April 28, 2022
Yesterday, April 27, the General Assembly returned to Richmond for the constitutionally-mandated reconvened session. Promptly at noon, the House and Senate gaveled into session to consider the Governor’s vetoes of and amendments to bills passed during the legislative session that adjourned on March 12.

Procedurally, the House and Senate operate slightly differently during the reconvened session. The House first considers all vetoed House bills and next considers all amended House bills. Meanwhile down the hall, the Senate operates in reverse: amendments are considered first, and vetoes are considered afterward. Aside from this difference of order, the underlying process is the same. Following are overviews of both the veto and amendment processes.
Gubernatorial Vetoes
Overriding a gubernatorial veto requires the two-thirds vote of the body. If the House fails to override a veto on a House bill, then the Senate will never hear the bill. If the Senate fails to override a veto on a Senate bill, then the House will never vote on the bill. In both cases, the veto stands as the final action, and the bill is dead. Not one of Governor Youngkin’s twenty-six vetoes (ten in the House and sixteen in the Senate) was overridden yesterday. A list of all vetoed bills is available HERE.
Gubernatorial Amendments
Amendments—gubernatorial recommendations—are handled differently. Accepting a recommendation requires only a simple majority of members present. Similar to the veto process, each body first considers amendments to their own bills: the House reviews House bills, and the Senate considers Senate bills. The House does not hear Senate bills UNLESS the Senate agrees to a gubernatorial amendment. In that case, the House will have the opportunity to also vote on that amendment. (The reverse is also true in regard to the Senate hearing House bills.)

In some cases, the Governor will make multiple recommendations on a bill. Each of these amendments can be considered separately. The legislature can take several types of actions on amendments:
  • “Pass by the Amendment” or Pass by for the Day”: this means the Governor’s amendment will not be considered, and the bill will return to the Governor in its original format. The Governor may either sign or veto the bill at that point.
  • Accept the Governor’s recommendation: if the House accepts a recommendation (via a recorded vote) on a House bill, the Senate will next have a chance to consider that amendment to the House bill. If both bodies agree to the amendment, the bill will return to the Governor for his signature or veto. Both the House and the Senate MUST agree to the amendment(s), or the amended bill will not be communicated back to the Governor.
  • Reject the Governor’s recommendation: this means the Governor’s amendment is not accepted, and the bill will return to the Governor in its original format. The Governor may either sign or veto the bill at that point. 

Needless to say, the process can be both lengthy and complicated. Fortunately, under the excellent leadership of House Speaker Todd Gilbert, yesterday went smoothly. For a full list of the Governor's proposed amendments, click HERE.
Legislation of interest
Senate Bill 591 attempts to regulate products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Notably, the bill was aimed at preventing the sale of THC-laced snack-type products currently operating in an unregulated market. These products are often packaged to appear as popular snacks, a marketing ploy which can lead to ingestion by minors, as noted in this recent article. Interestingly, Virginia Senator Louise Lucas owns a shop that offers these controversial products. Click HERE for an in-depth report on the unusual arrangement.
The bill passed with broad support; however, gubernatorial amendments posed challenges to the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products, which are currently legal. CBD does not have properties that cause a “high.” Additionally, the amendments would have created new criminal penalties for the possession of more than two ounces of marijuana. These amendments were not accepted by the Senate. Instead the bill was referred back to a Senate committee, which effectively kills the entire bill. The House never voted on the amendments.
Senate Bill 741 allows law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition technology in certain cases. There are restrictions on usage; however, there is not a provision for a citizen to opt out of being swept into the database. The images are scraped from websites and social media, meaning that if an individual’s name and image are posted on the internet without their knowledge, their information could easily be pulled into the database. While I fully understand the benefits of this technology to law enforcement, I have grave concerns about privacy. For this reason, I opposed the legislation. The bill nevertheless passed and was subsequently amended by the Governor. Yesterday, the legislature accepted those amendments, and the bill will now return to the Governor for his signature.
House Bill 1138 generated controversy when the Governor amended the bill—which dealt with the arrangement of staggered terms—to include a provision moving the Loudoun County School Board elections to this upcoming November. The General Assembly has in the past moved election dates. Notably, in 2021, the legislature passed a bill moving all local elections from May to November. Accordingly, the House supported the amendment; however, the Senate did not. The Governor can now either sign or veto the original bill.
Political drama
Overshadowing the day’s legislative work was a raging political feud within the House Democratic Caucus. In a shocking move, the House Democrats voted yesterday by secret ballot to oust the former Speaker of the House of Delegates, Eileen Filler-Corn, from her role as House Minority Leader. The House Democrats now have no official leader. The unusual and abrupt change highlights the discontented factions within the House Democrats and raises serious questions about the direction of their caucus. 
Budget update
Just kidding. There's no update. The House and Senate have yet to reach agreement. Once consensus has been reached, however, the legislature will be given forty-eight hours notice to return to Richmond to act on the budget. Bottom line: no one in the General Assembly is going on vacation any time soon.
Gas tax relief
Looking for relief at the pump? Keep looking. Yesterday Senate Democrats rejected the Governor’s proposal to temporarily reduce the gas tax in Virginia. Clearly this is partisan politics at the expense of Virginians. Numerous Democrat-controlled states have taken action to mitigate soaring fuel costs (see: West Virginia, New York, Connecticut), yet Virginia Democrats refuse to do so—allegedly because they do not want to give Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin “a win.” All Virginians will pay the price for this nonsense.
Stay in touch!
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance with any state related matter or agency. My office is located at 7405 Richmond Road in Williamsburg and can be reached by phone at 757-741-7001 or by email at [email protected]. (For campaign-related matters, please send all correspondence to [email protected]).

Have a wonderful day!

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