RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed 26 of the nearly 850 bills that the Virginia General Assembly sent to his desk this year. All of the nixed bills were introduced by Democrats.
Youngkin, the first Republican to win statewide since 2009, signed 700 pieces of legislation into law and amended over 100 bills. He vetoed 26 of the 841 bills approved this legislative session, including nine from state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria).
“I’m stunned at the governor’s unexplainable decision to veto meaningful, non-controversial, legislation. It is the polar opposite of what he campaigned on,” Ebbin wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, April 12. “These vetoes, from protecting living organ donors to enhancing consumer’s data privacy to reforming the VEC are not in the best interest of Virginians.”
It’s not uncommon for governors to veto more bills from lawmakers of the opposite party. From 2019 to 2021, 33 of the 38 bills vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam were sponsored by Republicans.
Youngkin’s first veto as governor came before the legislature adjourned its 60-day regular session on March 12. The bill from Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), vetoed on March 1, would have allowed the Arlington County Board of Supervisors to appoint an independent policing auditor to support a civilian oversight board.
The next 25 were announced by Youngkin’s office hours before an 11:59 p.m. deadline on Monday, April 11 for the governor to take action on the bills that passed the General Assembly this year. Youngkin’s explanations for vetoing some of the measures have been made available while others have not yet been put online.
The House of Delegates and state Senate would both need two-thirds of its members present to vote to override Youngkin’s veto to pass the bills into law. Here are some of the bills that Youngkin vetoed and his reasons for doing so:
House Bill 1298, introduced by Del. Marcia “Cia” Price (D-Newport News), would prohibit high school student-athletes from signing endorsement deals. Lawmakers agreed to pass a proposal to create protections for college athletes seeking to sign name, image and likeness agreements, and some are already cashing in.
But Price’s bill would have prevented high school student-athletes from signing those types of deals. It passed both chambers of the General Assembly without a single vote in opposition, but Youngkin vetoed the measure on Monday.
Here’s Youngkin’s explanation for vetoing the bill:
“While I strongly believe in the value of amateur sports, we must recognize the rapidly changing landscape of amateur athletics and online economies.
“The claim that this bill is necessary to protect minors from predatory contracts ignores that minors in Virginia are generally prohibited from entering into contracts without parental consent. Virginia High School League policy also restricts paid endorsement deals.
“Further, this bill is a premature prohibition that fails to recognize the continually evolving marketplace for content creation and monetization and could have the unintended consequence of limiting young people from engaging in economic activity via social media unrelated to their athletic performance.”
House Bill 802, another measure from Price, would give localities authority to take action against negligent landlords for dangerous living conditions. The enforcement action could include seeking an injunction, damages or both.
The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, lists the conditions that must be met for a locality to get involved:
- if the property where the violations occurred is within the jurisdictional boundaries of the locality
- if the locality has notified the landlord who owns the property directly or through the managing agent of the nature of the violations and the landlord has not remedied the violations within a reasonable time after receiving such notice to the satisfaction of the locality
Youngkin wrote in his veto that the legislation has “unnecessary and duplicative provisions” that are already established under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC).
Here’s Youngkin’s explanation for vetoing the bill:
“It is also important to note that the existing USBC powers provide enforcement authority to localities to enforce the USBC against both the landlord and the tenant, whereas House Bill 802 proposes only to provide localities powers to enforce the VRLTA against the landlord. Under the USBC and the VRLTA, landlords and tenants both have responsibilities to maintain safe, decent, and sanitary housing.”
“It is neither clear why this language is necessary to enforce already existing provisions of state law, nor what the additional language contained in the legislation seeks to accomplish beyond what is already authorized in the USBC.”
“Landlords should be held accountable for unsafe and hazardous living conditions in which their tenants live. The existing regulations from the USBC, specifically Section 105.6 and the implementing regulations in 13VAC5-63-485, address the policy objective of the underlying legislation.”
House Bill 1197 from Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) would have convened a stakeholder workgroup to study “the feasibility and benefits” of the transferring responsibility over the Department of Juvenile Justice from the state’s Secretary of Public Safety Robert Mosier to the Secretary of Health and Human Services John Littel.
The measure received bipartisan support in the House, where it passed 64-35, and in the Senate, where it was approved on a 32-7 vote. Valerie Slater, executive director of RISE for Youth, called Youngkin’s veto “incredibly disappointed” and said it would have provided a first step to bringing a public health approach to youth justice.
“Research shows prisons don’t work for children. In order to truly break the cycles of community harm and resulting incarceration to make our communities safer, we need to address the root causes of young people’s trauma and behaviors by providing a continuum of care that includes community resources that help build healthy communities where youth and families are able to thrive,” Slater said in a statement.
In explaining in his decision, Youngkin said the Department of Juvenile Justice is fundamentally “a corrections agency” and that his administration believes a study would be “unnecessary.” The General Assembly, Youngkin wrote, should pass legislation to move the agency if that is the aim.
Youngkin vetoed a bill from state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) that would ban health care providers from beginning debt collection activities before a person receives money from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
The aim of Senate Bill 297 is to give victims of a crime who submit a claim to the Fund a way to avoid being harassed by debt collectors for unpaid medical bills before they receive their money or while the case is pending. The legislation received widespread bipartisan support in the General Assembly.
In a statement, Sen. Deeds said it was the first time one of his bills has been vetoed since 1999 and that he never received notice from Youngkin or his office.
“I am sorry that the Governor did not see the wisdom of this bill, and I am disappointed that he could not find the common courtesy to let me know he was going to veto the bill. I should have known not to expect more,” Deeds wrote in his statement.
An explanation for the veto has not been posted online.
A bill inspired by the shutdown of Interstate 95 that left thousands of people stranded overnight in a snowstorm was also vetoed by the governor. State Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax) introduced the bill to keep tractor-trailers from moving out of the right-hand lane during severe weather.
The legislation was then changed to just prohibit the tractor-trailers from using cruise control or compression release engine brakes during similar storms, although the bill restricted authorities from pulling over trucks to ensure they are in compliance.
Youngkin’s explanation for vetoing the bill has not been made available online.