My Recap of the 2024 General Assembly Session

After every General Assembly session, I write to my friends and report my impressions of the session.

I’ve done this ten times, and this one may be the hardest yet because it was such an unusual–and historic–session.

When the Democrats were in the minority in the House of Delegates we played a lot of defense.

The 2024 session was a different story. Since we had regained Democratic control in the House of Delegates and kept control of the Senate, we were able to set the agenda and send important legislation to the Governor, inviting him to join us in moving Virginia forward. 

We succeeded in some areas, while in others…. not so much.

It was a historic session for a number of reasons:  

  • We had historic new leadership in the House, with the House electing the first Black Speaker in our 400+ year history. Don Scott, from Portsmouth. It’s about time.
  • We had historic turnover in both Chambers, with 34 new Delegates and 17 new Senators.  The hardest part of the session may well have been learning everyone’s name!
  • And, unfortunately, we had a historic number of vetoes from the Governor.  

The number of vetoes (153 and counting) would suggest it was a particularly rancorous and partisan session, and in many ways, on many important issues, it was. But we also continued what I believe to be Virginia’s historically good track record of working together and doing the business of governing in a bipartisan way. It was still the case, for instance, that the majority of bills we passed–and we passed 1098 of them!–were passed with little or no opposition or partisan bickering.  

But it is also true that we had an unusually high percentage of bills pass with significant opposition—meaning, essentially, party-line votes.  That was unfortunate, in my view, and part of what made this session so unusual. And challenging.  

And the biggest challenge has been the Commonwealth’s two-year budget.  For the first time in anyone’s memory, we adjourned the session without a budget. The bipartisan budget the General Assembly sent to the Governor prioritized the recommendations of the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission and made historic investments in our public K-12 system, higher education, at-risk students, early childhood education, and childcare.  It focused on investing in Virginia’s infrastructure–Metro, school construction, highways and other public transportation. It focused on bringing down the cost of living, making housing more affordable, protecting our environment, and modernizing our tax code by adopting what the Governor himself had asked for– closing what he called the “tech tax loophole” that numerous nearby and competitive states have already closed. But we rejected the Governor’s proposed sales tax increase and tax cuts for wealthy Virginians.

The Governor balked, and made over 230 amendments to the budget, most of which were effectively vetoes.  He went on a statewide tour blasting the budget as “backward,” and as we arrived in Richmond for the reconvene session on April 17–at which we usually adopt the budget– the partisan tension was high. But at the last minute, and after what can only be described as a bit of political whiplash, the Governor changed course. I am happy to report that the House and Senate and Governor came together and agreed that the best path forward was to call a Special Session and work together to craft a budget that will benefit all Virginians.  

The Special Session will take place on May 13-15, and I am very hopeful that by the time you read this letter, we will have completed a budget of which we can all be proud. 

My 2024 Legislative Package

I was asked pre-session by numerous constituents and stakeholders to carry legislation, which I added to a long list of my priorities.  So, I found myself with a large number of bills and substantive resolutions to manage. Of my 29  bills, 17  passed and went to the Governor. He vetoed 2. My resolutions required no signature from the Governor, and they all passed. 

Tree Canopy Conservation (HB459): There were several bills to protect and enhance our tree canopy, and the Governor inexplicably vetoed two of them. I am pleased to report, though, that he signed my HB459, which gives localities like Fairfax new and better tools to incentivize developers to preserve trees when building new homes, and gives the County better options for preserving newly planted trees. I am hopeful that this new authority will go a long way toward protecting our community’s trees from being clear-cut every time a new house is built. 

State Corporation Commission-Annual Report Filing Requirements (HB124): I carried this bill at the request of the State Corporation Commission. It will simplify and speed up the process for corporations to file their annual reports with the Commission.

Health Insurance-Fairness in Business Practices (HB123): The result of a task force created by legislation passed last year by my friend Senator Barbara Favola, this new law will streamline health care billing and payment practice standards. 

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation/Department of Health Professions-Certain Suspensions not Considered Disciplinary Action (HB120): This bill originated out of a conversation with a constituent who is a very experienced RN, and whose licensure renewal was complicated by a simple payment snafu. The new law will ensure that such administrative issues are not reported as disciplinary actions, and hopefully prevent nurses from encountering difficulty applying for jobs–-an important issue given our severe nursing shortage.

Guardianship and Conservators Process (HB115):  I successfully carried this bill at the request of the Supreme Court of Virginia. It clarifies the guardianship process in Virginia as it pertains to court procedures with local departments of social services.

Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers (HB644): I had hoped to authorize localities–authorize, not require— to pass ordinances regulating gas-powered leaf blowers. The bill originated from the many complaints I received about noise and pollution and at the urging of many advocates. Unfortunately, the bill encountered significant opposition and did not pass.

Conducting Business by Electronic Means (HB595):  This new law modernizes the process by which dental and vision health insurers conduct business, allowing email communication with their insureds, rather than regular mail. The law preserves the ability to opt out of using electronic means at any time, if you are old school and prefer paper communications.

Surrogacy (HB110): I carried this bill on behalf of my friends at the Virginia Family Law Coalition, a group of Virginia’s premier family law attorneys. The bill would have modernized Virginia’s surrogacy law, which enables Virginians who want to start or expand their family to use surrogacy. Surrogacy is both very pro-family and a well-established medical technology.  

The bill would have eliminated outdated and unnecessary provisions that could punish healthcare providers who connect prospective parents with potential surrogates. The result is that Virginia is regarded as among the worst and hardest states to have a child using surrogacy. The bill passed the General Assembly but was vetoed by the Governor.  Its opponents–led by the Family Foundation–raised bogus objections using scare tactics like claims of commodification of human embryos” and “the creation of a Rent-A-Womb industry.” The Governor appears to have been persuaded by their hysteria, and with the echoes of the Alabama IVF decision still reverberating, the Governor’s unwillingness to strengthen Virginia’s surrogacy law is deeply troubling. I’ll try again next session.

Adoption Statutes (HB783): Another bill I brought on behalf of the Virginia Family Law Coalition–this time successfully–modernizes our adoption statutes by making them gender-neutral.

High School Advocates (HB121): This may be my favorite bill of this session. The idea was brought to me by several bright, determined, and civic-minded students at Mclean High School. They were concerned that their existing curriculum did not teach kids enough about allergic reactions—and we all know allergies are an enormous challenge for many kids and their families. They thought kids should know more about how to recognize an anaphylactic reaction, and what to do if a friend is having a reaction and is in danger. They set about to create a short—and very effective—video, which included lots of information and an interactive quiz.

MHS started a pilot program in which the video was viewed by every student at MHS. The kids then came to me, and we decided to take it statewide. HB121 requires the state Board of Education to include severe allergic reaction awareness training in the SOL for health education for grades nine and ten, and to consider using the MHS video. Bravo to these community-minded high school advocates!

Wrongful Incarceration Compensation (HB640 and HB641): Over the last several sessions I have carried numerous bills that have made the way we compensate Virginians who have been wrongfully incarcerated more fair. Not often—but too often—people are incarcerated for crimes and later found to actually be innocent. In some cases, Virginians have been wrongfully incarcerated for over 30 years. I have worked to improve our compensation laws.

HB640 updates our wrongful incarceration statutes by eliminating the requirement that an awardee receive most of their compensation through an annuity and makes several other improvements. It also provides compensation to those who were wrongfully on the sexual offender registry or death row.

HB641 is a bill that compensates Mr. David Kingrea—an innocent man—for his eight years wrongfully spent on the sexual offender registry. Just imagine the effect being on the registry would have on you, your family, and your job prospects.

Faithful Electors (HB111): This new law is based on the Uniform Faithful Electors Act, which has been adopted in several other states. It will ensure that no Virginia Presidential Elector can switch his or her vote in the Electoral College. Electors take an oath to vote for the candidates who win Virginians’ vote. The law now requires that if an Elector violates his/her oath, and tries to switch their vote, they will be automatically removed and replaced by someone who will vote the way Virginians voted. I introduced this bill last year, but it was quickly defeated by the Republican majority. Thankfully this year was different–under Democratic leadership–and the bill passed the General Assembly by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. I’m pleased to say the Governor signed the bill, and Virginia has taken an important step in protecting our democracy. 

Driving Under the Influence (HB113): HB113 would have barred anyone convicted of a DUI twice within a 5-year period from being allowed to purchase or transport firearms for 5 years. The links between alcohol and gun violence—particularly domestic violence—are clear.  The research demonstrates that alcohol misuse is a strong predictor of gun violence, including suicide. It is already the law that if someone is convicted of two misdemeanor drug convictions within three years they lose their gun rights for 5 years. I am disappointed that the bill did not make it to the finish line.  

Substantial Risk Order Training Program (HB637): This bill would have required the Department of Criminal Justice Services to create a Substantial Risk Order Training Program. The “Red Flag Law” (created by my HB674 in 2020) is saving lives all across Virginia. But not enough members of the law enforcement community–or, for that matter, enough Virginians generally-–even know it exists, let alone know how to use it. HB637 would have required a concerted educational effort on our Red Flag law for law enforcement and the public more broadly, including mental health professionals, emergency healthcare providers, public elementary and secondary school personnel, and threat assessment teams at public institutions of higher education. The bill passed the General Assembly–on a straight party-line vote–but unfortunately was vetoed by Governor Youngkin, whose staff told me that the program “was not needed.” I couldn’t disagree more. I’ll keep trying.

By the way, Fairfax County is a leader in promoting and using the Red Flag Law.  To learn more, you can go to

or  It might surprise some to learn how many potential gun tragedies have been avoided right here in our neighborhood. Since 2020 the FPD has served 22 final risk orders on people in McLean found by a judge to be a risk to themselves or others.

Real Estate Property Tax-Notice of Rate and Assessment Changes (HB639): The Governor signed this bill which will change the way localities conduct reassessments of real estate. It will require any notice to a taxpayer to set forth the tax rate that would levy the same amount of real estate tax as the previous year when multiplied by the new total assessed value of real estate. 

Pedestrian Control Signals (HB647): This was a bill I brought for the second time on behalf of the cycling community. It would allow cyclists to follow the pedestrian “walk” sign at an intersection. With increasing frequency, intersections are controlled by Leading Pedestrian Intervals, meaning the “walk” signal appears before the light turns green, giving pedestrians a chance to cross more safely. This bill would allow cyclists to do the same. Unfortunately, HB647 did not make it out of committee. I will continue to keep trying to pass this important bill. 


Shared Solar Program (HB106 and HB108): One of the most important energy-related wins of the session related to shared solar. HB106 expands Virginia’s shared solar program in Dominion’s service territory, and HB108 creates a new shared solar program in Appalachian Power territory. The pilot program established several years ago has been very successful, so HB106 expands the program by raising the amount of shared solar generation allowed. The bills will make the shared solar program more broadly available, and hopefully lower the minimum bill to incentivize more use of the program. I oversaw and facilitated intense negotiations between the solar industry and Dominion and ApCo. The Governor signed both bills.

Affordable, Reliable, Competitive Act “ARC” (HB638): This bill aimed to inject more competition into Virginia’s clean energy sector. Now that the Virginia Clean Economy Act (my HB1526 from 2020) has Virginia headed in the right direction with our clean energy transition, it is time to hit the accelerator. Thanks to increased federal support from the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and technological innovations, clean energy is increasingly more affordable and reliable. HB638 would have expanded opportunities for independent third-party electricity generators to compete to provide energy to Virginia’s power grid. I was unable to get this bill passed this session, but I’ll try again next year.

Speeding Things Up (HB122): I have been focused on accelerating our clean energy transition. One issue that often slows things down is permitting delays and related litigation. HB122 will accelerate the process of appealing a permitting decision made by the Department of Environmental Quality, by having all cases heard in the Circuit Court in Richmond. That court is the usual venue for cases involving state agencies, has more experience with the issues, and its staff is familiar with handling those sorts of regulatory cases. I was pleased that the Governor signed the bill.

Solar Interconnection (HB117): This bill would have modified our rules regarding solar projects’ interconnection with the grid. It would have clarified and sped up that process to get more projects started. I am disappointed that HB117 failed in the Labor and Commerce subcommittee. I’ll try again next session. 

Electric Vehicle Rural Infrastructure Program and Fund (HB107): I have tried for three years to establish an Electric Vehicle Rural Infrastructure Program to assist developers with the installation of EV charging stations in rural areas. The federal dollars coming to Virginia to build charging stations are focused only on interstate highway corridors. HB107 would ensure that every part of Virginia participates in our electric vehicle transition. The bill passed but did not make it through the budget process. We’ll see what happens next year.

Siting of Energy Facilities (HB636): This was one of the most controversial bills I’ve ever carried. It dealt with the siting of solar and wind projects and started a conversation about the intersection of local land use authority with statewide priorities. Many localities are closing themselves off to renewable energy projects entirely or creating barriers to renewable energy. HB636 explored the possibility of creating a process and criteria for an applicant to go to the State Corporation Commission for approval of a project. This is a puzzle we must solve and a challenge we must meet if we are to continue to accelerate our energy transition. HB636 was carried over, and I hope in the interim to make progress on refining our options.

Energy Efficiency Standards for Data Centers (HB116): Another bill that generated a lot of attention was my HB116. It would have established energy efficiency rules for new data centers. The bill would have required that future data centers operate as efficiently as possible, and wean themselves off the use of diesel fuel generators for backup power.

The requirements it set were very achievable, and for an industry surrounded by such controversy, I had hoped it would embrace the bill to demonstrate its commitment to being good corporate citizens. After all, if data centers are going to require such a large amount of power from our grid, the least they can do is use as little energy as possible. But no such luck. The industry resisted the idea and HB116 was carried over to 2025. I will be back.

PJM Transparency (HB109): Virginia is one of 13 states and DC that are served by the Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) known as PJM. PJM manages the regional electric grid, ensuring grid reliability, maintaining the transmission system, and preparing for new energy sources. PJM plays a crucial role in our clean energy transition.

PJM’s decision-making process is opaque and there is little accountability. The bill would simply require our electric utilities–which are members of PJM–to disclose to the State Corporation Commission the recorded votes they make as PJM is making decisions about our energy future. This bill is about transparency. We have a right to know how our electric utilities are voting. HB109 was carried over to next session when I hope to be able to report a better result. 

Performance-Based Regulatory Tools (HJ30): This was one of the most consequential pieces of legislation I carried this session. It directs the State Corporation Commission to study the use of performance-based regulatory (PBR) tools for our investor-owned electric utilities. PBR tools 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 only make money by building generation facilities and selling more electricity. I am hopeful the process created by HJ30 will produce much-needed options to incentivize our utilities to build fewer and less expensive generation facilities and sell less electricity, all while maintaining reliability.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Month in Virginia (HJ13): I was proud to carry HJ13, which designates May as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Month of Awareness in Virginia. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (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 incredible 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 all 140 members of the General Assembly signed on to co-patron. A wonderful show of love for Jennifer, and bipartisanship on an important issue.

I also carried or served as Chief-Co-Patron two pieces of legislation relating to other rare diseases. HB514 extends the sunset of the Advisory Council on Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections and Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANDAS/PANS), and HJ7 designates October 25 as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) Awareness Day in Virginia. 

Energy Efficiency Day (HJ6): A resolution that designates October 4 as Energy Efficiency Day. I carried this on behalf of my friends at the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, with which I have always worked closely to advance energy efficiency in the Commonwealth.

The State Corporation Commission is at full strength. A little-noticed but enormously significant development during this session was the election of two new judges to the SCC. The General Assembly had been squabbling for two years over who to appoint, and the Commission was down to one member who had to rely on retired members just to create a quorum.  But with Democratic control of both chambers, we were finally able to add two highly qualified judges. The SCC has a broad portfolio, but among its most consequential responsibilities is the oversight of our utilities and our energy transition. I am very pleased that the Commission is again at full strength, and have great confidence that it will remain a strong steward of our energy future.

Nurse Practitioners (HB971): NPs are an important part of the solution to many of our healthcare challenges. We ought to be encouraging NPs to stay and practice in Virginia, rather than driving them to surrounding states that have more accepting laws and regulations for advanced practice nurses. This bill will lower from 5 to 3 years the amount of full-time clinical experience required before a Nurse Practitioner can practice. I and others have been working on this issue for many years. I am thrilled to finally see it pass and be signed by the Governor.

The “SAVE Act” (HB746): This bipartisan bill will take the progress we have made in energy efficiency through the Virginia Clean Economy Act to the next level, and set in motion an analysis by the State Corporation Commission for setting new energy efficiency targets for Virginia beyond what is currently set out in the VCEA. I have been working on energy efficiency issues since I got to the General Assembly ten years ago. HB746 is an exciting and important new step. The Governor offered one amendment, which we accepted, so the bill will become law.

Oh, and there will be no arena, and the casino idea went nowhere. But expect it to return….

Thank you for reading this far. As regular readers of this space have come to expect (and new readers have by now realized), this letter is far too long. But I have found 6th District residents to be very engaged and eager to know about developments in Richmond. And I had a lot to report!

I am here to help the residents of the 6th District. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to call my office at (571)-210- 5876 or email me at 

For more information, please visit my website: You can also follow me on X (Twitter) at @Ripsullivan6 or on Facebook at

My best wishes to you and yours.  I hope you have a great summer.

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Delegate Rip Sullivan

6th District of Virginia