Smiley face
Weather     Live Markets

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed two key Democratic legislative priorities, blocking bills that would have allowed retail sales of marijuana to begin next year and an increase in the minimum wage. The decision, while not explicitly threatened, was in line with Youngkin’s previously stated positions on these issues. Virginia legalized marijuana in 2021 but has not yet set up retail sales, leading to concerns about the illicit market flourishing. Youngkin shared these concerns, citing adverse effects seen in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Under the vetoed bills, the state would have begun accepting applications for cultivating, testing, processing, and selling marijuana, with products taxed at up to 11.625%. The legislation had support from industry interests but faced opposition from religious and socially conservative groups. Virginia initially embraced legalization when Democrats were in full control of the government, but subsequent elections shifted the balance of power. Despite some Republican support for recreational sales, bills to establish them have failed in recent years.

Youngkin also vetoed bills that would have increased the minimum wage, arguing that such legislation would threaten market freedom and economic competitiveness. Virginia Democrats had been pushing for incremental increases in the minimum wage to help working families keep up with inflation. Youngkin took action on a total of 107 bills, signing 100, including measures to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to prosecute child predators and improve inmate access to quality health services. In addition to the marijuana and wage bills, he vetoed three others relating to farmworker exemptions, sentencing reviews for individuals with felony marijuana convictions, and workers’ compensation claims.

The part-time General Assembly adjourned its regular session earlier in the month and will meet again in April to consider Youngkin’s proposed amendments to legislation. Members could also attempt to override one or more of the governor’s vetoes, though this would require a 2/3 vote in both chambers. The marijuana legislation advanced mostly along party lines, while the wage bills passed strictly on party lines, indicating that override attempts would likely fail. The vetoes came on the heels of the collapse of a deal to bring the NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards to Alexandria, with the teams ultimately deciding to remain in D.C.

© 2024 Globe Echo. All Rights Reserved.