Week 1 General Assembly Update

January 17, 2023

Last Wednesday, the 2023 Session of the Virginia General Assembly was gaveled to order by the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. This year is a “short session.” It is scheduled to last 45 days and to adjourn on February 25th.  Hot topics this year include tax relief, public safety, energy and utility rates and regulation.

Virginia is entering the second year of the budget biennium with a projected $3.6 billion budget surplus – even after last year’s $4 billion of tax relief and salary increases for state employees, teachers and law enforcement officers. While this is good news, it is overshadowed by disturbing trends including the fact that residents have been migrating out of Virginia for the past seven years. Last year, Virginia had the 9th highest outward migration rate in the country while our neighbors, North Carolina and Tennessee increased their population. One of the differences is that states like North Carolina are cutting personal income tax rates and are trying to eliminate the corporate income tax. All this under a Democratic Governor. Governor Youngkin wants to reverse this trend and to once again make Virginia a better place to work, live and raise a family. To do this, he has proposed an agenda that includes a cut in individual income tax rates, a 1% reduction in the corporate income tax and to remove the age restriction on the tax exemption on military retirement benefits.

On the energy front, Virginia families and businesses have struggled under the burden of ever increasing energy costs. The reasons are many, including the inflation caused by out of control government spending and unrealistic and punitive green energy initiatives that have increase our reliance on foreign energy sources and suppliers and choked off the supply of safe, clean and plentiful domestic energy sources. There are multiple initiatives this year that will result in lower electric bills. Many members have also introduced or patroned legislation that would repeal the 2021 law that Democrats passed to allow California to outlaw the sale of new gas powered vehicles in Virginia.

Here’s a quick preview of some of the legislation I introduced and will be working on during Session:


I have introduced a budget amendment that would allocate $235 million in the coming year to jumpstart improvements to Interstate 81. I was the author of legislation in 2019 to create the I-81 Commission. Through the framework established in that legislation, VDOT developed a plan of improvements to improve and address choke points and dangerous sections of I-81. Because of funding limitations, the construction of those projects is projected to be stretched out over more than a decade. Last year, when we had a record budget surplus, the budget negotiators allocated $470 million of general fund dollars for construction on Interstate 64 between Williamsburg and Richmond. They included $0 of additional funding, however, for Interstate 81. This year, since we are continuing to run a budget surplus, it is my hope that budget writers will this year do the same thing for Interstate 81 that they did for Interstate 64. Everyone who lives in or travels the I-81 corridor knows how dangerous that vital highway has become. It is time for us to treat the need for I-81 improvements as a budget priority as opposed to an aspirational long-term goal.


On June 8, 2022, police apprehended a man outside the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh. The suspect had flown across the country and when he was apprehended, he was wearing black clothing and had a suitcase containing a pistol, zip ties, a tactical knife, pepper spray, hammer, duct tape and other items. He confessed that it was his intention to break into the home of Justice Kavanagh to kill him and then to commit suicide. This also coincided with weeks of protesting over abortion rights and protestors descended upon the home of targeted Supreme Court justices. 

I have introduced legislation that would prohibit this kind of intimidation and protest outside of the homes of judges and justices. It is a shame that such legislation is even necessary but the continued deterioration of basic standards of civility has worked to endanger not only public servants, but members of their family, including children. This doesn’t impact the ability of protesters to picket or protest elsewhere, just not in front of a personal residence.


In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly legalized the possession of marijuana. At some point a framework will be established for a legal marketplace. Some, however, have jumped the gun and have begun marketing and merchandizing marijuana in ways that have targeted children. I have introduced legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to advertise marijuana that cannot legally be sold in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Further, even if or when a legal marketplace is established, my bill applies to marijuana  many of the same limitations on the marketing of alcohol to children, including prohibitions on billboards or signs in close proximity to schools, prohibiting advertising on shows that target children and other restrictions that have long represented the commonsense view as to how alcohol should and should not be marketed.

These are just a few of my legislative initiatives. You can look here for a full list.  I will endeavor to provide weekly updates on significant developments during the course of Session. If you have opinions (pro or con), questions or concerns about any legislation before the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to share those with me. I can always be reached by email at [email protected] and my office can be reached at either 804-698-7526 (Richmond Office) or 540-437-1451 (Harrisonburg District Office.  Should you be in Richmond at any point during the General Assembly Session, please stop by my office (Room 502) and say hello and let us know if we can do anything for you during your visit. We always enjoy visiting with and meeting with groups from home. This week I had visits from the Seven Bends Republican Women’s Club, the Republican Women of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, local bankers, JMU nursing students, advocates for stronger fentanyl laws, and from leaders in the agribusiness industry.