RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Virginia lawmakers are back in Richmond for one day to consider Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed changes to 78 new bills and three he vetoed.

The General Assembly’s annual “veto session” begins Wednesday when the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates meet at noon to act on the 81 bills.

Lawmakers will approve or reject Gov. Youngkin’s amendments to the 78 bills, which can pass with a majority vote in both chambers. The governor signed 738 bills into law, most of which go into effect in July.

If the governor’s recommendations are not approved by either chamber, the approved bill returns to Youngkin, who can sign the bill that passed or veto it. The legislature can override Youngkin’s vetoes with a two-thirds vote in the Senate and House.

Lawmakers to take up amendments on key bills

Youngkin amended 78 bills passed during the 2023 session, some with small technical tweaks and others with major changes.

Lawmakers will take up proposed amendments to a hemp bill that laid bare divisions between industry members who feared the approved bill would have crushed their businesses and health groups that believed it would set tougher restrictions on intoxicating hemp products, keeping them out of children’s hands.

Some in the hemp industry said they were pleased with Youngkin’s changes, specifically a carve-out that allows some therapeutic CBD products to continue to be sold with fewer restrictions than the products Youngkin and lawmakers targeted ahead of the session: hemp-derived synthetic THC products such as delta-8.

Youngkin also amended a bill that requires pornography websites to verify users are at least 18 years old before they access the site’s content, setting tighter restrictions that would allow parents to decide whether their children can use most sites that collect a user’s data or sign up for social media platforms.

The governor’s substitute bill would apply to Instagram and TikTok and would require sites to take credit card info, an ID or get a consent form signed for verification.

The 3 bills Youngkin vetoed

The governor vetoed three bills that easily passed both chambers, including one that sailed through unanimously. All three were introduced by Democrats.

House Bill 1536 would require the Office of Equal Employment and Dispute Resolution to review and issue a written decision when a party does not comply with the state’s grievance procedure manual.

“The legislation does not achieve its intended goals and will have unintended consequences such as increased workloads and delays in resolving complaints,” Youngkin wrote in his veto explanation. The bill passed unanimously out of both chambers of the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 1051 would prevent private property owners from removing or towing public utility company or broadband provider service vehicles for 72 hours “provided that service or maintenance is being conducted by an employee of the company or provider on the property and such vehicle does not block the entry or exit of the property.”

“Although I understand the need to ensure the necessary maintenance of services, this bill violates the fundamental rights of property owners. As a cornerstone of our society, property rights must not be eroded for convenience or expediency,” Youngkin’s veto read, adding it could increase disputes between property owners and service providers.

Senate 1085 would require the State Police superintendent to convene a work group to examine vehicle noise issues and give a report with recommendations to the chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees by Nov. 1.

“The Commonwealth made a significant bipartisan step by enforcing a primary offense for exhaust systems that are not in good working order last year,” Youngkin wrote in his brief veto explanation. “The proposed legislation is unnecessary.”

Missing a few folks?

The General Assembly looks a little different Wednesday, with state Sen. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) being sworn into the Virginia Senate the day before after winning a special election to replace Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.).

A few lawmakers have resigned and won’t be in the assembly Wednesday as they seek new seats in the legislature later this year.

Under the Virginia Constitution, state lawmakers need to live in the districts they represent and many of them shifted when they were redrawn during Virginia’s redistricting process.

There won’t be any special elections to fill the vacant House seats. But despite the empty seats today, Democrats are still in control of the state Senate and Republicans hold a majority in the House of Delegates.