Tammy Mulchi: One week left and plenty to do

We have one week left in session, which has gone by so quickly! This past week, we have spent a lot of time ironing out legislation with the House by either conforming our bills to theirs or by sending them into conference. This is necessary because each proposed piece of legislation needs to be identical when passed out of both chambers. In conference, the final negotiations will occur, and if we cannot agree, the bills will die.

My Senate Bill 142 has been working its way through the Senate and House this session, which will be instrumental in helping with Virginia’s teacher shortages. It was brought to former Senator Ruff and my attention by Superintendent Mark Jones from Pittsylvania County that it would be helpful to dust off an old tool we used in Virginia and bring it back to life. This legislation would allow a one-year local eligibility license for individuals to teach while working on the coursework they need to become fully licensed. This legislation has gained support from school divisions across the state.

Unfortunately, it seems we can’t have a week of session without Democrats pushing through legislation that is bad for Virginia. Here are just a few of the bad bills that were passed last week:

There were plenty of bills that attacked our Second Amendment rights, from increasing the age that an individual needs to be to purchase a weapon to defend themselves in their own home (HB 1174) to undermining reciprocity for law-abiding permit holders (HB 466). I am committed to doing all that I can to protect your rights and fight against these bills that take away our freedoms. Also, HB 812 was passed, which will repeal the authorization for issuing Sons of Confederate Veterans and Robert E. Lee special license plates. Fortunately, despite all these bills being forced through, we do expect Governor Youngkin to veto a lot of them. That is why it will be very important for you to get involved and fight to get conservatives elected.

Despite the bad legislation forced through last week, some good bills were passed, which I believe will help the Commonwealth.

HB 633 will crack down on individuals who knowingly hire people currently being trafficked for their labor. Under this law, if an individual knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person who has been forced or coerced to work (if they are an adult), the perpetrators will be charged with a class four felony, and if the victim is a minor, a class 3 felony. We absolutely need to crack down on human trafficking in all its forms, and this is a great way to hold everyone accountable.

Secondly, HB 581 which will require attorneys to establish multi-jurisdictional response teams to combat human trafficking. This is another great step to combatting human trafficking in Virginia and I am very excited to have seen it pass unanimously.

Finally, HB 1254 would help repair bridges quicker by allowing the state of good repair funds to be used for improvements. Under this new law, a bridge's useful life is anticipated to be extended by at least ten years. This presents a great opportunity to improve our bridges by not waiting until the last minute to start repairs. Healthy bridges are essential to so many aspects of our economy from logging, forestry and other essential businesses that need secure, safe routes throughout our Commonwealth.

Next week, I will give you a recap of how the session ended with regard to legislation and the budget. We will still be waiting for the Governor to act on some things during the Veto Session in April, but we should know the final action on some legislation by the end of this week when we head back to our districts.

Tammy Mulchi serves as the District 9 state senator. She can be reached at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov or by calling 804-698-7509.