Facts from the Floor: Week Six

February 18, 2020

This past week was “crossover” which is the deadline for having all the bills from the Senate pass over to the House for their vote before heading to the Governor’s desk in April to veto or sign into law. I had heard rumors of what to expect for “crossover” day but I had to live it to understand the gravity of exactly what was about to happen. “Crossover” day is customarily long, but this year may have set a record in the Senate. Convening to debate bills at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the Senate did not complete its work until 12:48 a.m. on Wednesday. For comparison, the Senate adjourned at 2:51 p.m. on crossover day in 2019, and at 4:16 p.m. in 2018.

What took so long? In part, the Democrat majority put off many of its most consequential – and controversial – bills until late in the legislative process. The other challenge was late changes to those bills – sometimes 80 pages in length – in an attempt to quell objections and assuage concerns. The combination of those two factors led to lengthy debates as Democrat senators had to defend their bills and answer questions about the last-minute changes made to them.

When their litany of bills become law and go into effect on July 1st, it is going to cost your family a lot more to live in Virginia than it does today. For example, the Democrats have a new transportation plan that raises the gas tax by 8-cents per gallon over the next two years in most of the state. They also approved a “Green New Deal” energy bill that will result in higher prices on electricity. The estimates of what the average family will pay for this range from $23 to $50 on their power bill per month. This will also significantly affect the southwestern parts of the Commonwealth where coal mining and coal related industry is the backbone of their local economies.

Some of the other bills we voted on this week included:

-SB 34: Allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses at the DMV. This bill passed 22-18 out of the Senate. I voted NO because I believe all immigrants should go through legal means to obtain citizenship before they are granted the benefits of American citizens (such as driving, voting- & paying taxes!).

-SB 183: Removal of war monuments/memorials. This controversial bill passed along a party line vote of 21-19. I voted NO as I believe these historical markers serve as important expressions of remembrance, pain, and patriotism and should be respected and protected.

-SB 67: Mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours after loss. This bill was actually DEFEATED in a 19-21 vote. I voted NO as it would have made criminals out of people who were victims of a crime.

-SB 1026: I was a co-patron on this important bill which allows pharmacists to dispense some controlled substances including fluoride, vaccines, naloxone, epinephrine, nicotine replacements, and most importantly, contraception without a doctor’s prescription. It passed by a vote of 38-2. I voted YES.

-SB 7: Incrementally increases the minimum wage in Virginia to $15/hour according to a regional wage increase. This bill passed 21-19 along party lines. I voted NO knowing the effect it would have on our small businesses and their employees.

-SB 219: Allows for automatic voter registration at the DMV or when renewing/applying for a license online. This bill passed along a party line vote of 21-19. I voted NO as there has been multiple cases of fraudulent voter registration in various states as a result of similar policies.

-SB 935: Allows for in state tuition for illegal immigrants. This bill passed on a party line vote of 21-19. I voted NO.

If you are ever interested in reading the full bill description or knowing more details, please go to the General Assembly homepage (https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+men+BIL) and you can enter the bill number and track any bill as it goes through the process to become a Virginia law.

We had so many groups from around the state visit our office this week including Americans For Prosperity, Siemens Gamesa who manufactures offshore wind turbines, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Virginia Maritime Association, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to name a few. If you’re planning a trip to the Capitol before March 7th, please stop by our offices in Room 518 of the Pocahontas Building and come see us!

This week we begin to vote on the bills from the House and we also start presenting our Senate to the House for their votes. Wish me luck as I present my legislation to the House committees and subcommittees. Stay tuned!!

SENATOR KIGGANS’ TOP FIVE MOST SURPRISING THINGS SEEN IN THE VIRGINIA SENATE THIS PAST WEEK:

1- Adjournment at 12:46 a.m. on Tuesday (after starting at 10:30 a.m.)! Nothing like working straight for 14+ hours! In the Navy we had a 10 hour aviation crew day so we didn’t do anything unsafe or make bad decisions due to exhaustion!

2- I voted on 189 bills in one day on Tuesday. Some of those bills affect the livelihood of rural Virginia, cost people their jobs, and close businesses. No need to wait until the last minute to pose so many life-changing bills in one day in my opinion!

3- Valentine’s Day: It looked like the Hallmark shop multiplied overnight in the Pocahontas building where our offices are. Red and pink streamers, hearts, flowers, and chocolates as far as the eye could see! You have to see it with your own eyes to believe it! It’s the only holiday we celebrate during session so everyone takes it to heart- literally!

4- The Virginia March for Life on February 13th brought thousands of advocates for LIFE and the unborn to our Capitol. So many young people (including two of my own children with groups from their schools) were there to march in support of women and unborn babies. It was heart warming to see so many people care about an issue that was recently spoken of so harshly in the Senate and House chambers.

5- Samples of different types of milk from the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association who visited the Capitol and gave us sample of the most delicious milk I’ve ever had! I’m a BIG milk drinker (with a cold glass of skim being my favorite) so this was a special treat during a rough week!