The 2022 Regular Session of the General Assembly rolls along as we move through bills and committee work, towards crossover. Crossover, which is February 15 this year, is the date by which the Senate must finish its work on Senate bills and the House must act on House bills. The bills then move to the other side for consideration.
The one exception is the budget. The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations Committee will report out their respective versions of the budget on Sunday, February 20. The full Senate and House will vote on the proposals on February 24. Negotiations will then begin in earnest to reconcile the two versions of the budget.
The headline-grabbing work of the General Assembly is focused on efforts by the Republican majority in the House and minority in the Senate to undo much of the work that the Democrats accomplished over the past couple of years. Many of those bills will pass the House, simply because the Republicans have the majority. For example, the House passed a bill last week to stop the one-dollar minimum wage increase scheduled to occur on January 1, 2023. They have passed bills to micromanage the curriculum in our public schools. They have passed bills to turn back some of the criminal justice reforms we accomplished. However, the Senate cognates have already died in the Senate. We are simply not going back.
Education reform is an interesting topic to highlight in this discussion. Under our system of government, education policy is set out by the General Assembly and the Governor, but the details are filled in by the state Board of Education and by local school boards. Candidly, local governments provide most of the money for public education around the Commonwealth. Our system is set up to maintain local control over education. Some of the rhetoric and promises made on the campaign trail have resulted in legislation, but the reality is that those bills are unlikely to pass and would be ineffective even if they did. Candidly, politicians should not be micromanaging the specifics of what is taught in our public schools.
Some of the efforts I have undertaken this session could get caught in the crosshairs. For example, I am carrying a bill to allow the City of Charlottesville to have a referendum on raising the local sales tax for school construction. If the referendum passes, it will allow Charlottesville to move forward with a much-needed plan to renovate Buford Middle School. Other localities, some in very rural and conservative areas, have this tool. The proposal passed out of the Senate, but the House version, sponsored by Delegate Sally Hudson, was defeated. We are working to see if there is a path forward to get my bill out of the House. Charlottesville school children should not be caught in this political tug-of-war in Richmond.
The Bath County Board of Supervisors asked me to introduce legislation to allow the County to impose a fee on the collection of waste after conducting a public hearing and adopting a local ordinance. Again, other localities have been granted that power. However, there was not a cognate in the House of Delegates. We will see whether the House passes my bill to give Bath County this same authority or whether that legislation gets hung up in this political morass.
It continues to be my high honor to serve you in the Senate of Virginia. If I can be of service, please contact me at (804) 698-7525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.