The last day of the 2024 Session of the General Assembly was Saturday, March 9, 2024. While we have accomplished important work, a lot of uneasiness was in the air around what the Governor intends to do with the hundreds of bills, including the budget, sent to his desk.

At the beginning of this session, we knew we needed to fill two slots on the State Corporation Commission that had been vacant for over a year. Last year, when Republicans controlled the House of Delegates, they blocked filling those seats because they wanted to make both appointments. The logical approach would have been for the Senate and House to each fill one of those vacancies. As a result, neither was filled. In the meantime, the backlog of work at the State Corporation Commission grew. At the same time, the state is implementing the Clean Economy Act, which was passed in 2020, so the work of the SCC has taken on a level of importance that cannot be understated.

Knowing all of that, right after the November election, I got to work setting up the framework to make those SCC appointments early on during the session. I worked with Delegate Jeion Ward, Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Commerce, to seek and interview potential candidates, and to hold hearings. We filled those slots. Kelsey Bagot of Loudoun County and Sam Towell of Richmond will both be outstanding members of the SCC.

Visiting with a group of school counseling students from UVA during the last week.

Visiting with a group of school counseling students from UVA during the last week.

We passed bills this session to protect same-sex marriage and access to abortion care. We worked to create safer communities by limiting access to firearms. We passed measures to allow for the creation of a retail cannabis market and to raise the minimum wage. We included language in the budget to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). We added more than $1.2 billion, above what the Governor proposed for K-12 education. We made a lot of progress on behalf of the people we serve, even though we only had the smallest of majorities in both the House and the Senate. We cannot control whether the Governor signs those bills, but the groundwork has been laid for future progress.

And as important as anything else, we finished the legislative session on time. For the past two years, disagreements over tax cuts between a divided legislature led to extensions of the session and late budget action. Last year the budget wasn’t adopted until September. While we adopted a budget on time this year, there is no guarantee that the Governor will sign it. The budget includes items the Governor does not support, and some of those may be difficult for the Governor to veto because they are woven into the fabric of the budget itself. Speculation is rampant that he may opt to veto the budget, which would set us up for another prolonged budget debate. But the General Assembly finished our work on time, including passage of a balanced budget that invests in our core priorities – K-12 education, health care, and infrastructure.

Presenting a copy SJR 141 to the family of former Delegate George Kostel.

Presenting a copy SJR 141 to the family of former Delegate George Kostel.

In December, the Governor proposed the construction of an arena for the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals in Alexandria. I’ve discussed this many times throughout the session. It is not unusual for governors to negotiate with the legislature on major initiatives, and rumors swirled about linking signature pieces of legislation with the arena. However, the Governor indicated no desire to compromise and no desire to change the terms of the deal. As a result, that was never really on the table.

In our system of government, we have three co equal branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. We do not have a CEO of Virginia’s government. The Governor has wanted to present plans without any questions or changes. That is just not acceptable and not the way government works.

It continues to be my high honor to serve you in the Senate of Virginia. If I may be of service, do not hesitate to contact us at (434) 296-5491 or