January 21, 2022
Another Friday in Richmond brings yet another looming wintry weather event for our Commonwealth. Fortunately, after a long stretch of procedural activities, inaugural events, and overall reorganization, the General Assembly has finished its work for the week. Today’s floor session lasted a mere twelve minutes, and most members are now headed home to their districts. One of the hallmarks of Virginia’s part-time legislature is the reality that members spend the majority of their time in the districts they represent. Even during the legislative session, General Assembly members return home and hear in-person feedback from constituents. This is an invaluable feature that allows--and requires-- legislators to be responsive to Virginians.
Statewide Republicans Take Office
On Saturday, January 15, Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares were sworn into office. The inaugural weekend included receptions, galas, a prayer breakfast, and a casual/country celebration featuring music from the Zac Brown Band. In short, the weekend was a whirlwind of events for folks who came into town to celebrate the new Republican administration.

Monday marked Governor Youngkin’s first address to the General Assembly. His remarks were entirely consistent with the themes of his campaign: ensuring Virginia’s students receive a high-quality education, supporting law enforcement, prioritizing public safety, cutting taxes, expanding access to health care options, and improving the Commonwealth’s business climate. (As a reminder, in 2021 Virginia was ranked the forty-ninth worst state in which to start a small business.) Predictably, Democrats were unenthused about many of these initiatives. Rather disconcerting, however, was their icy response to Governor Youngkin’s pledge to uphold the current Virginia law affirming parents’ fundamental right to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, education and care. The days ahead will be interesting indeed.
House Bill 537
Mental health challenges dramatically escalated during the pandemic. Isolation and abrupt changes in social norms have triggered anxiety, dangerous behaviors, and an array of other issues. Exacerbating the problem is the difficulty many individuals have in finding a mental health care provider. A specific challenge occurs when individuals move—perhaps temporarily, as in the case of a college student—to Virginia from another state. Current Virginia law prohibits an individual who is physically located in the Commonwealth to receive mental health telehealth services from a provider in another state. Instead, an individual who is in Virginia must receive services from a provider who is also physically located in the Commonwealth. This is difficult—if not impossible—for individuals planning to be in Virginia for a relatively short period of time. My House Bill 537 will allow individuals who have an established relationship with a mental health provider in another state to continue receiving services from that provider for a one-year period. This proposed policy change will allow for continuity of mental health care.
Executive Orders
My office has been inundated with inquiries about Governor Youngkin’s Executive Orders (EOs)—especially the order regarding parents’ rights to choose whether their child wears a mask in school. A lawsuit challenging this EO was filed earlier this week, and the Attorney General has indicated he will defend the Governor's EO. For this reason, there is not complete clarity on the question at this time. As a result, every school board is handling the issue differently. I fully expect clarification to be issued shortly. Until then, we all have unanswered questions and concerns. Stay tuned.
What's a Caucus Chair?
A few people have asked me about the role of caucus chair. The question is a good one. Both the House Democrat and House Republican caucuses (respectively comprised of all House Democrats and all House Republicans) meet daily during the General Assembly session immediately prior to the floor session, which typically begins at noon. The meetings are confidential, and the caucus chair runs these meetings. Like all other jobs in life, there are “other duties as assigned.” 
My online legislative survey remains open. If you have not yet done so, please click HERE to complete the questionnaire. The Capitol and our Richmond legislative office are OPEN to the public this year. Our office is in Room 432 of the Pocahontas Building located at 900 E. Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, and we are happy to have visitors or set up a virtual meeting. As always, we remain available to assist with constituent service. If you have a problem with a state-related matter or agency, please call 804-698-1096 or email [email protected].

Happy Friday!
Contact Delegate Batten
Legislative Aide: Dayle Brittain
Mail: P.O. Box 194, Norge, VA 23127
Phone: 757-741-7001
Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Amanda Batten