Tammy Mulchi: Changes are coming in the VA General Assembly

Published 10:54 pm Thursday, June 27, 2024

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Much has been written about the many bills during the 2024 VA General Assembly session, a usual media theme every January. Only this year’s legislature was different. The first difference was created because freshmen were the largest group this year. This meant many of those bills were on issues these new legislators ran on during their elections. They didn’t understand that some of those ideas had been considered and failed in previous years or that they might not have understood that there were other laws already on the books.

Considering just bills, of the 2,200 plus bills offered, fewer than 900 were passed by both bodies. In the end, Governor Youngkin vetoed over two hundred. This left fewer than 650 that will go into effect; most of those will be effective on July 1st. Even that number is misleading because many bills had been introduced in both the House and Senate. 

One that could affect you unexpectedly is a law that allows the local government to change the speed limit to a different limit than the state has had for many years. Instead of the traditional speed of miles per hour, it can be changed by ten mph or fifteen mph less. You could easily end up with a ticket without being aware of a new posted sign.

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Another bill would allow more automatic speed cameras. This one allows a local government to install unmanned cameras that automatically mail you a bill for speeding.

Education in the VA General Assembly

Under the category of education, one that former Senator Ruff introduced and that I successfully got through committee dealt with the ability of the citizens of Prince Edward to vote on a 1% sales tax increase for school construction. Without this legislation, all the taxes would be on your real estate tax bill.  Ultimately, this bill was rolled into a statewide bill that allowed every county to do the same.  Even though that seems fair, the governor saw the error in this thinking because retail purchases in some areas cross county or city lines. This would create greater disparity. For instance, the little city of Colonial Heights is the shopping mecca for Dinwiddie, Prince George, Sussex, and even the city of Petersburg. The same situation exists in other areas, such as the counties around Albemarle, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Montgomery County, and Winchester.

A better solution would be to pass a bill that would require taxes to be divided among less populated counties based on the tax dollars coming from those more affluent counties. While we need many changes in our schools, most bills of significant impact were carried over to study for another year.

As always, my staff and I are here to assist you with any issues or concerns you may have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of service. You can reach us at 434.374.5129 or by email at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov