February 23, 2024
Thousands of bills are heard during a regular General Assembly session, and hundreds will pass the legislature and head to the Governor for his approval. None, however, are as important as the budget. Without a finalized budget, legislation is not enacted because there is no funding to implement the policies. Likewise, the budget must be adopted to avoid a government shutdown. Accordingly, during this “long” eight-week session, Virginia will adopt its biennial budget with a fiscal year beginning on July 1. Typically, work on the budget is completed during the regular session, which is scheduled to adjourn in two weeks. If that deadline is not met, legislators often return to their respective districts while budget conferees continue working on the budget.

Speculating about the completion date is premature as we are in the early stages of the budget process. Just yesterday, the House and Senate passed their respective versions of the budget. With Democrat majorities in both chambers, the budgets removed Governor Youngkin’s proposed tax cuts and public safety priorities, instead pursuing tax increases (which fund yet more spending) and regulatory policies that will drive up costs for energy, housing, businesses, and families. During yesterday’s floor debate, Republicans offered over fifty amendments and/or objections to specific budget items, all of which were rejected by the narrow Democrat majority. Republicans attempted to remove the tax hike (imposition of a sales tax on digital downloads), reinstate funding for campus security, and remove language making dangerous felons eligible for early release. The budget format is complex, so please do not hesitate to contact my office with specific questions.
A second look at second look
In a previous newsletter, I shared information about legislation to expand eligibility for felons’ early release from prison. While the House version failed to pass, the Senate Bill 427, is currently under consideration. On Wednesday, the Criminal Subcommittee heard the bill. When asked how many inmates would be eligible for release upon passage of the bill, the Department of Corrections stated that 701 first degree murderers, 325 rapists, and hundreds of others convicted of serious offenses would be immediately eligible.

This legislation requires notification of and engagement with victims, many of whom have zero interest in reliving their intense trauma. Moreover, because individual Commonwealth’s Attorneys are also required to engage in the process, there would be a patchwork of different outcomes throughout Virginia depending on the mindset of the victim and/or the attorney. This removes principles of equality from our justice system and sets up a dangerous framework. The bill passed the full Courts Committee and is headed to the Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
Visitors in Richmond
We enjoyed seeing students from William and Mary this week during their annual Road to Richmond event! This week also brought visitors from the following organizations:

  • District Day - 71st District
  • Justice Forward Virginia
  • Medical Society of Virginia
  • Students for Life
  • Virginia Education Association

My district office remains closed as we operate out of our Richmond office. If you'd like to visit, I am located in Room 712 of the General Assembly Building at 201 North 9th Street, Richmond, VA 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 meeting by phone, email, or in-person, please my legislative aide, Ms. Dayle Brittain by phone at 804-698-1071 or by email at [email protected].
Have a great weekend!
Contact Delegate Batten
Legislative Aide: Ms. Dayle Brittain
Mail: P.O. Box 194, Norge, VA 23127
Phone: 757-741-7001
Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Amanda Batten