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ArlingtonGovernor wields veto pen with a vengeance against Hope

Governor wields veto pen with a vengeance against Hope

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Perhaps he’ll wear it as an unusual badge of honor, but it certainly is a distinction for Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington): Gov. Youngkin vetoed four of his bills that had passed both houses of the legislature during the 2022 session.

It may be a record for a single delegate in a single year, at least for a legislator who has to pass measures through a body in the hands of the opposite party. (Hope, a Democrat, convinced the Republican-led House of Delegates to go along with his bills, as well as the Democratic-led state Senate.) Although it pales in comparison to Youngkin’s vetoes of measures by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria-Arlington-Fairfax), which totaled nine this session.

But back to Hope: The best known of Youngkin’s vetoes of his measures occurred mid-session – marking Youngkin’s first – as the governor nixed in ringing tones a proposal to allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor for the police department. The county government already had the power to employ one, but the position was required to be under the auspices of the county manager, not elected officials.

That bill (HB670) passed the GOP-led House of Delegates on a 65-35 vote, but only eked out a victory in the state Senate on a 21-19 vote, with all 19 Republicans voting against it. A companion bill, patroned by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-Fairfax-Loudoun), also got out of the Senate on a party-line vote, but died on the House of Delegates’ side late in the winter session.

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Youngkin said the bills were anti-police; advocates for the measures said the governor and his staff misunderstood what they actually said.

The other three vetoes of Hope measures came after the session concluded, and were among about two dozen bills that Youngkin nixed. Legislators will return to Richmond in a few weeks to consider the vetoes, but overrides very rarely happen.

The three other Hope bills that had the veto pen wielded against them:
• HB 669, a measure to create a study group that would determine if pools and spas across the commonwealth should be regulated by the Virginia Department of Health. The measure had passed the House of Delegates, 47-43, and the state Senate, 21-19.

“Although this legislation has the commendable goal of promoting the health and safety surrounding pools in the commonwealth, there is currently a working group focused on similar considerations,” Youngkin said in his veto message. “Coordinating existing work to maximize effectiveness would reduce duplicative work and make appropriate use of the taxpayers’ resources.”

• HB 675, a measure that would have eliminated the current ability of insurers to impose a surcharge of up to 50 percent on health-care policies issued to those who smoke tobacco. The measure passed the House of Delegates, 72-27, and the Senate, 40-0.

“Smoking and tobacco use are among the leading causes of chronic health problems that result in higher health-care costs,” Youngkin said in his veto message. “Requiring non-tobacco users to cover the increased health-care costs associated with tobacco use is not a policy I can support. The ability to reduce premiums by quitting smoking is also a valuable incentive to encourage healthier habits.”

• HB197, creating a state study group to determine the desirability of moving the Department of Juvenile Justice from the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. The measure passed the House of Delegates, 64-35, and the state Senate, 32-7.

“We must work to make our schools safer, and the rehabilitative services offered by the Department of Juvenile Justice under the purview of the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security ensures young people who commit violent crimes are held accountable and given the resources and education they need to fully and permanently re-enter society,” Youngkin said.

“A study of the feasibility of moving this agency is unnecessary,” the governor added. “If the General Assembly would like to move this agency, it should pass legislation directing as such.”

Also vetoed by the governor was a measure patroned by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria-Arlington) regulating parking in spaces designated for electric-vehicle charging. A companion bill patroned by Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-Alexandria-Arlington) was not vetoed but picked up a recommendation from the governor for consideration by the General Assembly.

Youngkin could still veto it down the road if his proposal is not adopted.
Ebbin lost no time in trying to capitalize on the governor’s actions, sending out a fund-raising appeal on April 12 saying he was “stunned” that the new government had vetoed bills the senator described as noncontroversial.

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