January 28, 2022
As the potential for yet another snow event looms on the horizon, Friday seems akin to Groundhog Day here in the General Assembly. Possible wintry weather combined with an imminent weekend unfailingly triggers a prompt exodus from the building. After a hectic week of overlapping meetings (including one with Rep. Rob Wittman, pictured with me at left), members and staff alike typically depart early to return to their districts. This week is no different, and the building now has the feel of a ghost town.

Believe it or not, the deadline is fast approaching by which the House and Senate must complete work on their respective legislation. Early mornings and late nights are now commonplace, as are moments where legislators must be in two—or three—meetings simultaneously. Subcommittee and committee meetings are growing increasingly lengthy as chairs endeavor to ensure that every bill receives a fair and thorough hearing. For the first time in House history, the technology now exists to allow public testimony both in-person and virtually. This hybrid format permits greater participation from Virginians who are not easily able to travel to the Capitol. If you'd like to leave comment or testify remotely on a bill, click HERE for a list of upcoming committee meetings. Simply locate the upcoming committee meeting in which you'd like to participate and click the "Provide Comment" link. You may then choose whether to leave a written comment (which will be available for public view) or sign up to attend remotely and to speak.
Republican Legislative Priorities
Republican legislative priorities are gradually emerging from House committees and moving to the floor. Earlier today, the House Privileges and Elections Committee repealed the provision allowing individuals to register to vote and then vote at the same time. Also this morning, the House Public Safety Committee passed House Bill 827, which limits the ability of a locality to prohibit the possession and transportation of firearms. This bill removes language allowing for a patchwork of locality-specific regulations that largely served to confuse law-abiding gun owners. These bills will be heard on the House floor next week. (In full disclosure: the fate of these bills in the Senate is unknown.)

In a significant victory for student safety, the House Education Committee earlier this week passed House Bill 4. This legislation undoes the damage inflicted by the now-infamous House Bill 257, which passed in 2021 and removed the requirement that school principals report certain misdemeanors—including sexual battery—to law enforcement. House Bill 257 gained notoriety last year due to a series of sexual assaults in Loudoun County schools. I am pleased that the legislature is taking action to address this grave danger, and I look forward to continuing to support House Bill 4 when it is heard on the floor next week.
Attorney General Opinion re: mandatory vaccines for college students
This morning the Office of the Attorney General released an opinion that public institutions of higher education in Virginia may not require vaccination against COVID-19 as a general condition of students' enrollment or in-person attendance. Click HERE for the opinion.
House Bill 544
Earlier today my House Bill 544 passed out of the House Privileges and Elections Committee. In recognition of the reality that Democrats still hold a majority in the Senate, I again introduced my legislation allowing a voter to opt into being required to show a valid photo identification issued by the Commonwealth. This is a less restrictive measure than universal voter identification, yet it will allow concerned Virginians to ensure that their vote is secure. The bill will be heard on the House floor next week.
Fireworks on the House Floor
Wednesday brought fireworks to the House floor. After a Democrat’s inflammatory (and unprecedented) speech leveling charges of racism against House Republicans and questioning the religious faith of Governor Youngkin, Republicans responded robustly. In a representative form of government, elected Republicans and Democrats reflect the policy priorities of the voters who propelled them to office. Disparaging the motives, intentions, and faith—rather than the policies—of elected public servants is therefore a proxy for criticizing the motives, intentions, and faith of every Virginian who cast a ballot. To view the floor debates, click HERE and forward to 12:43 PM. Kudos to Republican Delegate Nick Freitas for making an exceptionally eloquent argument!
The following groups brought visitors from the district this week:
Bruce Howard Contracting
Convention of States
Richmond Area Municipal Contractors
(pictured at left)
Safe Tech Schools
Virginia Citizens Defense League
Virginia Commonwealth University
Medical Students
Virginia Sheriff’s Association

As we head into the weekend, please continue monitoring the weather. To check road conditions online, please visit https://www.511virginia.org/. If you experience a power outage, contact Dominion Energy by phone at (866) 366-4357 or online HERE.

My legislative survey remains open. If you have not yet done so, please click HERE to complete the questionnaire. If you'd like to visit my Richmond office, I am located in Room 432 of the Pocahontas Building at 900 E. Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. As always, we remain available to assist with constituent service. If you have a problem with a state-related matter or agency or would like to set up a virtual meeting, please contact my legislative aide, Ms. Dayle Brittain by phone at 804-698-1096 or by email at [email protected].

Stay warm and safe!
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