Tommy Wright: Ironing out the wrinkles

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Democrats passed a laundry list of bad bills this session, and now Governor Youngkin has issued a laundry list of vetoes. 

The first bill regards HB 1 that raises the minimum wage from $12.00 to $13.50 in 2025, then to $15.00 in 2026. The current law in the Commonwealth mandates an increased minimum wage, indexed to economic conditions, starting in October 2024, a preferable approach that allows for gradual adjustments. 

However, implementing a $15-per-hour wage mandate risks harming Virginia’s economic progress, particularly for small businesses outside of Northern Virginia. This proposal imposes a mandatory 25% increase in starting wages, likely leading to higher operational costs, inflation, and job losses, while also undermining Virginia’s economic competitiveness compared to neighboring states. 

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HB 1475 was vetoed and deals with firearms in unattended motor vehicle and results in a civil penalty. The proposal penalizes law-abiding Virginians for storing firearms in their vehicles, regardless of circumstances, shifting responsibility from criminals who steal firearms and highlighting the need for prioritizing prosecution and punishment of offenders. We should lock up the people who steal guns and use them in crimes, not harass the victims of that theft. 

HB 26 was vetoed and deals with Virginia currently permits various acceptable forms of voter identification, including a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document containing the name and address of the voter, including an expired driver’s license. 


Let’s talk about Voter ID cards. They are issued to eligible voters without charge, and one may already cast a ballot by signing an affidavit of identity. Expanding this list presents additional complexities for poll workers in discerning which forms of identification are acceptable. 

HB 45 regards earned sentence credits and incarceration prior to entry of final order of conviction. The proposal grants inmates earned sentence credits for time served pre-conviction, including in state hospitals, and retroactively applies to current sentences. This diverges from the Commonwealth’s truth-in-sentencing policy, raising concerns about public safety due to potential re-offending risks. Similar measures elsewhere have resulted in higher re-arrest rates and increased recidivism. 

Eligibility extends to parole-eligible individuals, potentially releasing offenders prematurely. 

Additionally, the proposal lacks adequate protection against legal liabilities, potentially burdening the judicial system and disregards victims’; interests, prioritizing leniency over accountability. 

HB 77 was vetoed and regards robbery; conforms certain provisions of the Code of VA to the degrees of robbery offenses. The proposal reduces penalties for various types of robberies, posing significant public safety risks for the Commonwealth. Its retroactive nature affects around 3,340 inmates currently incarcerated for robbery offenses. 

Releasing violent offenders early jeopardizes community safety, as evidenced by high re-arrest rates among those released with enhanced sentence credits. 

This bill undermines confidence in safe streets by further diminishing consequences for robbery, including cases involving deadly weapons or repeat offenders. 


Crime is one of the major concerns we heard about during the campaign in 2023, and it was one of the major focuses of our legislation this session. Democrats, however, were interested in making life easier for criminals. Bills that would have cracked down on fentanyl dealers, like HB 437, didn’t get a hearing. 

Nor did HB 450, which would have created a mandatory minimum sentence for those dealing that poison. Legislation that would have set a strong standard against driving while under the influence of marijuana didn’t get a hearing. Even legislation that would have cracked down on repeat offenders using firearms or those committing sexual extortion were left without a hearing. 

Republicans have been and will continue to be committed to protecting our families and communities from those who would do them harm. 


The governor proposed $1 billion in tax relief in his introduced budget, while the budget passed by the General Assembly included tax increases that would cost Virginians $2.6 billion in total. 

Common Ground – and common sense – says we can write a clean budget without tax increases. 

I could not support such a heavy tax increase on Virginians; therefore, I voted against the budget. 

Governor Youngkin wants to restore lab school funding to support the 21 lab schools being built across 60+ school divisions, which would serve an estimated 5,000 students when fully Implemented. The governor also removed language mandating Virginia rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which would have cost 600 million dollars total for all Virginia taxpayers. 


We return for veto session on April 17. This will either be a one- or two-day process. The General Assembly must come to an agreement on what is best for Virginia. 

The governor is doing all he can to bring both sides together by proposing his “Common Ground Budget” to prevent tax hardship on hardworking Virginians. I will always fight to keep your hard-earned tax dollars in your pocket, and I will make sure that House District 50 is properly advocated for on my return to Richmond. 

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