Youngkin’s Legislative Scorecard

Photo credit: USA Today

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Almost all recently-elected Virginia governors confront their first General Assembly session at a disadvantage. The legislative session has begun before the inauguration; their personal staffs, Cabinet members, and agency heads are either not yet all in place or are just getting oriented. Finally, they have not had the time to establish the personal relationships with legislators that are vitally important to their success. Glenn Youngkin embarked upon the governorship in January at an even greater disadvantage: he had no experience in government or the legislature.

Nevertheless, he came into office promising major changes on multiple fronts right away. His office released “Governor Youngkin’s Day One Game Plan Legislative Agenda.” This agenda listed 32 issues before the legislature that the governor was putting his approval behind. Most issues had at least two bills associated with them, one each in the House and Senate.

Now that the regular session has adjourned it would be a good time to see how the issues supported by the Governor fared. Being a former college basketball player, the Governor is obviously aware of the usefulness of a scorecard, as are most of us here at the peak of the college basketball season.

Scoring the fate of legislation is not as simple as the scoring in a basketball game, however. In basketball, a shot is either made or missed. In the legislature, bills either pass or fail, but, unlike in basketball where the ball that emerges from the bottom of the net is the same ball that went in the hoop, in the legislative process the bill that ultimately passes is often not the same bill that was introduced. It could be a watered-down, perhaps toothless, version of what it was originally. To continue the basketball analogy, the ball comes out of the net somewhat deflated.  Or, it may pass in a totally different form, almost unrecognizable from the original.  (In the “old days”, this was called getting the “shad treatment”.)  In basketball terms, the ball emerged from the net a different color from what it was when it entered.  Then there are the bills that do not pass, but do not actually get killed (miss the basket). This year, many were continued to the special session, which begins today and ends no one knows when. These bills are like basketballs spinning on the rim; they may eventually fall through the net, but they may spin off for a missed shot. Other bills have been carried over until the 2023 session. They are no longer in play this year, but they are not dead, either. They are in “time out.” Actually, most carried over bills will quietly die in a committee meeting sometime in November or December.

Just as there is a range of points that can be scored with made shots in basketball, the scoring system used here assigns a range of points, but based on how well the original bill fared, rather than how far away from the net the shooter was. Here is a summary of the categories and scoring system:

  • Pass—The bill passed as originally introduced (a swish) or with some amendments that do not substantively change the bill’s effect (a bank shot or a couple of bounces on the rim). 1 point
  • Pass lite—The bill passed, but in a watered down, perhaps toothless, form. ½ point
  • Shad treatment—The bill passed, but in a completely different, perhaps unrecognizable, form. 0 points.
  • Pending—Continued in special session. Points pending.
  • Carried over. 0 points.
  • Killed (Passed by indefinitely, or failed to pass), 0 points.

How well Governor Youngkin’s Day One legislative agenda fared depends on one’s perspective. Out of 32 issues, only 11 passed, about a third. Using the weighted scoring scheme, he scored only 8.5 points out of a possible 32, a batting average (to switch sporting metaphors) of .266. To be fair, six issues are still pending and the Governor could pick up some points with those. If those issues were held out of the accounting the Governor’s current batting average would increase to .327. On the other hand, of the six issues in the “pass” category, three passed with no or minimal opposition (walks). Take those issues and the pending issues out of the mix and the Governor’s batting average falls to .239.

That type of analysis assumes that all bills are “worth” the same. However, that is obviously not the case. Looking at the Governor’s top priorities, judged by the amount of publicity generated, he scored big wins on prohibiting face masks in schools and on the issue of sexually explicit materials in schools. On the other hand, he lost on charter schools and most of his tax proposals are either dead or tied up in the special session pending decisions on the budget.

Following is a list of the items in the Day One Legislative Agenda, by subject matter, and their status.

K-12 Education

A. Curriculum

1. General

  • HB 938 (Robinson, R-Chesterfield), SB 558 (Suetterlein, R-Roanoke). Would have required the Board of Education to collaborate with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Secretary of Education to evaluate and implement, where possible, a list of fairly specific goals, such as the elimination of the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative.
  • Result: As passed by both houses, substantially amended to require Board to convene a fairly broad-based work group to evaluate a list of goals that are more generally stated, such as ”promoting excellence in instruction and student achievement in mathematics.”

2. Sexually explicit materials

  • HB 1009 (Durant, R-Stafford), SB 656 (Dunnavant, R-Henrico).  Requires schools to notify parents of instructional material that is sexually explicit, allow parents to review such material, and provide an alternative material and related academic activities to a student if a parent so requests.
  • Passed both houses

3.  Divisive concepts

  • HB 1068 (Cordoza, R-Poquoson), SB 570 (Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach). Prohibits school curricula and instruction from including inherently divisive concepts.
  • House: left in committee. Senate: killed in committee

B.  Opening and face masks

  • HB 1272 (Batten, R-James City), SB 739 (Dunnavant, R-Henrico).  Requires all schools to offer in-school instruction and prohibits schools from requiring students to wear face masks.
  • Passed both houses.

C.  School Security 

  1. Incident reports
  • HB 4 (Wyatt, R-Hanover), SB 36 (Norment, R-James City). Would have required a principal to report any offense committed by a student on school property that would constitute a criminal offense to law enforcement authorities, rather than just those that constituted felonies.
  • Result: As passed by both houses, the principal would be required to report any felony, as well as any threats made against students or school personnel.
  1. School resource officers
  • HB 873 (Greenhaigh, R-Virginia Beach), SB 415 (DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach).  Would have required each elementary and secondary school to have a school resource officer. Any school that failed to comply would not be eligible for state funding.
  • Result: As passed by both houses, would require the chief law-enforcement officer for any school division in which an elementary or secondary school does not have a school resource officer to designate one law-enforcement officer to receive the training developed for school resource officers and serve as the liaison with the school administration.
  1. Safety audits
  • HB 1129 (Taylor, R-Dinwiddie), SB 600 (Pillion, R-Bristol). Would have required school officials to collaborate with chief law-enforcement officer of locality in annual school safety audits and submit results to official for review and approval.
  • Result: As passed by both houses, requires the school to submit the results of the school safety audit to the chief law-enforcement officer for his review and recommendations, rather than approval.

D.  Governor’s Schools

  • HB 127 (Davis, R-Virginia Beach). As introduced, would have prohibited discrimination or granting preferential treatment on basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin; prohibited proxy discrimination, which would include the use of regional or feeder school caps or use of zip codes or geographic factors; prohibited collection information on students’ race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • As passed by both houses, the substantially amended bill would prohibit discrimination on basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Would require that each middle school eligible to send students to Governor’s school have a curriculum and coursework rigorous enough to qualify students for admission to Governor’s school.

E.  Charter Schools 

  1. Establishment
  • HB 344 (Davis, R-Virginia Beach), SB 608 (Sutterlein, R-Roanoke), SB 635 (Chase, R-Chesterfield). Would have authorized the State Board of Education to approve the establishment of a charter school in a locality.
  • House—left in committee. Senate—killed in committee
  • HB 356 (Tata, R-Virginia Beach), SB 125 (Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg). Would have authorized the State Board of Education to establish a new regional school division for the purpose of establishing regional charter schools.
  • House—passed. Senate–killed in committee.
  1. Lab schools
  • HB 346 (Davis, R-Virginia Beach), SB 598 (Pillion, R- Washington).  As introduced, the legislation would have authorized the creation of a college partnership laboratory school by any public or private institution of higher education or by a private business, upon application and approval by the Board of Education. Preference would be given to any application from a historically black college or university and any application to establish a college partnership laboratory school in an underserved community.
  • Pending—continued to special session.

F.  Other

  • HB 994 (Brewer, R-Isle of Wight), SB 529 (Reeves, R-Spotsylvania).  Would have provided that all active-duty members of the Armed Forces, regardless of income, who serve as caregivers to dependents, may apply for the Child Care Subsidy Program.
  • Result: As passed by both houses, required the Board of Education to examine the feasibility of amending its regulations to permit all active-duty members of the Armed Forces, regardless of income, who serve as caregivers to dependents, to apply for the Child Care Subsidy Program.


A.  Income taxes

  • HB 332 (Head, R-Roanoke), SB 540 (Peake, R-Lynchburg). Would provide individual or corporate income tax credit for an eligible small business.
  • House—left in committee. Senate—carried over
  • HB 472 (McNamara, R-Roanoke), SB 560 (Norment, R-James City County), SB 11 Suetterlein (R-Roanoke). Would double the standard deductions for state income tax returns.
  • House—passed. Senate—carried over to 2023 Session.
  • HB 935 (Robinson, R-Chesterfield), SB 579 (Hanger, R-Augusta).  Would provide rebates of $300 for single filers and $600 for married couples.
  • Pending–continued to special session
  • HB 1128 (McGuire, R-Henrico), SB 586 (Chase, R-Chesterfield), SB 528 (Reeves, R-Spotsylvania). Would provide additional income tax credits for military benefits.
  • Pending–continued to special session.

B  Sales Tax

  • HB 90 (McNamara, R-Roanoke), HB 1008 (Durant, R-Stafford), SB 571 (Newman, R-Lynchburg), SB 609 (DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach).   Would exempt food and personal hygiene products from all state and local sales taxes.
  • Pending, continued to special session

C.  Property taxes

  • HB 1010 (Durant, R-Stafford), SB 620 (Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake).  Would have required localities to hold a referendum if local property tax revenues would increase by more than one percent after a reassessment.
  • Result: As passed by both houses, requires localities, for the public hearing that must be held if property tax revenues are to increase by more than one percent after a reassessment, to post notices of the public hearing on a different day and in a different notice than the notice that must be posted for the annual public hearing on the budget.

D.  Gas tax

  • HB 1144 (Webert, R-Fauquier), SB 541 (Peake, R-Lynchburg).  Lowers the gas tax by five cents per gallon for one year.
  • House—passed. Senate—killed in committee

E. Conformity

  • HB 971 (Byron, R-Lynchburg), SB 583 (Newman, R-Bedford).  Conforms Commonwealth’s tax code with the Internal Revenue Code, but deconforms from certain aspects of the federal CARES Act.
  • Result: passed by both houses in substantially the same form as introduced.

 Regulation Reform

  • HB 244 (Webert, R-Fauquier), SB 372 (Hackworth, R-Tazewell). As introduced, the bill would have required the Department of Planning and Budget to establish a Regulatory Budget Program, whereby the agency would have set a target to (i) reduce the number of regulations,  (ii) maintain the number of regulations, or (iii) allow the number of regulations to increase by a specific amount over a two-year period.
  • House—passed. Senate—killed in committee
  • HB 358 (McGuire, R-Henrico), SB 572 (Wiggans, R-Virginia Beach). Directs the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in conjunction with the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, to examine the waiving of fees associated with permits necessary to establish a small business for veteran-owned small businesses.
  • Passed both houses.


A.  Integrity

  • HB 305 (Ransone, R-Westmoreland). Would have established several procedures to keep the registration lists up to date, reinstated the photo ID requirement for voting, and required risk limiting audits prior to certification of elections among other procedural changes.  The bill also addressed the make-up of the Board of Elections and appointment of the Commissioner of Elections.
  • House—Stripped out the provisions dealing with election integrity, leaving only the provisions affecting the Board of Elections. (See below.)

B.  Board of Elections changes 

  • HB 305 (Ransone, R-Westmoreland), SB 371 ( Vogel, R-Fauquier).  As introduced, the bills would have expanded the Board of Elections and given each major party equal representation. (Currently, the party of the Governor has a majority of the members). Under their provisions, the Board, rather than the Governor, would appoint the Commissioner of Elections.  The House bill was revised to provide that the party of the Governor still would have a majority on the Board. That is the major difference in the bills—equal representation (Senate) versus party of the governor having a majority (House).
  • Pending–continued to special session

Public Safety

  • HB 833 (Wilt, R-Rockingham).  Would create the Operation Ceasefire Grant Fund, to be managed by the Office of the Attorney General. Money in the fund would be used for grants to organizations that are involved in group violence intervention efforts.
  • Pending—continued to special session.
  • SB 592 (DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach)—Would have established Group Violence Intervention Board and Division of Group Violence Intervention within the Department of Criminal Justice Services.  Also would have established Project Ceasefire Grant Fund to provide grants to organizations involved in group violence intervention efforts and the Project Exit Grant Fund to provide grants to organizations that assist former gang members or individuals attempting to leave gangs.
  • Senate—killed in committee.

Labor; employees

A. Unions

  • HB 883 (Byron, R-Lynchburg), SB 374 (Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg). Would have repealed: (1) authority of state and localities to enter into project labor agreements, (2) requirement for contractors under contract with a state agency for public works to pay the prevailing wage, and (3) the ability of local public sector employees to engage in collective bargaining.
  • House: passed. Senate: killed in committee.

B.  Health insurance

  • HB 884 (Byron, R-Lynchburg), HB 245 (Wilt, R-Harrisonburg), HB 101 (Head, R-Roanoke ), SB 549 (Dunnavant, R-Henrico), SB 195 (Mason, D-Williamsburg). Authorizes a multiple welfare arrangement (MEWA), a self-funded benefits consortium of small employers, to pool together resources to offer their employees comprehensive group health care coverage on terms similar to large employers.
  • Passed both houses.
  • HB 923 (Orrock, R-Caroline), HB 768 (Hodges, R-Middlesex ), SB 397 (Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake), SB 335 (Barker, D-Fairfax).  Authorizes an organization as defined (Virginia REALTORS) to form an association health plan to cover the self-employed and employees of real estate brokerages that are members of the association.
  • Passed both houses.

C.  Unemployment benefits

  • HB 1201 (Byron, R-Lynchburg), SB 646 (Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake).  Provides that a person cannot be denied unemployment benefits if he was discharged from his job for misconduct, if the “misconduct” consisted of refusing to get a COVID vaccine shot.
  • House: Passed. Senate: killed in committee.

Coastal Resiliency

  • HB 847 (Bloxom, R-Accomack), SB 569 (Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach). Would have created a Coastal Virginia Resiliency Authority with extensive powers to develop, manage, and integrate coastal restoration and resilience.
  • House—passed. Senate—carried over to 2023 Session

 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • HB 1300 (Freitas, R-Culpeper), SB 735 (Ruff, R-Mecklenburg).  Would have renamed the position of “Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” to “Director of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion” and expanded the duties of that position.
  • House: passed. Senate: killed in committee