discrimination on the basis of religion.
  • HB 1136, Delegate Krizek, Updating Virginia Law to Reflect Federal Recognition of Virginia Tribes, Commission on; established.
  • HB 1138, Delegate Reid, Loudoun County School Board; staggering of member terms, lot drawing, timeframe.
  • HB 1323, Delegate Orrock, Pharmacists; initiation of treatment with and dispensing and administration of vaccines.

Moreover, today, Governor Youngkin Vetoed Seven Bills Including:

  • SB 182, Senator Saslaw, Charter; Falls Church, City of; amending charter, qualifications of members of boards and commissions.
  • SB 474, Senator McClellan, Appeals bond; removes requirement for indigent parties to post, appeal of unlawful detainer.
  •  SB 508, Senator Lewis, Appeals bond; removes requirement for indigent parties to post, appeal of unlawful detainer.
  • HB 339, Delegate Simon, Charter; Falls Church, City of; amending charter, qualifications of members of boards and commissions
  • HB 384, Delegate Davis, State and local employees; rights of employees, freedoms of conscience and expression.
  • HB 614, Delegate Bourne, Appeals bond; removes requirement for indigent parties to post, appeal of unlawful detainer.
  • HB 891, Delegate Lopez, Noncitizens of the United States; terminology.

–Scott Dreyer

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