Virginia lawmakers started their 60-day legislative session Wednesday with rookie lawmakers making up roughly one-third of the seats in the House and Senate and Del. Don L. Scott, a Democrat from Portsmouth, set to be the first Black speaker of the house in the state’s history.
Among the issues the Virginia General Assembly will tackle are the creation of a sports and entertainment authority to oversee Alexandria’s proposed sports and entertainment district and the regulation of data centers in NoVA. Other issues that could come up for a vote: a change in the minimum wage and an amendment to the state constitution related to abortion.
Sports and Entertainment Authority
Gov. Glenn Youngkin is backing the plan for a $2 billion entertainment district that would relocate the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards to Potomac Yard, bring the commonwealth its first professional sports teams. The plans require a sports and entertainment authority to be created to oversee the authorization of $1.4 billion in bonds for the complex, which would be paid back over 40 years.
Proposed data centers in NoVA have raised concerns about electricity costs and water resources. A bill proposed by Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Arlington, and Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Loudoun, would require that data centers meet an energy efficiency standard to get tax credits. There also are bills requiring data centers to have site, resource, and cost evaluations.
A year ago, the minimum wage went up to $12 a hour. The legislation that approved that hike would need to be reapproved by lawmakers for a future increase to $13.50 a hour in 2025 and to $15 a hour in 2026. Bills are filed in both chambers to do that.
Democrats, including NoVA’s Sens. Barbara Favola and Jennifer B. Boysko, have filed a bill that would amend the state constitution to allow abortions. The amendment would stipulate that “every individual has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom and that the right to make and effectuate one’s own decisions about all matters related to one’s pregnancy cannot be denied, burdened, or otherwise infringed upon by the Commonwealth, unless justified by a compelling state interest and achieved by the least restrictive means.” It would prohibit prosecution for abortions.
Even if the General Assembly passes it, the amendment would need to pass again in 2026 and then go to voters for consideration, the Virginia Mercury reports.
Feature image of Virginia state capitol, Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
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