Week 4 Session Update

February 10, 2022


We are in our fourth week of the 2022 Session and committees in the Senate and House have had full dockets with robust debates on numerous bills daily.  Believe it or not, we are only about a week from the mid-point of Session, known as Crossover.  

Most of the bills that I have patroned this year have been heard in committee, some favorably and some unfavorably. On Thursday, I presented one of my top priorities this year: an expansion to our charter schools laws in the Commonwealth. I want to thank Education Secretary Amy Guidera for testifying in support of my bill.

It’s unfortunate that my colleagues were not amenable to my bill. A few weeks ago, I described the work I was doing with Governor Youngkin to give more flexibility to schools and teachers and families. Last week, the Senate Education and Health Committee voted 8-7 to defeat the bill. One Democrat Senator, Lynwood Lewis, broke ranks and supported the bill. If you would like to read my statement about the bill’s failure to pass, please click here.

I also carried a bill to repeal the pro-union legislation allowing the government to close bids to all but union shops and repealing last year’s bill allowing unionizing or collective bargaining for public employees. With a Commerce and Labor Committee stacked with twelve Democrats and three Republicans it was no surprise that the bill failed. This was another bill with which I was working with Governor Youngkin to ensure that employees are not forced to join unions and contractors are not forced to pay inflated wage rates in public contracts. The primary effect of last year’s legislation was to allow large out-of-state contractors to compete for and win contracts from Virginia businesses. To read the bill, click here

SB 122 (click here to read it) is a bill about which I care deeply. This is known as Caleb’s Law and would have created an involuntary manslaughter (felony) charge for any person who kills the fetus of another accidentally, contrary to the intention of the parties and while engaged in conduct so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.  This bill was brought to me by a Rockingham County woman who survived a horrible automobile accident, caused by a man fleeing police. Tragically, because of the accident, she lost her son with whom she was six months pregnant and would have been named Caleb. Under current law, if Caleb and his mother had both died in the accident, the perpetrator could have been charged with two counts of homicide.  But because the mother lived, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s only option was to charge the perpetrator with two counts of malicious wounding. I believe that the prosecution in cases like this should be able to pursue an involuntary manslaughter charge. What happened to Caleb and her mother is devastating and I hope that this bill will rectify this unjust inconsistency in our law. To read more about this legislation and Caleb’s story please click here.  

Caleb’s mother, Taylor, was brave enough to testify in front of the Committee with a moving account of her experience. If you’d like to listen to her testimony, click the video below.

The bill was reported from the Judiciary Committee and is headed to the Finance Committee for further evaluation.

If you wish to see the full list of the bills I am introducing this year, click here

Recently, we welcomed several groups and individuals to our office – both in person and virtually. Some of our visitors included advocates from the Virginia Farm Bureau, Shenandoah Valley and Rappahannock Electric Cooperatives, Virginia Dental Association, and members of our local school boards. 

We also met constituents who visited on behalf of the Virginia Charitable Gaming Council and my good friends John Shaffer from Luray Caverns and Debbie Donehey, Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors member and owner of The Griffin Tavern in Flint Hill. 

And finally, it was great to catch up with my good friend Dr. John Downey as well as ambitious and driven students from Blue Ridge Community College. 

If you would like to meet with me or my office representatives, please email me at [email protected] or come by our office in the Pocohontas Building, office 502E. 

I’ll have another update next week so stay tuned.  As always, it’s my honor to represent the Shenandoah Valley in the Senate of Virginia.  


Mark Obenshain

It’s time for Virginia to embrace charter schools

January 20, 2022


We are one week into Session and it has been an eventful week here in Richmond. On Saturday, I was joined by my colleagues and hundreds of supporters and friends at the State Capitol to participate in the inauguration of our 74th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. We also witnessed the swearing in of our new Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares. 

I tell you what – watching these three conservative leaders and public servants take office was one of the most satisfying occurrences in recent memory. We all worked so hard this past election season to elect these three fine individuals and I am excited to get to work in partnering with them to legislate effectively.

I am proud to bring a host of bills this year to protect our liberties and advocate for efficient, limited government.

First, I am working with Governor Youngkin on a bill to help expand Virginias’ access to charter schools. It’s time for Virginia to open its arms and embrace public charter schools. Who could oppose giving more flexibility to schools and teachers and more choice for families? It’s an honor to partner with this new administration in this important effort. To read more about my Senate bill 125, click here

I am also carrying two bills to increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections.  My first bill, Senate bill 390 (click here to read it), would require the local electoral boards and general registrars to annually conduct a post-election audit of at least one fifth of all ballot scanner machines. This measures will undoubtedly help restore confidence in our elections – a confidence that has been eroded by Democrat policies over the past few years.

The second bill had to do with voter identification. Democrats here in Virginia repealed the mandate requiring a photo identification to vote. There’s no doubt this repeal undermined voter confidence in the fairness of our elections. My Senate bill 127 (click here to read it) would have reinstated the mandate to require a photo ID to vote. Unfortunately that bill met a quick death by “PBI” (an acronym that stands for “passed by indefinitely”) in the Democrat-controlled Senate Privileges and Elections committee.

I am deeply concerned with the increase in the financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults. Preventing this exploitation has been a priority of mine for years and this year I have introduced two bills to address it. First is, Senate Bill 124 (click here to read it), which creates a new class 1 misdemeanor for someone who knowingly or intentionally abuses power of attorney to financially exploit an incapacited adult. Seocnd is, Senate Bill 126 (click here to read it), to expand the definition of “incapacitated adult” in the law to provide more financial protection for the elderly.  I’m proud to say that both these bills are supported by our Attorney General Jason Miyares.

If you wish to see the full list of the bills I am introducing this year, click here.

In addition to sponsoring legislation, I am also responsible for voting on my colleagues’ proposed bills in the committees on which I sit. These include Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Commerce and Labor, Judiciary, and Transportation. From time to time in this weekly update, I will highlight bills of note on which I voted in committee. This morning, the Judiciary committee met for the first time.

One bill in particular worth noting from Judiciary this morning was SB 105 that effectively eliminates ALL mandatory minimum sentences from the Code of Virginia. Mandatory minimums have long since provided closure and security to victims of crimes and their families as well as Virginians as a whole. This blanket repeal will make our streets and communities less safe.

The elimination of these mandatory minimums hits close to home for those of us who have lived in the Shenandoah Valley for a few decades. It arose from the case of Daniel Lee Zirkle, who was executed in 2002 for the killing of his 4-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old half sister (read about the murders here). Zirkle committed these heinous acts in a fit of rage, after being released from jail days after violating the terms of a protective order for the 4th time. That minimum sentence would have kept Zirkle in jail longer allowing him to cool off and may have prevented these awful deaths. 

While I would consider the elimination of some mandatory minimums, this blanket repeal goes way too far. Take for example, it repeals the sixty-day mandatory minimum sentence for the repeat violation of domestic violence protective orders. This mandatory minimum was adopted in 2009 by unanimous vote in the House and Senate and it was signed into law by then-governor Tim Kaine.

The passage of this bill out of committee this morning was lauded by liberal groups like the Progressive Prosecutors of Virginia who proclaimed it as an “excellent moment in Virginia history.”  This liberal driven approach represents a missed opportunity to review some mandatory minimums that should be reconsidered.

The one silver lining about the passage of this bill is that Republicans in the Virginia Senate are no longer the last line of defense for liberal bills like these (like we have been for two years). I’ve said for years that elections have consequences and a positive one of the 2021 elections was that we now have a Republican majority in the House of Delegates and a Republican governor in Glenn Youngkin who will have an opportunity to veto liberal bills like these.

This week, we were honored to welcome a number of individuals to our office – both in person and virtually. Some of our visitors included advocates from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and members of the Virginia Federation of the Blind. If you would like to meet with me or my office, please email me at [email protected] or come by our office in the Pocahontas Building, office 502E.

I’ll continue to provide regular updates throughout the session so stay tuned!


Mark Obenshain

It’s a new day in Virginia

January 12, 2022


Happy New Year! I hope that you and your families had a safe and healthy holiday and that you are starting 2022 off on a positive note.

2021 certainly was full of highs and lows.  In November, Virginia sent a very loud and clear message that we need new leadership for our Commonwealth to get moving in the right direction once more. The House of Delegates is now back to a Republican majority.   Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Governor-elect Sears and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares will be sworn into their new posts this Saturday.  I am looking forward to working with them over the course of the next four years to bring about positive changes to critical issues like education, public safety, the business climate, and more.  One thing is for sure, they are ready to go to work for you on Day One.  It’s a very exciting and refreshing time for Virginia!

This year’s General Assembly Session began today and will continue for the next 60 days. During that time, the legislature will be working on a new state budget for the next two years along with about three thousand bills that will be filed and debated over the coming weeks.  Committee meetings and floor debates will get underway in full next week and the pace for the next two months will be fast moving.

You will remember that last year’s session was like no other.  Due to the pandemic, the Senate met in person but it was at the Science Museum of Virginia where we could spread out. The House of Delegates, however, had completely virtual meetings. Testimony from the general public in support of or in opposition to all bills in both chambers was done via Zoom. I did not support the lack of transparency this process afforded but am happy to report that this year, it will be back to business as usual – live and in person – at the Capitol.

The Senate will hold committee meetings in person at the Pocahontas Building and the daily floor sessions will be held in the Senate Chamber in the state Capitol.  The Pocahontas Building will be open to the public again (maximum capacity limits will be monitored by the Capitol Police).  Testimony from the general public on bills will be allowed in person, and a virtual option will be available for those not able or comfortable to come to Richmond.

I promise you that I will continue to stand up for our conservative ideals for you and your family.  While the Democrats still have a slim majority in the Senate, we have a Republican House and Republican Governor.  After two years of complete Democrat control, there is a lot that needs to be corrected.  We will work to roll back many of the liberal policies that have detrimental to our Commonwealth – burdensome business regulations, pro-labor union bills, so-called social justice reforms that actually make our most vulnerable communities less safe, and climate change policies that make Virginia look more like California than the Commonwealth that we know and love.  It is a new day in Virginia.  The core values on which my viewpoint on the world is built – small government, lower taxes, less regulation and the freedom to bear arms and worship – will continue to guide my voting and actions this session. 

I have a number of bills that I will be introducing this session that will deal with charter schools, small businesses, right to work, elections, elder abuse prevention and public safety.  I will be covering these more extensively in future updates along with other bills of interest the legislature takes up. To follow my legislative package, click here.

Even though this session still may look and feel a bit different, one thing that remains unchanged is my stellar legislative team.  We will again have two offices operating during General Assembly:

Richmond Office- Room 502E Pocahontas Building

Connor Smith

[email protected]


Harrisonburg District Office

Jenni Aulgur

[email protected]


If you have scheduling requests, constituent concerns or would like to let me know what you think about a piece of legislation please reach out to my office at the contact information above or email me at [email protected]  As always, I appreciate hearing from my constituents on issues that are important to you.

I am grateful for the privilege of serving the Shenandoah Valley in the Virginia Senate!


Mark Obenshain

Senator Obenshain’s Endorsements

May 7, 2021

Wondering who Senator Obenshain has endorsed for the 2021 Republican Party of Virginia Nominating Convention? Check out below!

Governor: Pete Snyder

Suzanne and I have known Pete and Burson for a long time. I was proud to serve on the board of the organization they founded last year to help struggling small businesses called VA30 Fund.

Pete’s a successful business owner himself and has what it takes to beat the Democrats in November. Find out more about Pete at www.PeteSnyder.com

Lieutenant Governor: Tim Hugo

Honorable Tim Hugo | The Livingston Group, L.L.C.

Tim has been a conservative anchor in bluer and bluer Northern Virginia for years and he’s never wavered in his conservative ideals. He’s exactly who we need presiding over our Senate and standing up for the Republican Party. Find out more about Tim at www.TimHugo.com

Attorney General: Jason Miyares

Jason Miyares - Wikipedia

Jason is the proven Conservative we need as our next Attorney General. He has worked to put criminals behind bars, protected our 2A rights & will bring accountability to our elections. Join me in voting for Jason Miyares on 5/8. Find out more about Jason at www.jasonmiyares.com

2021 Republican Party of Virginia Nominating Convention

April 29, 2021

Wondering where to vote next Saturday, May 8 for the Republican Party of Virginia Nominating Convention? See below for more info!

You will be voting for the following offices:

  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General

Polls are open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

If you live in Harrisonburg City or Rockingham County, you vote at:

Augusta County Parks and Rec

18 Gov Center Lane

Verona, VA 24482

If you live in Page, Shenandoah, or Warren County, you vote at:

Shenandoah County Fairgrounds

300 Fairground Road

Woodstock, VA 22664

If you live in Rappahannock County, you vote at:

Madison County High School

68 Mountaineer Lane

Madison, VA 22727

2021 Bad Bill List

April 27, 2021

Every wonder what elected officials and political candidates mean when they boldly claim that “elections have consequences”?

Well, here’s the truth folks: election do have consequences. If you don’t believe me, just peruse the list of bills below introduced by the liberal majority in Richmond.

Some passed, some didn’t, but all are damaging to our Commonwealth.

HB2263 | Status: Passed Abolishes death penalty

HB1904 | Status: Passed This bill requires teachers and principals to include evaluations of their respective “cultural competency.” Not only is “cultural competence” subjective in nature, this just creates more top down regulations to which teachers have to adhere.

HB2074 | Status: Defeated Creates the Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group and charges every state agency with developing a plan to “further environmental justice in the Commonwealth.” This will create more red tape for state agencies.

HB2250 | Status: Passed Prohibits the testing of cosmetics on animals. Prohibits sale of cosmetics manufactured using animal testing. This is just more regulations on businesses.

HB2295 | Status: Passed 2A bill – no guns in Capitol Square or any building that the Commonwealth leases. More attempts by the Democrats to limit gun possession.

HB2123 | Status: Passed Immigration bill – opens state aid for undocumented. This further increases rights for undocumented making Virginia more and more of a sanctuary state. 

HB2312 | Status: Passed Legalizes marijuana

HB2331 | Status: Defeated Liberal criminal justice bill – eliminates mandatory minimums. This is bad for victims. 

HJ555 | Status: Passed Liberal criminal justice bill – felons getting right to vote. 

HB1902 | Status: Passed Bans styrofoam from restaurants. This will hurt our restaurants in the long run with increased costs, etc. 

HB1992 | Status: Passed 2A bill – Convicted assault and battery felon can’t buy a gun. This is a lifetime ban, but it does have a process for getting the rights back, but it is also the first time a constitutional right is being restricted upon conviction of a misdemeanor.  We are restoring the right to vote for all felons automatically, but under this bill if you get in a shoving match with your college roommate, and are convicted of misdemeanor assault, you may be banned for the rest of your life from possession a firearm

HB2040 | Status: Passed Codifies Governor’s Executive Order allowing unemployment recipients to continue to receive benefits during their appeals process to determine eligibility. It waives any overpayments due to extensions of benefits during appeals process that is eventually denied or due to administrative error by VEC. Worth noting that there was $41 million paid to inmates in Virginia’s prisons and jails).

HB2130 | Status: Passed Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board established.

HB2262 | Status: Passed This bill expands rights of bicyclists and will cause safety problems particularly in allowing bicyclists to ride two abreast. 

HJ537 | Status: Passed Cancel culture bill – defines racism as public health crisis. 

SB1097 | Status: Passed Elections bill – removes witness sig for absentee ballots, making it easier for voter fraud to occur. 

SB1157 | Status: Passed Moves local elections to November making what should be nonpartisan, local issues focused candidacies hyper-partisan.

SB1261 | Status: Passed Court packing bill that expands the Court of Appeals from 11 to 17, allowing more left-leaning influence on the Court of Appeals. 

SB1276 | Status: Passed -Removes prohibition on abortion as an essential health benefit, significantly expanding access to abortion in Virginia.