Legislative Update

The House and Senate have to finish all their work on bills in their respective chambers by February 6. That day is known as “crossover.” It is coming quickly, so I am hard at work trying to get my bills out of committee and to the floor. As I write this, HB124 and HB123 have passed the House, both unanimously, and are now in the Senate for consideration. I hope to send the Senate a lot more.

The most important development this week was the election of two new judges to the State Corporation Commission (SCC). The General Assembly has left these positions open for far too long, which I regard as an institutional failure. The SCC is an important state agency that regulates utilities, insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, and even railroads. In short, the SCC has a major role in Virginia, and in Virginians’ lives—even if most people have never heard of it. Over the past year, the SCC, which is led by a three-person panel of judges, has been operating with just one judge. This has made the work of the SCC that much more challenging.

Our two new SCC members are Kelsey Bagot, an attorney who worked at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is now with NextEra Energy, and Sam Towell, an attorney who served as Deputy Attorney General under Attorney General Mark Herring and is now at Smithfield Foods. These two are outstanding picks and will be great judges.

The open positions on the SCC was the sleeper issue in last November’s election. With the majority, we were finally able to break the logjam and elect two outstanding judges chosen by Democrats who will, in my view, do a great job overseeing Virginia’s clean energy transition.

As the velocity of session accelerates, more bills are being heard in subcommittees and committees. I have often had to be in two or three places at once!

This morning HB644 was heard in the County, City, and Towns subcommittee. It is a bill that would authorize localities to pass ordinances regulating gas-powered leaf blowers. This bill originated out of a meeting with a local advocacy organization called Quiet Clean NOVA. I am pleased to report that HB644 passed out of the subcommittee and is headed to the full Committee. Click here to view an article from my friend, Ivy Main, detailing her experience with leaf-blowers.

HB107 is a bill readers of this space may remember. It creates the Electric Vehicle Rural Infrastructure Program. The fund will assist private developers with non-utility costs associated with installing electric vehicle charging stations in rural communities. There is federal money that will put charging stations throughout the interstate highway corridors in Virginia, but it is important that we not leave rural Virginia behind. I have carried versions of this bill for three years. I hope the third time is the charm and the bill will become law. Thursday, the bill passed 8-2 in a Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources subcommittee. So far so good.

HB595 is a bill that modernizes the process by which dental and vision health insurers conduct business. It allows emailing communication with their insureds, rather than by regular mail. The bill preserves the option to opt-out of using electronic means at any time, if you are old school and prefer paper communications. On Thursday HB595 passed out of the Labor and Commerce committee unanimously.

HB110 is a bill I am carrying on behalf of my friends at the Virginia Family Law Coalition. The bill modernizes provisions in the law relating to Virginia’s surrogacy law, which enables Virginians who want to start or expand their family to use surrogacy. The bill eliminates outdated provisions which could punish healthcare providers who connect prospective patients with potential surrogates. Wednesday the Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee passed HB110 4-2, and this afternoon the bill cleared the full Courts committee

You may recall that the General Assembly failed to renew Virginia’s annual retail sales tax holiday last year. I helped fix that. I was proud to be the Chief Co-patron—alongside my friend and colleague Delegate David Reid—of HB25, which passed the House on Tuesday unanimously. It codifies the sales tax holiday and ensures Virginians won’t miss it again.  

I was pleased to see my friend Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger this week as she greeted the House Democratic Caucus. I have endorsed her in her campaign for Governor and believe she will make an outstanding Governor. She also ran into the current Governor. Will this be a picture of two Governors someday? I hope so.

I continue to host lots of meetings with advocates, stakeholders, and constituents. I especially enjoy meeting with constituents from the 6th district. This week I had the pleasure of meeting, among others, members from the American Cancer Society, Medical Society of Virginia, Virginia Radiological Society, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

My team for this session includes my friend Mel Fitzgerald. Mel is a retired pharmacist and asked me if he could assist my office during session. I was glad to have him join our team. Mel has been a wonderful addition, and with his knowledge and experience, he has been a valuable resource to me.

Stay tuned for updates next week.


Rip Sullivan

Delegate, 6th District 

C: 571-210-5876