Join VHF & HACA on Wednesday, April 27th at 12:00 pm for a virtual advocacy chat with Advocacy Consultant, Becky Bowers-Lanier who will go over the highlights of the 2022 Virginia General Assembly » Register here to receive the Zoom link.
The Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die (seen-ay dee-ay as they say in the Senate and sine (sign-ee-die as in “dead” as they in the House of Delegates) on Saturday, March 12, 2022. The members did not complete their business, leaving the budget bill incomplete and a number of bills that were “in conference,” resolving differences in language between two bills with the same purposes.
The Governor has called the Assembly back into “special” session on April 4th, ostensibly to complete its unfinished work on the budget and the remaining bills in conference. In the manner of “rumors and innuendoes” on which we lobbyists operate, no one has seen hide nor hair of any of the budget conferees in Richmond, and while they can operate virtually, it seems unlikely that they would be meeting entirely virtually on matters of such significance as the Commonwealth’s budget for 2022-2024. Consequently, this lobbyist is pessimistic that the April 4th session will achieve its mission, at least in the short term.
As for the budget, the “hold up” is over tax cuts. Governor Youngkin has proposed a gas tax cut and perhaps other tax cuts that he promised the voters. His proposals seem to be backed by House Republicans in general. At least one Senate Republican has publicly expressed concern about cutting taxes when core services may be adversely impacted. Writing in the Richmond Times Dispatch on March 26, Senator Emmett Hanger stated, “It’s our duty to look to the future, and recognize these dollars are finite and must be spent wisely.” So, we will stay tuned to see what happens April 4th.
After April 4th, the General Assembly will return for the “reconvened” session, currently scheduled for Wednesday, April 27th. The reconvened session is designed to deliberate on any gubernatorial actions taken on bills passed in the regular session.
We followed several types of bills during the session, including health insurance bills, bills on food and personal hygiene taxes, school health services bills, and some miscellaneous bills. The complete bill list can be found here.
On the health insurance bills, our community lost the battle that we successfully fought the past three years to prevent the enactment of “association” health plans. With the change in the Governor’s seat, we realized that we would not be able to get a veto on these bills; consequently, several passed. These include HB 768, HB 884, SB 195, and SB 335. We are disappointed that these types of health plans will be offered, since they have the potential to draw away healthy individuals from the ACA plans, thus increasing the cost of health insurance for people with more expensive conditions.
On the tax bills, these bills that would exempt sales taxes on food and essential personal hygiene products are on their way toward passage. Both bills, HB 90 and SB 451, are in conference and the differences between the two will be resolved in the April 4th session. Exempting personal hygiene products from sales tax is a policy issue that we supported because of its disproportionate impact on girls and women with inherited bleeding disorders.
Finally, the school health services bills are designed to create a state-level school health policy advisory committee to provide advice to the General Assembly about student health conditions. Both bills, HB 215 and SB 62, passed and are awaiting the Governor’s signature, which is due April 11th.
If you have any specific questions about these or any other bills, please do not hesitate to contact Becky Bowers-Lanier at firstname.lastname@example.org and many thanks for your advocacy on behalf of our community!