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Update from Virginia’s General Assembly as session wraps

Host Angie Miles is on the left of the screen looking into the camera with a blue studio background, while on the right journalist Ben Paviour stands outside the Virginia Capitol.
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VPM News Focal Point
VPM News' Ben Paviour provides an update from the Virginia General Assembly

Power is divided in Virginia's General Assembly. Democrats and Republicans have used their respective majorities to block most controversial legislation. That means that there were no new restrictions or expansions of abortion rights, and no major changes to gun control laws or LGBTQ+ rights.


ANGIE MILES: Thank you for being with us for VPM News Focal Point. I'm Angie Miles. In this episode, we put the focus on guns. In 2022, Virginia had 20 mass shootings, leaving seven dead at a Walmart in Chesapeake and killing three student athletes at the University of Virginia. Now we explore how Virginians hold varying views when it comes to firearms. Are they tools of death, useful for self-defense, part of recreational culture? How are guns impacting life in Virginia? We begin with a report on Virginia's general assembly that ends this week. Joining us from the Capitol is VPM state politics reporter, Ben Paviour. Ben, could you give us an update on what happened at the GA this year?

BEN PAVIOUR: Well, Angie, as you know, power is split between Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House of Delegates. And that means there's not a lot that's getting done on the controversial topics like gun control, like abortion. Most of the bills relating to those topics have already died. Another sticking point between the two chambers is the budget. Governor Glenn Youngkin and Republicans want to see pretty sweeping tax cuts, corporate and individual. The Senate would like to invest a surplus in education and other social services. Republicans want to see some of that, but not all of it and we'll see where they end up.

ANGIE MILES: Ben, you mentioned gun control laws. How did Virginia lawmakers use bills to respond to recent mass shootings in our state?

BEN PAVIOUR: Well, for Governor Glenn Youngkin and Republicans this is all part of a broader mental health crisis the state is experiencing. Youngkin has proposed investing an extra $200 million dollars in mental health services including things like mobile crisis response teams. And I think there's some bipartisan support for that but Democrats say it needs to come with tighter gun control laws. They're especially focused on a bill that would have required adults to lock their firearms in a stored lockbox. They argue this would help prevent suicides which is now the leading cause of death for those under 18. And it would also prevent tragedies like the one we saw in Newport News where a six-year-old shot their teacher. Republicans, though, argued that this could criminalize gun owners who accidentally forgot to store their gun in a locked case, and it was defeated in the Republican controlled House.

ANGIE MILES: Ben, are there any bills that you're following that could be able to work around the gridlock and maybe actually pass?

BEN PAVIOUR: Well, Angie, I think one worth mentioning here is a Republican sponsored bill that would allow colleges and universities to access health and criminal history records of students who pose a significant threat on campus. The sponsors say it was inspired by that tragic shooting at UVA last year, and it's picked up broad unanimous support in the legislature. Another worth mentioning is a bill that would allow gun owners to claim a tax rebate of up to $300 dollars for buying a firearm lockbox or somewhere to store their firearm safely. And that would go into effect in this tax year and would last five years. And again, you could claim up to $300 dollars.

ANGIE MILES: Thank you for your insight, Ben. And you can learn more about top bills from this year's session and dig a little more deeply into our stories at

Angie Miles, Host/Producer, anchors and hosts VPM News Focal Point and special broadcasts.
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