While a number of these bills will eventually fail, unable to pass committees or the full General Assembly, a few of these proposals may ultimately become state law. And the odds are much greater than prior years.
Every one of Arlington’s state lawmakers are Democrats, and after years in the legislative minority Democrats currently hold the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia State Senate, and the Governorship.
Here are a few of the notable bills being proposed by Arlington lawmakers:
- HB 2164: Introduced by Del. Patrick Hope (47th District), the bill would reinforce the July 2019 law that no one under the age of 21 can purchase tobacco products by further defining them as nicotine vapor products or alternative nicotine products. It would also take away the expectation that those in active duty military but under 21 can purchase tobacco, and would disallow the selling of tobacco products from vending machines. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the General Laws Committee.
- HB 1854: Proposed by Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan (48th District), this bill would grant Arlington County the ability to rename the section of Route 29 — currently called “Lee Highway” — that lies within the county’s boundaries. In December, a local task force recommended renaming the road to “Loving Avenue.” The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Transportation Committee.
- SB 1159: Proposed by Sen. Barbara Favola (District 31), the bill would allow sick leave to be used to care for an immediate family member. The law would apply for all employers that have a sick leave program and have 25 or more employees. It also only applies to those employees who work more than 30 hours and leave is limited to five days per calendar year. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Commerce and Labor Committee.
- SB 1382: Also introduced by Sen. Favola, this bill would prohibit the purchase, possession, or transportation of a firearm by anyone who has been convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Judiciary Committee.
- HJ 557: The proposal from Del. Alfonso Lopez (49th District) would repeal the 2006 Virginia constitutional amendment that defines marriage as “only a union between one man and one woman.” It would also no longer prohibit the Commonwealth from recognizing the legal status of “relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate… marriage.” In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, so essentially this proposal would codify and bring the Virginia Constitution up to date. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Privileges and Elections Committee.
- HB 2123: Also from Del. Lopez, this bill would allow students to be eligible for in-state tuition and financial assistance programs for higher education no matter their citizenship or immigration status with the provision that they are “domiciled” in Virginia, meaning it’s their permanent home. The Virginia Dream Act was signed into law this past April. So, this would be a further extension and clarification of the act. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Education Committee.
- HB 2128: Another bill proposed by Lopez would increase the time that Virginia State Police takes to do a background check from three to five business days.It’s awaiting a vote in the Public Safety Committee.
- SB 1406: Introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin (District 30), this bill would eliminate all criminal penalties for marijuana possession for those over 21 years of age, thus legalizing it. The bill also establishes a regulatory and tax framework for the marijuana industry in Virginia. Last year, a bill introduced by Ebbin that decriminalized simple marijuana possession became state law. The legalization bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Rehabilitation and State Services Committee.
- SJ 271: Also being proposed by Ebbin, a Constitutional amendment that would permit Virginia governors starting in 2025 to run for a second term, but not a third term. Currently, the governor cannot run for reelection to a successive term at the conclusion of his or her first four year term. Ebbin has proposed this bill before. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the Privileges and Elections Committee.
- HB 1948: A bill proposed by Del. Mark Levine (District 45) would require any on-duty law enforcement officer witnessing someone suffering a serious bodily injury or life-threatening condition to render aid. It also would require reporting acts of wrongdoing, including bias-based profiling. The bill additionally expands the definition of such profiling to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It passed the House of Delegates yesterday (Jan. 20) and now is awaiting a vote in the State Senate.