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Youngkin vetoes majority of final legislation

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(The Center Square) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin acted on more than 50 remaining bills from the 2024 regular session, vetoing the majority and signing a handful into law.

Youngkin originally submitted amendment recommendations on the final bills, as he had only 30 days from the time a bill was submitted to him to act, and the session ended on March 9. But the General Assembly either rejected his amendments or, in the interest of time during its reconvene session in mid-April, neglected to vote on them—resulting in a slew of last-minute vetoes (48) and signings.

Youngkin issued a statement Friday accompanying his latest actions on legislation from this year.

“During my State of the Commonwealth address in January, I made clear my intention to work in a bipartisan manner with the General Assembly to accomplish policies that move Virginia forward, and we have a lot to be proud of this session,” Youngkin said. “While I look forward to working with the General Assembly to see if we can reach agreement on language in the future, today I must act on the language before me, and there are several bills which are not ready to become law.”

The latest vetoes are in addition to the more than 150 vetoed by the Republican governor in the weeks immediately following the session, racking up a veto tally that far surpasses at least that of any recent Virginia governor in any one year. In fact, 2024’s vetoes exceed in one year what most of the state’s recent governors have vetoed during their four years in office.

They follow a budget agreement achieved just days before through protracted negotiations between the governor and the Democratic-majority General Assembly, including tours of the commonwealth during which both sides campaigned for their versions of the bill.

Among the last batch of vetoes were big-ticket items related to access to contraception, landlord and tenant rights and firearms—as has been a theme this session.

The governor vetoed four House and Senate companion bills pertaining to contraceptives. Two would have required all health insurance to provide prescription drug coverage, including contraceptive coverage. Youngkin issued a statement on the second set of bills, House Bill 609 and Senate Bill 237, arguing that as is, the bills interfered with Virginians’ religious rights.

“Let me be crystal clear: I support access to contraception. However, we cannot trample on the religious freedoms of Virginians. And that is the issue the recommendations I sent back to the General Assembly addressed. I will continue to uphold the oath that I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Youngkin said.

The law would have prevented state and local government in Virginia from upholding or enforcing “any law, rule, relation, standard, or other provision” that “prohibits or restricts the sale, provision, or use of any contraceptives that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for contraceptive purposes.”

Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, who sponsored her chamber’s version of the bill and is also running for Lt. Gov., shot back on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“Youngkin consistently aligns himself with the extreme wing of the GOP. The Right to Contraception Act that I & [Del. Cia Price] carried this session would protect Virginians from US Supreme Court’s dismantling of the right to privacy & to use contraception. He vetoed the bill,” she wrote.

Youngkin also vetoed five House property rental bills and two Senate companion bills creating policies more favorable to tenants; several firearm bills, including two that would have made it a class 5 felony to manufacture, sell, transfer or own “any firearm that… is not detectable as a firearm” when inspected by a detection device and would have required schools to annually notify parents of how to store household firearms safely. As his reasoning for the latter, Youngkin wrote in his veto statement that the “proposed legislation is unnecessary for responsible parents and ineffective in persuading the irresponsible.”

The governor signed House Bills 214, 707, 1055 and 1071 and Senate Bills 142, 361 and 498, though the General Assembly ultimately rejected his amendments to them, noting that he hopes to see work done on them in future sessions.

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