Legislative Update

We have one week to go, but the pace isn’t slowing down. We have a lot to accomplish this week, including–hopefully–coming to an agreement with the Senate on the budget.

I am pleased to report that 22 pieces of legislation of mine have passed the Senate. Two of them relate to shared solar, expanding opportunities for Virginians to access solar energy. HB106 expands the existing shared solar program in Dominion territory, and HB108 establishes a new shared solar program in the Appalachian Power part of the state. I am hopeful that Governor Youngkin will sign these bills when they reach his desk.

To read an article from Cardinal News regarding the passage of HB106 and HB108 please click here.

84 bills so far have passed both chambers and been sent to the Governor. These are called 7-day bills, and the Governor is required to sign them or veto them by March 8 (he doesn’t get to wait to decide until our April reconvene, the way he does with bills that reach his desk later). Since this Governor has a frustrating history of avoiding taking positions on important issues, we will finally begin to see where he stands on issues like gun safety, reproductive rights, and the minimum wage.  

Three of my bills are among those 7-day bills. HB110 , HB115, and HB120. It will be especially interesting–and timely–to see what he does with HB110, which updates Virginia’s law regarding surrogacy, and is aimed at making surrogacy more available to couples in Virginia who want to start or expand their families. In light of the recent controversy created by the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on IVF–which is part of the surrogacy process–this will be an opportunity for the Governor to show Virginians whether he believes Virginians should continue to have access to reproductive medical care that can help them have children.

By the way, while I understand and share the outrage over the Alabama decision, I don’t understand the shock. This has been part of the Republican anti-choice strategy for years, and it is not at all surprising that it happened. The back-pedaling from some Republicans would be laughable if it weren’t so revelatory–their position on women’s reproductive rights is out of touch, and while they have seen the backlash, I have no doubt they will continue their push to strip women of their reproductive rights, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and decisions like what we saw in Alabama last week.

For an interesting commentary on what the Alabama decision means for Virginia, take a look at this piece from my friend and former Democratic Leader in the House David Toscano in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch.

HJ30 is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation I have carried this session. It is a Resolution that directs the State Corporation Commission, in consultation with the Department of Energy, to study the use of performance-based regulatory tools for our investor-owned electric utilities. Performance-based regulatory tools are designed to strengthen incentives for utilities to be more efficient, and to use lower cost technologies instead of the most expensive. Under our current regulatory structure utilities make money by building generation facilities and selling more electricity. I am hopeful HJ30 will produce much-needed options to incentivize our utilities to make money by building fewer and less expensive generation facilities, and selling less electricity.

Another Resolution I have been proud to carry is HJ13, which designates May as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Month of Awareness in

Virginia. Progressive supranuclear palsy, also known as PSP, is a neurodegenerative disease, often described as a more extreme version of Parkinson’s Disease.

PSP is the disease that my friend and our former colleague in the General Assembly, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, is battling with such courage and grace. Jennifer has pledged to amplify the voices of those suffering from PSP and to raise awareness of the disease. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Month of Awareness will provide an opportunity for all Virginians to learn more about PSP, seek ways to support research into treatment and a cure, and provide hope to people living with the disease. HJ13 not only passed the House and Senate unanimously, but every member of the General Assembly signed on as a co-patron. A wonderful show of love for Jennifer, and bipartisanship on an important issue.

Relatedly, on Wednesday I was pleased to speak on the floor in honor of Rare Disease Day in Virginia. February 28th is designated as Rare Disease Day, and is meant to raise awareness for all rare diseases and improve access to treatment for individuals with rare diseases and their families. My friend and former colleague Kathleen Murphy passed the legislation establishing the Rare Disease Council and Fund. The Rare Disease Council advises the Governor and the General Assembly on the needs of people affected by rare diseases, identifies challenges and barriers faced by them, and directs funding of research and support for persons with rare diseases. One of the last things Kathleen asked of me upon her retirement was to keep bringing attention to Rare Disease Day and the Rare Disease Council. I am proud to have kept my promise to her. To see my floor speech, click here.

On Tuesday I was pleased to meet with members of the Virginia Bicycling Federation. I have enjoyed working regularly with the Federation on legislation aimed at promoting bicycling throughout the Commonwealth. Unfortunately my HB657 this session, dealing with cyclist safety at intersections, failed on a tied vote in the Senate Transportation Committee. I’ll try again next year.

On Thursday I had the pleasure of speaking to the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia. The Council is an organization focused on connecting like-minded progressive business professionals. It was great speaking with them.

Finally, while we work very hard during the session, we also look for ways to have fun. Every year the House and Senate play a basketball game (and the Governor and his staff play the lobbyists) at an event called the Capitol Classic, which raises money for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. While the score was nothing to boast about, the House defended its crown against the Senate and beat the Senate 14-12. What IS worth bragging about is that the event raised $100,000 for the Massey Center. The House has now won the Capitol Classic 8 years in a row. 

Next week is the final week of the session. I’ll check in with a wrap-up after we adjourn.


Rip Sullivan

Delegate, 6th District 

C: 571-210-5876