(The Center Square) — The 2024 Virginia General Assembly session begins Wednesday. With the state’s two-year budget set in even years, an accompanying more extended session and more than 500 pieces of legislation — including several constitutional amendments — prefiled to date, here’s some legislation to watch in the coming months.
The first three proposed amendments were among the first pieces of legislation to be prefiled in November, indicating they’re a high priority for lawmakers.
A constitutional amendment must pass both chambers by a majority vote and be voted on again after an intervening election. If it passes both houses a second time, it then goes to voters via referendum. If it receives the required votes, the amendment will become a part of the commonwealth’s Constitution.
The first joint resolution to be prefiled, this amendment makes abortion a constitutionally protected right in the commonwealth, enabling doctors to perform abortions and women to receive them without penalty.
Felony voting rights
Virginia is the only state that permanently removes voting rights from all convicted felons. Introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, SJ 2 restores voting rights to felons who had served their time.
Property tax exemption
Expands property tax exemptions in the commonwealth from surviving spouses of service members killed in action to include surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty.
Confines eligibility for the office of Lt. Gov. or Attorney General to those elected to serve no more than twice.
The minimum wage would be raised according to a previously proposed schedule to $13.50 in 2025 and $15 in 2026.
Repeal of the Clean Cars law
The legislation would nullify the electric and zero-emissions mandates for new vehicles established by legislation passed in 2021. The House version of the bill also prohibits the State Air Pollution Control Board from “adopting or enforcing any model year standards related to control of emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines … and prohibits the Commonwealth from requiring any new motor vehicle or new motor vehicle engine to be certified as compliant with model year standards related to the control of emissions adopted by California.”
Assault weapons ban
Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to import, sell, manufacture, purchase, possess, transport or transfer an assault firearm, except antique pieces, or guns that are inoperable or manually operated.