Watch: Senate Democrats and House Republicans provide their priorities on the first day of session
Today is the first day of the General Assembly's session
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Here is an update from Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Republican leaders in the House of Delegates about what they plan to accomplish with their respective majorities in each chamber.
First to start, Republican Dels. Michael Webert and Amanda Batten have replaced Del.s Kathy Byron and Jay Leftwich in GOP House caucus leadership. Byron and Leftwich are now committee chairs, instead.
Video from both press conferences is below. (Sorry for the audio being quiet at the beginning of the Republican conference, but it wasn’t my fault.)
Click Here to watch the Republican House Leadership talk about their priorities.
Here are some quotes from the Republicans:
“Our agenda for 2022 is a direct response to what we heard from voters on the campaign trail,” said Speaker-designee Todd Gilbert. “Throughout the campaign, voters consistently told us they were worried about their children’s education, inflation was making it harder to take care of their families, and they wanted to see the safety of their communities improved.”
“The agenda we introduce today addresses those concerns directly. Working with Governor-elect Youngin, Lt. Gov.-elect Sears, and Attorney General-elect Miyares, we’re going to not only solve these problems, but lay the groundwork for prosperity for years to come.”
"The Commonwealth deserves leadership in government that works for the people, not the other way around," said Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City. "Entrepreneurs and business leaders cannot survive in a regulatory environment that crushes innovation and punishes prosperity. Through the Regulatory Reduction Pilot Program, we'll reduce unnecessary government meddling and support new business, jobs growth, and opportunity for every Virginian.
"House Republicans will also support a fact-based regulatory approach to COVID-19 mitigation," he said. "We will limit the emergency powers in the Governor's office so that our people never again have to withstand a state of emergency with no end in sight. Further, we will work to address rigid Department of Labor and Industry employer standards that have failed to change with evolving research and science related to COVID.
“When the Commonwealth is running a $3 billion surplus, it’s time to return money to the taxpayers,” said Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “House Republicans will work with Gov.-elect Youngkin to end the tax on groceries while holding our local governments harmless, and providing a stable revenue stream to replace the grocery tax’s local share.
“Tax rebates of $300 per filer or $600 per couple will help working families deal with rising prices,” he said. “So will an increase in Virginia’s standard income tax deduction.”
“To say parents of school-age children are deeply concerned about the state of education is an understatement,” said Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the House Education Committee. “After a year of ‘virtual’ education, Standards of Learning scores fell through the floor. Meanwhile, the bureaucrats in charge were discussing lowering standards.”
“House Republicans will put an end to any notion of lower standards. We will pass legislation that ensures advanced math classes remain an option for our students, and advanced diplomas remain a goal for our high school students to achieve,” Davis said.
“We will allocate more resources not only for our teachers, but also crumbling buildings, and we will open the door to more innovation by making it easier to create charter schools in Virginia, and make it easier for parents to choose and pay for non-public options. We will work to see that funding follows students, not buildings,” he added.
“For the past two years, the House has passed laws that put the interests of those who commit crimes ahead of those who are their victims," said Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee. “We have seen a mass exodus from law enforcement, dangerous felons being released early from prison, and communities that are less safe. House Republicans will end this trend.”
“House Republicans will vote to reform the Parole Board and will pass legislation that will keep dangerous offenders behind bars. In addition, we will make a real, long term commitment to fighting gun and gang violence in our communities through evidence-based initiatives like Project Ceasefire,” Bell said.