Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday vetoed seven additional bills, including identical measures from two Richmond lawmakers meant to aid indigent people who appeal evictions from public housing.
The governor faced a midnight deadline to act on bills he unsuccessfully sought to amend during last month’s veto session. Youngkin signed 23 of the remaining bills and vetoed seven.
“While most of these bills were returned to me in an imperfect form, I firmly believe they offer a bipartisan path forward,” Youngkin said in a statement.
“However, select bills required essential changes. Therefore, I have vetoed seven additional bills that would not be in the best interest of the Commonwealth as my recommendations were not adopted.”
Youngkin vetoed bills from Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Jeff Bourne, both Richmond Democrats, that would have removed the requirement for an indigent defendant to post an appeal bond while appealing an eviction from public housing.
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The governor said he vetoed the bill because “the General Assembly rejected my proposed amendments, which would allow an indigent tenant to appeal, but require a payment plan of equal monthly payments within six months or the date of a circuit court hearing, whichever is earlier.”
McClellan said in a statement Friday: “It’s deeply disappointing that Governor Youngkin chose to reject a bill with strong bipartisan support that would have given indigent tenants a meaningful opportunity to appeal an eviction.”
Bourne added: “These bills are crucial in creating a justice system that truly serves us all,” by removing a financial barrier in the court system. “With his veto, Governor Youngkin places the financial burden back on low-income tenants.”
Youngkin also vetoed a bill from Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, that would have removed the term “alien” from the state code as it pertains to people who are not citizens or nationals of the United States and “replace it with synonymous language, as appropriate.”
Lawmakers had rejected Youngkin’s proposed amendment to have the state’s Code Commission review the measure before it took effect.
Youngkin wrote in his veto message that the legislation “makes numerous and potentially substantial changes to the Code of Virginia, which could have lasting and unintended consequences.”
The governor also vetoed a bill from Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, that sought to protect government employees who make public comments about proposals or policies at state or local government public hearings on their own time, as private citizens.
Youngkin wrote in his veto message: “Despite the positive intentions, the legislation has practical implications for the effective management of state government that may lead to significant confusion when state employees comment during legislative or regulatory public comment periods.”
Youngkin said he strongly supports “the foundational principle of free speech” and pledged to work with Davis on the legislation during next year’s regular General Assembly session.
Youngkin also vetoed a bill from Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, that would have shifted the administration of the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.
The fund, created by the General Assembly, “could generate as much as $40 million a year for flood resilience across the commonwealth,” according to the Virginia Floodplain Management Association. The fund gets 45% of the revenue from Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 to join RGGI, in which energy producers in a number of states trade emission reductions for credits, or buy credits to emit carbon dioxide past a cap.
The revenue the state gets from the program is directed to programs that help low-income people reduce energy usage — thereby lowering their cost of electricity — and for programs combating sea level rise in coastal areas and inland flooding across the state.
Youngkin wants to remove Virginia from RGGI, saying it is essentially a tax on electricity ratepayers and a bad deal for them and for business.
The Senate had rejected Youngkin’s bid to amend the legislation so that the Department of Conservation and Recreation would continue to have oversight over the flood fund.
Youngkin said in his veto message: “My administration continues to develop and advance a comprehensive and coordinated resiliency effort to complete the Commonwealth’s long-delayed environmental projects. This legislation will have the unintended consequence of fragmenting our coastal resiliency efforts.”
The bills Youngkin signed include a measure from Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun that referred to staggered terms for the Loudoun County School Board. The Senate had rejected a Youngkin amendment in which he tried to force elections this year for all members of the Loudoun School Board.
On the day he was inaugurated Youngkin authorized Attorney General Jason Miyares to investigate Loudoun’s schools after a teenage student committed sexual assaults at two county schools. Youngkin’s Jan. 15 directive asserted that Loudoun’s School Board and school administrators “withheld key details and knowingly lied to parents.”
Youngkin acted on the 30 bills five days before lawmakers return to Richmond to vote on a proposed budget that would include $4 billion in tax relief and 10% raises for state workers.
“While the action from the bills passed during the 2022 regular session is now complete,” Youngkin said, “I eagerly await the return of the General Assembly next week to send a budget to my desk that will offer significant tax relief for all Virginians while making historic investments in education, public safety, economic development, and behavioral health.”