This past week a few election integrity measures saw success — particularly HB205 to prohibit the private funding of elections that passed in the House, the Red Tape Reduction Act was advanced to the House floor, and the bill to allow Universities and Colleges to create K-12 schools was passed in committee. Additionally, Lt. Governor Sears broke a tie vote in the Senate for her first time, and in a remarkable showing of bi-partisan support, SB 739 passed the Senate with an amendment that would end mask mandates at school, if the bill is adopted.

EDUCATION

SB 598: Creation of College Partnership Laboratory Schools
This legislation would allow public or private institutions of higher education to establish a K-12 school called a laboratory school. The institution of higher education would submit an application to the state Board of Education to start a laboratory school. There is also a provision that allows an already existing school to be converted into a lab school.

  • Bill status: Passed Senate Education and Health and Finance and Appropriations Committees
  • Bill text, history and information: Click HERE

HB 1025: Educational Savings Account
This bill champions parental choice in education by giving parents 90% of the state funds allotted for a public school student if the parents would like to pursue different education options. The money would be offered to parents through an Educational Savings Account system and is required to be spent on education related expenses. 

  • Bill status: Referred to House Committee on Education
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

ELECTION INTEGRITY

HB 46: Voter Identification
This bill requires a voter to present an ID with a photograph at the polls in order to cast a ballot. If the voter does not present a photo ID, they can receive and vote a provisional ballot. The legislation also removes the option for a voter to sign a statement confirming their own identity as an alternative to providing an ID. Further, it removes the option to provide a utility bill or other document without a photograph to provide proof of identity. Lastly, it repeals the permanent absentee voter list. These are good policy measures and would create robust safeguards for election integrity in Virginia. 

  • Bill status: Passed House Committee
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

HB 185: Limited Same Day Registration

Adoption of this legislation would establish a good policy to prohibit same day voter registration, with only three exceptions. The three specified exceptions are: service members of the United States on active duty, individuals temporarily living outside of the country, and a spouse or dependent of one of the first two categories.

  • Bill status: Passed House Floor: 52 yes, 47 no
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE 

HB 205 & SB 80: Election Financing
Both pieces of legislation would make it illegal for any elected state or local election official to accept money from any individual or entity except the government to fund an election in Virginia. This policy would be beneficial in preserving unbiased elections.

  • HB 205 status: Passed House Floor: 51 yes, 48 no
  • HB 205 bill text, history, and information: Click HERE
  • SB 80 status: Passed Senate Floor unanimously: 40 yes, 0 no
  • SB 80 bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

HB 544: Optional Restrictive ID
This bill would allow a voter to inform the state that they are personally opting into a photo ID requirement which would be enforced at the polls for that voter. This would prevent a person from showing up to the polls and falsely claiming they were that voter and casting a ballot. Although it doesn’t provide as much security as a full photo ID requirement for all voters, this measure would be a step towards increased election security. 

  • Bill status: Passed House floor: 51 yes, 49 no votes
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

EMINENT DOMAIN

SB 666: Citizen Protections Related to Eminent Domain
This bill revises the definitions of “lost access” and “lost profits,” related to eminent domain. This is a good policy that would increase protections to citizens who are affected by a public use project. 

  • Bill status: Read for the second time on the Senate Floor
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

SB 694: Update to Eminent Domain Code
This bill would continue to align the sections of the state code that cover eminent domain with language and intent of the 2012 Constitutional Amendment on the issue. 

  • Bill status: Passed the Senate Floor unanimously: 38 yes, 0 no
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

HEALTHCARE

HB 80: Healthcare Regulatory Sandbox
This legislation advances innovation in Virginia by creating the Healthcare Regulatory Sandbox Program for five years. Participants that have been accepted into the program may temporarily test a healthcare product or service for 2-3 years without the normal licensure or authorization the state requires. An annual report including information about the participants and effectiveness of the program will be prepared and given to the health related committee chairmen in the House and Senate each year. 

  • Bill status: Read for the second time on the House Floor
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

HB 81: State Telehealth Plan
This bill requires the Board of Health to use a private Virginia telehealth organization for general consultation and assistance with tracking implementation of the State Plan. This would contribute to the success of the State Telehealth Plan going forward. 

  • Bill status: Passed the House in a block vote  97-0, then assigned to Senate Education and Health Committee
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

HB 537: Exception for Telemedicine
This bill allows a licensed professional outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia to temporarily provide care to a patient located within the state through telemedicine under certain conditions. This is a good bill that increases access to medical care.

  • Bill status: Passed the House Floor, Referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

JUSTICE SYSTEM

SB 378 & HB 906: Inmate Sentences
These bills propose to make changes related to the sentences served by those convicted of crimes in the Commonwealth. The bill provides an opportunity for inmates who have served a certain amount of their sentence without incident to petition for a modification to the rest of their term in prison.

  • SB 378 status: Passed Senate Judiciary and Finance and Appropriations Committee
  • SB 378 bill text, history, and information: Click HERE
  • HB 906 status: Referred to House Committee for Courts of Justice
  • HB 906 bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

REGULATORY REFORM

HB 207: Committee Chairmen
This bill requires that when any legislation would increase or start occupational regulation through the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR)  that the chairman of the committee having jurisdiction over the bill send it to (DPOR) for evaluation.  

  • Bill status: Passed the House floor: unanimous block vote – 99 yes and 0 no, referred to Senate Rules Committee
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

HB 244: Red Tape Reduction Act
This bill institutes a beneficial Regulatory Reduction Program, designed to inhibit the growth of executive agencies and create a system of target goals for them to reduce regulations and provide regular reports on their progress. 

SECOND AMENDMENT 

HB 827: Localities’ Authority to Restrict Carrying
This bill would remove localities’ authority to prohibit guns in government buildings and public parks and buildings. Sixteen localities currently have such laws, which leaves individuals carrying a gun vulnerable to unintentionally violating the law as they travel across the Commonwealth. 

  • Bill status: Passed House floor: 52 yes, 48 no
  • Bill text, history, and information: Click HERE

LEGISLATION GRAVEYARD 2022

HB 71 & SB 45: Campaign Contributions by Public Utilities
Both pieces of legislation, if adopted, would add protection from bias to elections and protect from corruption in the marketplace by prohibiting public utility entities from making financial contributions to candidates campaigning for political office.

  • HB 71 bill status: Failed in the House Privileges and Elections Subcommittee #2
  • HB 71 bill text, history, and info: Click HERE
  • SB 45 bill status: Failed in Senate Privileges and Elections Committee
  • SB 45 bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

HB 529: Misclassification of Workers
This bill proposed to provide an independent contractor with legal protection to explicitly self-identify as a contractor and prevent forced classification as an employee.

  • Bill status: Continued to 2023 in the House Commerce and Energy Subcommittee #1
  • Bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

HB 553: Opportunity Classroom
This bill opens the door for Virginia students to get a head start in a career by granting teachers the authority to enter into an agreement with a school board to teach a curriculum on required subjects through an industry specific lens in a designated school classroom. 

  • Bill status: Laid on the table in House Education Subcommittee on Early Childhood/Innovation
  • Bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

SB 390: Election Audit Process
This bill addresses the need to ensure that all voting machines in the state are functioning correctly, by establishing an audit process that would check every machine once every 5 years.

  • Bill status: Failed in Senate Privileges and Elections Committee
  • Bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

HB 208 & SB 712: Universal Sandbox Program
This bill facilitates a stronger free market and accelerated innovation by establishing the Virginia Regulatory Sandbox Program. Individuals who would like to participate in the program would apply, and once accepted would be granted a waiver from one or more state laws to make a desired product, use a desired production method, or provide a service. 

  • HB 208 bill status: Tabled in the House Appropriations Committee
  • HB 208 bill text, history, and info: Click HERE
  • SB 712 bill status: Continued to 2023 in Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee
  • SB 712 bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

SB 75: Right to Firearm at Government Locations
This bill is a repeal of the current prohibition to carry a firearm at or near the Virginia Capitol building and various other locations where government work takes place.  

  • Bill status: Failed in Senate Committee on Rules
  • Bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

HB 922: Financial Technology (FinTech) Sandbox Program
This legislation advances innovation in Virginia by creating the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Program. Participants that have been accepted into the program may conduct testing of a financial product or service for 2-3 years without the normal licensure or authorization the state requires. 

  • Bill status: Failed by being stricken from the committee docket
  • Bill text, history, and info: Click HERE

About the author: Lindsey Zea is a Policy Analyst for Virginia Institute for Public Policy. She’s passionate about liberty and skilled in state and local public policy research, writing, coalition building, and drafting legislation. Lindsey has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Brigham Young University – Idaho and enjoys seeing current events and politics through the lens of the past and anticipating the future with a lens of hope.