Op-Ed: Virginia’s new Democratic majorities pass key bills to improve your lives, but will Youngkin sign them?

AP Photo/Steve Helber

By Cindy Cunningham

March 20, 2024

The 2024 Virginia General Assembly regular session has wrapped up. It was a peculiar session from the outset, with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate but a Republican governor who has already shown an inability or unwillingness to work across the aisle. On top of that, with a huge influx of new members in both chambers, a new Senate Majority Leader (Scott Surovell), and a new House Speaker (Don Scott), it was definitely an open question how smoothly this session would go. 

But these Democratic majorities got to work quickly and efficiently. From the first matching Senate and House bills filed last November—HB1 and SB1 to raise the minimum wage; and HB2 and SB2 to ban assault weapons—it was clear that they were not going to trip on their own feet this year. And for the most part, this was a fairly drama-free session compared to many past ones, and they easily completed their work within their 60-day session, with fewer late-night committee hearings and marathon floor sessions than in past years.


Democrats (sometimes with the help of a few of their friends across the aisle) passed a host of impactful and important bills to help ordinary Virginians. Some of the most consequential bills passed include: safe storage of guns in homes with minors, insurance coverage of contraception, creating a legal market structure for retail marijuana sales, a Clean Energy Innovation bank to tap into federal money for climate change projects, closing the firearms transfer “boyfriend loophole,” establishing a minimum age of marriage of 18, preventing utility disconnections during emergencies, and allowing state class action lawsuits

It’s unfortunately looking likely that the Governor will veto a great many of these bills and other important ones (possibly even the budget, in an unprecedented move). His political ambitions and need to cater to the extreme MAGA base, as well as his frustrations at not being able to gain legislative approval for his pet arena project, are sure to weigh against him signing many of the important bills passed this session, even though signing them would help ordinary Virginians lead better, safer, healthier and more prosperous lives.

  • Cindy Cunningham

    Cindy Cunningham is a long-time Democratic activist and campaign volunteer, the founder of the Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network (VAPLAN), and the former Chair of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee.

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