Tommy Wright: Some thoughts on Virginia’s new laws

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Tommy WrightNew laws went into effect in our commonwealth on July 1. During the 2023 General Assembly Session, House Republicans continued to fight to lower costs for Virginia’s families, restore excellence in education for our students, and further our commitment to keep our communities safe.

While Senate Democrats often stonewalled important pieces of legislation from becoming law, House Republicans were still able to overcome the partisan divide and passed a smaller but still significant amount of legislation that will benefit the lives of every Virginian.

Just as importantly, we blocked extreme legislation from becoming law. With some exceptions, most new laws in Virginia take effect on the first day of the fiscal year, which took place on July 1.

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When my Republican colleagues and I arrived in Richmond for the 2023 Legislative Session, we made it a priority to lower costs for families and enhance Virginia’s competitive advantage as a job-creating destination.

While Senate Democrats killed our legislative package that would have delivered significant tax relief to families and small businesses (HB 2319 & HB 2138), our budget negotiators are still hard at work to put more money back into the pockets of Virginians.

Unfortunately, efforts to reach an agreement on the budget have been stalled by Senate Democrats who refuse to compromise.


Meanwhile, House Republicans also passed a variety of bills (HB 1770; HB 1777) aimed to immediately lower energy rates for electric utility customers across Virginia while adding oversight on electric utilities to ensure the reliability of the electric grid and maximize future savings for customers in the long-term. Fortunately, these bills were met with bipartisan support and approved by Governor Youngkin.

My House Republican colleagues and I also attempted to decouple Virginia’s emissions standards from California to ensure Virginians have the freedom to purchase a vehicle that fits their budget. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats wanted to mandate the purchase of expensive electric vehicles that lack sufficient charging infrastructure and defeated the legislation.


Recent reports from the Department of Education related to student test scores show a clear and immediate need for more resources for our students to succeed. House Republicans successfully passed legislation (HB 1526) that expands proven and effective reading support to more students across Virginia.

While we also tried to advance legislation (HB 2269) that earmarks specific unspent federal funds to invest in our students and combat learning loss, Democrats in the Senate defeated the measure.


While it is important to highlight beneficial laws that will go into effect, it is equally important to shed light on extreme legislation that could have become law had we not been successful in blocking them.

This includes defeating a variety of unconstitutional restrictions on guns that would have made several current legal gun owners’ felons. Moreover, we defeated some of the most extreme gun control legislation to date, including a state-funded firearm “buy-back” program – though the government never owned the guns in the first place.

Rather than promote a restrictive gun control agenda that punishes responsible gun owners, House Republicans advanced a legislative package to deter crime more effectively by ensuring criminals who commit heinous offenses with a firearm stay behind bars (HB 2360).

We also advanced legislation (HB 1642) that nearly became law in 2019 that would ensure drug dealers who are responsible for fatal drug overdoses could be charged with felony homicide. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats defeated both common-sense solutions.

DEL. TOMMY WRIGHT can be reached via email at or (804) 698-1061.