Opinion — What’s up next

Published 7:06 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

The Reconvened Session on April 27 is likely to be a lengthy session given the amount of actions taken by Governor Youngkin.

The Governor announced amendments to more than 100 pieces of legislation. Most of the Governor’s amendments are innocuous, many merely offering technical fixes or clarifications requested by executive agencies. He added emergency clauses to a few Republican bills and reenactment clauses to 10 other bills, overwhelmingly those sponsored by Democrats.

Currently garnering the most attention is his revision to Del. Reid’s bill regarding the Loudoun County School Board. The Governor’s amendments took a bill that would have staggered the terms of elected school board members and put all of them on the ballot for new terms this November. Speaking to the press about the bill, the Governor said that his amendment was designed to give parents a more immediate voice in the school board’s affairs. The Board has been under fire for several decisions, including the way they handled reports of sexual assault in their schools.

Other amendments included eliminating a potential tax increase on gaming receipts paid by charitable organizations, clarifying hemp sale statutes and prohibiting sales of products containing Delta-8, changes to a bill allowing law enforcement the limited use of facial recognition technology.

You can view a list of the amendments at: lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+lst+REC.

Governor Youngkin announced that he vetoed 26 bills, All patroned by Democrats. The list includes legislation that raised fees on household waste collection, limited the constitutionally vested authority of the State Corporation Commission, and would have made Virginia only the second state in the country to prohibit “name, image, likeness” deals for high school athletes.

You can view a list of the vetos at: lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+lst+VET.

It takes 67 votes in the House to override a veto, and it takes a majority of the members present to accept the Governor’s Amendments to any legislation.

Veto overrides in Virginia are exceedingly rare. During the 2020 reconvened session, Democrats flipped votes to keep from overriding a Northam veto, HB 795 regarding association health plans.

Should either chamber reject an amendment, the bill goes back to the governor in its original form for signature or veto.

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed 700 bills into law, taking action on a total of 841 bills sent to his desk during the 2022 General Assembly session. You can find an updated list of legislation signed into law, along with actions taken on the remaining bills passed during the 2022 General Assembly session, on the lis.virginia.gov.

To date, USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in commercial and backyard flocks in several states including Virginia. Avian influenza viruses are classified as either “low pathogenic (LPAI)” or “highly pathogenic (HPAI)” based on their genetic features and the severity of the disease they cause in poultry. Caused by an influenza type A virus, HPAI can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and wild birds (especially waterfowl).

The clinical signs of birds affected with all forms of Avian Influenza may show one or more of the following; sudden death without clinical signs, decreased water consumption up to 72 hours before other clinical signs, lack of energy and appetite, decreased egg production, soft–shelled or misshapen eggs, swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles and hocks, purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, lack of coordination and diarrhea.

With the recent detections of avian influenza in wild birds and domestic poultry in the United States, bird owners should review their biosecurity practices and stay vigilant to protect poultry and pet birds from transmission of this disease. The following bio-safety guidelines are effective methods for safeguarding commercial operations and smaller flocks:

Backyard flock owners should practice strict biosecurity, including preventing birds from exposure and/or co-mingling with wild birds and other types of poultry. Shower, change clothes, and clean and disinfect footwear before entering your poultry housing areas. Respiratory protection such as a medical facemask would also be important and remember to always wear clean clothes when encountering healthy domestic birds.

Carefully follow safe entry and exit procedures into your flock’s clean area. Reduce the attractiveness for wild birds to stop at your place by cleaning up litter and spilled feed around poultry housing areas. If you have free-range guinea fowl and waterfowl, consider bringing them into coops or flight pens under nets to prevent interaction of domesticated poultry with wild birds and their droppings.

As part of the existing USDA Avian Influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; Eradicate – depopulate the affected flock(s); Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and Test – confirming that the poultry farm is AI virus-free.

Sick or deceased domestic birds should be reported to your local veterinarian. Positive domestic cases are handled by APHIS and its partners.

If you do not raise domestic birds or have a poultry operation but you encounter sick or dead wild birds, please use bio-safety measures, and report your findings through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this strain of Avian Influenza is a low risk to the public. While the transmission rate from animals to humans is low, it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be shared between species. To learn more about Avian Influenza and to remain up to date on the latest related news and information, you can visit the USDAAPHIS webpage.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.