RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On Monday, prefiling period began for Virginia’s next General Assembly session.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle wasted no time submitting bills for consideration.
Monday morning, House Democrats held a press call to highlight some of their contributions.
Minority Leader Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) said the theme for the first slew of Democratic bills is “returning power to people.”
“The notion that government is transparent and gives citizens more tools to control their destiny and to hold elected leaders accountable is something that we all should be working toward,” Toscano said on the call.
Democrats focused on four pieces of legislation during the call. Those bills would ban personal use of campaign funds, focus on reforming redistricting, make it easier for people to search court databases and ban credit agencies from charging people for freezing their credit reports.
Toscano said Democrats paired new members of the body with veteran members to show them the ropes.
On the first day of filing, Democrats submitted more bills than Republicans.
Other bills filed by Democrats Monday include one (HB 11) that would protect in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in Virginia with DACA status. Another (HB 12) would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue temporary driver’s licenses and permits to certain “aliens” (those granted “withholding of removal” immigration status).
Republicans are calling their first batch of filed bills “practical solutions to everyday issues.”
“We want citizens out there to understand that we are — and have been — focused on trying to find solutions to the kitchen table issues they face every day,” said Majority Leader-designee Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock).
All three of the bills Republicans listed in a news release about their filings have to do with education.
The first would protect college students’ personal data, like addresses and phone numbers, from being shared with outside groups without consent. The second makes it easier to hire new teachers. Under the proposed legislation, out-of-state teaching licenses would become valid in Virginia for spouses of Virginia military members. The third bill would help establish standards for dual enrollment to ensure high school students taking college courses receive credit.
“I think you’re seeing a contrast already on what we’re trying to focus on,” said Gilbert.
Another bill (HB 16) filed by a Republican lawmaker Monday would prohibit insurers from setting rates for motor vehicle insurance or fire insurance policies on the basis of a person’s credit history, lack of credit history, or credit score.
Gilbert estimates 2,000 to 3,000 bills could be filed for this session.
Prefiling ends at 10 a.m. on Jan. 10. That is the same day the General Assembly convenes.