Youngkin signs bipartisan hate crime legislation, blocks climate change education bill

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, bottom center, shakes the hand of Del. Cliff Hayes, D-Chesapeake, right, as he arrives in the House chambers to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Michael O'Connor

April 3, 2024

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law bipartisan hate crime legislation along with dozens of other bills, while also vetoing four bills, including one that would have bolstered climate change and environmental literacy in public schools. 

The hate crime legislation will codify the recommendation from the Commission to Combat Antisemitism that Virginia revise its laws to ensure Jewish Virginians are protected from hate crimes, along with Muslims, Sikhs and other ethnic and religious groups. 

“As the first state to weave religious freedom into the fabric of our nation, Virginia is leading once again and sending a clear message that Virginians should not be the victim of a crime simply because of their religion, race, or ethnicity,” Youngkin said in a press release April 2.

Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) and Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax) introduced the legislation in their respective chambers as Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 18

“Legislation outlawing antisemitism isn’t just about protecting a particular group; it’s about defending the fundamental values of equality, justice, and human dignity for all,” Reeves said in the April 2 release. 

“Hate has no place in our communities,” Helmer said in the release. “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and a Jew whose children have confronted antisemitism in our schools, this bill is personal for me.”

Other Actions

In addition to signing into law 100 bills on April 2, Youngkin vetoed four bills. 

One bill, House Bill 1088, would have required Virginia’s Board of Education to make available to every local school board instructional materials on climate change and environmental literacy that are based on and include peer-reviewed scientific sources. 

“The Standards of Learning already provides instructional material related to environmental issues,” Youngkin said in his veto statement. “The proposal imposes a significant and redundant task on the Department of Education and the Board of Education.”

Youngkin has until April 8 to take action on any remaining bills and decide on what changes he wants to see to the budget passed by the General Assembly in March. 

  • Michael O'Connor

    Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering Virginia news since 2013 with reporting stints at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Business, and Richmond BizSense. A graduate of William & Mary and Northern Virginia Community College, he also covered financial news for S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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