Inside Scoop: Drafting Bills for the 2024 Session

Inside Scoop: Drafting Bills for the 2024 Session

As I write this column, the 2024 General Assembly session begins in just four short weeks! With the legislative session beginning the second week of January, the holiday season is always the busiest time of the year for our legislative offices, as we must work around our own work schedules and family celebrations to finish drafting the bills that we plan to introduce during the legislative session.

The 2024 session will be a “long session” of 60 days, kicking off on Jan. 10. While we House members are not under a bill limit imposed by our leadership, the Senators may only introduce a maximum of 21 bills this year. I plan to adhere to a similar number to ensure that each bill gets equal effort. Even with a bill limit for both chambers in the last session, members still introduced over 2000 pieces of legislation! As it is an even year, the General Assembly will also consider the Governor’s biennium budget, which he will introduce on December 20th at the Annual Joint Money Committee Meeting. 

This session will be very exciting, as there will be more incoming freshmen in the 2024 General Assembly class than ever before. This freshman class is younger and more diverse too. You can visit here to learn more about the freshman class. In addition, my own seniority within the House of Delegates has increased from 48 out of 100 last session to 32! As these newest members have only just gained access to the bill drafting system, more senior members like me have drafted additional bills over the past few months that we think would be good for a freshman to carry that we can transfer over for introduction.

I always prioritize legislative efforts brought to me by my constituents, and those that will be heard in the committees on which I serve. So, as I am finalizing my legislative agenda, I want to give you an inside scoop on some of the bills I have in drafting that I may introduce. Remember that not every bill that I draft will be introduced, much less get the Governor’s signature and become law.

Brought forward by a constituent, I plan to reintroduce my bill from last year to create a partial retirement income tax exemption for Foreign Service Officers (FSO). I was also tasked by the Virginia State Police to introduce a similar effort for their retired officers.

I plan to reintroduce a bill requested by my constituents living in the historic Tauxemont neighborhood to address the impending groundwater well shutdown that the community is currently facing.

Two of my bills include extending the sunset (or expiration date) on commissions I have established. You may remember my bill from 2022 which created a Tribal Code Commission, which will update Virginia’s Code to reflect federal recognition of Virginia Tribes. This bill will extend the commission for an additional two years to complete its work. Last year, Senator Reeves and I passed a resolution creating a joint subcommittee to explore establishing a Virginia Gaming Commission, which would oversee all forms of legal gaming in the Commonwealth. The subcommittee required sitting members of the General Laws Committees in both chambers, and with so many retirements this election year, the subcommittee has only just had its first two meetings.

Senator Reeves and I are working on several pieces of legislation to further our reforms of charitable gaming and problem gambling treatment and support here in the Commonwealth.

Over the past several sessions, I have worked extensively with tenant groups and affordable housing stakeholders to support residents of manufactured home parks across the Commonwealth. We are currently workshopping two bills to reform the sale process of parks and boost tenant rights and protections. Manufactured housing parks are one of the best forms of naturally occurring affordable housing. I am proud to have five parks located here in my district along Route 1, and we must do everything we can to support these communities.

This week I am attending an excellent conference on imagining a Virginia without invasive plant species in Charlottesville. In next week’s column, I will share my environmental bills which will include efforts to combat invasive plants in the Commonwealth.