Legislative Updates

November 3, 2021

The November 2, 2021, Virginia elections resulted in a sweeping upset, with Republicans capturing all three statewide offices and the House of Delegates majority.
Virginia’s “off-off year” statewide and legislative elections feature the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and 100 seats in the House of Delegates on the ballot. Turnout is usually relatively low, though the 2019 and 2017 elections saw turnout increase dramatically, leading to Democratic unified control of state government in 2019 for the first time in a generation.
This year, with Democratic President Biden in office after former Republican President Trump, in a political environment generally perceived as unfriendly to Democrats at both the national and state levels, the elections were highly competitive. 91 of 100 House seats were contested. Final polls showed a tossup for the gubernatorial race between former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and political newcomer Glenn Youngkin (R), with Youngkin having clear momentum going into Election Day. Statewide and House elections broke fundraising records and drew national attention.
Control of the governorship and House of Delegates was at stake. Turnout was higher than in 2019 across the board, especially in Republican areas. Meanwhile, turnout was lower in traditional Democratic bastions like Northern Virginia, as well as in key battleground suburbs like Chesterfield County and Virginia Beach. Suburban and independent voters appear to have favored Republican candidates this election.
Below is a breakdown of the statewide and House of Delegates races, followed by a preview of what to expect for next year’s legislative session.
Statewide Races
Governor. Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe by a little over 2 points. Third party candidate Princess Blanding garnered less than a point. McAuliffe left office in 2017 after his first term. Governors are not allowed to serve successive terms in Virginia. Youngkin is a political newcomer, a former CEO of the private equity, asset management, and financial services firm, The Carlyle Group.
Lt. Governor. Republican Winsome Sears defeated Democrat Hala Ayala by less than two points. Ayala vacated her Northern Virginia House seat to run for Lt. Governor. Sears is a former Delegate from the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area. As Lt. Governor, she will be the first Black woman elected to statewide office in Virginia.
Attorney General. Republican Jason Miyares defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Herring, who was running for a third term as Attorney General, by 1 point. A Cuban American, Miyares leaves his current Virginia Beach-based seat in the House of Delegates to become the first Latino elected to statewide office in Virginia.
House of Delegates
After taking control of the House of Delegates in 2019, Democrats defended their 55-45 majority on Election Day. The legislative district maps are the ones drawn by the former Republican majority, with about 20 districts affected by the 2019 court-ordered redistricting that made several more Democratic.  
Republicans needed to flip 6 seats to capture the majority. As of this report, Republicans have flipped 7 seats, many narrowly but not in automatic recount territory. However, votes continue to be counted and candidates may request a recount if the margin is less than a point.
Incumbents Who Lost (7):
Lashrecse Aird – District 63
Alex Askew – District 85
Josh Cole – District 28
Nancy Guy – District 83
Christ Hurst – District 11
Martha Mugler – District 91
Roz Tyler – District 75
Expected 2022 Partisan Composition: 52 Republicans, 48 Democrats
Current Minority Leader Todd Gilbert appears poised to become Speaker of the House, replacing Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. Other senior House Republican members have expressed interest in the Speakership in the past, and leadership challenges are not uncommon.
2022 Outlook
With Republicans now slated to gain control of the Governor’s office and House of Delegates, we can expect a major shift in policy priorities from these arms of state government. Governor-Elect Youngkin campaigned on local education and parents’ rights issues, curbing COVID-19 masking and vaccination requirements, pro-business economic and jobs policies, lowering taxes--including eliminating the grocery tax and suspending the gas tax, crime and safety, government efficiency, and regulatory reform.  
Before the new Governor takes office, outgoing Democratic Governor Ralph Northam will submit his administration’s final full budget to the General Assembly for the next legislative session in January. The Senate of Virginia is still under narrow 21-19 seat Democratic control, with newly elected Republican Lt. Governor Sears wielding the tie-breaking vote next year.
The newly created Virginia Redistricting Commission so far has not been able to reach consensus on new legislative maps. As a result, the Supreme Court of Virginia will appoint two special masters (one from each party) to draw the maps for court approval. Depending on the approval timeline and potential litigation, Virginia may schedule another round of House elections next year based on the new maps.
CSG will continue to provide any electoral updates as needed. We will also closely follow General Assembly leadership, key committee chairmanships, and committee membership when each caucus meets to elect its leaders and organize. CSG has been prepared for election outcomes, and we are ready to work with the new Administration as well as new and returning General Assembly members.
To view full election results, please visit www.vpap.org.

April 5, 2021

HB 2064 - Simon - Recording an electronic document; electronic notarial certificate. - Recording an electronic document; electronic notarial certificate.

VLTA worked closely with Delegate MArcus Simon and other stakeholders (the VA Bar Association and the Clerks of Court) to pass reforms to Virginia's e-notary statute.  The bill makes several changes to what Clerks of Courts must do, what information must be provided in the electronic notarial certificate, and  adds additional forms of "satisfactory evidence of identity" when a notary is using video and audio communication.  The bill contains an emergency clause which causes the law to become effective upon the Governor's signature.  Governor Northam signed the bill on March 11th.
HB 2099 - Coyner - Judgments; limitations on enforcement, judgment liens, settlement agents, effective date. Judgments; limitations on enforcement, judgment liens, settlement agents, effective date.
VLTA worked with Delegate Coyner on this bill which makes much needed reforms to the enforcement period on judgements. The bill reduces from 20 years to 10 years the enforcement period on judgements filed after the effective date of January 1, 2022.  It also gives settlement agents and title insurance companies the ability to release a judgement lien if that lien has been satisfied by payment made by the settlement agent.  The bill allows for two extensions by recordation of a certificate.  Originally, the 10 year period applied to all recorded judgements regardless of when those judgements were recorded.  This part of the legislation was passed by the House of Delegates but was removed by the Senate after strenuous opposition by the Virginia Creditors Bar.
HB 2307 - Hayes -  and SB 1392 - Marsden - Consumer Data Protection Act; personal data rights of consumer, etc. Consumer Data Protection Act; personal data rights of consumer, etc.
This legislation sets up a framework for controlling and processing personal data.  There are several triggers for application of the statute and the bills also give exclusive enforcement authority to the Attorney General.  The bills establish the Consumer Privacy Fund and direct the Joint Commission on Technology and Science to form a work group tasked with reviewing the provisions of the Act and any issues related to implementation.  These bills were put forward by the Bureau of Insurance.

January 19, 2021

The 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly convened on January 13th.   Just like the 2020 special session the 2021 session will be all virtual.  While the Senate of Virginia will be meeting in person at the Science Museum of Virginia, committee meetings and other interactions with Members will be all virtual as far as the public is concerned.  The House of Delegates will be totally virtual.  Members will not meet in person for sessions or committees.  

Generally, odd numbered years are what we refer to as the “short session”.  Per the Constitution of Virginia, short sessions convene for 30 days.  However, every odd numbered year the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia vote to extend the 30 day session to 46 days.  This did not happen in 2021.  The republican members of the House and Senate voted against the extension citing the length of the special session that recently concluded.  Because extending the session is a constitutional matter a 2/3rds majority in each chamber is required.  Without republican votes to extend, the session remains at 30 days.  The Governor has stated that he will call a 16 day special session immediately upon adjournment of the regular session to take care of unfinished business and adjustments to the state budget.  

Because of the tight time frame the 2020 session is happening at an accelerated pace.  Legislation is moving very quickly. 

October 20, 2020

2020 Special Session Recap
The General Assembly effectively completed its special session on October 16, having adopted a revised biennial state budget and taken substantial legislative action to address criminal justice and policing reform, election security, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The legislature recessed, rather than adjourned, to provide greater flexibility to adopt enabling budget language that will be needed if the bipartisan redistricting commission amendment is approved in the November 3 elections.
Unless otherwise noted, all legislation passed during the 2020 Special Session will go into effect in March 2021 and the budget will become effective once signed by Governor Northam (expected mid-November). As a reminder, Governor Northam will be submitting his revised biennial budget proposal to the General Assembly in December, per normal process, ahead of the January 2021 regular session. 
State Budget
The revised $141 billion state budget includes approximately $23 million for criminal justice and policing reforms, preserves nearly $100 million in funding for state employee, adjunct college faculty and state-supported local employee bonuses, contingent on sufficient revenues, and restores $2 billion in new spending originally approved during the regular session but cut by Governor Northam at the onset of the economic recession. The spending plan also includes a $300 million “cushion” of unallocated funding – a priority of the Northam Administration – to guard against unanticipated pandemic-related budget impacts. The budget outlines funding priorities for the remainder of the unspent $3.1 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds allocated to the Commonwealth and directs those funds to be spent by the end of this calendar year. Local government assistance, K-12 school reopening, and unemployment assistance rank among the top spending priorities for these federal funds, followed by PPE, mortgage and rent relief, utility disconnection assistance, and testing and contact tracing.
Criminal Justice and Policing Reform
The General Assembly planned to return to Richmond for a special session to address the pandemic and impacts to the state budget well before events over the summer prompted strong public outcries for criminal justice and policing reform. Several major initiatives that were proposed by the House and Senate, including civilian review boards and a mental health crisis response program, advanced after considerable back-and-forth and eventual compromise between the two bodies, while others, such as eliminating qualified immunity and reducing the penalty for assaulting law enforcement officers failed. Some of the more notable criminal justice and policing reform actions are included below:

  • Civilian Review Boards. The General Assembly granted localities the option to create Civilian Review Boards that would have the authority to investigate civilian complaints against law enforcement conduct.
  • Marcus Alert. The “Marcus Alert,” named for a man who was killed by the Richmond Police Department last year while experiencing a significant mental health crisis, creates a regional framework for crisis stabilization teams to assist law enforcement officers responding to cases involving individuals experiencing mental health crises.
  • Comprehensive law enforcement reform. A comprehensive reform bill proposed by Senator Locke establishes a method for decertifying law enforcement officers for misconduct; limits the ability of law enforcement agencies to procure military-grade equipment and vehicles; requires enhanced law enforcement training on racial bias policing, crisis intervention, and lawful use of force; and creates a statewide code of standards governing the conduct of law enforcement officers during an arrest or detention.
Voting and Elections Security
The House and Senate acted quickly in the first weeks of the Special Session to pass legislation introduced by Governor Northam aimed at improving access to voting and elections security in the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic. This legislation, which has already been signed into law:
  • Eliminates the requirement for a witness signature on a mail-in ballot.
  • Provides $2 million to the Department of Elections to provide prepaid postage for the return of absentee ballots.
  • Allows absentee ballots to be returned by mail, or in-person, to local registrar offices or to designated drop-off locations, such as ballot drop boxes.
  • Requires registrars to examine ballot envelopes for ballots received before October 31, 2020 and notify voters of any errors within three days.

2021 Outlook
In light of the ongoing pandemic, we expect the state budget and COVID-19 to remain the top issues for the 2021 Regular Session. Legislation that was deferred from the current Special Session will likely be taken up again next year, in addition to other introduced bills. Depending on the fall revenue forecast, there will likely be an opportunity to advocate for healthcare funding, including items unallotted or ultimately removed from the state budget due to the pandemic.
One factor that is unknown at this time is how the General Assembly’s 2021 Regular Session will be conducted in full. The Senate has announced it will again meet in person with electronic participation options for the general public. The House, which has been meeting virtually, has not publicly announced its intentions for 2021. Adopting the rules by which each chamber operates during the Special Session was contentious. Each chamber is operating differently and it is not clear how they will reach the end of the Special Session in order to finalize all legislation and the budget. Technical glitches are common. While each legislator was limited to introducing three bills for the Special Session, a Regular Session commonly sees thousands of bills introduced.
Lastly, 2021 is a major election year in Virginia. The statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, and all 100 seats in the House of Delegates, will be on the ballot. Election year politics often spill over in the legislative session.

March 17, 2020

The 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly began on January the 8th and ran until March 12th.  The end date was five days passed the scheduled end and was necessitated by a number of controversial pieces of legislation including the biennial budget.  The 2019 elections brought massive changes to the political makeup of the General Assembly.  Democrats took control of both chambers for the first time since 1997 and controlled the totality of state government for the first time since 1993.  As such, there were numerous policy and legislative initiatives that Democrats wanted to pass through the legislature.   Among the Democratic Caucus' priorities were a minimum wage increase, bipartisan redistricting, gun safety measures, passage of the ERA, clean energy initiatives, and anti-discrimination measures for the LGBTQ+ community.  Some priorities were less successful.  These include mandatory sick leave and the assault weapon ban.   There were at times stark philosophical differences between the House and Senate Democrats and between Democrats of the same chamber.  This is best illustrated by the very tense floor debate in the House on bipartisan redistricting. 

VLTA followed and advocated on several pieces of legislation that had an impact on the industry.  Below are several pieces that were priorities of the Association. 

HB 788 Restrictive covenants; deeds of reformation

HB 788 was introduced by Delegate Lamont Bagby who serves as the Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.  Delegate Bagby made the issue of racially restrictive covenants in existing deeds one of his top issues for the 2020 session.  There was a great deal of work was done to help Delegate Bagby achieve his goal while minimizing disruption to the land records.  A workgroup was formed that included VLTA, the Bankers Association, the Real Estate Section of the Bar, and the Realtors.  After several weeks of negotiations the final statute will prohibit a deed containing a restrictive covenant from being recorded on or after July 1, 2020  and will provide the form for a Certificate of Release of Certain Prohibited Covenants to be recorded to remove any such restrictive covenant.  The bill in its final form passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

HB 819  Real estate settlements; kickbacks and other payments, remedies, penalties.  

HB 819 was put forward by Delegate Marcus Simon who is a member of VLTA.   This bill has been a priority of Delegate Simon for several sessions.  VLTA worked with Delegate Simon to remove provisions for a misdemeanor conviction and for Commonwealth's Attorneys or attorneys for a locality to bring action. The statute does several things including relocating from Chapter 9 (Real Estate Settlements) to Chapter 10 (Real Estate Settlement Agents) within Title 55.1 the existing provision that prohibits persons from paying or receiving a kickback, rebate, commission, thing of value, or other payment pursuant to an agreement to refer business incident to a settlement. This relocation authorizes the State Corporation Commission to impose penalties, issue injunctions, and require restitution in cases where a person who does not hold a license from the appropriate licensing authority has violated the provision. The measure also adds to Chapter 10 of Title 55.1 provisions that authorize a court to assess civil penalties of not more than $5,000 per violation of the chapter and authorize the recovery of costs and reasonable expenses and attorney fees.  HB 819 passed the House and Senate unanimously.

HB 1334 Insurance data security; required programs and notifications. 

Delegate Mark Keam carried this legislation on behalf of the Bureau of Insurance. The BoI had been working on this legislation for at least a year and VLTA was part of the workgroup helping to iron out potential issues that would adversely affect the industry.  This is a large and complex piece of legislation which makes numerous changes to existing law and adds new mandates for data security.  There will be a regulatory process to flesh out many details of the bill that VLTA will be heavily involved in.  We will keep you updated on the work done via regulation.  Broadly, HB 1334 does the following:

Establishes standards for insurance data security and for the investigation of a cybersecurity event and the notification to the Commissioner of Insurance and affected consumers of a cybersecurity event. 

The bill requires insurers to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive written information security program based on an assessment of its risk and that contains administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for the protection of nonpublic information and its information system. 

The bill requires investigation of potential cybersecurity events and prescribes standards for such investigations. 

The bill requires that the notification of the occurrence of a cybersecurity event provided by an insurer or other entity to the Commissioner and affected consumers to include certain information prescribed by the bill. 

The bill requires the Commissioner to adopt rules and regulations regarding data security and authorizes the Commissioner to investigate potential violations.  

HB 1334 passed the House and Senate unanimously and has been signed into law by the Governor.

HB 1726 and SB 1038 Hampton Roads Regional Transit Program and Fund; created, transit funding.  

These bills carried by Delegate Askew and Senator Lucas respectively sets up the Hampton Roads Regional Transit Program and Fund.  The statute increases the grantor's tax by 0.6 cents and the transient occupancy tax by one percent to fund additional transportation projects in the Hampton Roads region.  These bills began as an increase in various fuel taxes within the region.  Concerns were raised that this would have a major impact on the Port of Virginia.  As a result, the bills were amended in committee to strip the fuel taxes and instead increase the grantor's tax by .15 cents and the transient occupancy tax by one percent.  VLTA worked with the patrons, as did the Hampton Roads realtors, to lower the .15 cent increase to .06 cents.  Both bills were sent to a committee of conference to work out technical amendments and subsequently passed both chambers.

SB 359 Gifts of real estate; title search required for recordation. 

Senator Cosgrove introduced SB 359 to resolve an issue in his district involving fraudulent deeds of gift.  The bill would have required a title search to be submitted on all deeds of gift prior to recording.  VLTA had several meetings with Senator Cosgrove to try and craft a better solution.  The Bankers, Realtors, and Clerks, also voiced concerns with the burden on consumers this bill would have created.  Unfortunately, consensus could not be found on a solution and Senator Cosgrove had his bill continued to the 2021 session.  We will be working with the patron to try and find a solution in the off season. 

March 13, 2020

The General Assembly adjourned on March 12th.  This was five days past the originally scheduled date.  The delay was mainly due to the large number of bills filed this year, the nature of those bills, and the budget.  This was in many aspects a very historic session.  Of note, were passage of the ERA, multiple gun safety bills, minimum wage increase, balance billing, independent redistricting, and a budget that needed to accommodate the additional funding required by several large pieces of legislation.  Click here to view the final bill list.

February 28, 2020

With only nine days left in the 2020 General Assembly session things are coming to a slow close.  While there are still bills to be acted on, the majority have finished their journey.  Next week serious work will begin on the state budget.  The budget conferees from the House and the Senate have been named and these legislators will have the difficult task of crafting a unified and balanced budget which will fund the Commonwealth over the next two years.  Budget conferees are listed below. Click here to view the list of relevant bills we have been tracking though session.  
House of Delegates Conferees:
Senate Conferees:

February 24, 2020

We are pulling into the last leg of the 2020 General Assembly session.  Last Thursday each body debated and passed their amendments to the new biennial budget.  As always, the House and Senate versions of the budget differ.  This week each body will reject the other's changes and a committee of conference will be appointed.  This committee is made up of members of the Senate and the House of Delegates and is tasked with negotiating a unified and balanced budget as required by the Constitution of Virginia.  There are still several big legislative items, other than the budget, making their way through the legislative process.  These include balance billing, redistricting reform, and increasing the minimum wage.  Click here to view the list of relevant bills we have been tracking though session.  

January 27, 2020

Friday, January 24th marked the end of the second full week of session. This session has been unique in many ways. For the first time since 1997, the Democrats have control of both chambers of the General Assembly. Whenever there is a change in party control and leadership of a body there is a period of adjustment. The Senate, having been recently controlled by democrats, started smoothly. The start in the House of Delegates was a little rocky but has evened out. Friday the 17th was the last day to file bills. All bills should now be on the system and publicly available. Additionally, amendments to the introduced biennial budget have also been released. Budget work will begin shortly and the House and Senate will work toward producing their own versions of the Governor's introduced budget.

We are following and working on a number of bills of import to the industry. Some of the most relevant ones are below. We will keep you updated as Session progresses. Please reach out with any questions and concerns you may have.

SB 359: Gifts of real estate; title search required for recordation. Provides that no deed of gift conveying real estate shall be recorded unless accompanied by a document certifying that a title search has been completed for the real estate subject to the deed and stating any matters affecting the title of property that were found by the title search.

HB 96: Power of attorney; witness or notary public. Requires that a power of attorney signed on or after July 1, 2020, be signed before at least one witness or a notary public.

HB 819: Real estate settlements; kickbacks and other payments; remedies; penalties. Relocates within Title 55.1 the existing provision that prohibits persons from paying or receiving a kickback, rebate, commission, thing of value, or other payment pursuant to an agreement to refer business incident to a settlement from Chapter 9 (Real Estate Settlements) to Chapter 10 (Real Estate Settlement Agents). This relocation authorizes the State Corporation Commission to impose penalties, issue injunctions, and require restitution in cases where a person who does not hold a license from the appropriate licensing authority has violated the provision. The measure also adds to Chapter 10 of Title 55.1 provisions that (i) authorize a court to assess civil penalties of not more than $2,500 per violation of the chapter and (ii) authorize the recovery of costs and reasonable expenses and attorney fees.

To track these bills and others from the Virginia General Assembly's 2020 Session, VLTA members should use the following link.