The Virginia General Assembly returned to Richmond Wednesday for a special session, and Republicans were expected to discuss their opposition to a law that requires Virginia to follow California’s plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles beginning in 2035.
“I do believe that we will talk about it,” said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for the Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert. “I expect at least one or two floor speeches to be made about it.”
Former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation last year that links Virginia’s emissions policies to the California Air Resources Board, which recently approved the plan to eventually ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles.
The ban would not stop anyone from driving older gas-powered vehicles, and it would not have an impact on used-car sales.
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has called on lawmakers to work toward repealing the law.
“That bill, which actually cedes control of decision-making for Virginians, to California, is wrong,” Youngkin told reporters earlier this month. “Virginians should govern for Virginia.”
However, an actual effort to repeal the law won’t happen this week.
Under the rules for Wednesday’s session, lawmakers are prohibited from introducing new legislation.
“In terms of legislation coming today, there simply isn’t any,” said Shipley. “In terms of actually moving legislation that would end Virginia’s direct connection to California, I don’t believe that is able to happen until we reconvene for the regular session in January.”
Once Republicans do start their repeal effort in earnest, they are sure to face some opposition from Democrats.
House Republicans have a 52-48 majority but Democrats have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.
The most significant item on Wednesday’s agenda is to select a new judge for the State Corporation Commission, an independent branch of state government that has regulatory authority over utilities, insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, securities, retail franchising and railroads.