Now that Democrats hold majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, Northern Virginia members of the state Senate are seeing a higher percentage of their bills pass.
Here are some bills introduced by local state senators that are awaiting review in the House of Delegates.
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax-Arlington) is focusing largely on the state’s budget, but has seen these bills pass:
• SB 107 would remove the July 1, 2021, sunset date from Arlington County’s authority to impose a transient occupancy tax of up to 0.25 percent to be used for the purpose of promoting tourism and business travel in the county. The Senate passed the bill Jan. 20 on a 31-9 vote.
• SB 110 would extend the sunset date for both the research- and development-expenses tax credit and the major research-and-development expenses tax credit from Jan. 1, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2027. Starting in tax year 2020, the caps on those tax credits would be raised, respectively, from $7 million to $10 million and from $20 million to $40 million. The Senate passed the bill Feb. 3 on a 39-1 vote.
• SB 111 would permit any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in any election in which he or she is qualified to vote. The bill would remove the current list of statutory reasons under which a person may be entitled to vote by absentee ballot and remove references to those reasons from other sections of the state code. The Senate passed the bill Jan. 20 on a 31-9 vote.
• SB 479 would make it a Class 6 felony for any person subject to a permanent protective order (i.e., one a maximum duration of two years) from knowingly possessing a firearm while the order is in effect. The person would have up to 24 hours after being served with such an order to possess firearms for the purposes of selling or transferring them to any person not prohibited by law from possessing such weapons. The Senate passed the bill Jan. 28 on a 23-17 vote.
SB 578 would require the Board of Education to establish a statewide, unified public-private system for early childhood care and education in Virginia that would be administered by the Board of Education, superintendent of public instruction, and the Department of Education. The bill passed in the Senate Jan. 31 on a 31-5 vote.
• SB 580 would authorize issuance of bonds in an amount up to $279.47 million for revenue-producing capital projects at institutions of higher learning. The bill, which contains an emergency clause, passed the Senate 40-0 on Feb. 3.
State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-Fairfax-Loudoun) saw passage of these bills:
• SB 94 requires the Commonwealth Energy Policy to establish greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction standards across all sectors of Virginia’s economy that target net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century; enact mandatory clean-energy standards and overall strategies for reaching zero carbon in the electric-power sector by 2040; identify pathways to zero carbon that maximize Virginia’s economic development and create quality jobs; and minimize negative impacts of climate change and the energy transition on disadvantaged communities and prioritize investment in these areas. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 24 on a 21-18 vote.
• SB 105 would require courts to consider any history of child abuse in determining the best interests of a child for the purposes of a custody or visitation arrangement. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 30 on a 39-0 vote and has been referred to the House Committee for Courts of Justice.
• SB 116 would provide that a defendant in a capital case who had a severe mental illness, as defined in the bill, at the time of the offense would not be eligible for the death penalty. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 30 on a 32-7 vote and has been sent to the House Committee for Courts of Justice.
• SB 156 would establish the Fostering Futures program to provide services and support to people ages 18 to 21 who were in foster care as minors and are transitioning to full adulthood and self-sufficiency. The bill passed the Senate 40-0 on Jan. 22.
• SB 167 would remove receipt of one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations from the list of factors construing “incompetency” that may be included for establishing grounds for dismissal of public-school teachers. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 28 on a 23-17 vote and has been sent to the House Committee on Education.
State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax-Vienna) has seen the Senate pass these bills:
• SB 24 would add horseback riding or stabling to the definition of “agritourism activity.” Such activities have limited liability because of their inherent risks under certain conditions. The Senate passed the bill 40-0 on Jan. 20.
• SB 207 would remove the requirement that sworn law-enforcement officers be employed full-time at the time of retirement to purchase their service handguns. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 28 on a 40-0 vote and has been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety.
• SB 230 would, for purposes of the grantor’s tax and regional capital fee for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, allow the grantor and grantee to arrange for the grantee pay all or a portion of the tax or fee. Current law requires the grantor to pay the tax or fee. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 24 on a 39-0 vote.