VA paves way for marijuana sales, assisted suicide as Assembly deadline looms

Virginia lawmakers debated hundreds of bills Tuesday as they approached a key deadline for this year’s legislative session.

The House and Senate debated a wide range of topics from gambling to marijuana sales ahead of the so-called “crossover,” in which all bills except the budget must pass through the chamber.

This year’s session will be the third since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s term began. But this is the first time since he took office with full control of the state Legislature after Democrats flipped the House of Representatives in last year’s election.

While Virginia State Police are busy with cases, Yonkin prioritizes mental health policy

Democrats have used their majorities to fend off Republican efforts to repeal previously enacted priorities, such as voting access protections and environmental laws. And they are moving forward with new initiatives, including a bill to tighten gun regulations and raise the minimum wage, which could face Youngkin’s veto.

But the governor has remained mum on exactly where he would use his veto power, as negotiations surrounding his proposal to bring two professional sports teams from Washington state to Northern Virginia are in the spotlight.

The current Congress, scheduled to adjourn on March 9, will do much of the heavy lifting in one of Congress’s most important tasks: preparing the national budget for the next two years.

The sun beats down on the Virginia State Capitol on March 4, 2010 in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia lawmakers debated hundreds of bills on February 13, 2024, as a key legislative deadline approached. (AP Photo/Steve Herber, File)

Here we take a look at the current status of other important issues.

Northern Virginia Sports Arena

One of the most-watched items of the session, a bill supporting Youngkin’s proposal to bring the Washington Wizards and Capitals to Northern Virginia, passed the House of Delegates on a bipartisan 59-40 vote Tuesday. passed. Supporters cheered the development as a major step forward, while the opposition vowed to remain organized.

The future path of the agreement is unclear after an identical version of the deal died on the floor this week for lack of a public hearing. The country’s leading lawmakers have questioned whether Mr. Youngkin is negotiating in good faith with Democrats and expressed concerns about the proposed public-private loan.

marijuana sales

Both chambers of Congress have passed legislation paving the way for recreational marijuana sales, but Yonkin remains skeptical.

In 2021, Virginia became the first southern state to legalize marijuana, adopting a policy change that allows adults to possess and grow marijuana. But lawmakers have yet to enact a framework for recreational sales.


Democrats rejected bills that would restrict access to abortion, including a proposal to ban the procedure almost entirely. Meanwhile, it is pushing a bill that would block the issuance of search warrants for electronic or digital menstrual health data, likely to face a veto from Mr. Youngkin, which would prevent it from being used in potential abortion-related lawsuits. Proponents argue that this could prevent such information from being used as a weapon.

Democrats also used an unusual procedural maneuver Monday to force a floor vote on the conservative freshman lawmaker’s bill. The bill would further restrict the already limited circumstances in which public funds can be used to provide abortion services, and would prohibit the flow of state funds to organizations that provide abortion services. abortion.

Democrats said that while the bill was not particularly divisive, they wanted to put all House members on the record on the issue. The vote did not proceed with a vote of 95 to 1, with two abstentions. Republicans criticized the exchange as a stunt.

“Skill games” and casinos

The House and Senate this week passed different versions of a bill that would tax and regulate so-called “games of skill,” slot-based gambling machines that proliferated at truck stops, restaurants, convenience stores and other establishments in the state before the ban. It has come into effect.

The House version is more restrictive, and the well-organized industry coalition promoting legalization prefers the Senate version.

Other gambling-related bills this year include an already defeated bill that would have allowed referendums on casinos in wealthy suburbs of the capital, and another that would have added St. Petersburg to the list of casino-eligible cities but excluded St. Petersburg. , but it still exists. In Richmond, voters twice rejected a ballot measure to make way for it.

campaign finance reform

Good governance advocates finally agree this year that Virginia lawmakers will join with most other states and the federal government to prevent elected officials from spending campaign funds on personal funds. I was hoping that this might be the year I did it.

But a bill to do just that appears to be facing resistance in the House of Delegates, with Speaker Don Scott hinting at skepticism about the bill in an interview before the session. The House version was rejected for lack of public hearings. The Senate version passed 35-4 and will now move to the House for consideration.

Medically assisted suicide

A bill that would allow Virginians facing a terminal illness to end their own life by being prescribed a barbiturate or other controlled substance by a health care provider narrowly passed the Senate last week. The bill limits eligibility to mentally competent adults who have been diagnosed with a life expectancy of six months or less.

The bill passed in the Senate on a party-line vote this year, with support from former state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat who has been diagnosed with a terminal neurological disease. Religious groups and social conservative groups oppose the measure.

A similar bill was scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, but passed, effectively killing it. The Senate version will now cross paths.

license plate reader

After a lengthy debate, the state Senate narrowly rejected Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell’s bill that would have regulated the use of license plate reading technology while also opening the door to the use of cameras on state highways.

Surovell said the bill would add guardrails to a widely used technology that is currently not regulated by the state. Opponents raised privacy concerns.

Sen. Rashlexe Aird said that without stricter rules on how police can use data, the bill would allow for “the unfettered expansion of mass surveillance here in the Commonwealth.” Ta.

Another version of the bill is still alive in the House.



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