March 1, 2024
The final countdown to adjournment is underway! With the General Assembly completing its work, the House is currently considering Senate bills while also considering Senate amendments to House bills. In the event that the bodies cannot agree on the language, a committee of conference is named. Typically three members from each chamber (two Democrats and one Republican) are assigned to the committee. They are tasked with developing compromise language which must then be supported by the majority of House and Senate members. Monday will be the last day for standing committee meetings, and by the middle of next week, the sole task of legislators will be working through these conference reports. For perspective, when a conference report is agreed upon, it can be immediately posted online and voted upon within minutes. Explaining the conference report—no matter its length—is the sole responsibility of a conferee. Trust (and quick reading) are imperative during this juncture in the session. This is also the point in the process where legislation can easily die—and do so behind closed doors—due to lack of consensus among just a few members.
Budget update--plus bills heading to the Governor
Remaining unfinished is the budget. Conferees were named to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions, but no substantial progress has been made. The budgets contains language adding a tax on digital transactions as well as significant financial outlays. With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Governor Youngkin is unlikely to receive a budget that contains Republican (i.e., fiscally conservative) priorities. He will, however, (in addition to the budget) receive an array of progressive and/or pricey bills that require his amendments or outright vetoes. In fact, we expect to receive a number of these vetoed or amended bills prior to the scheduled March 9 adjournment of the legislature. Overriding a gubernatorial veto requires a two-thirds vote of the members of the bill’s originating chamber. Accepting an amendment takes only a simple majority.
Democrats for fentanyl?
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, Democrats have taken an alarming and dangerous stance on bills intended to reduce the flood of fentanyl and deter dealers. Numbers do not lie: our Commonwealth is inundated with fentanyl and overdoses. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, “The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division, which covers the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) confiscated more than 639,000 fentanyl pills and 189 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2023. This amount represents more than a three-fold increase in the number of fake pills laced with fentanyl seized in 2022 (180,100).” Despite this fact, Democrats initially refused to hear Senate Bill 469 targeting pill presses, a bill that would have supported the federal government’s initiatives to crack down on these machines that produce deadly pills at a high rate. Democrats clearly indicated this policy was not their priority and proceeded to nonsensically blame the minority party (Republicans) for not somehow forcing the bill through the process. I pushed the issue when the bill was heard in subcommittee, and ultimately—likely through public pressure—the bill passed out of committee and will be heard on the House floor on Monday.
Visitors in Richmond
Reverend Doctor Anthony Fludd from Williamsburg offered an outstanding invocation this week to start the February 29 session, and I hope you will take a moment to listen to his prayer. Also, visiting us were a number of constituents from the 71st District.

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